This set of two walkie-talkie style handheld radio communicators will answer the needs of a great many users as they are simple and easy to use but fully waterproof and built to withstand rigorous use. They are designed to conform to the American Family Radio Service (FRS) standard and use channelized frequencies around 462 and 467 MHz in the ultra high frequency (UHF) band. No licence is required either in the USA or UK to use them.
In the box are the two handsets with a set of rechargeable batteries, a plastic belt clip and a hands-free kit for each. Also included is a twin mount charging stand, micro-USB charging cable and a rather poorly printed and hard to read but informative user guide. Although made from plastic, build quality is extremely robust and the handsets are rated as being IP67 waterproof which means they can be immersed in water up to 1m deep for short periods. Indeed if a handset does fall into the water then it will float and automatically illuminate its’ emergency light.
On the front of each handset is a large backlit LCD showing the current operating status of the radio. Below the screen is a set of proper clicky buttons for Power On/Off/Cal, Menu/Lock, Lamp/Weather Alert, Frequency Monitor/Scanning, Up, Down. Below this is the large speaker grill and microphone panel. On one side of the radio is the large Play To Talk (PTT) button and an emergency alert button. On the other side is a grommet protected bay giving access to the micro-USB and hands free ports. On the top is the large fixed antenna which is is only slightly felxible, on the base two large bright white LEDs, one for the built in flashlight and the other for the emergency light.
The handsets come with rechargeable batteries, a set of three AA 1200mAH NiMH for each handset and these can be replaced when needed. Charging can be done from any USB A port either directly to the micro-USB port on each handset or to the twin handset charging base. for added flexibility the handsets will also work with standard AA batteries.
The handsets have been designed for simple operation and ease of use and here is does differ from more expensive units designed for professional or more experienced users. To operate, tun on by long pressing the power button, the handset will beep and the initial screen will show the current channel and privacy code. To change channel press the menu button once and then the Up/Down keys to select a new one. Hit the PTT key to exit. Take note that channels 1-3 are use 0.5w power and are designed for nearby use and the others a more battery hungry 2w but designed for long range. The privacy code, which can also be changed, is simply designed to give a clearer signal it does not encrypt or make secret your transmissions, which can be monitored by anyone with a suitablke receiver. Each handset can scan for signals on both the active and one other channel alternately. The handsets can also be set to VOX mode for voice activated use.
Audio quality is clear and easy to hear and is loud even at the lowest setting. There are confimation and Roger beeps, again rather loud, but these can be disabled from the on screen menu. What cannot be changed is the screen time out period which is very short.
The phone comes with some other useful safety features including a bbuilt in flashlight, emergency light that shows SOS in morse, and a 11 band weather alert system for the USA only NOAA network.
Is it perfect? No, the belt buckle is not so robust as I would like, the screen time-out is too short and cannot be changed, the speaker even at the llowest setting is too loud for discreet use, and a rotary dial would allow for finer tuning for frequency and volume. These are all incidental issues and do not detract from the key features of this set.
If you need a walkie talkie set robust enough for extended rough terrain use, simple enough for quick and easy access and at a bargain price of around $75 then this might be for you.