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Note! If you just want to read the review, skip the next two paragraphs.

After reading several reviews in magazines (Backpacker, The week and a motorcycle issue) about the Eton Raptor, I knew I had to have one. According to the articles it has and does the following: radio (AM/FM and weather bands the weather function also has an alarm setting), altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer, chronograph (stopwatch), clock w/ alarm, flashlight, snap clip, cell phone charger (USB port) and a bottle opener. Oh yeah, it's solar powered. It can also be charged through a USB port from a laptop or other device. Allegedly it's shockproof and water resistant. I saw prices ranging from $90 to $110. I ordered mine from Dick's Sporting Goods for about $90. (Two comments on that. #1 Dick's website does not list the Raptor although the kiosk at their store did have it listed. #2 don't google the word Dicks for obvious reasons.) A recent search had it listed for $218.00!! at another location.

I am a firm believer in deferred gratification and as a 61 year old child I anxiously checked the shipping status on an hourly basis until I had a notification that the delivery truck was in our lane and the agent was putting it on the doorstep of our neighbor's house. Actually, it just said it had been delivered. The only deliveries made to our house at the end of a narrow, twisty, dirt and gravel lane that's 3/4 of a mile long are by drivers who are mentally deranged or have delusions about being an Ice Road Trucker.



The Raptor, at first glance, looks exactly as advertised, it's rugged looking as though it could be strapped to the underside of a GS on the Paris-Dakar Rally. Although it appears rugged, other reviews tend to say otherwise. This also applies to it being waterproof. I am not about to test either of these claims.

Does it do everything as claimed? Well, so far yes. I have yet to charge my cell phone or use the alarm settings (either clock or weather). The biggest disappointment is the owner's manual. If you think pairing a Bluetooth unit has been frustrating, "You ain't seen nothing yet!" If one of my students had submitted this to me for a grade, it would have earned a big, fat zero. I would probably tear up the college recommendation I wrote and call his parents to offer my condolences that their child may not be the brightest light bulb in the chandelier.

Consider this passage from the manual about calibrating the compass, the first thing it states is, "The altimeter is shown in feet or meters in the lower, right-hand corner of the display." Or how about step 2? "Turn the Raptor twice slowly, about 15s/turn to check the current position." It took me a few days to discover that "15s" means 15 seconds per revolution. Is ink so expensive that they can't print 15 seconds instead of 15s?

Not mentioned in the manual is that if the radio is on, you cannot scroll through the various functions to check altitude, temperature, barometric pressure, etc. If you have left the Raptor in one of these functions, you will not be able to listen to the radio. In it's normal (standby) function the display shows time and date. It also displays the week of the year. According to my display it shows the correct date for July, but it also says I am only five weeks into the year of 2012. The manual does not tell you how to set this.

I went to Eton's website and checked the Raptor's manual under customer support. It is nothing more than a .pdf file of the manual that came in the box. I could not find any FAQs about calibrating various functions. The manual needs to be revised and updated. If you are "geek savvy" you will probably figure out how to run through the sequence of functions, preset radio stations and enjoy the unit. If you aren't "geek savvy," find someone who is. I refer to them as "GLIMs" (Geeks Living wIth Mother). The buttons can also be confusing if you can't remember there are four indicator buttons with up and down arrows. One set is for volume and the other is for functions and radio stations. You also have buttons labelled M, Fn and Mem. It doesn't take too long to figure them out.

So, enough about the manual. Does the unit work? The answer is yes. The manual says it takes 18 hours of sunlight to charge the unit. As another reviewer asked, "Where do you have to be to get 18 hours of sunlight?" Mine charged in less than eight hours. Maybe the 18 is a typo. The solar panel is on the backside of the unit and a red LED will glow showing that the unit is being charged. An LCD on the display shows battery strength.

The reception of AM/FM and weather bands is acceptable and the quality from the speaker is what you would expect from a small speaker. Someone complained that it sounded "tinny." If you want concert hall quality, plug a set of Bose headphones into your iPod.

The bottle opener works and was required to open several bottles as I fussed and fumed with the manual trying the calibrate altitude, compass and set the date and time.

As an accessory I think it fills a niche in my travelling gear. Yes I can use my GPS for time, direction and altitude. But the GPS won't warn me about oncoming bad weather, wake me up, charge my cell phone or look really cool on the picnic table as I set up camp while listening to the radio.
 
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