The Midland WR300 – Among The Best Of The Desktop Models
The Midland WR300 Weather Alert Radio is probably the most widely bought desk top weather radio and for the most part has deserved its strong reputation. Problems with reliability and quality control which developed a few years ago seem to have been overcome. Whether it’s the best available is another question – read on to find out more.
Wherever you see weather radio displays, you’ll find the Midland WR300, and with good reason. It will do everything you need a good weather radio to do, can provide information from up to 23 locations, covers over 60 types and categories of weather and other emergencies, and receives all 7 NOAA weather radio frequencies.
You can select the warnings you want to hear and disable the rest, and choose between a siren alarm or siren followed by a voice message. You can also select the volume level. The visual display will provide information on the emergency, together with an estimate of how long it will last. Batteries back up the AC supply in case of power outages.
The Midland WR300 doubles as a clock radio, with AM/FM reception and alarm functions, although it is fair to say that its quality in this regard is not up with the better purpose built clock radios.
The WR300 is a very popular weather radio, although there seems to have been a drop off in quality over the last year or so. Other brands are now very competitive and provide a few more options in emergency alarm management, and are certainly worth checking out before you make your final decision. You can find out more by reading on, but if you are ready to buy, you can find the Midland WR300 at a very good price at Amazon.
Weather radios come in several different forms, from simple hand held models which will do nothing but alert you to dangerous weather and other emergency events, to sleek desktop models which double as AM/FM radios, clocks and alarm clocks.
Before you decide on a brand or model, think carefully about just what it is you need. Combining an alarm clock with a weather alert radio sounds good, but the main function of the Midland WR300 Weather Radio and similar brands is really to wake you up if there is a life threatening emergency, not to provide a good night’s sleep and wake you gently in the morning. Many of the relatively few problems described by buyers of the WR-300 relate to expectations about radio quality and alarm clock functions which are a secondary feature of a weather alert radio.
Having, I hope, cleared that up, lets have a look at what the Midland WR-300 can do for you.
Features And Benefits
Firstly, this is a genuine Weather Radio made by a company that specializes in this type of warning device. It will receive all 7 NOAA weather radio frequencies, although you will probably only need to program in the clearest signal in your area. It is Public Alert Certified.
It will automatically switch itself on if an emergency warning is activated, or divert from normal radio programs if you are listening to non emergency frequencies at the time. You can program it to warn you with a brief siren followed by a voice alert describing the emergency or threat, or to sound a continuous siren for up to five minutes until you turn it off. You won’t miss the siren – its 90 decibel volume is enough to be heard throughout most houses and offices, although you can select a more appropriate volume level. It will also show you how long the event is expected to last as a threat.
Like all good weather radios, you can program it to only receive alerts and warnings that are likely to affect you. You can restrict the warnings to areas near you, including those from which severe weather such as tornados or hurricanes are likely to come form. This is the S.A.M.E program – Specific Area Message Encoding - and you can include up to 23 counties.
Even better, you can program the WR300 to restrict alarms to those events that are likely to affect you – for example, if you live on a hill you won’t need to be woken in the middle of the night to hear about a flood warning. You can program in up to 10 alerts, plus the Tornado warning which can’t be disabled for good and obvious reasons.
The WR300 has an AC adaptor, but 4AA batteries will provide continuous service in the event of a power cut.
Apart from a wide range of weather alerts and warnings, the WR-300 can also warn you about other natural and man made emergencies such as fires and landslides, nuclear or biological hazards, and any other form of civil emergency.
Radio reception is generally quite good, particularly with a telescopic antenna and an external antenna jack included.
If you need more help in identifying an alarm, an accessory jack will let you attach a strobe light.
And apart from watches and warnings, you can switch to the local weather service broadcasts at the touch of a button to find out the general weather picture in your area.
And The Downside.
In general buyers of the Midland WR300 have been happy with their purchase. A couple of years ago there was a noticeable increase in customer complaints about quality, but there appears to have been considerable improvement more recently. Midland’s customer service section has, over the years, been reasonably helpful and speedy in resolving most problems.
A few customers have found their radio has failed after about a year, although in some cases this may be related to resets or changes in programming. Note that if you turn the radio off and remove the batteries it will reset itself to default settings, and things such as SAME programming will have to be redone
Other problems usually relate to the secondary functions of the WR300, such as a bedside alarm or AM/FM radio. They are valid concerns, but really they result from people expecting a little too much. Will you really care about a loud wake up alarm or a backlight that is too bright if the emergency alert wakes you up in time to take cover from a tornado?
Even so, Midland may behind the game a little here, and the Reecom R-1650 seems to handle these problems better.
Perhaps more important is that the backlit screen is difficult to read if you are not immediately above it, although this can be overcome by switching to the voice alarm which will tell you what’s happening.
And as always seems to be the case when a product needs programming, there are quite a few complaints about setting the machine up, including the beep associated with pressing the buttons. Programming is a little involved but by no means impossible, and there is a video presentation by Midland which runs through the whole process. Initially there is quite a lot to do in programming with any good new weather radio, and the WR-300 doesn’t seem to be much different from similar models.
And once you have done the initial set up, you will only need to make occasional minor adjustments.
The Midland WR300 has been around for a while now and has had some minor updates. It is a good solid machine which does its job well, and is one of the most popular of the desk top weather alert radios. It doubles as a clock radio reasonably effectively.
It has two main competitors which rival it for quality, ease of use and reliability. The Reecom R-1650 and the Sangean CL-100 are both slightly different and may suit your requirements better. They are reviewed elsewhere in these pages.
You can see a general review of Weather Radios at another of my weather sites.