Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Midland ER102 Emergency Radio Review

The ER102 is one of  many emergency radios currently available online for between $30-$60. It's cheap price and plentiful features are sure to draw in a ton of  customers who are in the market for a high quality radio, wanting not to spend a ton of money. Midland has been know to make high quality radios for over 50 years, so choosing the ER102 is an easy choice vs lesser known brands.  The ER102  has a ton of great features, things like a cellphone charger, 4 different ways of powering it and the NOAA weather radio with automatic alerts are a must in an emergency or camping situation. In addition the radio features a bright 3 led area light, hand crank generator, built in battery with wall charger, and a large digital screen which reads tons of useful information. All of the features come together in a lightweight 1.5 pound package which takes up about as much space as a portable 7 inch television. I also found the same functions to be quite easy to use, despite the high number of things the ER102 can do. For the past 2 months, I've had a chance to experience every aspect of the radios ability to work in an emergency. Thunderstorms, high winds, heat waves and even a 9 hour power outage. I am glad to say that the ER102 performed its various tasks without a single issue or annoyance.

Quality of main Features:

The radio has pretty good build quality, despite the fact that it is almost entirely made out of hard plastic. Seams are sealed correctly to allow for all weather operation and the buttons, switches and dials have a nice tactile feel. The use of a 2 tone black and grey color scheme helps to break up the plastic feel a bit. At the top of the radio is a foe leather stitched carry handle that feels nice in the hand. Probably the most important aspect of a radio is the quality of reception. I never found a reason to have to raise the telescoping antenna once while using any of the 3 radio bands, so reception is good. Reception on the weather band side is extremely strong, since it uses the "PLL drift free technology".  PLL keeps the radio on it's current frequency without any human adjustment, besides selecting the specific channel you want. The technology also allows the ER102 to receive weather broadcasts from a station up to 50 miles away. The only thing a user has to do is choose one of the 7 radio channels via a slider switch and the radio takes care of the rest. On the AM and FM side, the reception is very good, even though they lack the previously mentioned PLL technology and instead use a manual tuner dial. There is a 3 position rotary switch for choosing 1 of the 3 bands, with the top two positions reserved for AM and FM bands. Once the desired band is selected, the small tuning dial can be used to brows through and fine tune a radio station. With the AM or FM band chosen the screen switches from is usual time readout feature and instead goes into a current frequency readout mode. There is also a weather alert symbol and current temperature readout, which stay constant throughout all modes of operation.  The Screen is very easy to read and has a high contrast ratio for viewing in direct sunlight. Under lower light conditions a button at the top, which doubles for an alert shut off also cycles the back light on for a few seconds. Another important area is Speaker quality, which I can report is pretty good.  The single speaker provides mono sound, but still provides a well rounded full range sound quality. Audio can also be heard through the use of headphones, thanks to a built in 3.5mm headphone jack located at the rear.

Extra Functions and Features Quality:

The non radio functions like, the cellphone charger,  hand crank, flashlight, alarm clock and thermometer performed equally well compared with the radios main functions. The cellphone charger, located at the rear uses a standard female usb port, which is much more useful that multiple adapter tips that have to be carried in a separate bag. The usb port is powered via the hand crank generator or the included wall adapter. Most of the time the hand crank will be used, so the charging port should be used for extra talk time during an emergency. The hand  crank as a whole performs good with all of the radios functions. Besides the cellphone charger, it recharges a small 650 mah battery pack to work everything besides the phone charger. It can also power the radio independently from any of the other 3 power sources. There is also an emergency 3 led flashlight, which is actually quite bright. It provides somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 lumens, which is plenty of light to see around a house when the power goes out. The alarm clock and thermometer are very useful in providing the current time, a wake up alarm as well as the current temperature around the radio. The thermometer also doubles as a freeze alert warning when sub zero temperatures are reached. This could be a vital life saver for those that camp outdoors during the winter months. Overall the radio performed great with not a single issue noted.


4 hour battery life with rechargeable pack, over 24 with 3 AA cells

Extra functions like the back light, alarm clock, usb port, thermometer

build quality

bright flashlight

PLL drift free technology

included AC adapter



Digital tuner dial for AM and FM slightly too sensitive

Back light only stay on for a few seconds

No carry bag included

Features and Specs:
Channels 7 Weather
Frequency band 162.400- 162.550 MHz
FM/AM Frequency AM 530 ~ 1700 kHz, FM 87.9 ~108.1 MHz
Unit Dimensions (H x Wx D) in 6 x 8 x 2
Unit Weight (lbs) 1.2
Package Size (H x Wx D) 6.45 x 9.88 x 2.55
Package Weight (lbs) 3.3
Display Size (W x H) in 3 x 1
RoHS Compliant Yes
Power Requirement 3 AA or 6V DC
Crank Recharging 2 TPS x 90 sec= 60 minutes operating time
Operating Temperature Range 10– 50 C
Alert 1050 Hz tone
Certification Part 15

  • 7 Preset Weather Channels
  • Alert Override automatically switches from AM/FM to warn you of hazardous conditions
  • 3 Alert Types- Display, Voice or Flashlight
  • Flashlight Visual Alert perfect for the hearing impaired
  • AM/FM Radio allows you to stay informed
  • 4 Sources of Power- Alkaline Batteries, AC Adapter, Crank or Rechargeable Battery
  • Alarm Clock - Wake to local Weather, AM/FM or Buzz
  • Thermometer with Freeze Alert
  • Telescoping Antenna provides crystal clear reception
  • Water Resistant
  • USB Connector- Allows you to charge your cell phone in an emergency
  • Uses 3 AA alkaline batteries (not included)
  • All Hazards Alert - in addition to important weather announcements your radio will also receive other emergency announcement such as:
    • Child Abduction Emergency (Amber Alert)
    • Nuclear Power Plant Warning
    • Biological Hazard Warning
    • Civil Emergency Message
    • Fire Warning
    • Landslide Warning 


No comments:

Post a Comment