Freeplay Companion Crank- and Solar-Powered Radio, Charger

Freeplay Energy is set to sell the "Freeplay Companion," an AM/FM radio with the typical Freeplay crank for powering the device, as well as an integrated solar panel, flashlight, and phone charger. The best thing is the price: around $30. Press Release [ via Coolest-Gadgets] PreviouslySolio Magnesium Solar Charger Announced [BBG] • Eton FR1000 Crank Radio with Walkie-Talkie [BBG] Update: I had the wrong product image up. I've fixed it!
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5 Responses to Freeplay Companion Crank- and Solar-Powered Radio, Charger

  1. Comedian says:

    Does it have the real, original Freeplay mechanical spring energy storage?

    Lesser current competitors use a cheesy plastic geared dynamo to directly make electricity for charging. The old Freeplay system had the user crank a spring taught, which then drove a generator based on need, a much tougher system.

    I fear this is yet another dynamo radio, a fear that is not countered by the press release.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The original Freeplay was supposedly too complex and expensive to manufacture to fulfill its original mission. They were never able to sell it at a price that the target consumers could afford. Frankly, most of them were sold to relatively upscale US consumers.

    Baygen changed the design and transferred manufacturing from South Africa to China. This certainly reduced the cost but of course had certain side effects, such as the loss of employment opportunities in South Africa.

    I don’t have current sales figures, but based on the places I see crank radios advertised, I’d guess that most customers STILL are yuppies. They just buy more of them.

  3. FreeplayEnergy says:

    1. As I write this, the photo is not of the new Freeplay Companion, but of the Freeplay Devo, an FM/DAB radio (DAB is Digital Audio Broadcast, not used in the USA where HD Radio has been adopted instead). I hope the photo will be replaced, but in any case you can see the Companion here.

    2. Commenter “Comedian” refers to our original spring design. The spring was a great innovation for its time, but we switched to a direct-charge alternator system as soon as we could perfect it because of many advantages, one of which is that our new system is even tougher than the old. “Comedian” is quite correct that “lesser current competitors” use a cheap version of the same thing; our system is superficially similar but does work differently (it’s patented) and furthermore uses more expensive materials like Neodymium Iron Boron magnets (I think everyone else uses the cheap ceramic ones which are far less effective). With Freeplay products you have to crank less than with competitors’, and they last much longer too. I can easily understand why “Comedian” would be concerned that, at such a low price, the Companion wouldn’t be any better than the competition, but fear not! The Companion does require more cranking than our more expensive products do for the same listening/shine time, but it’s still a great product.

    3. “Anonymous” is concerned about who buys Freeplay products. A large percentage of Freeplay’s sales is of Lifeline and Scout radios which were designed specifically for Aid & Development use – something no other company has done, so to think that Freeplay has somehow abandoned those in need is really quite off the mark. Sales to “yuppies” and other people in developed countries help Freeplay Energy donate part of its revenue to the Freeplay Foundation, which (along with other organizations such as UNICEF and CARE) buys and distributes these radios that bring valuable information to people who would otherwise be quite isolated in places like Rwanda and Afghanistan. Tom Hanks (the Foundation’s US ambassador) and eBay are currently (Jan. 22-Feb. 1) auctioning 10 autographed Lifelines as a fundraiser for the Foundation – yuppies and everyone else can see the auctions and bid here.

    Rohan Jayasekera
    Freeplay Energy

  4. haineux says:

    At this exact moment, JC Penney has some leftover XMAS GIFT radios/flashlights/whatevers on super ultra closeout. Discover brand.

    No doubt, less wonderful than the FreePlay. But for the DIY crowd, a $10 device is pretty attractive.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My dad has a clear green solar/spring-wind-up powered Freeplay radio and it is awesome. I still use it to listen to all the Lakers games and sound quality is surprisingly robust. The best part is that there are no batteries that can die or slowly lose capacity over time like all the new models coming out. I would be all over a radio/flashlight using this same solar/spring power. No matter how good a battery you put in there, I’d think it would eventually stop holding a charge and need replacement, especially after years of non-use. I’m glad I found this blog and heard directly from FreePlay themselves why we no longer see spring powered crank products. I suppose any spring/crank powered device would probably break before an equivalent battery-backed device becomes worn out.

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