Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
This wind up radio is perfect for an emergency preparedness kit, and it's also great if you just want a portable radio to listen to while outdoors. With a built-in flashlight and NOAA and MSC weather stations, you don’t have to worry even if disaster strikes. This hand crank emergency radio is reliable and is a great addition to any home, business or vehicle so that no matter where you are or what happens, you can stay connected and informed.
Freeplay was the first company to manufacture the wind up radio. It was founded by Trevor Baylis, Chris Staines and Rory Stear as a way to get radios to Africa to help with communication. Freeplay still manufactures crank radios specifically for third-world environments, and they continue to produce fine products for anyone to use. This product is no exception to their dedication to quality.
The charge time on this crank radio is fairly minimal. Wind for sixty seconds and get sixty minutes of radio play time. The play time does depend on the volume setting of the radio. This crank radio doesn’t limit you on cranking speed, but there is an optimal speed. An LED will indicate when you're cranking at the optimum speed. It is recommended to wind for at least the thirty seconds, but if you continue winding longer than one minute, you can get hours of play time from the radio. To fully charge the battery using the crank takes about forty minutes, but you get about 25 hours of play time. You can crank while it is in use to make sure you never run out of light or music.
Other features of this crank radio include a flashlight, NOAA weather stations, headphone jack, and an audio line. The flashlight is a single 5mm white LED; it is bright, but it isn’t quite as large as we would like it to be. The manufacturer states that the light bulb will last as long as the crank radio itself and will never need to be replaced.
The NOAA weather tuner can pick up all seven stations as well as access the MSC stations, (the Canadian channels) which few other radios can. Tuning to these stations is as easy as flipping a switch on the side of the crank radio. There is a separate tuning mechanism that allows you to change easily between the conventional programming and the weather stations. The tuning is manual, and it can occasionally be difficult getting it exactly where you need to. Likewise, if the crank radio tuner is bumped, it may move off the station.
The headphone jack and audio line-in ports are a useful addition to this crank radio and increase the music options. If those around you don’t want to listen to the music, just plug your headphones in and enjoy it by yourself. The audio line-in is handy if someone has a music player and everyone wants to hear. Just use the provided cable and the EyeMax WB 2009 crank radio will act as a portable speaker. Since this is only a line-in port, it will not charge the device that is connected. While some radios offer the option to charge mobile devices through the USB port, this lack wasn’t a large concern.
This crank radio is built to last externally as well as internally. The product’s outer rubberized casing has been tested to take a tumble or two and withstand a few splashes, and a lot of thought and effort went into the design of the transmission gear and alternator. The transmission gear is constructed of glass-reinforced nylon and acetyl. By using these plastics, the lifespan has increased so that that the transmission can withstand more than 500,000 cycles. The alternator, which changes the crank energy into electricity, is able to convert over 74% of the kinetic energy to usable electricity.
The handle itself is sturdy, and the rubberized grip made it easy to crank. We were pleased to see that when the handle is not in use, it fits snugly into the case so that it is out of the way. Another nice feature to note is that the crank can be turned in either direction. And you don’t have to worry about over-cranking the radio since the mechanism consists only of an internal gearing system and an alternator which provides power to the battery.
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Besides being a wind up radio, this product can be charged two other ways. A solar panel on the top of the crank radio is a reliable way to charge the batteries on a sunny day. Though it isn’t as efficient as turning the crank, it can power the radio and charge the batteries at the same time. To get a full charge using the solar panel, you need about 16 hours of sunlight. If the crank radio is playing, it will take a lot longer to get a full charge. The other way to power the crank radio is through a USB port. All you need is a mini-USB cable. This cable can be plugged into a computer to charge. With the right adapters, it could also be charged through a car or an outlet.
The support offered by the manufacturer is limited, but the information included is valuable. FAQs provide specific information on the product that we found useful when researching. There is a manual online but there are three different versions for various model numbers. Since the products are very similar, it may be difficult to determine which one is the one you need. If you have more specific questions about the products, Freeplay lists a phone number as well as various email addresses for you to contact them.
The EyeMax WB 2009 is a product that is definitely worth the money. With a long play time and a quick hand crank charge time, you will never again have to worry about staying connected even if the power isn’t function. This crank radio is a durable, reliable, easy to use product that covers all the basic needs.