As someone who loves adventure, the great outdoors, and believes in being prepared for emergencies, I recently wanted to find a multi-band emergency radio that I could have on hand in case a situation presented itself when I needed it.
When I set out to review multi-band emergency radios in the $40 and under category, I had no idea that this would be such a challenge. So, to anyone else in the market for a multi-band radio, I wanted to share my findings to shortcut your shopping experience!
When I began searching Amazon for emergency radios, I was pleased to find many contenders to choose from. After two hours of reviewing over a dozen radios and reviews, I was down to only a couple of candidates that I seemed like would meet my needs. I disqualified radios if they had one or more reported issues with a feature that was important to me.
Choosing a product under $40 was essential because I wanted to highlight a tool that is affordable and accessible to anyone. My top choice was the $32 PPLEE radio available via Amazon.com. When writing this review, this multifunction emergency radio unit ranked 4.5/5.0 stars, with 2,352 customer ratings submitted. I was impressed enough to make the purchase.
In reading customer comments and questions answered about this radio, I concluded that this unit packs a wallop when it comes to all of the capabilities that one would want in a multifunction emergency radio.
At 6.69 inches L x 2.36 inches W x 3.74 inches H, this unit fits nicely in my daily walkabout fanny pack. The compact size of this unit made it ideal for storing in a vehicle, daypack, or backpack for backcountry outings.
What I like best about this radio is that its features and capabilities would complement most home or vehicle emergency kits. Also, you know you’re never going to be without power because the unit has five power sources for the radio, directional and area/reading light bank, SOS alarm, and USB cell phone charging port.
I first tested the radio's ability to tune local FM radio stations. The stations I tuned came in clearly with plenty of volume and good sound quality. I was able to tune a few AM radio stations and two weather channels while indoors, too. I didn't have any luck tuning in any sideband stations during my indoor test. Additionally, the radio has a 3.5mm headset jack to listen to the radio without disturbing others around you.
The telescopic antenna collapses quickly and clips to the radio chassis, which helps to minimize the possibility of the antenna getting caught on something during transport and snapping off. This feature makes it easy to fit inside a pack of any kind, which was a definite must for me since I wasn’t just looking for a stationary unit.
The manual analog radio tuner was adequate to fine-tune to desired stations. One disadvantage of this radio is that it lacks digital tuners. Some of the emergency radio units I considered had digital, push-button tuners. Digital tuners take the guesswork out of tuning-in a desired radio station that is transmitting at a known specific frequency. Digital tuners also eliminate the possibility of wear over time like an analog tuner could experience.
For most of the controls on this unit—including the analog tuner—users should take caution when using the knobs so as to not overstress any of the plastic and switch components.
When set to the high brightness setting, the 2 1/2 watt white LED light bank can brightly light a wide area at night. This would be helpful in various situations, including setting up camp after dark or getting stranded on the side of the road at night.
You can also use the low brightness setting as a reading light or night light. Again, this is helpful in both emergencies and planned adventures.
The SOS alarm, triggered via a push-button control on the back of the unit, was very loud. When the SOS alarm is sounding, the flashlight will flash a morse code SOS signal, which can help a rescuer locate the person in distress.
The compass was a nice add-on feature that can provide additional directional guidance while day hiking.
The unit provides a one-year warranty with email support. My unit shipped with an offer to extend the warranty to 18 months, by registering the product via the company's website.
I attempted to register the product, providing required information including my full name, contact info (phone # and email address), order number, product model #, and whether I purchased via Amazon.com as a Prime member.
After completing the web form and submitting the information, a user message "Try again later" was displayed. I sent an email to the company support email address, including a screenshot of the information I submitted in the web form, and the resulting error message that was displayed when I submitted the registration information.
So far, my field testing consists of a friend who will be relying on using most of the features of the unit outdoors, daily. A family member will also be contributing reports on the unit's performance, from time to time, as an emergency home radio.
In field testing, it was reported that when AAA alkaline batteries were used as the power source, the batteries lasted for a day before needing to be replaced. We are currently testing the performance of the radio using Deleepow 1.5 Volt, 800 milliwatt hour, AAA lithium rechargeable batteries.
While there are a few questions that remain to be answered, I am really pleased with my selection. The price point and the features were exactly what I was looking for, and I have confidence that this multi-band radio will serve me well whether it’s for fun or in an emergency.
Do you have an emergency radio? What do you like about it, and what do you wish could be improved? What are your primary uses for your radio?