If you decide on buying a walkie-talkie set, chances are you will try to find the best buy for the lowest possible price. That is totally understandable and we do that with everything else we buy in life, so why not walkie-talkies. The problem that you will be encountering here is two-fold:
- You might not get the range you want from a cheap walkie-talkie set. This will, of course, depend on the make but keep in mind that not a single walkie-talkie can perform as well as the manufacturer claims, especially not in a densely wooded or populated area. Most that you can expect from a cheap walkie-talkie us around a mile in range.
- Inexpensive walkie-talkies are built from materials that cannot boast of great quality. If you decide to buy cheap you can expect your walkie-talkie to break down sooner than if you paid a handsome price for a decent set.
So as you can see, cheap walkie-talkies are a definite possibility but you need to know what you will be using them for. As a rule of thumb, always go for a cheap device if you are buying it for kids. There is simply no reason to overpay for something that your children will use as a toy. Not only that, you can expect that walkie-talkie to be soon tossed aside and exchanged for some other novelty your kids might start to fancy.
Also, don’t bother investing too much in the best walkie-talkie if you’re using it in your neighborhood to stay connected with your friends, neighbors or kids while they are out playing. You do not need crazy range in those situations anyway.
However, there are situations when you should really invest serious money and get walkie-talkies that are built to last and have great range. Some of those situations are:
- If you are working as an event planner or an organizer you will want to have decent communications equipment that will guarantee that you stay in contact with your team at all times.
- Also, working in construction you want to be able to depend on your equipment. Walkie-talkies are extensively used in this industry and if you choose a cheap device chances are it is going to go dead on you at the moment you need it the most.
- Going camping, hiking and mountain climbing are all fun activities, but also activities that often leave you without a cell phone signal for quite some time. You need quality walkie-talkies in these situations for several reasons. First, good models have a weather warning system, an emergency system that will keep you informed in a case something dangerous is heading your way. Second, you need to be able to stay in contact with everyone and walkie-talkies are an only option if you cannot get a phone signal.
- Hunting is a dangerous sport and a quiet one as well. Cheap walkie-talkies are noisy but pricier ones have a vibration setting that will allow you to stay in touch with your buddies without alerting your prey.
Batteries Are Also Something To Consider
The most important thing about walkie-talkies, besides range, is the battery life. You are taking them with you wherever you go and you want to make sure that you have a device with a quality battery, especially if you’re going somewhere in the wild where you will not have a chance to recharge them.
Most FRS and GMRS walkie-talkies use standard AA or AAA batteries that have a pretty short life. You can use them around the house but don’t count on them if you are going hiking or camping.
So turn your attention to rechargeable batteries. There are three different types of rechargeable batteries, and guess what, if you decide to go for the cheapest walkie-talkie you will also be buying the cheapest battery that doesn’t have a very long usage life.
Nickel-cadmium batteries have been around the longest and they have a decent life expectancy. They will last around 2-3 years if you are taking good care of them and are not prone to overcharging problems. They will, however, suffer from memory burnout if you are not using them properly. These batteries always have to be drained before recharging. Another minus here is that these are the heaviest batteries in the bunch.
Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries
These are similar to Ni-Cad batteries but they do not share their problem of memory burnout. They are also slightly lighter. They will typically last around 1-2 years, depending on how you use them and how you take care of them.
Lithium Ion batteries are the most expensive you can get. They are also the lightest but the problem with them is that they have a life cycle and once that life cycle is reached they won’t take another charge. Also, they require a special charger but are can be charge in as little as an hour.
Most batteries are built on a usage cycle of 5/5/90. This means that the manufacturers assume that you will be talking and listening 10% of the time and that the device will be on standby for 90 % of the time.
So there you have it. If you need a walkie-talkie for somewhat professional use, it pays out to buy a slightly more expensive device. If you are going to be only using it occasionally or want your children to have something to play with, then you can save yourself the trouble and get something cheaper.