The Midland HH54VP2 Portable Emergency Weather Radio is a direct competitor with the Oregon Scientific WR602, and, apart from a longer history which gives a better idea about reliability, is quite similar.
It actually comes in two forms – the plain HH54VP and the optioned up HH54VP2. Strangely, the HH54VP2, despite a much higher list price, can often be found at a lower price at the major retailers – Check here to see what it is today.
The difference between them is in the addition of a rechargeable battery and charge cradle in the HH54VP2, which, given a low battery life when on standby in the basic model, is a valuable addition.
It’s greatest advantage is that it can be used as a desktop radio at home, and at the click of a button from home to travel mode, it becomes a very useful radio that will automatically tune to the strongest weather radio frequency as you travel from one transmitter area to another. So if you are away from home a lot, or are a committed RV user, this could be what you are looking for.
Unfortunately, since early 2014 there has been a significant lift in buyer complaints about the quality of the rechargeable battery. Many people have found that the battery supplied with the radio just would not take or sustain a charge, which meant that users had to revert to standard AA alkaline batteries, or keep the radio plugged into an AC outlet. You can see this in the Amazon buyer ratings – overall it has rated a tick over 4 out of 5, but in the past year this has dropped to well below 4.
Since one of the main selling points of this compact radio is that it is ideal for travelling or use away from grid power, the very poor quality of the battery pack means that a significant proportion of recently purchased Midland HH54VP2 Weather Radios just don’t do what their buyers expected them to do. It also means that you could be without information if you lost power.
To their credit, Midland have been quick to replace defective batteries and the occasional defective cradle, but I find it amazing that they have allowed the problem to continue for over 6 months without apparently doing anything about their substandard inventory. Midland, despite being America’s most popular manufacturer of weather radios, have had similar quality control problems before with the Midland WR300, although this now seems to be fixed.
Whether Midland have a crappy batch of batteries, or whether they are old stock, they need to be replaced with reliable batteries that will accept a charge and hold it for a reasonable time. I’m sure they will start listening to their customers and restore the reputation of what is otherwise a very good portable weather radio.
So let’s check it out.
Features - Why It’s Worth Considering
This is a fairly standard portable weather alert radio with S.A.M.E. included – Specific Area Message Encoding – which, when set up, will only alert you to emergencies in your local area. Up to 9 counties can be programmed.
There is no AM/FM reception beyond the seven weather radio frequencies, and although there is a time alarm it is not a conventional clock radio.
That last bit tells you more about what it’s not than what it is. So let’s clarify that.
Basically it’s a well designed portable weather alert radio which will reliably warn you of severe weather, natural disasters and civil emergencies in your vicinity.
Like all genuine weather radios, it will come to life from stand by and alert you to emergencies which could affect you. You can choose what sort of alarm you would like to hear – tone (siren), voice message, or flashing screen.
The light on the LED screen is color coded for the level of emergency – yellow (advisory), orange (watch) or red (warning), and a summary of the alert is shown on the screen. Up to 10 alerts can be stored, with the most recent showing on the display, and the previous ones accessible by scrolling back
While Home mode allows you to program the Midland HH54VP2 Portable radio to receive alerts from the transmitters you select, it can also automatically find and tune into the clearest signal when in Travel mode. This makes it ideal when travelling or while camping or hiking, but beware of high power consumption when away from the charger.
I’ve mentioned the problems a large number of buyers have had with poor quality rechargeable NiMh batteries earlier, so I won’t repeat myself. Hopefully Midland will cull any bad batteries from its inventory and the problem will disappear.
This is an inexpensive radio, and to keep it that way it doesn’t have AM/FM reception, and you can’t disable warnings that you don’t need to hear. There are plenty of alternative weather radios that will provide these features, but not at this price, and most of them won’t have a travel mode.
Apart from size and a tendency to use up AA batteries pretty quickly, the HH54VP2 seems to be a well made reliable weather alert radio. Some users have disliked the loud beep that accompanies each button press, but this can be disabled.
Programming is reasonably easy, but the instruction manual is rather tiny and you may make things easier by downloading and printing a copy for yourself.
Apart from the Oregon Scientific WR602, the main alternative is the companion Midland HH50, a truly no frills genuine pocket sized weather radio which doesn’t come with SAME. Both of these are reviewed elsewhere on this site
When fully powered up, the Midland HH54VP2 is a good quality portable weather radio which can be programmed with SAME codes to give you relevant alerts and warnings from the area around where you live, and by switching to travel mode, you will also be up to date with weather threats while travelling or working away from home.
It carries the NOAA Public Alert Logo, and the company states that it is recommended by the Department of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness.
It doesn’t have many serious competitors as a portable weather radio, and if you are prepared to risk receiving a faulty battery it is well worth considering. And Midland have been quick to replace them when notified.
You can find out more about the Midland HH54VP2 Portable Weather Radio, including a great price, by following the link.
For more information on other types of Weather Radios, and the Weather Radio system, visit Home Weather Stations Guide.