Developed utilizing feedback from Eton's passionate customers in an attempt to help stay prepared during instances of severe weather and other unexpected situations. The Eton FRX 3 is a self-powered safety radio, utilizing both hand-turbine and solar energy to re-charge it's internal Ni-MH lithium ion battery. The FRX 3 also features direct power transfer technology, allowing the internal battery to charge mobile devices (cell phone, iPod, etc...) when connected via the integrated USB port. Other features include a LED flashlight, glow-in-the-dark indicator for easy location, AC and DC input, AUX in-put, headphone jack and digital alarm. Thanks to our buddies over at Eton we were able to fully test and review the FRX 3 in some extreme conditions on a recent camping expedition up in gods country, aka Northern Michigan!
Design: (10 out of 10) For such a diminutive device (1 lbs 5 oz.) with the slim dimensions of just 7.9" H x 7" W x 3.5" D, Eton has somehow packed a ridiculous amount of technology into the FRX 3! Seriously, and it doesn't look like a pile of junk riddled with oddly placed buttons and knobs either. The design is extremely appealing from an ascetic perspective as well as being astonishingly functional and easy to use as well. There are two knobs, one for adjusting the AM/FM radio frequency and one for volume. A separate dial located above the turbine crank can be used to pick up the local NOAA weather band frequency. Beyond this their is 10 other dedicated buttons for power on/off, cell phone charging, flashlight, weather alerts, clock, etc... all of which were easy to operate and setup to be user friendly.
Battery Life: (8.5 out of 10) When fully charged the FRX 3 can play audio for up to 4 hours on low volume. 90 seconds of hand-cranking will provide approximately 5 to 7 minutes of radio, at low volume and 20 minutes of flashlight. Not quite impressed? Well, when you're without power for several days, maybe weeks, or spending a weekend camping in the wilderness you'll quickly come to understand that any amount of communication with the outside world can sometimes be incredible just as we did!
Audio: (8 out of 10) Understanding that the FRX 3 wasn't exactly designed to rock our socks off, we actually found the sound quality to be nice. There is no deep bass or custom settings to speak of, but it's single center mounted speaker gets the job done.
Turbine: (9 out of 10) The hand turbine dynamo motor is as simple to operate as you would think. Just pop out the crank, make sure to push the dynamo power button for charging, and begin cranking! It's like reeling in a fish, and if you have 15 minutes and your wrist and forearm can handle it, you can easily get up to 1 hour of radio play (on low) out of it.
Solar: (9.5 out of 10) This is my favorite kind of power! Except when it's cloudy or night... it's free, abundant and takes no work to acquire. To fully charge the FRX 3 using the solar array located on the top of the unit will take 10 hours. From that you get about 4 hours of radio (the battery's max capacity). Charging the FRX 3 via solar power was easy and our preferred method and if you do plan to charge your cell phone or other devices, we recommend doing it while solar charging.
Value: (10 out of 10) The FRX 3 is an excellent value! Try buying a hand turbine rechargeable AM/FM/WB radio, a flashlight and solar powered phone charger individually at your local sporting goods store... you're likely to spend $90 to $100 or more! With an asking price of just $60 for the FRX 3 you get all that and more. As an added bonus, a portion of each sale benefits the American Red Cross.
The Bottom Line: There's nobody we wouldn't recommend the FRX 3 to. It's compact, user friendly, and high quality. You never know when the next power outage or natural disaster might hit your area, but when it does you can be prepared. If you don't already have a similar hand turbine/solar powered device, we highly recommend you check out the Eton FRX 3 safety radio. It's a must have for any homeowner, outdoors men, and business owner. To see the FRX 3 in action check out the embedded video below, where you can see how each element works...
June 19, 2012 11:04 AM | Survival Gear