Eton FR200 review

With the government sending out a pamphlet to every home in the UK about how to cope in an emergency situation it’s with a strange coincidence that hot on the heals of the announcement, manufacturers are sending in the latest and greatest gadgets to use in such an emergency situation.

According to the Government’s emergency pamphlet there is an agreement with radio and TV companies that if there is a major emergency they will interrupt programming to give public safety advice and information about the incident, so that when you tune in locally or nationally anywhere in the UK you’ll get the advice you need.

In steps the Eton FR200, a wind-up analogue radio for those blackout moments. Small and compact, but well sized - 7 x 10.2 x 1.9 cm - the radio offers AM, FM, and short wave frequencies and comes in a variety of colours. That way when you’re not in an emergency situation, but rather in the park having a picnic, you can enjoy either the metallic red, blue, orange, green or grey. We tested the red one, although all the units are identical. The colour does make this radio stand out from the crowd and while only skin deep, makes it a bit more interesting that just another pseudo silver radio to clog up your shelves in the store room. First Aiders may want red to match the first aid kit box though, so it’s not just the iMac influence rearing its head again.

Aside from the radio, the FR200 also features a flashlight built into the front of the unit. This like the radio is powered by the wind-up motor and Eton, the radio’s manufacturer, promised winding up the crank for around 90 seconds will to give you one hour of listening. In tests the timings were true to form, although using the flashlight which was bright enough to illuminate the dials and the surrounding area around the radio did reduce the time between windings, however as you’re not paying out for batteries we personally were happy to wind away.

If you can’t be bothered to do the winding however, you can opt to power the radio by either by three AA batteries or an optional extra AC adapter, but for us this option rather defeats the point. It’s a bit like being offered a free lunch and then paying for it at the end and besides an odd number of batteries is silly- you’d need to buy them in 12s or forever store the one left over until you had another trio to use.

Verdict

With a big aerial, radio stations were easily tuned in and overall we were very impressed with the results that we got from the unit. The built-in speaker coped with turning up the volume and in an emergency foregoing the reliance on batteries will certainly relive you the fear of running out of power in that emergency situation. However for us the best element is the inclusion of the light. This lets that summer picnic go on just that little bit longer with an added soundtrack or sports commentary.