Mobile phones have virtually overtaken the need for walkie-talkies when out trekking or skiing, however that hasn't stopped Doro releasing the wt96 Pro walkie-talkie. It promises to make it as easy as ever to stay in touch, even when you don't have network coverage. We try to get as far away from the office as possible to test them out.
In the box you'll get two walkie-talkies, two ear-pieces and two charging stations. The latter, the two charging stations, are important because it means that you can have each set up in a different location - like a garden and office for example - rather than always having to remember to bring the other one in to charge. That said an included cable lets you charge both units from a single plug - a best of both worlds scenario.
The walkie-talkies themselves are rugged, splash proof and easy to use. Options, volume and alarm buttons are on the front underneath a smallish red backlit LCD screen. The Push To Talk (PTT) button is on the side. The only gripe is that the earpiece socket is on the side rather than the top, making it bulky in your pocket and a large aerial sticks out the top. The black unit is certainly strong enough to withstand knocks and bashes and is powered by four AAA batteries (included).
Set-up is incredibly easy with 8 channels and a further 121 sub channels to choose from (83 DCS and 38 CTCSS). A couple of presses of the right button and you're in business.
A walkie-talkie is just a walkie-talkie isn't it? Well yes, but Doro have included some neat features to help you out.
There is an alarm (including vibration) for example so you can alert the other user before you start bleating out, then there is a beep feature (which can be turned off) that lets the other person know you've finished talking. It certainly saves you from saying "Roger" all the time - very helpful if you are talking to a Roger.
Other features include a VOX option so you don't have to press the PTT button at all and this, with a little tinkering of the audio levels, can be used very effectively - when driving for example.
As for performance, the wt96 Pro performed very well, living up to Doro's range claims. The makers estimate that in doors you'll get 50-150 metres, in a built-up city environment you'll get 300-900 metres and in an open area a whopping 10-14km (6 - 8 miles).
In our tests the wt96 Pro's lived up to the claim, although we must admit we did look a bit of an idiot relaying back messages from the supermarket down the road.
In the open we were able to get good results too and although our testing budget wouldn't allow us to hit the slopes we were able to test it over a couple of miles. The signal will become crackly before dropping out giving you good warning that you have strayed too far.
Where the wt96 Pro walkie-talkies will come in to their own is not in your local shopping centre to save on mobile phone bills, but to talk to someone at the end of the garden or more likely in the Alps come the ski season where mobile coverage is somewhat variable.
Easy to use with plenty of features there is lots to appeal to the home garden worker or trekker alike.