Motorola Talkabout 200 review by Pedro of the DolphiNs

Motorola
Talkabout 200

by
Alex
Climas (‘mr k’/’atlas’) of the DolphiNs

Stock
Specifications
Model Motorola
Talkabout
Technical ·
Weight: 200g (including batteries)

· Height: 11.6 cm

· Width: 6.4 cm

· Depth: 2.5 cm

· Range: up to 3 km**

· Power Output: 500mW ERP

· Channels: 8

· Codes: 38

· Operating Frequency: 446.00625 – 446.09375 MHz

· Power source: 3 AA batteries

· Operating temperature: -20ºC to +55ºC

· Lighted Display Screen

· Audible low battery alert

· Keypad Lock

Click here to visit Motorola's website


Communication!!!
No,
I’m not talking about ‘communication’ in the way your wives/girlfriends/partners
often rant and rave about. What I am talking about is battlefield comms.
Have you every wished to say “Charlie 3, Fire support mission over”? Well
now’s your chance; affordable, easy to use and durable radio communication
handsets have reached the UK.

Ok, ok, so it’s a bit
late, but it’s taken a while to test the radios out thoroughly. But wait,
have we not had CB’s and walkie-talkies before? Yes, but there were several
problems with those systems. Walkie talkies offered piss poor range and
very low durability, whilst CB’s required a licence to own and operate them,
with the added problem that they operate on a widely used communications
frequency.  At the end of last year the Family Radio Frequency was
phased in to replace the Business Frequencies, this allowed anyone and everyone
to own a radio without a licence. Within a month of the change FR comms
sets began trickling into the market. Motorola, Bush, Kenwood, Cobra and
others have all launched their own radio handsets here in the UK.

After toying with Mikes
CB’s and my own cheap ‘n’ nasty comms packs with little results at Combat
South
, I decided to invest in a pair of Motorola Talkabouts,
having heard much about them in the various discussion boards, including
the busy ones on Airsoft.org.


 

Specs
The
Talkabouts have set a base line for other manufacturers to copy,
it seems that most of the radio sets coming out now have very similar, if
not identical specifications. For the techie people out there here they
are (for all others scroll down to avoid a bad case of narcolepsy):

· Weight: 200g (including
batteries)

· Height: 11.6 cm

· Width: 6.4 cm

· Depth: 2.5 cm

· Range: up to 3 km**

· Power Output: 500mW ERP

· Channels: 8

· Codes: 38

· Operating Frequency: 446.00625 – 446.09375 MHz

· Power source: 3 AA batteries

· Operating temperature: -20ºC to +55ºC

· Lighted Display Screen

· Audible low battery alert

· Keypad Lock

Ok, may be I was a bit
rash to tell you to avoid reading the specs. There are actually some important
details here I need to explain. Firstly manufacturers like to gloss over
or withhold information when stating the specs of a product. First up the
range of the beasts, 3km, is optimistic. Maybe standing on a lake, at night
with a following wind and a rabbit’s foot, you would get 3km, but in reality
it is likely to be 2-1.5km.


One important thing to look out for when choosing your radio (if you don’t
go for the Motorola) is the power output. Anything below 500mW
will result in poorer range.

The keypad lock is essential
for any radio used in combat since we will be running, rolling, ducking
and diving – without the keypad lock you will change the channel of you
radio without knowing it, until you need to call in some support and find
no one answers.

Weight and size-wise
the Motorola’s are middlemen for both. The Goodmans
units are larger and weigh more, but there are some non-brand name ones
that Dixons sells that are smaller and lighter.  One
thing to note here is that the Motorola’s will fit into an
ALICE (US) first aid pouch without too much fuss.

For those of you fussy
about colour the Talkabouts are available in 2 colours – dark blue
and yellow. Tasteful. Well not really important since they will spend most
of the time inside a pocket or pouch. The yellow colour means that if you
‘misplace’ the radio its easy to find.

Shop around in specialist
shops, however, and if you’re very lucky, you can find camoflage cases too
!  These are not advised though… what happen

 

Which
button?!!!
Little
to say really; they are extremely easy to use !

Set the frequency and
sub-code, find someone with a radio with a matching code and press the transmit
button (the biggest one in the middle). One thing to say about the location
of that button is that if you are using the radio without any accessories
the location of the button can mean that your thumb will block or impair
the radios reception of your speech because its in the way.

The keypad lock buttons
will mean no unscheduled frequency changes, the back-lit LCD screen can
make things easy to set at night, but might be a bit of a tactical giveaway
if you are setting it in the field.

Accessories are easy
to use, just orientate the plugs on the headset with those on the radio
and plug them in.

 

Built
like a brick house

Well
that says it all. Excellent build quality has meant that my radios have
survived many falls, rolls, slides, and knocks. The aerial is resoundingly
solid and having caught it on numerous branches has not damaged it at all.
Essentially it’s a top quality mobile phone clad in body armour.

You can’t however say
the same thing about Motorola’s accessories. They have are essentially
the same as their mobile phone counterparts, so they are not entirely suited
to combat and are fragile. That said all my accessories are still intact
and working 100%.

 

Accessories
Well one would think
the bonus of buying of buying from a large company like Motorola is that
there are a slew of accessories for their radios. Well this is true, but
before you all go mad and rush out to buy ‘Motorola’ accessories
a word of caution. Being a company that keeps its commercial interests close
to heart Motorola have re-moulded the mic and speaker 3.5mm plugs
so that the distance between the two, is different to that of all other
Motorola radios.

This means what?

This means that you
can only use accessories with the Talkabout brand name on them with
the Talkabout radios.

 

What’s the problem?

It appears the radios
are not designed for us hardy combat warriors and so the accessories are
rather fragile and not suited to combat. VOX activated boom mic’s, ear pieces
etc are easily activated and will be activated by heavy breathing! Other
accessories include holsters; carry packs and lapel-mounted speaker/mic’s.


 

Say
again, over!?
Not
a problem with the Motorola’s. Transmission and receiving quality
is excellent. But transmission quality can be a bit patchy at times. Also
there is a brief delay between activating the transmission button and the
radios transmitting so be careful, as you might have to repeat the first
few words of your message.

One other thing the
Talkabout 200’s have no privacy codes. “What are they?”, I hear you
ask. Privacy codes prevent other people on your frequency eavesdropping
on your conversations. They scramble the transmission and can only be unscrambled
by another radio operating with the same code. The Motorola’s don’t
have them so people can plausibly listen to your conversations. Fortunately,
with over 300 frequency and code combinations, they would have to have more
patience than Zeus or be a real sad case to sit there and scan all the frequencies
so, ulitmately, not a problem.

 

Talk
is Cheap
I
wish this were the case, but sadly not. The Motorolas are an expensive
luxury. £80 for one, £130 for 2. They are pricey. But you get what you pay
for in the radio market and it certainly seems that the Motorola’s
are very high quality, long-range efficient bits of kit. I personally have
no knowledge about the other brands available but paying £60 – 70 for 2
radios does seem a bit too cheap, and I suspect the transmission range and
overall quality of the radios will be much lower.

 

The
Final Word
Buy
them!! No, I am not being sponsored by Motorola. But you can’t really
go wrong with these radios, easy to use, durable and with excellent range
they are an excellent investment. You get what you pay for completely here
– a good high quality radio. Accessories may be limited and there are no
privacy codes, but I feel they can’t be beat. The cheaper radios have given
some stiff competition and this is forcing the Motorola’s price down.
But for the higher price you get one of the most combat capable radios (for
airsoft use) around.

 

External
Links:

http://members.tripod.com/jwilkers/frspage.html
– To the best of our knowledge, this is *the* most comprehensive resource
page for FRS radio systems, which actually incorporate thousands of individual

user-input ratings as well as a total “compatibility” chart.

Update from DumboRAT
(December 28, 2001):
Yep, Motorola accessories are a pain, and are
sometimes either not functionally ideal or are, quite frankly, cosmetically
retarded. Such concerns especially manifest with today’s popular use of
ear-clip based mic systems — which the popularity of cellular phones have
brought about (i.e. those cool headsets seen on some of the popular Stateside
shows, such as that “UC Undercover”).

In the States, we have
what’s called “Radio Shack” which offers a product they
term VOXBOX 43SRS2COMM (2101832), retailing for USD 14.99, that enables
the use of common single-pronged cellular phone headset/mic combos to be
adapted to the Motorola T250 Series TalkAbouts. This extra unit has the
“looks” of a remote PTT box (not the “cool” black-circle
ones as see on the movie “Speed” but still, enough to give
the looks), along with an option to still use the VOX setting, if so desired.
Clipped to the center-chest area, this makes for a very “tactical”
looking unit.

Next, regarding price.
The T250 units are being phased-out here in the US, replacement with the
T5000 and T6000 Series models (with single pronged headset/mic adaptors
— the latter 6000 Series with VOX capability). As such, the prices of the
T250’s are dropping sharply, with the black units being able to be had for
less than USD 50 from many sources. As such, I would recommend any hobbyist
“clubs” or “teams” to try to form a “group purchase”
and perhaps outsource to America for their needs, as it may be cheaper this
way.

Comment
on this review in the forums


Last modified:
Wednesday, May 9, 2001 9:37 AM copyright 2001 ArniesAirsoft




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