Walkie Talkies, or PMRs, are handheld, portable radios that communicate wirelessly using radio waves on a single, shared frequency band. This makes Walkie Talkies one of the most efficient ways to stay in contact with large groups of people over wide areas at low cost.
Two-way radios are robust, easy-to-use, and simple to work with. They are particularly handy for use outdoors or in work environments where mobile phones or tablets are too delicate or out of signal range.
More formally known as a handheld transceiver (or HT), Walkie Talkies were originally developed during the second world war as way of communicating with troops on the front line. Over the years they have developed into ultra-portable, long ranging, hardy communication devices used in a wide range of fields.
Walkie Talkies use a radio frequency, normally around 466 MHz, to allow basic chat over short and medium distances. Because of this PMRs (private mobile radio) have quite a lot of uses including:
- Police Service
- Shopping centre security
- Shop / Warehouse staff
- Holidays abroad
- Camping trips
- Skiing trips
Why do I need a Walkie Talkie?Two-way radios are the preferred choice of contact for outdoor users where a lack of mobile signal can separate you from the rest of the world. Whether it be hiking in the moors or fishing beside a lake surrounded by nothing but trees, a Walkie Talkie will allow you to talk to someone else using a walkie talkie on the same frequency.
A Walkie talkie can provide you with a way of contacting someone in an emergency, especially when a mobile signal isn’t achievable. With a range being between 6km and 12km on a basic Walkie Talkie, allows you to work over large distances without having to worry about connection loss.
Walkie Talkies are also perfect for children, aside from being for more durable than a mobile phone, a PMR can be used when on holiday with kids to keep tabs on their movements or when out walking.
Main Features of a Walkie Talkie
Basic walkie talkies have the following features –
- Use 466 MHz which is a classed as a UHF (Ultra High Frequency) so doesn’t have issues with interference.
- Small in size, so can be fitted to a belt or put in your pocket
- License-free so no costs are involved to communicate from one walkie talkie to another
- Up to 12km range
- Use rechargeable batteries for very long usage times
Other features available
- Built-in LED torch for night use
- Waterproof rating to enable use in all conditions
- Connection for headsets, to allow hands-free use
- Desktop charging dock
Popular uses of a Walkie Talkie
- Perfect for hiking in the hills away from the rest of civilisation where no mobile signal is available
- Keeping contact between parents and children while camping in an area with no mobile signal
- Ideal to keep contact with children when visiting theme parks or abroad when visiting waterparks
- Contact with employees over large work spaces like warehouses, farms or factories.
So what’s the downside? Well, Walkie Talkies unfortunately do have a few limitations;
- Terrain can effect the distance of transmission when used outdoors
- Metal objects can cause barriers and reduce the transmission distance when being used indoors like in a factories or warehouses
- Some channel frequencies are illegal in some countries, so if purchasing for use abroad make sure the frequency is legal for use first
- One way communication meaning only one person can talk at a time
- Depending on distance of transmission as well as quality of PMR clarity of sound will be drastically reduced
- Instant chat so no dialling or waiting to be connected
- Designs suitable for all types of situations
- Robust and perfect for outdoor use
- Cheaper than using a mobile phone especially if you live close and have constant contact with someone
- Ability to communicate instantly in an emergency situation
- Low costs- Only need to buy the Walkie Talkie (and battery) so no contract or subscriptions to pay
The main things to think about when buying a walkie talkie are:
What is the age range of the people using them?
If they are going to be used for children you will be wanting something that’s cheap and durable and won’t be damaged easily by being dropped or bashed about.
What distance is it going to be from one walkie talkie to the other?
Depending on indoor or outdoor, use you’ll need to ensure there is nothing causing an obstruction such as trees and buildings or metal framework as this will reduce the transmission distance
Are the units going to be at the same location for charging?
Most twin pack Walkie Talkies come with 1 power supply that plugs into either a dual desktop dock or it splits for a connection to each Walkie talkie so if they aren’t going to be located close by an additional power supply will be needed
What additional features do I need for outdoor activities?
- Range – ensure nothing is going to obstruct the transmission
- Waterproof – are they going to be used in the rain or near water?
- Shock proof – do they need to withstand drops and knocks
- LED – this allows you to use the walkie talkie as a torch when it becomes dark
- Headset – this would allow you to leave the walkie talkie in your pocket or backpack while still allowing full communication, handsfree.