Motorola TLKR T7 walkie-talkies
Motorola have long been the name in walkie-talkies, or two-way radios as they should perhaps be called. The TLKR T7 are aimed at those who want to stay in contact in harsh environments, with the box suitably adorned with skiers, snowboarders and the like.
In the box you get the two handsets themselves, a docking station for charging those two handsets, belt clips and battery packs.
The base charges the handsets directly when they are slotted in, but you also have the option of charging the battery packs separately, for example if you have more than one pack. You could also use four standard AAA batteries to power a handset, which is a nice fallback should the worst happen.
The handsets aren't the smallest around, but they are suitably rugged. Measuring 54x 30 x 202 (including the aerial) they sit comfortably in the hand, with the rubber surround providing a secure grip in gloved or wet hands. The push-to-talk button on the left-hand side seems to fall naturally under the thumb or forefinger of whichever hand you are holding them in.
A small 1-inch LCD screen sits on the front, which is large enough to convey all the relevant information and lets you see which channel you are on, what options are selected and so on. Below this screen is a range of control buttons which are too small for operating with gloves, but it is most likely that you'd set these things up before setting out.
The handsets have 8 channels with 121 subcodes, which will have to be the same before setting out. But this is a sophisticated device, so should the need arise, you can set Dual Watch, which will cover two separate channels - perhaps as a control station for two opposing factions in a team game.
Channel setting is easy directly through the menu, or using the scan feature that will zip through and pause on transmitting channels. When you hit the right channel, a button press exits the scan leaving you connected (to someone at least).
The menus present a whole array of advanced features that many will never use, but they do make the T7 a highly versatile choice of walkie-talkie. You can set a room monitor mode (like a baby monitor), silent mode (with vibration alerting) as well as a timer.
There are also a range of group functions which do take some time to get used to, but will allow you to individually name each handset, which comes in handy as you can use the T7 for direct calling of other users in your group, as well as transmitting to the entire group. Caller ID is a real bonus when working in larger groups too.
You'll also be able to opt for handsfree operation, meaning you don't have to push the button to communicate, although you'll need to buy an additional headset to make this possible. The VOX option can then be selected in the menus, as well as setting the sensitivity level, so it will respond to positive voice signals, but not laboured breathing for example.
The battery life is also really impressive, giving you about 18 hours from the battery pack, or 20 hours from AAA batteries, so it is not only flexible, but performs well too.
The great thing about the T7 though is the quality of voice transmission, which came over loud and clear and free from interference. Neat features like the roger beep that let you know the other person has finished transmitting make them simple to use and with plenty of volume, so if your handset is stuffed in a rucksack pocket, you'll still be able to hear it.
The T7 are rated to 10km in perfect conditions, which of course will depend very much on terrain and so on. Built-up areas will reduce this significantly, so don't think about ditching your mobile phone, but for group activities outdoors you should be within range.
VerdictWith a good quality build and packed with functions that some of us will never need, the T7 is a great choice of walkie-talkie. The solid build and rugged finish makes them practical for using in adverse conditions, with battery performance to support a long day out in the hills.
Some might find that the length is a little excessive, and opting for a smaller, more pocketable option might suit better. The T7 do come with a belt clip, which is fine strolling on your allotment or fair weather walking, but we wouldn't trust it out on the snowboard.
Overall it is difficult to fault the T7, even if for many there are more features then you'll ever use.