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Radio Features - Typical radio features explained.

What are some useful two-way radio features?

Two-way radio manufacturers offer an avalanche of options when it comes to bells and whistles on walkie-talkies. Naturally, different users need different functionalities from their radios; so here are some of the most popular choices.

DISPLAY SCREENS

The latest two-way radios show vital information at a quick glance on a display screen. Offerings may include: clocks, stop watches, timers, and alarms; weather information including altimeters and barometers; a digital compass; battery levels, transmit and receive signal indicators and more. Look for an LCD (liquid crystal display) that's backlit, making it easier to read in diverse lighting conditions.

VOX VERSUS PTT MICROPHONES

Great for wire-pullers, crane operators, hunters, skiers and workers who have their hands full. VOX automatically sends the unit into transmit mode when it detects speech in the direction of the microphone. No need to push to talk! VOX definitely has its advantages, but can also cause confusion if it picks up conversation that is not meant to be transmitted. Look for VOX in the microphone's description if automatic transmission is a feature that interests you. If you would prefer to transmit only when you specifically act to communicate over the radio, which is the standard, look for PTT. This stands for push-to-talk. Typically, the user presses a small button next to the mic or a button on the radio to speak. Otherwise, no conversation or noise is transmitted.

Some microphone models offer both options that can be set to preference. With most Motorola radios, when the microphone is plugged-in, a long press on the radio talk button will put the mic into VOX mode and a tap on the talk button will put the mic back into PTT mode.

KEYPAD LOCK

If your walkie-talkie regularly walks a bumpy road, then you should choose this handy feature that locks down your keypad to prevent unintended changes to your channel settings. Weather channels: Don't let Mother Nature catch you off guard! Get the latest NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Association) weather information delivered in real-time direct to some models of FRS and VHF business two-way radios.

RING TONES AND SILENCERS

Several two-way radio models allow you to designate differing ring tones for members of your party - just like a cell phone. You can also set the unit to vibrate, illuminate or simply do nothing at all, if a call comes in when stealth counts.

OUT OF RANGE ALERTS

Set your walkie-talkies to alert you and your party when one of you wanders out of communication range.

EAVESDROP REDUCER (SCRAMBLING)

A feature on higher-end units, voice-inversion technology is used to scramble communications transmitted by people on the same channel and privacy code. Using the same eavesdrop reducer setting, channel and privacy code can prevent other radio users from listening in on your conversations.

HANDY ACCESSORIES

Walkie-talkie manufacturers and third parties make many products that expand the ease and usability of your two-way radios. Be sure to double-check that the accessories you buy will work with the two-way radios you own. Techwholesale.com includes a sampling of popular accessory items under each model displayed on the website, for a longer list and more information click two-way radio accessories. Also note that many manufacturers' warranties become void, if accessories from other companies are used.

MICROPHONE CHECK!

Tap. Tap. Is this thing on? Speaker microphones, headsets and earpieces add a big advantage in loud or low noise environments. Select your microphone for your comfort using either PTT (Push-to-Talk) or VOX (Voice Activated) capabilities. Hands-free mics allow you to keep busy on the task at hand. They come in a few different configurations: the secret-service style ear tubes, wired with over-the-ear hooks similar to many mp3 players, or the shoulder models popular with firefighters and police.

HOLSTERS AND BELT CLIPS

Quick draw holsters and belt clips ensure you're never fumbling around to respond or communicate. Your two-way radio is at your side, right where you left it. Radios come with basic holsters from some dealers and these are typically fine for everyday use. If your radio does duty in a rugged environment, a fully-enclosed leather or hard case can add years to its life.

PROGAMMING CABLES AND PC-COMPATIBLE SOFTWARE

Clone data and channel settings in a snap with cables that form a radio-to-radio or radio-to-computer USB connection. PC compatible software allows you to benefit from the full functionality of a computer keyboard and mouse to configure your two-way radio settings and store data with ease.

ANTENNAS

Antennas do the job of sending, receiving, and converting the radio waves required to communicate. They come in different configurations and lengths and some have extensions that can be placed on internal or outdoor surfaces. These antenna extensions can boost range, but they are only practical for fixed-position radios like base-units and are not usually meant for handheld radios. Antennas are critical to penetration of obstacles and materials in the environment.