Once again, our staff at Pointed Magazine is dedicated to bringing its readers the hottest products for 2007. The staff at Pointed Magazine has reviewed all types of products in the past, but if your looking for a great way to communicate for miles, then we have a hot gift idea from Motorola.
If you are looking for a perfect holiday gift that is good for everyone in the family then we recommend the new T8500R Series 2-Way radios from Motorola. They will suit the best outdoorsmen or they will be a great way to round up the kids on a school field trip too.
Motorola’s Talkabout two-way radios run the gamut from inexpensive, entry-level models to pricier, high-end models with all the bells and whistles. The T8530R is one of the best that Motorola has released in this line. It offers a pair of durable FRS/GMRS (Family Radio Service/General Mobile Radio Service) radios plus a dual battery charger for suggested retail price of $79.99.
Housed in a durable, plastic casing surrounded by thick, rubberized grips, the Motorola Talkabout T8500R is designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor use and is available in a blue or a bright yellow color scheme. We like the interchangeable faces on the units. A great way to make the Motorola have its own identity, or yours for that matter.
The T8500R weighs approximately 6 ounces, is slightly pear shaped, and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. There are five function buttons on the front bezel for viewing and scrolling through menu options, transmitting call tones to another radio, and scanning and monitoring channels–all are conveniently positioned for one-handed operation. The yellow push-to-talk (PTT) button is located on the unit’s left side directly under the on/off/volume knob, which in turn sits atop the radio next to a semi flexible 2.5-inch antenna. On the right is a covered accessory jack for an optional hands-free headset. The smallish display–0.7 by 0.5 inches—is backlit so ideal lighting conditions always exist.
As for the main features of the T8500R it is packed and ready with lots to offer, including 22 channels and 121 Interference Eliminator (privacy) codes. Channels 1 through 7 operate on both the GMRS and FRS frequencies, channels 8 through 14 are FRS only, and channels 15 through 22 are exclusively for GMRS broadcasts. It is important to note that GMRS use requires an FCC license, while FRS is unlicensed. As a result, FRS channels tend to be crowded, but Motorola tackles that problem by adding 61 extra privacy codes (38 is standard) that are exclusive to Motorola users, so it’s easier to find an open channel. There are also 8 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather channels that provide updated weather conditions for your area, and the T8500R can be set to alert you when the NOAA broadcasts a weather emergency, even while you’re in two-way radio mode. This is a great feature to have in the storm prone areas such as Florida.
Other features include iVox, a built-in, hands-free mechanism that detects your voice and enables transmissions without having to use the PTT button or a headset; VibraCall for silent call alerts; QT Noise Filtering technology, which helps eliminate chatter from unwanted radio users; and Enhanced Scanning for finding other Motorola users who may have switched channels. This feature also lets you remove selected channels from your scan list, which speeds up the scanning process.
Additionally, the T8500R has 10 ring tones so that you can assign a specific tone to a caller, a battery meter with low-battery alert, and a locking keypad to prevent accidental channel changes. The package includes a pair of radios, two nickel-cadmium battery packs, two belt clips, a user guide, and a desktop charger unit that allows you to recharge both radios simultaneously. Alternatively, you can just charge the battery packs while powering each radio with three AA alkaline batteries (not included).
The T8500R performed pretty much as expected; while GMRS radios claim to be effective up to 18 miles, this is a best-case scenario and is rarely achieved with radios that have low power ratings (the T8530 is a 1.0-watt radio). Of course, environmental factors such as terrain, geographical location, and other radio frequency interference will also affect signal strength and can severely limit your range. We tested the T8500R in Downtown Washington, on the MARC Train, and along I81 traveling through Skyline Drive.
In the city, FRS and GMRS communications were limited to about 2.83 miles, which is more common for the Washington area. Some of the Motorola professional grade 2 way radios will drop signals within Washington, D.C with the amount of interference around.
One the MARC Train, the GMRS range was closer to 7 miles. One radio was placed at the Brunswick station and we were able to hear the other staff member as the train approached the Point of Rocks Station which is about 8 miles away.
You will find on the T8500R that the battery life is very solid and the recharge process is very quick. The included nickel-cadmium batteries are rated for 12 hours at 5/5/90, or 5 percent talk time, 5 percent receives time, and 90 percent standby; we surpassed that by well over two hours in our testing. We got 2 hours of talk/receive time, which is also good. The rated time with AA batteries is 30 hours. One version of the T8530R advertised for the holiday season also includes a free car charger.
For those looking for a pair of all around good use radios, the T8500R serves its purpose and will be a great tool for anyone needing some sort of outdoor communication. They also make a great way to holler at mom in the kitchen to make dinner—¦.. Well she might not like that, but there is no harm in trying right?
For more information on the T8500R, visit Motorola’s website at www.motorola.com