Smartphones, in spite of their sophistication, are just not suited for certain communications. For instance, if you are going hunting or skiing, then you will need more functional equipment: a two-way radio. If you have not used one before, then you may have a difficult time choosing the ideal one.
So, what defines a good-quality two-way radio? Here are features to look out for:
- Range and Wattage.
Under ideal conditions, ordinary two way radios would have a range of 25 miles. However, all the interferences in the environment limit this range to just about one to two miles. This range is usually sufficient for ordinary users seeking to keep in touch in their outdoor escapades.
For demanding tasks such as communication between long-distance base stations, optimal wattage and range are necessary. In this case, the two-way radio should have an average power output of 50 watts and a range of 25 miles.
- Radio Channels.
There are two categories of radio channels for two-way radios: family radio service (FRS) and general mobile radio service (GMRS). Most two-way radios feature 22 channels in either category, but GMRS radios often have more channels and access to public communications.
FRS two-way radios are the most common as they are ideal for personal and family use. Those who prefer GMRS two way radios are required to obtain a license from the FCC.
- Weight and Size.
A two way radio’s weight and size determine its convenience and functionality. Backpackers and other ordinary users prefer small and light-weight radios as they are portable. However, their small weight and size limit their range and wattage.
Two way radios for base stations are typically bigger and heavier as they have more components for optimal range and wattage.
- Interference Eliminator and Privacy Codes.
One of the shortcomings of two-way radios is that they are susceptible to eves-dropping. What’s more, communication can become cluttered if there is too much traffic on the channels. However, some modern two-way radios feature eliminator codes that enable privacy and minimize interference. For instance, if you wish to communicate with only one person in a multiple-channel network, you simply key in a code for his/her channel for a direct and secure channel.
- GPS and Hands-Free Functionality.
Certain outdoor activities such as cycling and skiing limit the use of hand-held two-way radios. In this case, hands-free features come in handy for both convenience and functionality.
The most important hands-free feature is VOX or voice activation. VOX automatically initiates broadcasting when the user speaks to the radio’s direction, thus eliminating the need for using hands. Other hands-free features include jacks for microphones and headphones.
Sometimes one user may not be able to communicate especially in outdoor escapades. When this happens, the easiest way to keep track of each other’s location is through GPS markers. To this end, every two-way radio meant for outdoor use should feature GPS functionality.