The Sangean MMR-88 is one of the most reliable radios if you want to receive weather alerts when you camp or the power's out. The hand crank is efficient, and the battery has one of the quickest charge times of the radio models we tested. In addition, its audio quality is among the best for a weather radio, and its reception quality scores are above average for our test group. It also comes with important emergency-preparedness features like a water-resistant casing, a Morse code beacon and a siren. It is a little outdated now, however, and no longer features in our list of the best emergency radios (opens in new tab).
The MMR-88 generated an average of six minutes of battery life when we turned the crank for two minutes – this is the third-best time in our test group and several minutes above average. In this test, we drained the battery completely before cranking the handle, and we played the radio at its maximum volume until the battery died again. While this Sangean model’s six-minute result is far behind the 13 minutes of battery life the best crank radio produced, it proves it is among the most efficient. You can also charge the radio using its solar panel, a USB connection with your computer, a wall plug and a car charger.
When we plugged the MMR-88 into a wall outlet, it reached a full battery in 2.75 hours, which is one of the quickest charge times in our test group – most of the emergency radios we reviewed took four or five hours to fully charge. Starting from a full charge, the battery lasted for five hours when we played the radio continuously at its maximum volume, which is a shorter than average life. However, it has a 90-minute automatic shut-off setting that preserves battery life.
The best thing about this radio is its audio quality – it received an A grade in this area in our test. For most crank radios, audio quality is an afterthought because they are mainly used to pick up weather stations – you don't buy one 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.
Its reception quality is also good, though not great. In our tests, the MMR-88 received a B+ for AM and backcountry reception and a B for FM reception. While its reception is comparatively good, it's closer to average than excellent. This crank radio performed well enough in our audio quality and reception tests that you could justify purchasing it for recreational use in addition to its intended purpose as an emergency preparedness tool.
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 it can withstand water spraying from any direction, thanks in part to the port protectors that limit how much water can reach the internal components. Since you will likely use your weather radio in all kinds of conditions, it’s important that it be able to take a tumble or two and come in contact with water.
This Sangean crank radio also has a light with a Morse code beacon setting, a siren and a headphone jack. The siren is a handy survival feature because alerts people to your location.
The MMR-88 comes with a one-year warranty. You can contact support by phone or email, but there's little else in the way of help – the website has a downloadable user manual, and that's it. There isn't a page devoted to FAQs or a user forum. The latter is a valuable tool whether you are a backpacker or are building an emergency preparedness kit because it connects you with other users to share experiences and ideas.
The Sangean MMR-88 is a good crank radio to have in many situations. It has a very efficient hand crank, and its audio quality is among the best available. In addition, the reception quality is above average compared to the other weather radios we tested. Its compact, durable, water-resistant design makes it a nice companion on a campout or backcountry hiking.