Once upon a time I had purchased an Eton Emergency Weather Radio and I wasn’t very impressed for the $50 I spent. Sure it had all the bells and whistles but there was something about it that I didn’t like… perhaps the hand crank, I don’t know. Seems I got rid of it –probably gave it to somebody–and so I haven’t had a true emergency radio in my possession until now.
Let’s talk about the Champ Survival Skybox Emergency Weather Radio today. Last week I reviewed the Champ Survival Sidekick and, to be honest, I wasn’t very pleased. This Skybox, however, is a different story…
According the Amazon description: “…With the Champ Survival Bluetooth Weather Radio with Flashlight, you’re a little more prep’d and ready for the unexpected. Whether you’re camping or caught in a power outage, the Survival Skybox has everything you need to you safe. Includes, AM / FM / NOAA weather radio, flashlight, bluetooth wireless technology, USB charging for mobile devices, distress light, NOAA alerts, digital clock, calendar function, temperature function, hand crank and solar panel charging, headphone jack, hideaway antenna, convenient carry handle, radio, AC power adapter, user guide, and 1-year limited warranty.”
The Emergency Weather Radio: Function (AM/FM/Weather)
As you can see, this is more than just a radio. Of course, that’s a great place to start. It’s does AM/FM but, more importantly, NOAA weather bands too. This, in my humble opinion, is very useful to emergency preparedness and something I feel every home should have.
Note that the display is all digital and allows you to change the stations using button OR a dial, though, I’m not sure why they integrated both options. One thing I liked, in particular, is the ability to turn the weather alter functioning on/off which means that if there is an alert issued (via NOAA weather services) then the radio will automatically turn on and start playing. That can be useful.
As for the sound, it’s plenty loud enough and just turning the volume up to about halfway was plenty to listen to weather alerts as well as music. Note: there is a hideaway antenna, which is nice, but I would have preferred it to be a bit longer so as to improve reception. Where we are we don’t get the best of reception but I was able to get the channels I generally expected to get.
The Emergency Weather Radio: Lights
There’s a light on one end of the Skybox. The light isn’t super bright by any means but it is a bit brighter than the Champ Sidekick I reviewed previously. I’d say it’s enough to keep from tripping over things around the house. The light also tilts up and down (let’s say 25 degrees or so) which could prove useful in some situations.
There’s also a red distress lighting included that, sadly, blinks as well. For the life of me I have no idea why manufacturers think this is a good idea. If I were truly stranded in a ditch somewhere then perhaps the idea makes sense but it’s hardly bright enough to be of any actual use. I would have much rather they skipped that idea and either made the red light NOT blink (so as to preserve night vision) OR made a low setting for the actual light.
Emergency Phone Charging
One very good addition is the ability to charge a cell phone. Like the Sidekick, this isn’t going to fully recharge a typical cell phone but should provide plenty of juice to get a phone call or two out. Moreover, the battery in the Skybox is about three times the size of the Sidekick so you will be able to charge a cell phone battery.
Solar Powered, Hand Crank, etc
I like things that are solar powered. According to the manual, however, it would take about 45 hours of direct sunlight to fully charge the battery. That may sound bad but anything that has a built-in solar panel like this isn’t going to charge very fast. If you’re going to rely on solar to charge the unit during an emergency then you should limit radio play and lighting as much as possible.
As for the hand crank, it’s very similar (if not exactly the same) as the Sidekick. IMO, it’s a last-ditch effort. Granted, it’s nice to have the option. According to the manual it should take roughly four hours to fully charge the battery of continuous hand-cranking. Sounds like a great job for the kids. 😉
I should note that it does NOT take batteries which would have been a nice option in an emergency radio. There is an included AC adapter which would be great if you have an alternative power setup but otherwise useless in an emergency. Beyond that, I would have at least preferred there be a compartment to place the adapter inside for storage but there isn’t.
Like I mentioned above the display is all digital. That’s nice but it gets a bit crowded. Anyway, no big deal. I did notice that the Skybox includes a built-in temperature monitor on the display which is nice. Now you can gripe about the precise temperature you’re either sweating at or freezing from! All kidding aside, it is a good feature and one I hadn’t thought about.
If you’re so inclined, the Skybox has bluetooth capability, meaning you can sync something like a iPhone or iPad to it and play your favorite music. I can’t say this is an especially useful feature during an emergency but, hey, at least you won’t have to wait for the radio station to play your favorite songs. 🙂
The Skybox also has an alarm and sleep timer feature.
Overall, there’s a lot packed into the Champ Survival Skybox emergency weather radio. The price is a bit steep at nearly $100 but you’re not buying a cheapo emergency radio here. I feel like it’s a quality radio that will suit your needs during an emergency. And with the added features of a light, solar powered, hand-crank, USB phone charger, and more… it works as advertised.