Advantages Small, lightweight, easy to use.
Disadvantages Uses 3 AAA batteries per radio, instead of a rechargable 'battery pack'.
|Range of features|
|Ease of use|
|Look & Feel|
|Durability & Robustness|
|Battery standby time|
WARNING! -- LONG REVIEW!! -- YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!~ Alternative title (that I wanted to use) ~
I've had my Nectar Card for a good while and I am also a member of a survey company called "TNS" who award points for completing surveys and you can link your "TNS" account to your Nectar Card then get your TNS points automatically transferred into Nectar Points.
Wow, what a great little two-way radio!
Recently the Nectar website (Nectar.com) did a 'Summer of Rewards' promotion where a handful of electrical goods were on sale (!! HALF PRICE !!) for a certain amount of Nectar Points. I saw that they had a two-pack (well I'm sure they had many two packs...not just one pack) of these radios that were reduced in price from 5,800 Nectar points to 2,900 Nectar points and I just happened to have enough points to purchase this. About 3-5 days later I received a medium sized parcel in the post and so that's how I got this product.Turns out that instead of a normal pair of black ones with the blue fascia (as you can see in the Ciao main picture for the product) I got (what I believe to be rather rare -- haven't seen a pair of silver ones on sale online anywhere before) pair of Silver ones with a black fascia which looks like a much better 'colour blend' anyway.
~ What you get ~
Inside the whole packaging (a two pack) you get the following;
The aerial is small a stumpy looking, about 2 or 3 inches long. On the back of it at the top is a small screw.
From the front you'll see 4 buttons and one button on the left hand side. The front-top-left button is a 'call' button, with a single musical note image on it, which when pressed, transmits a simply ringing sound like a telephone and this sound goes to the other radio (and can be heard by any other radio on the same channel). The 'front-top-right' button, with a + sign on it, is for turning the volume up and changing the channel up. The 'front-bottom-left' button, with the word Menu on it, is both the 'Menu' button and also the power button. The 'front-bottom-right' button, with a - sign on it, is used for turning the volume down and changing the channel down. Finally the button on the 'left-hand-side', which features three small 'lumps' (you can just about see them in the main picture), is used only to transmit a message
In terms of volume options, you have the choice of 15 different levels ranging from 1 to 15...1 being the lowest level and 15 being the highest. Normally when just siting at home I may leave one of these radios on between levels 1 and 5 whilst 'scanning' the channels just for fun to see if I pick anything up, since the radios are not solely linked to each other. Level 15 is something I would use if I was in a particularly loud environment, like if I was playing really loud music or if you ever happened to be standing in-front of the speakers at a musical event. To change the volume, all you have to do is press the + or - button as you need to. This is done from the 'stand-by' mode (when you're just sitting on a channel) but sadly cannot be down whilst you are 'scanning' the channels. When changing volume, a small V appears before the numbers to indicate that you are changing the volume and not the channel.Channel wise you have a choice of just 8 channels, all operating on different frequencies (of which I'll add into this review as soon as possible). The only problem with this is that whilst moving (like in a car) or at a medium-large sized music event (i.e: Glastonbury, Carling Festival, V Fest, Download, Cambridge Folk Festival) you'll more than likely have a 'crossed-wire' with someone else is already using that channel. In a recent 'field test' (funnily enough -- in a real field) I actually had to abandon the test because of so many other people already using the channels and it became too complex, although I suggested (to the people I was with) using actual call-signs (like Tango 1 or something) to identify us to each other so that other people could tell we weren't talking to them, but the idea was not 'implemented' because they "thought it was stupid" (which it is like so not!). The changing on channels is very simply, all it involves is pressing the 'Menu' button once (so that the channel number on the display flashes) and then pressing the + button to go up a channel or the - button to go down a channel. Once you have chosen the channel you can either just leave it at that or quickly press the 'Transmit' button (which doesn't transmit anything).
The 'Menu' button has three different "thingys" (I think I mean 'Functions'). The first (1 press) being to change the channel and just involves one single press to do and then you use the + and - buttons. The second (2 presses) is to turn on the channel scan which again involves using either the + and - buttons. The third (three presses) is (rather useless really) used to 'monitor' the channel.To use the 'call' sign, all you have to do is simply press the button and it'll send out the 'ringtone'.
Transmitting is very simple, all you need to do is press and hold down the 'Transmit' button (on the left hand side) and then speak into it then let go. As soon as you speak into it, your message is transmitted over the channel that you are currently using and upon letting go of the 'Transmit' button, a beep is heard by both radios, and anyone else who happens to be on the same channel/frequency, to signify the end of transmission.These radios feature a very clever 'scan' function which, when activated, simply scans all 8 channels/frequencies and as soon as it picks up a transmission it will automatically 'tune' into it and let you hear that transmission. If you don't reply to it or no further transmissions take place on that channel within 5 seconds, it will simply continue to scan. This scan would be useful if you were in a large group of people and you were using different channels and wanted to actually listen into each channel, or if you are like me and you're having fun by just scanning every single channel when you're at home. Whilst you're scanning, the screen will show a small Z like shape with a little arrow attached to the bottom-right of this shape and then it'll very quickly flash through from 1 - 8 again and again.
The 'Channel monitor' is horrific to use and when activated will stay on one channel and you'll hear terrible sounding static until someone makes a transmission. I cannot see why this would be useful as it's sounds terrible anyway. I remember having a much older pair of child's 'Fisher-Price' Walkie-Talkies when I was a kid and they too did this awful static sound until you made a transmission. As I said, it's a totally useless function as you can remain on that channel in stand-by mode and still hear when a transmission is made.The manual is a very simply and very short (about 10 pages in English, the rest in other languages) guide to the radios in general, information and various things. One thing I remember from it that stuck in my mind is that it said about it being "Radio etiquette to check that no-one else is using a channel before you transmit". I actually thing that saying this in the manual is great because not a lot of people may actually think about this. On the back of the whole packaging (printed on the usual card inside) is a list of the countries in which you can use these radios which is very helpful, although the countries are in 'Car' format (GB for Great Britian, F for France, D for Germany, E for Spain, IRL for Ireland, S for Sweden, etc, etc).
~ The Black Keys ~
Included inside the whole packaging is two strange looking Black plastic Key things that look a bit like a guitar plectrum. These are actually used to open the battery compartment which is pretty stiff to open by hand normally. Funnily enough the manual suggests to use a coin! Simply insert the smaller (same as the smaller end of a plectrum used to strum a guitar) end of this 'Key' into the gap on the bottom/underside of the radio and then press upwards (with the radio facing downwards) to 'flip' (Clearly Motorola like to make products that "flip" open) the battery compartment open. There is also a very light indentation of "T4502" on one side of both of these keys and a loop for attaching to set of keys, a keyring or something similar.
With a range of 5 km or 3 miles, they're at the lower end of the scale compared to other radios of this type (this type of radios are normally for leisure purposes and are sometimes referred to as "Entry-Level radios"). I believe that you can now get radios with an 8 km range in the shops now (check out Argos). I wouldn't really 'slate' this low range since it hasn't caused any problems for me so far.These radios won't exactly work over a mountain or hill but I think that they work fine through trees or walls. Sadly they don't feature a range-warning, which would warn you if you are going out of range of each other.
The belt-clip simply needs to be slid down from the top of the radios until it 'clicks' into place. To remove it, all you have to do is pull & hold back a clip and slide the clip upwards. What I find very clever is that the clip features a reasonable sized loop which could easily be used to attach some kind of clip to the loop for a neck or wrist strap. You may be able to obtain neck and wrist straps (officially called 'Lanyards') from a phone shop as they're usually used with phones. Indeed I have a Samsung Wrist strap which I can use with these radios.In terms of battery life, the manual says that you can get 30 hours of use on full batteries however that is based on 5% transmissions, 5% receiving and 90% stand-by time, and I can say that I do believe this is true, however I am not fully sure.
I've actually thought of a new idea (before writing this review) which is this... A small red light on the radios somewhere that will light up if a transmission has been made on that channel in the last few minutes and it could also light up when a transmission is being made on that channel too. Ideally this would reduce 'crossed-wires'.All considered, these radios are perfectly suitable for whatever you may wish to use them for. Sadly they are missing a few things, including the aforementioned incapability of changing the volume whilst scanning the channels and also the lack of any hands-free plugs for the use of a hands-free kit (Yes -- radios have these too).
That's it, you've finally reached the end of this review. It must have taken me upto an hour to write this if not longer. Congratulations if you've fully read this review and thank-you for actually fully reading it, much appreciated! Guess what? (Now who wants a Gold Star?)Missing anything? Please let me know and I'll endeavor to add it.
Notice: I am going to add actual pictures of this product as soon as I can take some and upload them. This will happen within the next two weeks, hopefully.
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