We rarely find evergreen technologies, invented decades ago that have aged like fine wine, passing the test of both time and competition. Walkie-talkies are the best example of this – the efficiency they offer in communication is something that is sought after even to this day.
We want to show everything you need to know if you are planning to purchase a walkie-talkie in 2023. But we’re also living in the era of smartphones, and we’ve seen them replicate nearly every functionality that was otherwise offered by carrying a separate hardware device. That holds for Walkie-Talkies as well. Therefore, not only will we help you explore hardware walkie-talkies, but we’ll also how to use an app that serves all the essentials of a walkie-talkie on your smartphone – for free!
Getting The Basics Right: What Is a Walkie-Talkie
A walkie-talkie, or two-way radio, is a portable communication device that allows individuals to transmit and receive messages wirelessly over short, or long distances. At its core, a walkie-talkie operates on a simple principle of radio communication.
How Does a Walkie Talkie Work
When you speak into a walkie-talkie and press the “talk” button, you’re activating the device to transmit your voice. Your voice is then converted into an electrical signal by a microphone in the walkie-talkie. The electrical signal is then used to modulate a radio frequency (RF) carrier wave. This modulation is usually done through a process called frequency modulation (FM), and it alters the frequency of the carrier wave slightly to encode the audio information. The modulated carrier wave, carrying your voice, is then sent out through the walkie-talkie’s antenna.
On the receiving end, another walkie-talkie tuned to the same frequency picks up the transmitted signal through its antenna. The received signal is demodulated, meaning the encoded information is extracted. In the case of FM, this involves recovering the changes in frequency. The demodulated signal is then sent to a speaker, where it’s converted back into sound waves, reproducing the original voice message.
That should be enough to help you understand the fundamentals of a walkie-talkie, we’ll help you make a purchase now.
What You Need to Consider Before Buying a Walkie-Talkie
If you want to purchase a walkie-talkie, and if you head to an online store – you’ll be flooded with an overwhelming number of options. To help you pick the best walkie-talkie to suit your needs, we’ll help you understand what you need to look for.
Range of the Walkie Talkie
Where and how will you be using the walkie-talkies? Will you be using them in your outdoor hiking adventures? Or, would you be using it with your employees at work? Once you define your purpose, you’ll understand whether you need a short-range walkie-talkie, a mid-range one, or a long-range walkie-talkie.
You will find walkie-talkies starting with a range of 0.5 to 2 miles, and some of them offer a range of up to 50 miles.
The Frequencies the Walkie-Talkie Works On: Do I Need a Licence to Use it
The frequency of a walkie-talkie refers to the rate at which it sends and receives radio waves. In simpler terms, it’s like the ‘channel’ your walkie-talkie uses to communicate.
Not all frequencies are freely available for anyone to use. Some frequencies are reserved for specific purposes, like emergency services, aviation, or government use. To avoid interference and ensure smooth communication, regulatory authorities allocate certain frequencies to different users.
There are two main types of walkie-talkie frequencies:
- Family Radio Service (FRS): FRS frequencies are free to use and do not require a license. FRS radios have a limited range of up to 2 miles in open areas and 1 mile in urban areas.
- General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS): GMRS frequencies require a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). GMRS radios have a longer range than FRS radios, up to 5 miles in open areas and 3 miles in urban areas.
In addition to FRS and GMRS, there are several other walkie-talkie frequencies that are used for specific purposes, such as business, government, and public safety. These frequencies may require a license from the FCC.
Number of Channels in Walkie-Talkie
The number of channels on a walkie-talkie is an important factor to consider when choosing one. The number of channels determines how many people can use the walkie-talkies simultaneously without interfering with each other.
Here are some tips on how to pick a walkie-talkie based on the number of channels:
- Consider the size of your group. If you are only going to be using the walkie-talkies with one or two other people, then a walkie talkie with a few channels will be sufficient. However, if you are going to be using the walkie-talkies with a larger group of people, then you will need a walkie-talkie with more channels.
- Consider your environment. If you will be using the walkie-talkies in a crowded environment, such as a construction site or a large sporting event, then you will need a walkie-talkie with more channels to avoid interference from other users.
- The typical number of channels in a walkie-talkie is 10-15. However, some walkie-talkies have as few as two channels, while others have as many as 256 channels.
Battery Life: Ensure the Walkie-Talkie Lasts During Your Intended Activity
It won’t make much sense if the sole device you are reliant on for communications runs out of battery even before you complete your activity – so pick up a walkie-talkie that has a good battery life, and can stay active for an optimal number of hours.
- If you are using a walkie-talkie for your outdoor activity, you’ll certainly need one with a solid battery life. For example, the Rocky Talkie can stay active and operate for more than three days of usage.
- Or if your activity doesn’t require the greatest of battery life, or if you can plug your walkie-talkie in for a charge during your activity – you’ll get several walkie-talkies that last at least a day’s worth of usage.
Durability: Tough Adventures Require a Tougher Walkie-Talkie
Your walkie-talkie needs to withstand what mother nature throws at it during your outdoor adventure – therefore, make sure the one you are purchasing has water and dust resistance. Further, you’ll also need to pick one with a rugged design, that can survive any accidental drops.
- You’ll find walkie-talkies with IP67 dust and water protection. A device with an IP67 rating is completely protected against dust and can withstand immersion in water up to 1 meter deep for up to 30 minutes.
- Make sure you pick a walkie-talkie that is tested to survive drops of 10 ft. height, however, you will find plenty of walkie-talkies that can survive drops of at least 5 ft.
Lightweight Walkie-Talkies: You Wouldn’t Want to Carry a Bulky Walkie-Talkie at Work
If walkie-talkies are deployed at your workspace for ease of communication and productivity, then carrying a heavy walkie-talkie defeats the purpose. Therefore, choose a lightweight walkie-talkie that’ll fit comfortably in your hands.
- As of 2023, the Midland X-Talker T10 is one of the lightest walkie-talkies on the market, weighing only 3.9 ounces.
- However, most walkie-talkies typically weigh around five ounces.
Additional Features to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Walkie-Talkie
Walkie Talkies also come with a slew of additional features that can go a long way in helping you with your activities, here are a few notable ones.
- Weather alerts: Some walkie-talkies include a built-in weather radio that can alert users to severe weather conditions, such as tornadoes and thunderstorms. This can be a valuable safety feature for people who spend time outdoors or in areas that are prone to severe weather.
- VOX hands-free mode: VOX stands for voice-operated transmission. This feature allows users to transmit their voice without having to press a button. This can be useful for people who are working with their hands or who need to be able to communicate quickly and easily.
- Built-in flashlights: Some walkie-talkies have built-in flashlights that can be used for illumination in low-light or no-light conditions. This can be helpful for people who are working outdoors at night or for people who need to be able to see in the dark in an emergency situation.
There you go – that’s everything you need to know on how to pick a walkie-talkie. To make it easier, here’s a table that summarizes the specifications of some of the best walkie-talkies available in the market.
Specifications of Popular Walkie-Talkies Available in 2023
|Walkie Talkie||Frequency||Range||Battery Life||Water and Dust Resistance||Drop Resistance||Price|
|Rocky Talkie||UHF/VHF||25 miles (open air), 10 miles (urban)||3-5 days||IP67||10 feet||$250|
|Midland T61VP3 36 X-Talker||FRS/GMRS||22 miles (open air), 10 miles (urban)||12 hours||IP67||10 feet||$100|
|Motorola T380 Talkabout||FRS/GMRS||22 miles (open air), 10 miles (urban)||11 hours||IP67||10 feet||$60|
|Motorola Solutions T470||UHF/VHF||25 miles (open air), 10 miles (urban)||14 hours||IP67||10 feet||$150|
|Garmin inReach mini 2||Satellite||Unlimited||30 days (battery saver mode)||IP67||10 feet||$350|
|Cobra ACXT1035R FLT||FRS/GMRS||37 miles (open air), 15 miles (urban)||12 hours||IP67||10 feet||$80|
|BaoFeng BF-F8HP||UHF/VHF||25 miles (open air), 10 miles (urban)||12 hours||IP67||10 feet||$70|
|DeWalt DXFRS800||FRS/GMRS||22 miles (open air), 10 miles (urban)||14 hours||IP68||10 feet||$120|
We hope the above information helps. However, some of you might have had one lingering question while reading this article. The working principle of a walkie-talkie seems quite rudimentary, so why can’t my smartphone, which I paid a hefty price for, replicate what a walkie-talkie does? Turns out it can!
But why do we need a smartphone to replicate the functionality in the first place?
Why Smartphones Need to Integrate Features of a Walkie-Talkie
While walkie-talkies excel in certain scenarios, they lack the versatility of smartphones. Smartphones integrate features like texting, multimedia sharing, and internet access, which are absent in traditional walkie-talkies. Most importantly, compared to the sleek and lightweight design of smartphones, walkie-talkies can be bulkier and heavier. This can be a factor in scenarios where portability and comfort are crucial.
Despite advancements in long-range walkie-talkies, they still cannot match the global reach of smartphones. In areas without adequate repeaters, walkie-talkies may lose signal over extended distances. Moreover, walkie-talkies operate on specific radio frequencies, which can be prone to interference. Smartphones, on the other hand, leverage multiple communication technologies, reducing the likelihood of disruptions.
Sure, we’ve listed the shortcomings of a Walkie-Talkie and how smartphones can help overcome these, and most of you would have already thought about it – but is there a solution that currently works? Turns out, there is!
Introducing Talker: Bringing the Best of a Walkie-Talkie to a Smartphone
Talker is built on the foundation of the “push-to-talk” technology, also known as walkie-talkie, which has withstood the test of time as a reliable and efficient communication method. However, unlike traditional walkie-talkies, Talker takes this concept to new heights by integrating advanced features and modern technologies that enhance team coordination, efficiency, and productivity.
Key Features of Talker: Never Miss Your Walkie-Talkie
- Instant Communication: With push-to-talk functionality, teams can engage in real-time conversations, reducing response times and improving overall efficiency.
- Rich Messaging: Talker allows users to send text messages, attachments, audio messages, and even live push-to-talk, creating a versatile and dynamic communication experience.
- Live Location Tracking: The platform offers live location tracking, ensuring supervisors can monitor the real-time locations of team members, enabling better deployment and situational awareness.
- Administrative Dashboard: Talker provides an enterprise-grade administrative dashboard, granting managers the ability to add users, create channels, and manage the platform efficiently.
- Data Security: As data security is essential, Talker ensures that sensitive information is protected with end-to-end encryption, providing a secure environment for team communication.
How Talker Can Be Your Unfair Advantage to Improve Your Organizational Productivity
Talker enhances organizational efficiency by streamlining workflows, optimizing team communication, and minimizing manual processes. This contributes to smoother day-to-day operations within organizations. Moreover, Talker promotes enhanced collaboration through seamless coordination, fostering a collaborative environment that boosts team productivity and overall performance. In critical situations or emergencies, Talker improves situational awareness by providing real-time updates and live location tracking, facilitating better decision-making. Additionally, the platform ensures standardized communication channels, promoting consistency and clarity in information dissemination. This standardization aligns teams more effectively and contributes to a cohesive communication structure.
Talker Is Also Priced Reasonably
- Business Plan – $5.95 per user per month
- Enterprise Plan with AI – $11.95 per user per month
- Free trial – 14 days
If you have any further questions regarding walkie-talkies, you can take a look at the FAQ section below.
FAQs on Walkie Talkies
Unlike standard walkie-talkies that rely on radio waves and require a relatively short-range line of sight, satellite walkie-talkies can transmit signals via satellites orbiting the Earth, enabling communication across vast and remote locations.
Obtaining a GMRS license in the United States involves applying through the FCC.
You can use the standard radio language protocol to communicate with another person using a walkie-talkie.
The Midland X-Talker T10 offers the best bang for the buck.
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP is ideal for licensed HAM radio operators.
A device with an IP67 rating is dust-tight, meaning it is protected against dust ingress, and it can withstand immersion in up to 1 meter (about 3 feet) of water for up to 30 minutes. However, an IP68-rated device is also dust-tight and can withstand immersion in water beyond 1 meter.
The Cobra ACXT1035R FLT offers a great operating range – it has a range of up to 37 miles in open areas and 15 miles in urban areas.
Pick the Best Walkie-Talkie That Suits Your Needs
We hope this article helps you make an informed decision when you purchase a walkie-talkie in 2023. We also encourage you to use an app-based solution like Talker on your smartphone – for what it’s worth, it can prove to be cost-effective, and easy to manage and deploy among all of your team members at work!