You never know when the shit is going to hit the fan, so if and when that time comes, it’s best to be prepared.
Smartphones are great, but in the event of a disaster or severe weather, they could easily be rendered useless. Cell towers could go down, or the power could go out, leaving you with nothing more than smart-flashlight and a limited battery. The same goes for your car, boat, bicycle, or when you’re out and about exploring the remote wilderness. It wouldn’t hurt to have a backup plan just in case your smartphone is out of commission. Like I said before, you never know when mayhem will show its ugly face. There is only one thing we say to death…not today.
Enter the All-in-one solar/dynamo, AM/FM/Weather radio, flashlight, and emergency charger from ELECLOVER. It’s kind of a jack of all trades emergency device, and sports a bevy of features your smartphone probably doesn’t. It carries an IPX-3 rating, which doesn’t protect it from being submerged in water, but it should survive the occasional water spray and some light rain.
AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio
Most smartphones do not support (non-app) FM radio and I’ve never even heard of a smartphone that supports AM frequencies. Same goes for NWR (NOAA Weather Radio). If all else fails, typically, radio transmissions are the most likely to still be up and running. If you cannot pick up a single radio station, especially AM, and you’re not 30 feet underground, there is a good chance that the world may be coming to an end. But, assuming the world isn’t ending, at least you’re going to know what’s up with the outside world.
The radio on the device is analog, which makes it a bit harder to use, but I’d imagine analog controls are more dependable than digital controls. If you’ve ever tuned a radio like this before, you know it can be a challenge to pick up the right station. But for the most part, the radio works like it should. The speaker is reasonably loud, but it’s not going to replace your Bluetooth speaker any time soon. It would have been nice to have seen a 3.5mm headphone jack so you could output the signal to a more powerful speaker, like a Bluetooth speaker. More utility is always good, but given the device’s purpose, I suppose it’s not really necessary.
The device also includes a very bright LED flashlight. It’s significantly brighter than most smartphone flashlights, and it’s completely rechargeable without the need for an external power source.
There are three ways in which you can charge the device.
You can charge via the miniUSB port found on the back of the device. Just like a typical smartphone.
The device can also be charged via solar power. Just make sure you give it enough time to juice up. A full solar charge will take about 10-12 hours. But if you’re outside camping or hiking, this shouldn’t be much of an issue, just set it and forget it. By the time you need it , it will probably have a decent charge.
When you just don’t have time for any of the above, the hand crank can also be used. Simply turn the hand crank in either direction to generate power. One minute of hand cranking can generate enough continuous power to operate the flashlight for 3 minutes, and the radio for 15-20 minutes at medium volume. I’m not quite sure if you can use the hand crank to completely charge the battery, but I’m guessing it would take quite a bit of effort and time. But in the event of an emergency, and all else fails, at least you have another option.
The device comes equipped with a 1000mAh Ni-MH (Nickel–metal hydride) battery. Which probably won’t last as long as lithium-ion, but we will need to perform a long term test to confirm the longevity of the battery. The battery capacity may not sound like much (it isn’t), but I figure it to be enough to charge your phone up for a few emergency calls. It charges at a decent rate but considering the small battery capacity, I don’t think it is an adequate replacement for a decent battery pack, but it should some provide some power if there are no other options. That being said, try not to lose the accessories that come in the box, because without them, charging wise, you’re kinda screwed.
The included USB charging adapter requires two accessories to use. A 2.5mm power cable, and a female USB adapter that plugs into the power cable. It’s a bit cumbersome to use and without both of these accessories, you will not be able to charge your device. This is probably my biggest complaint about the device as a whole. So my suggestion to ELECLOVER is this, for your next iteration of this particular device, include the female USB port inside the device, no accessories needed. The power cord seems unnecessary in my opinion. Considering how the device will be used, requiring two extra accessories (that could easily get lost) for one feature isn’t ideal. Also, these are not common accessories (especially the 2.5 mm power adapter), finding replacements is going to take some work.
As you can see, recharging your device could get a bit cumbersome.
For all you outdoorsy types out there, I could see this device as being an essential part of your gear, especially if you plan on heading out somewhere remote. But its usefulness isn’t limited to that particular segment of people. I think everyone else could find a use for this little guy as well. It’d be great to keep in your glove box or in the emergency location of your home. The device best suited for emergency’s and occasional recreational use, but I’m sure you could find a daily use for it if you wanted to maximize it’s potential. If anything, it’s a “nice to have just in case” device. Despite the small issue regarding the charging cable, for right around $20, it’s a pretty easy recommendation.