Oregon GMRS Repeater


Motorola MR355R Talkabout - Rating = 4/10

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Kenwood TK-840

Motorola Talkabout MR355R

I bought these radios at WalMart purely out of curiosity since they are one of the few “Bubble Pack” FRS/GMRS combo radios that have GMRS repeater input capabilities. There are 8 frequencies that are used for GMRS repeater inputs and this sets these radios apart from many others. Unfortunately they just don’t measure up to my needs.

In the past I’ve owned the original Motorola FRS radios from Radio Shack and they held up very well, seemed well made and are working perfect years later. These new Motorola radios unfortunately are not the same quality of past efforts and the feel is cheap, light, and doesn’t instill any confidence of the radio taking a drop impact on a hard surface or getting wet.

Though the radios seem feature rich for FRS/GMRS, my suspicions were correct. The cheap feel translated into inconsistent PTT buttons that cut off the user halfway through their transmission at times, as well as extremely poor transmit range and reception in a relatively flat wooded area near my home. Disappointment set in. You see, I would assume that Motorola would realize who their customer is that would seek out a repeater capable GMRS radio and that the transmit power on GMRS frequencies would be 4-5 watts, but that’s not the case at all as these are choked at .380 Watts FRS, and 1.32 Watts on GMRS frequencies. Nothing to brag about, and certainly not the kind of power that would ever make it easy to live up to the proclaimed 35 mile line of sight range they are advertised to have (but that was expected).

Because my sight is geared around the use of repeaters in Southern Oregon, where conditions for RF are less than ideal with mountainous terrain, canyons, and dense forest, I’m not going to dive in too deep with this review. These radios failed to impress me, but for the casual camper, or for two way radio from one end of your home to another, working on projects on your small property, these radios offer decent sound quality, a good easy to use user interface, CTCSS tones to eliminate interference from other radios in proximity, and good battery life with a simple drop in charger cradle to drop them in when not in use. The price wasn’t bad at under $100 for the pair including charger and ear bud mic combo.

For anyone that has a GMRS license and is planing on or has access to a repeater, I’d recommend passing on these and going for a true GMRS handheld with at least 4 watts TX power and a removable antenna. There are many new and used options from Motorola Kenwood, Baofeng, Wouxun, Icom and many more that will work far better than these bubble pack radios.

 

 

The Motorola Talkabout Radio, Realtree AP HD has 22 channels plus 8 channels, each with 121 privacy codes for 2662 combinations. Features of the Motorola radio with 35-mile range include QT (Quiet Talk) interruption, 11 NOAA weather channels, iVOX hands-free communication, push-to-talk (PTT) power boost and an emergency alert button. The AP radio comes with a built-in LED flashlight, mini USB charging port and 5 animal call tones. You'll get an estimated 27 hours of talk time with this Motorola radio with 35-mile range (3AA alkaline batteries not included) or 9-hour NiMH estimated battery life. This Motorola Talkabout Radio, Realtree AP HD includes 2 belt clips, 1 dualdrop-in charger, 1 charging adapter, 2 NiMH battery packs and 2 (PTT) earbuds.

Motorola Talkabout Radio, Realtree AP HD:
22 channels plus 8 channels, each with 121 privacy codes for 2662 combinations
QT (Quiet Talk) interruption feature
11 NOAA weather channels
iVOX hands-free communication
Push-to-talk (PTT) power boost
Emergency alert button, built-in LED flashlight, mini USB charging port and 5 animal call tones
27 hours of estimated talk time (3AA alkaline batteries not included) or 9-hour NiMH estimated battery life
Includes 2 belt clips, 1 dualdrop-in charger, 1 charging adapter, 2 NiMH battery packs and 2 (PTT) earbuds

OregonGMRS.org