Survival Gear Review: Midland ER200 Weather Alert Compact Radio

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Despite the global technological advances of the past 30 years, the unpretentious radio still remains a valuable means of mass communication. And in the event of an emergency, the ability to receive information, warnings and instructions can make all the difference. The Midland ER200 offers more features than other radios of its size and class, but how well do these features work? Stay tuned for the details.

This compact radio has very clear reception of the weather band, so you should have no trouble picking up your local signal from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It can also tune in some of your favorite FM and AM radio stations. If that was all it did, I’d say it was handy to have. But this device also provides a Cree LED flashlight with high and low beams, and an SOS flash setting. You won't have to worry about running out of batteries; the ER200 can be charged by the attached solar panel, from any USB port, or by cranking an integrated handle. The included cable even allows you to charge Smartphones and tablets off of the radio’s rechargeable (and replaceable) battery.

Here are the specs:
—AM/FM radio with 7 NOAA weather bands
—Built-in Cree LED flashlight with 130-lumen high beam, low beam, and flashing SOS feature
—Powered by hand crank, solar panel, or DC power from a USB cable
—Capable of charging smartphones and tablets
—Built-in rechargeable battery and headphone jack
—6.5 inches long by 2.8 inches wide, and it weighs 13 ounces
—MSRP is $59.99

I only have one real issue with this radio, but it’s no small thing. In spite of the adjustable telescopic antenna, I found it difficult to tune in some regional radio stations that my car radio can tune in clearly. Local (very local) radio stations came in clearly, as did two of the NOAA bands, and the sound quality of the speaker was better than comparable radios. But I would expect an emergency radio to have better reception and further reach, just in case the local stations were down.

Even though I couldn’t tune in all of the stations I wanted, every feature performed as advertised and I would recommend this radio for anyone’s emergency gear stash. It’s a reliable rechargeable radio that isn’t very expensive, provides emergency lighting and signaling, and it could even charge your phone to provide you with more communication options—a huge asset during a crisis. Before tornado and hurricane season ramp up for the year, consider adding the Midland ER200 to your preparedness supplies.