Unlike most of our product reviews, this one isn't about your health or nutrition. It's about your personal safety. Better Life Goods (a company I own, see full disclosure below) has just finished a large production run on an new, unique safety and preparedness tool available now at www.BetterLifeGoods.com that combines an LED flashlight, cell phone charger, AM/FM radio, seatbelt cutter, glass break tool, hazard light and siren in a compact, hand-held product that operates on either batteries or dynamo (a winding handle that generates electricity as you rotate it).
It's a practical, compact consumer tool that can provide light when you have no electricity, free you from a car accident, tune in emergency radio stations during a storm, charge a cell phone so you can call 911, or even help you defend yourself against an aggressor. It combines eight essential travel safety tools into a single device that fits easily in a purse or glove box.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I own the www.BetterLifeGoods.com e-commerce site. Revenues from the sale of this product help me earn a living, giving me the freedom to keep writing on a non-profit basis for NaturalNews, as well as serving as the volunteer executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center. A percentage of profits from the sale of this product are already pledged to the Consumer Wellness Center's "Prenatal Wellness" program.)
Here's a blunt, honest review of the product
I've included a description of all the product features and uses below. Overall, the product has many applications. It really works as described here, and each function does what it claims to do (seatbelt cutter, AM/FM radio, dynamo winding handle, cell phone charger, LED flashlight, glass break, siren, etc.).
My main complaint about the product is that it's made of ABS plastic. It won't survive being run over by a car, nor is it waterproof. Plastic can break if it gets crushed, and I can imagine that if somebody cranks the dynamo handle too aggressively at the wrong angle, they could break that off, too. I would have much preferred to manufacture a product made of stronger materials such as aluminum alloy or even titanium. But guess what happens to the cost? Instead of a $39 device that everyone can afford, you'd end up with a $300 device that almost no one could afford. In fact, I think Porche makes a similar device that sells for $199 and has some steel components. It's always a tradeoff between materials and final cost.
I tested all the functions of this device quite extensively. I also went to the trouble of making sure the included batteries were NiMH, not the toxic Ni-Cad batteries (which contains cadmium) found in most competing products. The internal battery capacity was increased to 1200mAh per battery, providing 2400mAh total (because it contains 2 batteries).
We also included five different cell phone connectors for the cell phone charger function, but the truth is that cell phone companies keep changing all their connectors, so there's no guarantee that these connectors are going to fit your phone. (They probably fit 90% of the phones on the market, but certainly not 100%.) This means if the connectors don't fit your phone, you have to run out to Radio Shack or somewhere similar and find an adapter that will fit your phone.
Now let's talk about the dynamo function. Hand-winding this device certainly does generate power, and it's plenty of power to run the LED light and the AM/FM radio for many minutes (1 minute of winding gives you many minutes of radio time), but let's be realistic about how much winding it takes to charge a cell phone. If you wind it at a steady, rapid pace, you're creating 200mA of current. (That's one-fifth of an amp.) This charging current is fairly low for a cell phone battery, which means you only get a few minutes of talk time for every minute you charge it with the dynamo. (You'll get many more minutes of standby time, however.)
So this means you can't expect to just wind it for a minute and then blab on your cell phone for thirty minutes. You simply won't get that much power out of the winding charging. And don't even think about charging a cell phone all the way full. You'd have to sit there and wind the unit for so long that you'd probably get carpal tunnel syndrome before your phone was fully charged.
Still, it does charge your phone in a pinch, and that's what the device is really for. It's not a replacement for your regular cell phone charger; it's just an emergency power source to get you by in a tough situation where you have no access to AC juice.
The price of the unit seems very fair to me. I've seen products that did far less at Sharper Image or other retailers who were selling them for a lot more than $39. It seems like a typical market price might actually be something more like $59, especially when you consider the two 1200mAh NiMH batteries and the five cell phone connectors that are included. So I think the pricing on the unit is very good, and given that it comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, there's no risk in getting one and seeing how well you like it.
Most people simply don't prepare for the unexpected
Overall, my observation is that most people travel without giving a single thought to safety and preparedness. It amazes me to see people on an airplane wearing flip-flops, or driving in a car without extra water, a compass, an emergency blanket and a spare flashlight.
I believe that everyone should have an emergency tool in their car or when traveling by other means of transportation. Regardless of whether people get this particular tool from Better Life Goods, it's simply a wise idea to get something that protects you! And I'm not just talking about your car here, either: Think about preparedness in your home. When the next freak weather event comes along (ice storm, blizzard, tsunami, earthquake, tornado, volcano or whatever), how will you tune in to the local radio station? How will you see your way around your house at night when there's no light? How will you charge your cell phone to try to make a phone call?
Sadly, most consumers simply have no answer. They exist in a state of perpetual non-preparedness. That's a huge mistake, especially given all the freak events happening in the world today. It's not just natural events, either: Power grids have failed in the U.S., civil unrest has broken out in major cities like L.A., terrorist events have unfolded, and other such man-made events are likely to reappear at regular intervals. Will YOU be prepared?
By the way, in addition to having a light, a radio, a cell phone charger and other simple tools, it's a wise idea to store some food and water too. Figure five gallons of water per person, per day of preparedness. Do the math on this and you'll realize it takes a lot of space to store an adequate amount of water. (Start early.)
Overall, I like the 8-in-1 Dynamo Emergency Tool, which is of course why I decided to manufacture thousands of them, import them into our fulfillment center, and offer them directly to NaturalNews readers. I carefully consider products that are important for personal health and safety, and this is one that I chose to invest some big dollars in so that we could make it available to the public. Every single person I've shown it to was delighted to see it, and everybody wanted one!
Here's the promotional text from the BetterLifeGoods.com website, describing the features and applications of the product:
LED flashlight: A small LED light provides a reliable light source that uses very little power and lasts a lifetime (over 50,000 hours of actual light time). It's not as bright as a high-end flashlight, but it's always available because you can power it by cranking the dynamo handle. No batteries? No problem!
Seatbelt cutter: The thought of being trapped in a car by your own seatbelt is terrifying. Seatbelt cutting tools are routinely used by paramedics and fire department personnel to cut people out of their seatbelts following a car accident. Now you can have your own personal seatbelt cutter. Simply swipe this tool across your seatbelt, and an internal razor blade (which is safely covered so that it can only cut seatbelts, never hands or fingers) slices through the belt in seconds, freeing you from the car. Be sure to keep this tool within reach at all times so that you'll be able to access it if needed.
Glass break: Following a car accident, one of the greatest risks is fire. Leaking gasoline and exposed electrical wires can cause a fiery ignition. That's why getting OUT of your car is paramount to escaping a post-accident situation. But what happens if your door is jammed shut (which often happens in accidents)? Breaking a window with your fist is not an option, and few people have the leg power to kick out car windows. To solve this problem, our safety tool offers a built-in metal glass break impact point that instantly shatters vehicle windows, allowing you to escape. One firm strike will cause the window to fragment into tiny pieces of safety glass that you can safely brush off your lap or even crawl over to remove yourself from the vehicle.
AM/FM radio: What happens if you're stuck in a storm and almost out of gas? Staying informed about weather conditions is crucial, but keeping the car running in order to use the car radio will eventually use up all your gas or run down your battery, stranding you until help arrives. The Better Life Goods Dynamo Emergency Tool provides a multi-powered AM/FM radio with a built-in speaker so that you can listen to weather reports and public safety announcements without using your car's battery or fuel. One minute of winding the dynamo handle gives you up to 30 minutes of radio listening time, meaning you'll be able to stay informed even there's no power around.
Hazard flasher: Stuck on the side of the road? The hazard flasher feature of our Dynamo Emergency Tool allows you to alert other drivers to your presence. Simply turn on the flasher function and place the tool either on top of your vehicle or inside the back window where it's visible to others. The flashing orange LED light is visible from several hundred feet away at night. Flares, of course, would be better, but if you don't have flares, our hazard flasher is an acceptable substitute.
Cell phone charger: Cell phones are extremely useful during emergencies, but what happens if your cell phone battery goes dead? Now, with the 8-in-1 Dynamo Emergency Tool, you can charge virtually any cell phone by cranking the dynamo handle for several minutes. Simply plug your cell phone into the device (attachments are provided for most phones made by Siemens, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia), crank the dynamo handle for 2-3 minutes at a steady pace, and your cell phone will be charged with enough juice to make an emergency call.
Hazard siren: An audible siren feature allows you to alert rescue workers to your presence, even if you're unable to shout. Simply click the switch to the "Siren" feature and turn on the volume knob, and it emits a loud repeating siren noise that will unquestionably attract attention. It's a great way to let others know you're still there and need some help.
Personal safety: This 8-in-1 tool is shaped much like a hammer, and it can be easily gripped and wielded as a surprisingly effective self defense weapon by using the glass break metal point to strike an aggressor. To those who haven't studied self defense, it may not sound like an effective weapon, but in fact many self defense weapons (such as the Kubotan keychain weapon) are based on the same concept: concentrating physical momentum into a tiny point that can cause severe pain to an attacker. One strike to the temple, and any attacker still standing is likely to flee. The tool isn't built as a weapon, of course, and that isn't its primary function, but in a pinch, it can be quite intimidating and effective at motivating people to go away.
Given everything this product does, you wouldn't believe the price we've been able to offer to NaturalNews readers. Because we're the manufacturer and importer of this product, and since we're offering it direct to readers, there's no retail markup. So it's not $79 like you might expect, or even $59. For NaturalNews readers, we're offering this tool at just $39.99!
What's obvious is that this 8-in-1 dynamo safety tool can help you out in a number of difficult situations. Along with a working cell phone, it's the one tool to have by your side when traveling virtually anywhere. (Note: TSA authorities may not allow you to carry this on an airplane, so pack it in your luggage instead.) It's also a perfect gift to give someone who puts a lot of miles on the road traveling, commuting, taking the kids camping or even just driving to the grocery store (95% of all car accidents happen within two miles of home).
Thoughtful features make it so simple to use
Every feature in the Better Life Goods 8-in-1 Dynamo Emergency Tool is within easy reach. The 3 switches and two knobs are intuitively situated on the front side of the tool, and the dynamo handle folds out of the back where it's easily gripped and cranked to generate electricity. The tool is designed with a number of important features:
Dynamo power: Every electrical function on the tool (LED light, radio, flasher, siren, cell phone charging) can be powered by the dynamo charging handle. One minute of steady cranking provides many minutes of operation (depending on which function being used), so even if you have no batteries and the device has been in storage for years, you can always pick it up, crank the dynamo handle, and get usable power.
Magnetic base: Its base is made with an embedded magnet that can be used to help secure the tool to any storage area with a magnetic floor or wall (such as a car trunk). This helps you find the tool when you really need it, and it prevents it from sliding around your vehicle when you're driving.
Charging indicator light: This tiny red LED let's you know electricity is flowing when you turn the dynamo crank. It's a smart visual indicator that won't leave you guessing.
Dual battery sources (AA): The tool provides two separate battery options: A 2 x AA alkaline battery compartment (where you can insert long-life alkaline batteries), and a separate 2 x AA NiMH rechargeable battery compartment (these are the batteries that are recharged when you crank the dynamo handle). It comes with two 1000mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries (which are cadmium free), and you can upgrade them with higher capacity batteries by simply swapping them out. (We recommend our Powerex 2700 AA batteries, also available on this site.) You can also use this battery compartment as a makeshift battery charger. Insert any pair of rechargeable AA batteries and crank the dynamo handle for several minutes. A charge of approximately 200mA (milliamps) will flow into the batteries. Please note that this is only a makeshift battery charging solution. You'd have to crank the dynamo handle like this for one hour to charge a pair of typical rechargeable AA batteries to only 10% of their capacity. But in a pinch, it's a workable makeshift solution.
Seatbelt cutter safety: The seatbelt cutter blade is recessed in the plastic housing in a way that keeps it safely out of reach of hands or fingers, yet keeps it instantly ready to slice through a seatbelt (or any similar strap).
Carrying strap: A handy braided-cord carrying strap keeps the tool securely on your wrist when using it as a glass break tool (or self defense device).
Enhance your emergency preparedness at home, too
Our 8-in-1 Dynamo Emergency Tool is useful for much more than travel safety; it's also useful at home, too, where it serves as an emergency radio, flashlight, cell phone charger and siren to help you get through tough situations that seem to be appearing with increasing frequency these days: Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, ice storms, tsunamis, blizzards, tornados, power grid failures and even civil unrest. Every home needs an emergency safety tool that works without batteries, because when the power's out, you need to be able to operate these tools by hand, using the dynamo crank handle.
Other uses of our 8-in-1 Dynamo Emergency Tool include:
Camping: It makes a perfect flashlight and radio.
Off-grid travel: For traveling anywhere that doesn't have electricity.
Visiting national parks: Parks like Yellowstone are enormous, and cell phones simply don't work there. Keep this preparedness tool in your car at all times.
Driving to unknown areas of a city: Going to a side of town you're not familiar with? Stay prepared with this safety tool.
Boating or sailing: Water activities demand safety and preparedness tools. Although this tool isn't waterproof, it works well as an on-the-boat emergency tool.
Gift for family members who drive: Do you sometimes worry about the safety of your children, your parents or other family members who drive? Give them this 8-in-1 Dynamo Emergency Tool and you'll feel a whole lot better about their safety.
No car or home should be without a tool like this. Emergency preparedness is everyone's individual responsibility. It's also important to prepare before disaster strikes. Once a storm hits, or a car accident happens, or you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, it's too late to take precautions. Take action ahead of time, before you anticipate needing the emergency tools, and you'll rest easier every time you travel.
This 8-in-1 tool includes everything you need to start using it right out of the box. A set of 2 AA NiMH batteries is pre-installed in the battery compartment (you'll need to charge them yourself). It comes with a printed instruction sheet and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee plus a one-year warranty against defects. It also comes with a cell phone charging cable and adapters for the following phone brands:
Siemens Motorola Sony-Ericsson Samsung Nokia
Please note: Cell phone manufacturers drive everybody nuts by changing their connectors all the time. We cannot guarantee these connectors will fit your phone, even if it is a brand listed here. You may have to purchase an after-market cell phone connector at Radio Shack or an online retailer. Prices vary from around $5 - $10 per connector. We do not sell connectors separately.
What's not included is the following:
The alkaline AA battery compartment is empty. You will need to insert your own alkaline batteries into this compartment if you wish to use them. (This is entirely optional. Using the device does not actually require alkaline batteries.)
There is no wall charger or car charger that would charge the internal batteries from an external source. Although a DC plug will accept a 4.5V charge, no charger is included with the unit because it's not necessary. The best way to charge the unit is to charge its AA batteries in a NiMH battery charger like the Powerex WizardOne battery charger we sell on this site (which is a premium, top-of-the-line charger that also measures battery capacity and performance).
In all, you'll find our 8-in-1 Dynamo Emergency Tool to be an essential device in your vehicle or home (or use it in both places!). It's a smart step towards personal or family preparedness. Every person we've shown this to has said, "I gotta have one in my car!" (In fact, we've been sending them out as much-appreciated gifts to friends and family members.)
Check it out for yourself. And if you have a child commuting to college, or a spouse commuting to work, or parents who travel cross-country in an RV, consider getting them this 8-in-1 Dynamo Emergency Tool. It's a small investment for providing a lifetime of preparedness.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.