‘Roger Victor, got your vector, over’ was, and still is, every kids dream of running around with a walkie talkie communicating with their mates. Things have certainly changed – they are a lot smaller, more robust and a valuable work tool.
Pick up any outdoor or auto parts catalogue today, and you are bound to find a walkie talkie promoted. But which one is right for you?
Walkie talkies are also called hand-held 2-way radios or portable CB’s. After the initial purchase, they are free to use, and unlike a mobile telephone or Push-to-Talk, have no ongoing fees. In perfect line-of-sight conditions, they work up to 17km and can have a group talk too. They work anywhere, not relying on any other infrastructure like mobile phone towers.
How will you use a walkie talkie?
When you consider purchasing a walkie talkie, you need to answer these questions first.
Will this be for business or pleasure? This question really is how reliant are you on the device. A cheaper low powered unit is great for the kids running around the back garden. However, suppose you are relining on this for the productivity of your business or reliable communications in the bush. In that case, you should invest in a quality durable unit.
What range do you need? The range is determined by what is in between the two units, like walls or hills and the unit’s power rating. The transmission power can vary from 0.5 watts up to 5 watts in Australia. The higher the watts, the bigger the range. If you are using a unit in a restaurant to communicate between staff, you do not need much coverage. If you are touring outback roads, the range is very important. Handy hint – more watts requires more battery power.
How will I use it? This question is to make you think about what features and accessories would be beneficial to your usage. For example, a tone feature that transmits every time you remove your finger from the transmit button is a handy feature to let the other party know you have finished talking. (Think who has the talking stick) Accessories like an earbud and clip microphone make your communications discrete to not disturb others.
Are my conversations private?
The simple answer is no. Anyone on the same channel within range can eavesdrop on your conversation. However, there are features built into some models designed for kids and professional that will keep your conversations private and potentially protect ears from unnecessary profanities.
Help me choose which walkie talkie is right for me?
Gadget Guy’s sister publication Small Business Answers has covered this subject in detail. Click this link to understand this technology before visiting your local retailer.