Advantages Robust, User Friendly, Good features
Disadvantages Fairly expensive, no vibrate, expensive accessories
|Range of features|
|Ease of use|
|Look & Feel|
|Durability & Robustness|
|Battery standby time|
The 5512 are available singularly or as a double pack in blue. For approx. £10 more however the 5522 comes with NiCd batteries and charging pods – well worth the extra and comes in black. I have the latter but all the features are identical except for the colour.A set of T5522's including charging pods and batteries can be had for around £80, this compared with a cost of £60 for the BT Freeways (with charger and ptt headset) and around £60 for a single T6222 with no accessories.
This radio has the standard 8 PMR446 channels and 18 CTCSS Codes per channel giving 304 possible combinations. The codes allow the user to filter out unwanted traffic on the channel although they are NOT separate channels so its important to check the channel is free – the red light will flash constant if in use or intermittently if free.
The only thing this radio lacks compared to the more expensive T6222 is the Vibrate motor, as well as being a larger physical size and having different button layout and volume control.Ease of Use
The screen is clearly laid out with a battery indicator similar to that found on mobile phones and a display showing the channel number and CTCSS Code. The menu makes it easy to go through and change the settings with the ability to change the call tone (or switch it off), Vox Handsfree operation and obviously channel selection. To ensure there is no accidental changing of channel holding down then menu button locks it so that only the PTT, Volume control and call button are in operation.Once the radio has been set-up it’s extremely easy to use even for those not used to two-way radio. It is however a good idea to educate users in etiquette such as identifying themselves and who they are talking to, how far away to speak into the radio and the fact that channels are shared.
Quality and Feel
The controls are well laid out and the radio is easy to grip even when wearing gloves. The design is robust and it would easily cope with being dropped onto a concrete surface from shoulder height. The Ariel is strong though not as flexible as other models. Motorola don’t actually make this radio themselves (its made by Maxon) but it certainly has the quality of a Motorola radio.
Some people say that Motorola radios sound bad when listened to on other brands however I haven’t found this to be a problem as long as the person is speaking into the radio properly.Battery Life
Using NiCd battery packs the battery life isn’t great, around 6-10 hours for my use, perahaps up to 15 depending on the amount of use. I do find if I’m using them all day for a stage production they do go flat quite quickly and I’m not that confident they will survive use in the evening as well. The annoying thing is the beep every ten mins and after transmission reminding you the battery is dead. Motorola have obviously been stingy here to keep costs down using NiCd but for less heavy use it should last a day with ease.NiMh batteries (depending on their rating) usually last a lot longer than the battery packs and I can usually get two days out of them without too much trouble. These are the same batteries as I use in my T6222’s and I certainly prefer them to the NiCd packs. These batteries do have to be charged externally unfortunately, and in 6’s as most chargers won’t accept 3 batteries.
Alkaline batteries last longer still than NiMh, about 3-5 days for moderate use while skiing isn’t a problem. I don’t really use these batteries very often and for all but occasional or emergency use would recommend using rechargeable if you can – it’s much cheaper.Accessories
Headsets with a PTT button are also available but at a price – expect to pay around £20 for one, which is a bit steep. They are however good quality and the PTT feature is much better than ‘VOX Operation’ offered by other manufacturers – I have never found a situation where VOX is reliable. The radio, which is better in terms of price for headsets, is the BT Freeway FM – it comes with them and is cheaper too.
Waterproof Cases are available from aquapac – this makes the radio’s good for sailing etc and they are very usable through the waterproof case, although more attention to volume, voice clarity etc is needed. The cheapest source for these cases is 7dayshop.com – make sure you order the ‘RH’ Ariel one.
I would recommend it to people although the batteries are a disappointment and the cost of accessories is quite high so I would also encourage people to consider something like the significantly cheaper BT Freeway FM, which I have found to be basically as good and better value.
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