You don’t have to know about technology to have fun with radios. Handheld radios are compact and battery-powered and can be used in all kinds of situations. Just charge and go!
Below you will find facts about radios, an overview of products, a guide around the features, a radio test, and an answer to the most common questions.
The most important facts in a nutshell:
- Handheld radios allow you to communicate with other people easily and without a cell phone contract. Unlike real amateur radios, some of these devices are freely available without permission.
- If you want to buy a radio, pay special attention to the power supply. For some devices you need a charging station, for others, you can simply replace the batteries. This is very practical, especially in outdoor use.
- Another important point when looking for the best radio is the range. You cannot always rely on the manufacturer’s specifications in this respect.
CB-Radio buying guide
Wondering if the radio can help you? Or do you also want to become a radio operator? Below are a few basics and tips to help you make the decision to buy your new radio.
What is a radio?
A radio is an electrical device that can transmit data wirelessly. You and the other person set the same frequency on the devices. You move a short distance away and can talk and exchange important information without a line of sight by pressing a button.
How does a radio work?
The radio uses radio waves to transmit data wirelessly through the air. These radio waves are long or short waves in different hertz ranges, which thus transport data from a transmitter to a receiver on a certain frequency.
These radio waves are created by an oscillator. The oscillator generates a fundamental wave, i.e. an alternating voltage signal with a certain oscillation per second. To produce a frequency, an information wave is superimposed on the fundamental wave.
This process is called modulation. And there are different types of modulation: amplitude modulation (AM), phase modulation (PM), and frequency modulation (FM). FM might be familiar to you from analog radio. Here the radio program is sent to your radio by frequency modulation.
So depending on which hertz range you are in, you have the possibility to send information on different frequencies.
But don’t worry! You don’t have to know the Hertz ranges at all! Radios have 6, 8, or 80 different frequencies depending on the type, also called channels. You choose a radio channel for you and your radio partner and you already have a connection.
CB-Radio – Best Choice
How to choose CB-Radio
Best 5 CB-Radios
Uniden Pro Series 40-Channel CB Radio
Midland 40 Channel CB-Way Radio
Cobra Professional CB Radio
Cobra 29 LX MAX Smart Professional CB Radio
Uniden Pro-Series 40-Channel Portable Handheld CB Radio
We have tested CB-Radio and selected the best products for you
Which is the right radio for each situation?
Depending on the purpose for which you need a radio, you have the choice between different types of devices, which we would like to introduce to you below:
- A device of this category is certainly the first thing most people think of when it comes to radios. Handheld radios are made for mobile use. They are relatively light and can be easily carried in a pocket or on a belt.
- The range is usually between three and 10 kilometers.
- This type is also available as a children’s radio – these models are then smaller and more colorful.
- This type of radio has a greater range, but is not mobile, because the technology is housed in a kind of box.
- These are professional and quite expensive devices.
- These radios allow several motorcyclists who are traveling together to stay in contact. Among other things, they are used for communication between the instructor and the student motorcyclist.
- Activation works by voice, so the motorcyclist does not need a hand.
- Such a radio is accompanied by a headset through which the rider can hear what the other person is saying.
What are the most important criteria for your purchase decision?
The different models of the various manufacturers and brands score with very different advantages. You can read below what you need to look out for when you want to buy a radio.
The range is the central criterion
You won’t find a walkie-talkie test on the Internet that doesn’t compare the range of different radios. After all, the fact that you can still hear your conversation partner well at a slightly greater distance is elementary.
But be careful: the manufacturer’s specifications do not always correspond to the facts. First, these maximum ranges of radios only apply under optimal conditions anyway, i.e. on the open road.
Even in a forest, the range can be less. In densely populated areas, the maximum range is practically never reached. A few miles are usually no problem. 6 miles, on the other hand, are by no means reached by all devices. Radios that can transmit 12 miles are even rarer.
Batteries are more practical for on the road
When it comes to powering mobile CB radios, you have a choice between batteries or a built-in rechargeable battery pack. You can easily recharge such a battery pack with a charger. However, when you are on the road, of course, you have neither the charger with you nor a power outlet nearby. In this case, batteries have great advantages that you can easily replace. However, battery operation also comes with disadvantages.
Advantages and disadvantages of radio with batteries:
- If the batteries are empty, you can simply replace them with new ones.
- You are completely independent of power outlets.
- You do not need a charging station.
- Repurchasing batteries become quite expensive over time.
Petite and lightweight is best for traveling
Other important points in most walkie-talkie tests are the weight and dimensions of the radios. Especially if you want to carry the device in your backpack on a hike, it should not be too big. Small devices are only around 15 cm high, which makes them ideal for this purpose.
In the long run, too much weight can become an unpleasant ballast. It’s a good thing that there are radios that weigh just over 70 grams. However, take a close look at this point. Some radios weigh in at over 200 grams.
Battery status display
Handheld radios with a display have a battery level indicator. So you can never lose sight of when you need to charge or change batteries next time. Radios without a display do not have this luxury. Here you have to test by use how long the device is really usable.
Many devices, whether handheld or cellular, share similar functions. Here are the best features a radio can have.
Key lock/ button protection
You should make sure your new radio has a button lock, so you don’t accidentally change the channel or turn it off without realizing it. Some radios without a display also have what’s called a knob guard, so you can’t accidentally twist the frequency knob.
Voice activation/ VOX
You can also buy radios with voice activation or also called VOX. With this, you don’t need to hold down the radio button but activate the transmission by speaking loud enough. Voice activation can also be used as a baby monitor, for example.
Sound signal after voice transmission
Radios can emit a tone after releasing the transmit button. This way you can be sure that you really pressed the button and your message was sent.
An extra call button lets a ring tone ring at your radio partner. So you can be sure in a noisy environment that your request is heard. Especially if you have the radio only for emergencies and not for constant use, a call alarm can be useful to make yourself known.
Some radios, like cell phones, have a vibrating alarm. The vibration alarm can be useful for haptic feedback. For example, in noisy environments where a ringing tone would be drowned out by the background noise, vibration is the best alternative to draw attention to yourself.
Power saving mode
If you want to carry your radio only for emergencies, a power-saving mode is the most important tool. You can safely leave your radio on and don’t have to worry about draining the battery too much.
Emergency button/emergency frequency
As an emergency radio, a radio with an emergency button can be useful. When you press this button, the device automatically sends an emergency signal to all surrounding devices. At the same time, it sets your device to the emergency channel, which you can then use to get help even faster.
Radio with GPS or Bluetooth function can also make your life easier. You can connect a Bluetooth headset to your radio and have no more annoying cables. This is very useful when riding a motorcycle.
The GPS function can show helpers your exact location in case of an emergency, and your device won’t get lost so easily if you can trace the signal.
Some devices have an integrated flashlight. So you are well-prepared for your next camping or hiking trip. A multifunctional tool is very helpful for such undertakings so that you do not lose sight in the dark.
Low battery signal
In addition, a low battery signal is a great advantage to have immediate feedback on the state of the device. Here no doubts remain. If the device beeps, you should charge it as soon as possible.
Many devices also have a scan function. With this, you can automatically scan all channels like in a channel scan and see which channels are currently being used by others. This can also be helpful if you change your channel by mistake. The scan stops at a channel with the signal.
You can also select some properties of radios. For example, the sound quality, the dust resistance, or the splash water resistance of the device could be important to you. You can also encrypt your radio calls with the private code.
Which frequencies do the different radio technologies cover?
As a private person, you are generally not allowed to use every frequency. Some frequencies are reserved for police radio or air traffic, for example. Under no circumstances may you, as a private individual, interfere with the radio equipment of the fire department, for example.
Basically, only legal frequency ranges use the following devices:
- PMR radio: the frequency range of PMR radio is between 46,000 and 446,100 MHz and is distributed over eight channels. These devices do not have a very long range. They are often used by companies for communication on the company premises or in the warehouse.
- MR 446 radios: These digital models are a kind of successor to PMR radios. They transmit on frequencies between 446.1 and 446.2 MHz.
- CB radios: With up to 80 channels and a long-range, these radios are very popular. The CB radio transmits on frequencies between 26.565 and 27.40580 MHz.