Eton Scorpion Review – Multi-Purpose Digital Radio with Crank Power and Weather Alerts(NSP100GR)
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Table of Contents
Summary Of Eton Scorpion
The Eton Scorpion is a multi-purpose solar powered digital weather radio which is perfect for any set of camping gear. It is meant to take the mantle of a number of different items and be used either in an outdoors or an emergency situation. In those ways, it is highly functional. It operated exactly how it is supposed to and, in fact, has a number of interesting hardware features that are a boon to the unit itself which I would not have expected to find. It is obvious that Eton spent time finding some of the best components to use in the Scorpion. There are some drawbacks but, ultimately, at a $59.99 price point, this unit is well worth the price and will benefit anyone who uses it.
• Functional and thoughtful design.
• Flashlight is bright.
• Added design elements increase functionality (bottle opener, carabiner-type clip).
• Radio is loud and crisp.
• Battery charges quickly and holds charge efficiently.
• Includes USB charging cable.
• Water resistant (IPX-4)
• Flimsy hand crank.
• A bit on the heavy side.
• Reception isn’t too great.
• Buttons are difficult to use.
The hardware on the unit is everything I would want it to be. The case is comprised of hard plastic and hard rubber. The unit comes in a few colors, but mine was lime green. A solar panel sits on the front of the device under the speakers. The back of the device is where the hand crank for the dynamo is located. On the left side is the buttons and the display, which features a clock, a radio, the flashlight controls, and the battery. The display is digital. On the right side of the unit is a built in bottle opener. The top features inputs for USB (which can be used for smartphone charging), a DC charging port, an auxiliary port for output, and a headphone jack.
The top also has the antenna for the radio. It also has a built-in carabiner-type clip for attaching the unit to a belt or a backpack. The LED flashlight is on the bottom of the unit.
The flashlight is on the bottom of the unit itself, with a single button on the side controlling its use. The light is comprised of three bright LED lights and three lenses which focus the light to a single point. The light comes out very bright and clear and, unlike many similar units of this type, the light is very adequate. It can easily light up a dark room or illuminate a path in the dark.
The radio interface is located on the side of the unit. The antenna is on the top and can telescope out and be modified for the best reception. The buttons that control the use of the radio are pretty confusing. They are not very intuitive at all, and you will find yourself consulting the manual for information about how to use it properly. The reception is acceptable, but only because the unit is small and multifunctional. If it were meant to primarily function as a radio on a day-to-day basis it would not be something I would consider.
The buttons are on the side of the unit, surrounding the digital display. The flashlight button is by itself, which is partially a boon to the unit. The buttons themselves are located, presumably, under a thin rubber veneer which covered all of them. The rubberized portions are all single-units (not discreet), so you cannot depress one button without partially depressing the rubber pieces around the others that are around it. The exception to this, of course, is the flashlight button. The buttons are one of the design flaws of the unit for these reasons.
The only battery on the unit is internal. It is rechargeable and lasts a pretty long time. There are three ways to charge it: through a dynamo with the hand crank, via DC adapter through USB or a wall adapter (not included), and through a solar panel on the face of the unit. It should take between 8 and10 hours to charge via the solar panel and will function at low volume for between 4 and 5 hours once it is fully charged. Hand cranking for 90 seconds will allow about 5 minutes of play. The charge times for DC and hand cranking to reach a full charge are not listed, though there is a clear display on the unit which tells you the current battery power.
The unit looks great. It is small enough to be effective when being held in the hand and it has everything it would need to clip on to clothing or other accessories. The unit comes in a few different colors and the rubber on the unit is always going to be black. It looks and feels entirely effective and functional. Nothing on the unit looks to be out of place. It is compact, looks aesthetically pleasing, and is as functional as it could be. It will fit right in with your other cool camping gadgets.
The Eton Scorpion is a great device. Everything on it is pretty intuitive, with the possible exception of the button interface by the digital display. The rest of the unit is easy to figure out right off the bat, including the hand cranking mechanic. Unlike some other units I have used, the hand crank will work regardless of what “mode” the unit is set to, so you don’t need to remember the extra step of turning on the battery “mode” in order to charge it effectively.
The flashlight is one of the best I have seen on this type of unit. The light itself is composed of three semi-powerful LED lights which project an even and bright light. They do not run the battery down too quickly and, should you be low on battery power, a few quick turns of the hand crank will buy you a long amount of time with the flashlight. I was glad to see that they did not skimp on this.
The radio works effectively for what it is. I was able to pull up most AM and FM radio stations as well as the NOAA weatherband stations local to my area. Without the antenna, the reception was pretty horrid, I won’t lie. It wasn’t great even with the antenna fully extended. I frequently found myself moving the antenna around to get the best reception. That is an action I have not had to take in several years with any other radios I have used. Even so, the stations do come in pretty well regardless of the issues with reception. There is some static on some of the stations, but they can still be heard and understood clearly. This could be an issue in a rural area though.
The case is water resistant and drop proof up to one meter. The case itself is composed of hard plastic and rubber, and it feels sturdy. The only part of the case that seems a bit suspect is the hand crank itself. A thick metal carabiner at the top of the unit provides a very good way to carry the unit while it is in use. The solar panel is in a convenient location as well, located on the front behind a small pane of thick plastic to protect it from damage.
The battery of the unit lasts about as long as the manual says that it will. Even with the radio on a moderate volume and the flashlight being on constantly, I found that the unit stayed fully functional for well over four hours. Once it started to get a bit low I was able to easily charge it with the hand dynamo and the solar panel. The hand dynamo charged it much more quickly than the solar panel did, however, so keep that in mind.
I have two primary problems with the hardware on this device:
1. The buttons are very frustrating to use.
2. The hand crank is flimsy and can break easily.
Let’s begin with the buttons. They are massively frustrating. It is the biggest downfall of the unit in terms of interactive use. The hand crank has issues as well, but they can be overcome. The buttons are just a frustrating mess to use at times. Inlaid into the hard plastic display of the unit are two small solid strips of rubber buttons. They are single pieces of rubber, however, with the buttons being underneath the rubber itself (probably a result of the waterproofing methods).
The buttons are simply hard to press. They need a lot of force to press down and they are somewhat confusing. With both +/- and up and down arrows, it becomes confusing navigating the interface. Changing radio stations uses one set of buttons, changing the clock uses another, and changing other options uses another. The issue is that the use of the buttons is not unified, even though different menus are used for each. Another issue is that the buttons sometimes trigger the wrong function when you press them. You will sometimes hit the power button and trigger the mode button. Sometimes you will press up and it will trigger down. This is primarily because of non-discreet buttons and the rubber strip itself.
Moving on to the hand crank, my primary issue is that it is made of relatively thin plastic and held to the unit by two small metal rods. The problem here is that it could likely break very easily and then you would be left with few options for power (either wait almost half a day for the solar panels to charge the battery, plug it into a functioning and powered computer, or somehow manually turn the dynamo without the crank). The latter two are basically non-options, for the most part. The former, waiting for the solar panels, is a definite option, but it puts you at the whim of nature. It also takes a lot of time to accomplish.
There are a couple of other small complaints I have about the device. It is a little bit on the heavy side, coming in at 10.8 ounces, for a unit that is meant to be carries on your person. Second, the reception on the radio just isn’t that great. With that being said, this is a small radio, so it should not be expected to have a great amount of reception. It picks up everything it is meant to pick up, including local FM and AM stations and the NOAA weather stations as well.
The Eton Scorpion is definitely a worthwhile purchase in terms of camping gear. Almost everything on it is highly functional. The design lends itself nicely to people who wish to use the unit while being mobile. It is also capable of clipping to a backpack or a belt, allowing for easy carrying while still maintaining the ability to both solar charge and function as a radio.
There are some cons to this device. The buttons are difficult to use and can be extremely frustrating for people who don’t have a lot of patience. When first using it, I had to stop and restart the process of setting the time on the clock almost five times because I kept overshooting the right numbers or pressing the wrong button. Pressing the wrong button might seem like a user error, but since the buttons are somewhere under the rubber coating of the unit, it is extremely easy to press the location of one button and trigger a different one. The hand crank, of course, has been thoroughly explained. It is not a deal breaker, but it seems like it would be a bit too easy to break.
Even with those issues, the benefits and additional functionality included, in my opinion, outweigh the negative aspects of the device. The addition of the carabiner and the bottle opener simply add to the value and functionality of the device in ways that I would not have thought of prior to use. They add to the device in a way that makes it more than just another cool camping gadget and provide it with multifunctionality . At a $59.99 price point, I think the Eton Scorpion is definitely worth a look if you are in the market for this kind of device.