Below are some radio buying tips and questions to ask yourself before selecting a radio
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RADIO COVERAGE RANGE
How far do I expect my radio to communicate? This is a common question with a very convoluted answer. Most commercial radios have 4-5 Watts output power but differ on how far apart they will communicate. This is because more expensive radios have better filters and decoders allowing clearer reception at the fringe areas, and the ability to reject unwanted interference better. Digital radios such as the Motorola XPR6550 MotoTRBO extends this usable range even further. It is also important to note that bigger radios transmit farther due to more efficient antenna systems, especially in VHF models. Longer antennas also perform better compared to stubby antennas.
Portable to portable radio coverage can be extended by installing a repeater. This is common in larger buildings such as shopping malls and hotels, as well as on towers or mountain tops for use by fleet vehicles throughout cities, campuses or plants. Coverage can be extended easily and relatively inexpensively now from city to city or building to building via Voice over Internet (VoIP) such as using Motorola’s IP site connect technology
Most people choose radio because it is simple. They do not need all the bells and whistles. This keeps the unit price and training costs lower. Some features are available in radio now you should still consider.
–Size. Most people want the smallest package possible, Which is why Motorola Invented the SL7550, but bigger radios are sometimes more appropriate as well.
–Number of talk groups. Most models have at least 4 and up to 1000.
–Audio accessories. A flush mount connector jack is more robust than an audio jack where the connector is inserted.
-Battery system. Batteries can be a source of trouble (see our web page on battery info). Motorola IMPRES battery technology addresses this.
-Signalling features such as caller ID, paging, GPS tracking, telephone patch, telemetry, email/text, emergency button, lone worker can add safety, efficiency and functionality to your operation. Signalling is available in digital radios although some signalling features are also found in analogue.
-Audio volume. If you are using your radio in a noisy environment, you likely want a radio that is louder. Larger radios have bigger speakers, which generally sound better at full volume
-Display or no display… good question! Display radios are nice, but they generally are a bit more expensive and a less rugged. If you do not have a lot of talk groups or advanced features, stick to the non display model.
-Ruggedness. Are you operating outside in the rain? You may want a submersible radio. Does your staff beat the crap out of your equipment? You will be glad you chose Motorola. Check the military specs of the different models. We can help you decipher them.
-Will your radio operate in the presence of combustible gasses or dust? You may need intrinsic safety.
-Will you need extended coverage? You may need trunking capability.
-Will you have a large fleet? You may want fleet management options such as engraving and caller ID.
-Warranty: Motorola radios models vary on their standard warranty. offer 1, 2, 3-year are standard with extended warranty available to 5 years. Although the warranty is the best in the business (especially for accessories), it still does not cover a radio that was run over by a fork lift or “borrowed” for a hunting trip.
What you really need to evaluate is long term cost of ownership, not unit cost. Many people neglect to calculate what their time is worth in the equation. If you are constantly dealing with battery issues, broken radios, coverage issues and unhappy employees, are you really saving your company money?
How much do I want to spend for the radio system and per unit? This is always a major consideration of course. Many people choose radio because it is the lowest cost solution. We try to get buyers to understand the long term costs of what they are buying because lower up-font costs may in fact end up costing you more. Radios often last for many years, often more than 10. You should calculate the cost per year per radio on how long you expect the system to last. An entry level radio may typically last 3 years whereas an Professional radio will last 10 with far less trouble and more features.
Another important aspect is the lower the radio cost the higher the probability that the radio model will have a short production life. This is an important consideration if you want to buy the same model later to augment your fleet because new models usually have new batteries and chargers that are incompatible with older models. Motorola has the longest production runs of their radios. For example, the HT1000 was introduced in 1993 and was discontinued in 2006. Can you think of any other electronic device model that has a 13 year production run?
Other cost considerations are Industry Canada yearly fees, accessories, radio infrastructure or repeater access fees (if necessary) and ongoing service. These costs typically amount to only a few dollars a month per radio.