CES Debuts Multifunction Emergency Radio

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CES Floor

One of the exciting new products premiering on the crowded floor of the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas strikes a very personal chord with me. The device in question is a compact and multifunctional emergency radio, the Grundig Eton FR1000 Voicelink. From the reports on the ground it seems like they are living up their company motto: re_inventing radio.

Disclosure: As a New Orleanian I know from experience how important radio is during a state of emergency. It was a lifeline for many of my friends who were trapped in the city when the flooding started after Hurricane Katrina. When the phones, cell phones, and other lines of communication failed, city residents were still able to find public service announcements about what was happening and what options they had on the radio. One neighbor of mine at the time said that without the radio he would have had no idea that the water was unsafe to drink due to contaminants from the flooding. Another one found the National Guard and was able to escape the city because she heard about their arrival on her radio.

This is a perspective that I confidently wager is shared by many who have undergone disasters, be they earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, or fires. The one consistent lifeline seems to always be radio.

With that in mind let us take a glance at Eton’s new offering: The FR1000. It is quite a device. It runs on four AA batteries, but has a hand crank to power it when they run out. It receives AM, FM and NOAA weather radio. The unit also supports two way GMRS radio allowing communication as well as receipt of broadcasts. As a bonus it also sports an integrated cellphone charger, siren, and flashlight.

Kevin Lim of the Educational Technology Center, who is livecasting from CES, places it number three in his blog post entitled, Gadget Porn: Top Five CES Picks :

Sure, there are plenty of neat survival radios out there, but this one stomps them all in both capabilities and design.

Meanwhile Gizmo is calling it gorgeous:

The Eton FR1000 Voicelink is maybe one of the most pornographic survival radios I’ve ever seen, but functionally so. […] If I were to die stranded in the wilderness, I might be slightly less upset clutching one of these beautiful machines.

For more details you can download the radio specs (.66 MB pdf) and the manual (1.41 MB pdf) directly from the Eton Website.

It is heartening to see technological strides being made in this direction. Emergency Radio saves lives.

photo courtesy of the CES Online Newsroom

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