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Personal communication doesn’t need to be difficult

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: February 09, 2013

By GARETH BUTTERFIELD

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There are times, even in this age of instant communication, when we can’t rely on mobile phones.

Technology has been providing the answer to two-way communicating for a number of years and transmitting over radio waves led the way for many years.

It’s still a handy technology because, as much as we all keep them close by and can’t bear to live without them, mobile phones are not always the best option.

The trouble is, mobile phone signal is not available everywhere. It has a habit of letting you down at just the wrong moment and, of course, in isolated areas, there’s rarely chance of getting decent reception.

Battery life is also an issue, as is durability and there’s always the thorny problem of cost ­— should you not have a decent lump of free calls in your tariff.

So there’s definitely still a place for the good-old ‘walkie talkie’, which made its way from military spec’ through to the mainstream several decades ago.

Nevada Radio is one of the last bastions of supplying a comprehensive range of radio equipment, and you can order anything from a simple handheld short wave radio, on which to listen to a football match report, to full on transceivers for the amateur radio market costing nearly £9,000.

To test out the consumer end of the market, and assess fully its validity in our world of iPhones, Androids and Blackberries, we asked Nevada for a pair of Midland G7-XTs.

They’re a new design available for around £100 per pair and sit in the mid-high end of Nevada’s Range.

Out of the box, they’re small. Surprisingly small, in fact, but that’s a good thing because they’re easy to sling in a pocket or a bag.

They’re lightweight too, at 123g each, inclusive of the supplied battery pack.

Cleverly, the rechargable pack can be swapped for four AA batteries, which will be handy if your juice runs out while you’re away from a charging point.

It has to be said, they’re battery life is long enough to not be of any concern and in the box is a neat base station which they will drop straight into for charging.

Reception is good over distances of up to around half a mile on a clear day and the back-light on the display is handy in the dark.

For such a rugged bit of kit, the controls on the device are easy to use, with large, simple buttons on the front and a rotary button on the top for volume and power on/off.

It’s a doddle to use, which is partly thanks to its lack of over-complicated controls, and there’s a good set of instructions in the box should you get stuck.

For personal communication over a specific area, without having to mess about or risk breaking and losing your expensive mobile phone, it’s hard to pick fault with the G7-XTs. They do everything a personal radio needs to do for a fair price.

The mobile phone certainly hasn’t met its match, but it’s good to know there’s an alternative.

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