Oregon Weather Radios are mostly pocket or portable models which fulfil most requirements of a basic weather radio, but their reputation has suffered from some problems in the recent past. The Oregon WR602 is the flagship in the pocket weather radio class.
Oregon Scientific is an electonics specialist with a wide range of home weather stations, digital clocks and a small number of basic weather radios. A few years ago they introduced a number of new models which, although apparently reliable and effective in many parts of North America, performed poorly in others. The problem was in accessing weather radio broadcasts, particularly through the S.A.M.E. system which allows users to restrict warnings to their local area.
This resulted in the recall of some models, and seriously affected Oregon’s reputation as a manufacturer of weather radios. Those problems seem to have been overcome, but it means that user reviews since then are relatively few, and it is hard to get a good handle on how good (or bad) the Oregon Weather Radios now are.
On balance, though, they seem to be sturdy little pocket and portable radios which provide good service as weather alert radios.
So let’s take a look at some of them.
The leading model is the Oregon WR602 Weather Radio, which comes with rechargeable Ni-MH batteries, a charge cradle, an AC Adapter and a belt loop.
The WR602 is a compact little unit and is truly portable, being only 5.4 x 3 x 1.4″ in size. You can locate it inside, or take it with you if you go out, so you’ll never be without access to the Emergency Alert Service.
It has all you need for a no frills unit
- access to all 7 NOAA weather radio channels
- a standby mode which will be interrupted if an alert is broadcast
- a loud siren (actually a very loud 100dB siren)
- a small but reasonably clear LCD screen which provides information on the type of emergency
- and it is fitted with a user friendly version of S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding) technology which will let you filter out broadcasts from outside your home area.
It also has a few valuable extras, like a digital alarm clock, and a travel feature which will locate the strongest signal in the area – ideal for car or camper use. You won’t need to take the charger cradle with you when travelling, as the WR602N will also work on Alkaline AA batteries. When you get back home again just turn the switch back to “Home” mode and your pre-programmed S.A.M.E. codes will be back in operation.
Which brings me to a recent improvement in the WR602 which was not available in earlier models. Previously you had to find the SAME code for the counties you wanted your warnings from and manually add them. The WR602N has all the codes saved in memory, and all you need to do is select your state from a list, then your county, and enter the code with a single click. Up to 9 codes can be entered.
Other features include a choice of English, French or Spanish, while the LCD screen changes from green to red after an alert has been received.
Not too many. There’s no AM/FM reception, although you can listen to weather information and forecasts on the NOAA frequencies. There is no volume control on the siren, and the red light that flashes on the screen after an alert has been received is a bit feeble in daylight.
At this stage of its history, the Oregon WR602 Weather Radio looks to be a reasonably good value portable or pocket weather radio, and if its operating life extends to a few years it will prove to be popular. It’s easy to find at around $50.00, but you can usually find the similar Midland HH54VP2 for a little less.
At the bottom of the price range is the Midland HH50, a reliable no frills weather alert radio which is truly portable, but cannot be programmed to use the SAME system .
Alternative Oregon Weather Radios.
It can be a liitle difficult to work out just what Oregon Weather Radios offers in its range of weather radios -they tend to look similar and do similar things. The WR602 is among the newest and offers by far the easiest way of programming SAME locations. At around 2/3 the price, the WR601N in eye catching yellow will do the job but has fewer features.
Oregon also has one desktop weather radio, the WR608 which you can buy for a little over $30.00. However, with no AM/FM reception and a capacity of only 9 SAME codes there are better models around – check out the better optioned Sangean CL-100 if you would like AM/FM and a clock radio.
For a more general review of Weather Radios, visit my other site, Home Weather Stations Guide