Long-range two-way radios, colloquially known as walkie-talkies, are hand-held devices used for near-instantaneous communication over large distances. They are particularly useful in cases when other forms of technology such as mobile phones are unusable. When choosing long-range two-way radios, the most important things to keep in mind are the usable range and reliability of usage, plus any extra features suited to the intended use of the radios.
For most long-range two-way radios, the quoted distance range is for unobstructed, high-elevation use. Inside a crowded mall or with many geographic obstructions between two users, it is not uncommon for a radio’s advertised range of 30 or more miles (48 or more kilometers) to shrink to a tenth of that or less. Thus, if a range of many miles is required, it may be better to choose long-range two-way radios with a range much larger than that actually desired.
Another important consideration is how reliable the radios are for communication. This includes such factors as the clarity of the transmission through the speakers, battery life, and general quality of the radio handset. Some radios meant for heavy outdoor use are designed to be particularly robust, with features such as water or impact resistance or power saving modes.
Radios can usually be charged electrically or use standard cell batteries. If the radios will be frequently used for extended periods of time, it is usually more convenient to charge them than to replace the batteries over and over. In cases when primary usage of the radios will take place in areas where electricity is not available, such as on outdoors trips or emergency situations, it may be better to choose battery-powered radios.
A large number channels or the ability to set privacy codes is important for ensuring that only relevant communications are broadcasted to a specific radio. The more channels a radio can broadcast on, the less likely it is that two sets of users will broadcast on the same channel. Alternatively, some long-range two-way radios can implement privacy codes, so they only accept transmissions from radios with the same code. These features can cut down on the confusion from multiple conversations on the same channel.
In addition to basic receiving and transmitting capabilities, many long-range two-way radios will come with other features such as hands-free usage or the ability to receive weather alerts. Depending on the intended use of the radios, these may or may not be important considerations. For example, if the radios will be used for indoor communication, weather information is probably not relevant, but if they are used for hiking, it is probably much more important.