The WeatherX WR-383R is an affordable crank radio that receives all the NOAA weather band stations and AM/FM stations, making it a great addition to an emergency preparedness kit. However, its below-average reception quality and long charge time keep it from being one of the very best crank radios.
In our tests, the hand crank generated an average of three minutes and 53 seconds of battery life during two minutes of turning the crank. This is less than the average for our test group, but it isn't terrible – several of the radios we reviewed produced less than two minutes of power in the same test. However, the best radio generated almost 13 minutes of power with the same amount of cranking.
The rechargeable battery took 10 hours and 32 minutes to fully charge using a wall plug – the second-longest charge time of the radios we tested. Starting from a full charge, the battery lasted for five hours and 12 minutes when we played the radio at its maximum volume, which is average. You can also charge the battery with the solar panel that pops up from the side or a USB connection. In addition, this WeatherX model takes disposable batteries, which are its primary power source.
Its biggest weakness is its reception quality. While its weather band reception is as good as that of any other emergency radio we reviewed, its AM and FM reception is poor. The WR-383R has an analog receiver dial, so you have to manually scroll through radio stations. Because of this, it is also difficult to tune precisely.
We tested reception quality on every AM and FM station in our area and scored each one based on clarity. When we compared the WR-383R’s reception to that of other radios, it received a B- for the AM frequencies and a C for backcountry reception quality. The best score it received was a B+, which it earned for its FM reception. Although this radio rated below average, it is the most cost-effective product we tested, so if you plan on stowing a crank radio away in an emergency kit to only use during a catastrophic event, its low price may outweigh the need for quality reception.
The crank radio’s best feature is its 3.5mm audio input, which you can use to connect any music player with an aux cord. This means you can play music from your phone or MP3 player through the speaker. You can also connect a microphone and use the speaker to amplify your voice, which is an advantage in a survival situation, provided you have access to a microphone.
The WR-383R is one of the few radios with a thermometer, which is a handy feature when you're camping. However, the plastic casing isn't water-resistant, and it doesn't have any impact-resistant points.
This WeatherX crank radio has a 90-day warranty, which is the shortest warranty term of the models we tested. You can contact the support staff by phone or email if you have questions.