Play It Again Sam: Alternatively Powered Radios and Players

by EcoStreet on July 22, 2010

in EcoGadgets, EcoSounds

This is a guest post from the guys at igadgetlife.com, covering gadget reviews .

They say that music calms the savage beast. It could also be said that talk-radio creates a stir. But either way you like it, one thing you can use to experience either one is a radio or portable media player. Portable media players allow us to bring our own music, and radios bring us a lot of entertainment and information generally for free, plucked straight from the airwaves.

But one thing that is not always free in the process is the power required to run the units. Whether you power it from the grid or buy batteries, there is a certain price to pay, and potential ecological waste in the process.

However, if you use a wind up or solar powered device, then you avoid the waste and the reliance on the power suppliers. With a few minutes of cranking you have ample power to enjoy a lot of quality time with the broadcasters, and solar players work great just left in the sunlight. This type of radio works quite well at home, traveling (no power adapters!), and on the camping trail.

In fact, we like the concept of the alternatively powered radios and media players so much that we thought we would show you a few of our favorites. While in no way is this intended to be an exhaustive list, you just might be surprised at what is available on the market today. For those interested, these devices can be found at Nigel’s EcoStore as well as other retailers across the web.

1. Devo Wind Up Digital Radio

The Devo wind up radio integrates Digital Audio Broadcasting with the convenience of an alternatively powered highly efficient FM radio. The Devo uses the Freeplay wind up power technology, and 60 seconds of winding can give up to 1 hour FM at normal volume. A fully charged battery will crank out 6 hours DAB or a whopping 36 hours FM.

The radio is only 122 x 114 x 204mm big, so packing it with you is not a problem. There is also 5 DAB presets, taking you back to your favorite station quickly when needed.

2. Wind Up Eco Media Player

If there was one wind up media device that I was going to carry with me, then this one would probably be it. The Wind Up Eco Media Player has been dubbed the Green iPod by the press, and it is easy to see why. The device will let you not only enjoy your favorite audio and video files, it will also let you listen to the radio and share your photos.

The unit also features an SD card reader and USB cable for optional charging and data storage on the device (it can mount as an external disk). You can record audio notes with the device thanks to a built in microphone, and if that was not enough, you can also charge your mobile phone, cables included.

One minute of winding will give you about 40 minutes of audio playback, and you can fully charge the battery for 20 hours of uninterrupted service. The Eco Media Player can also be shared in a small crowd thanks to a built in loudspeaker – something missing from a lot of portable media players on the market.

3. Toucan Solar Powered MP4 Player

As an alternative to the wind up media player above, The Toucan Solar Powered MP4 Player has an integrated solar panel that lets it charge from artificial or natural light as needed. The Toucan can play a large variety of audio and video media formats as well as text files and photos. And if for some reason the 4GB internal memory is not enough for you, there is also a mini-SD card clot for expansion.

You can hook up the player to a computer through the USB cable for charging and media transfer, but you won’t need to just for power. After all, one hour of sunlight will give you 36 minutes of audio or roughly 18 minutes of video. And if you fully charge the Toucan, you can have 6 hours of music or 4 hours of video – enough to watch a couple movies.

4. EyeMax Wind Up LED Solar Radio

The EyeMax Wind Up LED Solar Radio is powered by both winding and solar, making it very convenient in a lot of situations. The highly efficient winding mechanism will give you 30+ minutes of listening for a quick 30 second crank session. The unit also features a built-in LED flashlight, just in case you find yourself in the dark.

Cranking is not your only power option with this radio, since it also incorporates solar charging. Left in direct sunlight, it will charge its cells, ready for play when the evening comes.

5. Solar Powered Portable Speakers

So, you already have a great device, but you can’t share the tunes with everyone due to the need for powering big speakers? Well, this may be exactly what you need. The Solar Powered Potable Speakers measure 195 x 112 x 50mm, and weigh in at 290g. Leave this baby in the sun for 6 hours and you can party to your music for 8 hours. And if you don’t have the sunlight, then they will even charge for other types of light, albeit a bit slower.

The speakers have a standard 3.5mm audio socket, making it compatible with practically anything on the market that has a headphone jack (iPhones and iPods included). The Solar Powered Speakers are great for your next outdoor excursion. Of course, they would also be quite handy at home or in an office, preferably placed in a natural light source area – you would always have powered speakers ready to go.

6. Wind Up Football Radio with Cell Phone Charger

While the Wind Up Football Radio looks to be perfect for any football (or soccer) fan you know, it is actually a very capable device. Not only can you crank it up to listen to your favorite music and sports, but you can also charge up your phone with it. The radio comes with a cable for the phone, and it is packaged in biodegradable and recycled material.

7. Rhino AM/FM Wind Up Radio With FLashlight

If you are looking for a solid, basic AM/FM wind up radio then consider the Rhino. The Rhino has a smooth dynamo that gives an hours playing on 1 minutes worth of winding. A rugged design featuring a rubber spray finish makes the appropriately named Rhino a great traveling companion both urban and otherwise.

The Rhino also features a built-in LED light for those night time excursions. The radio measures in at 115x78x25mm. A built in speaker pumps out the sound, and a carrying handle makes it convenient to carry.

8. Baylis Mini Eco Radio

The Baylis Mini Eco Radio is a small and rugged AM/FM wind up and solar powered radio. The radio is coated in a tough rubber finish with a hidden antennae, making it durable enough to carry with you without concern. The small radio features a built-in speaker for sharing the music, and a phone charger keeps your line of communication operating in between listening sessions

The Mini Eco has an integrated LED flashlight for night time use (or cave spelunking, as you see fit). There is also a red LED map reading light, perfect for navigation or looking at your star maps.

Just because it is small does not mean it compromises on its charging capability. The brushless generator gives 20 minutes of listening for 1 minute of cranking, and the incorporated solar panel will fully charge the internal batteries after approximately 10 hours. The unit is easy to stow and carry, since the entire rugged and shockproof design is only 130x60mm.

9. SolarLink Wind Up and Solar Radio

Not only does the Solarlink FR550 Wind Up and Solar Radio feature a friendly and innovative design, it is also a great addition to almost any outdoor adventure. The Solarlink incorporates an AM/FM and shortwave SW/LW tuner, making it easy to find something of interest on the airwaves. Plus it has NOAA weather alert capability just in case things happen.

The Solarlink goes beyond just radio features, with a built-in flashlight, an emergency beacon, and an emergency siren. The radio can also charge up your smart phone and portable media player for those times the radio is off. The unit measures 196x216x63.5mm, and even has a digital clock to keep you on schedule.

10. Robert’s SolarDAB Digital Radio

If you already have a great AM/FM radio but not a DAB (Digital Audio Band) radio, then perhaps the Robert’s solarDAB radio is a great green unit for you. The DAB only solarDAB features a stylish and compact design that would look great on any desk, shelf or, rather ingenuously placed to grab a charge, the windowsill. Being only 190x110x80mm, it is also handy for trips out.

The solarDAB supports DAB Band III and L coverage, and there is a line in socket to listen to your speaker-less portable media player. Unlike most power hungry DAB radios on the market, the solarDAB can provide up to 27 hours on a full charge. And you can be sure when you find the best place to charge it, since there is a charging meter to help guide you. The solar powered solarDAB radio is handy in many places, from home and office to the park and outdoors.

It is easy to see how radios and portable media players have begun to shed their power requirements for alternative methods that save landfills as well as our money. With any of these devices the next time the power goes out, the party will just be getting started.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tom August 18, 2011 at 12:07 am

As power gets more and more expensive things like this will be showing up in more places for consumers.

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