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How do I Choose the Best GMRS Walkie Talkie?

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  • Written By: Lakshmi Sandhana
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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General Mobile Radio Service, or GMRS walkie talkies, are versatile, high-power communication devices that have numerous applications. Some of the more advanced models out in the market have both GMRS and Family Radio Service, or FRS, functionality. Units with advanced features such as Global Positioning System (GPS) are much more expensive, but can be worth investing in depending on the intended usage. Some of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best GMRS walkie talkie are purpose of use, range and battery life.

GMRS walkie talkies have a greater range than FRS walkie talkies and require a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license for a person to use them. They are very useful for fishing, hunting and boating. Hiking, skiing and shopping expeditions are other activities for which the device can be used, and they also come in extremely handy in such settings as theme parks, arenas, road trips, and cruise ships. Choosing the best GMRS walkie-talkie involves taking into account all the various uses you intend to put it to.

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For instance, if you’d like to use the walkie-talkie as a baby monitor, then the GMRS walkie talkie model needs to have a VOX voice operated microphone. The VOX system will immediately put the walkie-talkie into a transmit mode when it hears a noise. It also enables hands-free operation when used with a headset and, additionally, allows the walkie talkie to be used an intercom. Hunters will find a walkie talkie model with a silent vibration alert much more useful. If privacy is a concern, then a set with voice scramblers will prevent other walk talkies that don’t have the same code from listening in to the transmissions.

Range is the most important factor to consider, since every other feature becomes useless if the GMRS walkie talkie set doesn’t work over long distances. Most manufacturers claim very high operational ranges, up to 30 miles (48.28 kilometers), but that’s mostly fiction, not fact. In reality, the range of these systems rarely go beyond a few miles or kilometers and depend on battery life, wattage and antenna size.

The terrain in which it is used also makes a huge difference, since huge buildings and trees block the signal of a GMRS walkie talkie. The range specifications can be used as a rough guide when comparing models from the same manufacturer. All things considered, a model with a higher range specification will operationally work over longer distances. Most walkie talkies only work in the range of a mile to 10 miles (1.6 to 16.09 kilometers), despite manufacturer’s claims.

To choose the best GMRS walkie talkie set, also consider other features such as durability, the ability to send text messages, out-of-range alerts and battery life indicator. Water proofing, channel scanning, key locks and whether the set can also work as a weather radio are other elements to mull over. Checking out user reviews of the model and seeing how it compares with manufacturer’s claims will also help you to make a more informed choice.

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