The Scorpion, from the Eton Corporation, is the most convenient, durable and feature-filled solar radio we’ve seen. That’s why it earns the distinction as our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner in this category. This solar radio offers users a compact size that can be carried anywhere, but even though it is incredibly small, somehow the designers managed to pack tons of features into the Scorpion. This saves you packing room on trips and doesn’t waste space at home. Plus, it’s perfect to take on hikes.
The Scorpion is like the Swiss Army knife of the solar radio world. It squeezes maximum utility into a sleek, small design.
It receives AM 520-1710 KHz, FM 87.5-108 MHz and seven NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) channels that can be found using the Seek and Scan buttons. It’s extremely easy to find clear radio stations using these functions.
The NOAA radio stations are specifically for keeping you informed of weather emergencies. This is vital for hikers and campers because it can prevent them from being caught in a flash flood or blizzard. These stations are also useful for those living in tornado-prone areas. You can easily take the radio with you into the tornado shelter because it is small, portable and easy to recharge.
Not getting great radio reception? No problem. It has a hookup for MP3 devices so you can easily play music directly from your iPod. No other solar radio has this feature. When the MP3 is plugged in, the device’s volume switch is disabled, enabling you to use the MP3’s volume switches. This doesn’t pose a real problem, but it’s good to know all the same.
The LED flashlight isn’t as bright as a regular flashlight such as a Maglite, but this solar powered radio is one of the brightest you’ll find on a solar radio. Most people will find that the Scorpion is plenty bright enough for most situations, including emergency conditions. The fact that it’s attached to so many other useful gadgets and that the solar radio has multiple charging options may make it better than your brightest average flashlight.
The aluminum carabineer makes space in your rucksack because the Scorpion radio can easily be clipped to the outside of it or your belt loops. Some users may find that the carabineer is awkwardly placed on the solar radio, making it hang at an angle on packs. Others may find that the carabineer is somewhat on the flimsy side, though with normal use it shouldn’t break.
Who hasn’t been in the middle of no-where or in the middle of a blackout with a dead cell phone? With the Scorpion radio you can plug your dead cell phone into the USB port, give it a couple cranks or put it out in the sun and make a call. This is a fantastic safety feature that makes this solar radio an emergency kit must-have.
There’s also a bright digital clock to keep track of the time during your hike and as if you expected yet another gadget on this totally useful tool, it also includes a bottle opener for those cold beers after a long day in the woods. The bottle opener is located on the side of the unit, so you may have to take the solar radio off of your pack before you can use it on a bottle.
The biggest disappointment in the features category is that the Scorpion doesn’t come with headphones like the KA888 Wind Up / Solar Radio. These will need to be purchased separately, which may not be a problem for those that prefer a particular type of headset or earbuds.
The Scorpion may be small, but it’s tougher than many of its competitors. It includes a tough outer casing that protects the solar powered radio from breakage. The case is ribbed for a better grip and to prevent dropping it in the first place.
Not only does the rugged case protect against bumps, it also protects the electronics from spraying water from all angles at 10 liters per minute at a pressure of 80-100kN/m2 for five minutes. This doesn’t mean that the radio is waterproof, though. The Scorpion can’t be submerged and should be kept out of the rain. Basically, splash-proof means that if you’re hiking though a stream you won’t have to worry about it getting splashed as it hangs from your backpack.
Ease of Use
The antenna is the only part of the package that may be susceptible to the harsh outdoors. It is a simple, aluminum telescoping antenna with on special protection. Granted, the antenna can be pushed down into the unit to protect it, but this only works when the item is not in use. This means that you won’t be able to listen to the radio while you are hiking, biking or any other activity that involves movement that may break off the antenna.; The Scorpion also doesn’t include overload protection, but you don’t really have to worry about that with this unit since you won’t be plugging anything more than a cell phone into it.
As mentioned before, this radio is tiny. It is a small 5.25??? x 2.5??? x 1.75??? and only weighs 8.5 ounces. This is around as small as you television remote. Compare that to our rather larger second pick, the American Red Cross Solarlink FR500 at 7.75??? x 8.5??? x 2.5??? and 1.9lbs, and you will see how amazingly portable this radio is.
The sound quality isn’t top-notch, but you can’t really expect high-quality sound from a solar radio. Some would compare the sound quality to that of a clock radio. Using headphones may increase the sound quality since you won’t be using the low-tech speakers for sound.
If you need help with all of the features, you may need a user manual. Well, there’s no need to worry about losing the paper edition. You can find a PDF, full-color copy online at the company’s website.
Also at the company’s website they include customer support for warranty help, general questions and product registration. If you still need help, there’s also a form you can send in to get one-on-one help with a representative.
The Scorpion has four different charger types. In case you’re caught on a cloudy day, you can charge your solar powered radio with batteries, the crank handle or the DC adapter. Unfortunately the DC adapter is sold separately, so you may not want to count that as a feature unless you’re willing to make an extra purchase.
The crank is sturdy and easy to turn, unlike some other solar powered radios. The cranking mechanism only takes a few easy cranks to charge the radio.
The biggest problem with this product is that it doesn’t tell you how long to set it in the sun for a full charge. Users have reported around an eight-hour charge time for a charge that lasts around 12 hours.
Overall, the Scorpion is an inspired device that outshines any other solar powered radio. It is durable, full of features and easy to carry on hikes or during an emergency, making it the best choice.