Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
Eton's products are no longer as good as they were
on October 18, 2012
I've been using Eton products for many years and, in general, have been pleased with them. They used to be overpriced, but the quality factor made up for it. After all, with an emergency radio, you want to be as sure as possible that the radio will indeed be in workable condition during an emergency. I purchased a smaller Eton radio (Eton Rover) on sale earlier this year and was, frankly, disappointed. Even at the very low sale price, I didn't find value in it. Tuning is miserably finicky. Reception is always a maybe and requires twisting and turning it this way and that.
I bought this one on sale as well to replace a much earlier Eton American Red Cross FR-400 radio that had suffered damage. Had I paid the full currently advertised price I would have felt cheated - as it is, even with the sale price, I still feel that I've paid too much.
The design of ARCPT300W is okay. The LED display is very welcome for accurate tuning. The handle lends itself to easy carrying, particularly when using the flashlight feature. There is a four-button switch panel. You have to choose the power source first, either DYN to use the internal rechargeable Ni-MH battery or BATT to use three AAA cells.
Recharging the Ni-MH battery is done by turning the crank. According to the manual, 1 minute of cranking will power the radio for 5 minutes at low volume. My results were slightly better than that. You can also recharge the Ni-MH through a USB port connected to your computer or an AC adapter. A full charge takes 8 hours, according to the manual, and supposedly will power the radio for 4 to 5 hours, but my experience has tended toward the lower number. You can play the radio while charging through a computer USB port. I was able to do this. But when I tried an AC adapter, I encountered hum so bad that I could not hear the station. I will have to check that out further with other adapters. The regular AAA batteries, if you use them, drain very quickly even with the radio off, the alert feature turned off and the unit charging.I would strongly suggest not leaving the AAA batteries in the unit when you are not using it.
By the way, the USB cable supplied with the unit is only about 18 inches long.
Reception on AM and FM was excellent, the latter using the built-in extendable antenna. You can tune 7 NOAA stations and in my area, I had excellent reception on two of them.
I haven't tried the cell phone charging feature. Supposedly you can charge it from the built-in NI-MH battery if it is at half or more capacity. The manual also states that you can crank at 130 RPM for 7 minutes to charge the cell phone enough for 5 minutes of talk time. That's a lot of cranking to be sure, but when the main power is down, it would be worth it.
There's a white light 4 LED diode flashlight which is adequate and a 1-diode red flasher which strikes me as being of limited usefulness. There is also an audio-in connector for using this with MP3 players and such.
Build quality is barely adequate, if that. It appears to be all plastic and it is doubtful it would survive being dropped, so handle with care. The lettering on the carry handle has rubbed off after being carried room to room a few times. No carrying case or AC adapter is supplied.
Overall, I think Eton has downgraded its quality to the point where the product value is questionable. At the full price, I would have been unhappy - at the sale price, I still feel somewhat cheated. As I mentioned earlier, I am a long-time Eton customer. The FR-400 radio this one is replacing was superb: this one has a more useful design in some ways, but I think the quality is lower in some respects. On the whole, I am no longer impressed with Eton quality and will be looking for an alternative.