Whether you call them two-way radios, walkie-talkies or mobile radios, these devices really come in handy, offering an effective and more affordable way to communicate.  While they are primarily used by law enforcement agencies, security teams, event organizers and construction site managers, two-way radios are being employed more by personal users as they allow families to keep in touch while significantly reducing costs on the dreaded phone bill.

In order to get the best out of your two-way radios, you must first know what to look for.

Two-way Essentials

Channels: Channels are extremely important, but the number you’ll need all depends on where you intend to use the radios. For instance, in more congested areas you would be better off with a radio that has more channels as it will offer greater flexibility.  Low-end models typically come with two channels while more expensive units offer up to 14 channels and sometimes more.

Privacy Codes: Because radio channels are transmitted on open frequencies, other users may be able to listen in on your communications.  When purchasing two-way radios with a privacy code feature, you can prevent snooping by scrambling the communication. Whether your conversations of are top secret importance or not, this remains a critical feature.

Scanning: This is a useful feature that allows you to quickly find all channels that are available, offered either as a manual or automatic function.

License-free: License-free refers to radios that do not require licensing from Ofcom.  These devices operate on PMR446, the mobile radio frequency for personal users.  In order to communicate on an UHF or VHF radio you would need to buy the proper license.

Range: Range refers to the maximum distance in which two or more radios can communicate.  Many companies advertise their products with an “up to” range.  Take note that these are based on ideal conditions and may not apply to obstructive surroundings such as certain areas in a building, woods and low or high ground; conditions that will greatly impact the range.

Batteries: Regardless of how often you plan to use your two way radios, it is always better to purchase a set that supports rechargeable batteries.  Furthermore, you should check out the package to find the estimated battery life.

Hands-free: Some of the newer two-way radios feature jacks for headsets and microphones, enabling you to enjoy hands-free communications.

Final Note

The beauty of two-way radios is that there is no limit to how many of them can be linked.  As long as they are within range of each other and using the same channel, everyone can communicate efficiently.  This may be reason enough to purchase an extra set to supply the whole family.