PROS / The audio quality is among the best available.
CONS / The maximum volume is only 82 dB at 1 meter.
VERDICT / The Sangean MMR-88 is one of the best crank radios in our review because it has excellent reception, audio quality and emergency features.
The Sangean MMR-88 is one of the most reliable devices for listening to the radio and receiving weather alerts when you're camping or when the power's out. The hand crank efficiency is above average, and the battery has one of the quickest charge times available. The audio quality is among the best for a weather radio, and the reception quality is exceptional. It also comes with important emergency preparedness features like water-resistant casing, a Morse code beacon and a siren. For these reasons, the Sangean MMR-88 has earned the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award for best crank radio.
The MMR-88 produced an average of six minutes of battery life after two minutes of us turning the crank in our tests. This was the third-best time in our test, several minutes above average. In the test, we drained the battery before cranking the generator for two minutes and played the radio at the maximum volume until the battery died again. While the six-minute battery life doesn't compare to the 13 minutes produced by the best crank radio, it proves that the crank is among the most efficient. In addition to the hand crank, you have five other power options. There's a solar panel, a USB connection with a computer, a wall plug, a car charger and disposable AA batteries.
The charge time when we plugged the radio into a wall outlet was 2.75 hours, which is among the quickest available. Most emergency radios took four or five hours to fully charge. The full charge provided five hours of battery life when we played the radio at full volume, which is below average. However, it has a 90-minute automatic shut-off setting that preserves battery life.
The best part of the radio is the audio quality, which received an A in our evaluation. With most weather radios, audio quality is an afterthought because you're generally concerned mostly with picking up weather stations – you don't buy a weather radio to listen to the greatest hits from the '80s and '90s. However, the MMR-88 has excellent audio quality that rivals portable speakers. The bass is full and balanced, which is something you won't find in other crank radios.
The reception quality is also good, though not great. The AM reception quality received a B-plus, while the FM reception received a B. The backcountry reception received a B-plus as well. Comparatively, the reception quality is good, but it's closer to average than excellent.
The MMR-88 has one of the most durable casings available. It's made of hard plastic with rubber corners for impact resistance. It's also one of the few weather radios with an IPX3 water resistance rating, which means that it's protected against spraying water from any direction. If you are caught in a rainstorm while on a hike in the backcountry, you don't have to worry about covering it up. Protectors for the ports reduce the amount of water that can enter the internal components. Being able to take a tumble or two and survive wet conditions is important for an emergency radio because you may have to use it in all kinds of conditions.
Some of the other features included with this crank radio are a light with a Morse code beacon setting, a siren and a headphone jack. The siren is a handy feature in a survival situation because it can alert people to your location. It's loud and lasts a while on the power from cranking. If it starts to die down, you can always crank it back up again.
Help & Support
The MMR-88 comes with a one-year warranty. While you can contact support through phone and email, there's little else in the way of help. You can download the necessary user manual and that's it. There isn't a page devoted to FAQs or a user forum, which is a valuable tool for both backpackers and emergency preparedness because it connects you with other users to share experiences and ideas.
The Sangean MMR-88 is a compact crank radio that is good for many situations. The hand crank efficiency is excellent, producing an average of six minutes of battery life with two minutes of cranking. The audio quality is among the best available, and the reception is above average. Its compact and durable, water-resistant design makes it a nice companion on a campout or backcountry hiking.