Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Have you ever noticed the communication devices used by security guards, construction workers and extreme sportsmen? These tools are known as walkie talkies, an electronic device with simple but very useful functions. Remote communication is essential for logistics, organisation and security. For this reason, walkie talkies have become an indispensable tool for any company.

However, finding the right communicator is no easy task. There is a wide range of walkie talkies available that vary in terms of size, range and functions. To help you make a smart purchase, this article provides you with all the information you need to keep your organisation in constant communication.




Summary

  • Walkie talkies are communication tools that use radio frequencies to transmit and receive sound messages. They are widely used in recreational, sporting and professional activities that require constant contact between two or more people for logistical and safety reasons.
  • It is important to know the primary use of walkie talkies, as this will determine many factors to consider before making a purchase. A distinction can be made between occasional and professional walkie talkies, the latter being more complex in terms of operation and licensing.
  • Walkie talkies are usually purchased in packs of two or more because they are often used by large groups of people. To get the most for your money and the product's features, consider system, accessories, additional features and licensing.

The best Walkie Talkies: Our Picks

Buying Guide

As you'll see, long-distance communication needs to remain dynamic and immediate, especially when it involves work. So that you can make an informed purchase, here's everything you need to know about walkie talkies.

Walkie talkies are an indispensable tool for teamwork. (Photo: dolgachov / 123rf)

What is a walkie talkie and what are its advantages?

Walkie talkies, also called radios or portable communicators, are transceivers of radio frequencies, i.e. they receive and transmit sound through these channels. Their use has become popular due to their portability and efficiency in linking several receivers in close proximity.

This device offers its users the possibility to communicate remotely through different channels. It recovers the essence of the first radio communication and makes it available to everyone in terms of mobility and operability. However, as a tool with simple features, it is not without its negative details.

Many models do not have sufficient range to be used in large spaces or with a lot of interference. In addition, messages may be unintelligible depending on the quality of the speaker.

Advantages
  • Facilitate remote communication
  • Suitable for use by all audiences
  • Most are resistant to moisture, drops and high temperatures
  • Generally easy to transport
Disadvantages
  • Subject to interference
  • Messages may be unintelligible
  • Most channels are not private
  • Must be purchased as a package

Occasional or professional walkie talkies - what should you look out for?

One of the main criteria for buying a walkie talkie is the use to which it will be put. We can distinguish two main categories involving the recurrence, urgency and dynamism of the activities in which the radios are used. Here is a brief description of each.

Occasional. This refers to those used for recreational or sporting purposes. Walkie talkies are vital tools for maintaining communication between members of competitive or high-risk sports teams. Recreational use, such as toy walkie talkies, can also be considered.

Professional use. This category includes portable radios for industrial, business and military use. They are most often used for logistical or coordination purposes, and in specific cases may require licences for their use.

Occasional Professional
Price Low, medium Medium, high
Add-ons N/A Flashlight, alarm, earpiece
Interface Simple Advanced
Battery life Medium High

Portable radios are excellent tools for communication in open spaces. (Photo: maridav / 123rf)

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different models of walkie talkies

You are just one step away from purchasing the ideal walkie talkie for your needs. It's important to consider a few details that can change your experience of using and buying a walkie talkie. Keep in mind what you will be doing with your handheld radio and be sure to review these aspects:

  • System
  • Accessories
  • Additional functions
  • Licences

System

Walkie talkies use a radio frequency communication system that allows them to be used in any environment. Although the system is essentially the same, new models have been subject to innovations and changes in interface and functionality. Here are some of the main differences.

Analogue. Traditional models can only offer one reception per channel or frequency. They have the advantage of being more robust, although they are less responsive to changes in temperature, density or tilt. Some analogue models can be hybridised, adapting to the functions of digital interfaces.

Digital. The latest models of walkie talkies have many advantages related to increased frequency spectrum and lithium battery life. Digital handheld radios have improved output sound quality, as well as the ability to encrypt communication for greater security.

Accessories

Unlike other electronic gadgets, walkie talkies are complemented by a wide range of accessories that enhance their operation or make them accessible in specific situations. Consider your intended use so that you can get one of these accessories.

Headphones. All radios have an internal speaker, which can be supplemented with different types of headphones. The most common is the transparent headset with a built-in microphone, which can be used as a hands-free headset. Another variant would be ear protectors for construction work and noisy areas.

Batteries. This depends on the walkie talkie system. Work that requires the use of portable radios tends to be long-lasting, so it is advisable to take precautionary measures when it comes to power. Check whether your model uses an internal or external battery so that you can purchase replacements or charging ports, as appropriate.

Protective cases. Despite their tough material, some walkie talkies, especially the cheaper models, require special protection for handling in certain scenarios. For this reason, holsters are available to facilitate transport in the absence of clips and to keep the handheld radio in good condition.

Additional functions

As mentioned elsewhere, some models of walkie talkies have secondary functions that are extremely useful. These factors tend to drive up the price of portable radios, so ask yourself whether additional applications will offer you advantages and benefits in your activities.

Emergency calls. This feature was designed with high-risk activities in mind. Some models of walkie talkies have programmable alarms that are activated by a button. This tool is suitable for use in case of contingencies or unforeseen disasters.

Voice activation. The hands-free concept has been progressively adapted to communication technologies. Previously, walkie talkies had small microphones attached to the earpieces. More recent models can now be activated by voice commands similar to those of smartphones.

Man to ground. This is a specific function for people doing high-risk industrial work such as construction or mining. The most advanced walkie talkies include motion sensors that trigger an alarm signal when they are tilted. Extremely useful for accident prevention.

Licensing

Portable radios have certain regulations

Portable radios are considered a formal means of communication that, like many others, is subject to certain regulations. Some walkie talkies require a licence based on the frequency they use and the purpose of the communication. Here we tell you in which cases you will need to acquire a specific permit.

Unlicensed. Most walkie talkies do not require a licence for use, as they are intended for recreational or professional scenarios without the need for confidentiality. The difference lies in the range and number of channels, which are smaller than licensed radios.

Licensed. The application for permission to use radio frequencies is recommended for people who use walkie talkies on a recurrent basis and with long range needs. At the same time, a licence allows access to higher quality frequencies and guarantees confidentiality in transmissions.

(Featured image photo: natura_photos / Pixabay)

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