Motorola T552 Talkabout





Weight: Not a lot, but we lost the

piece of paper we wrote this down on...

Features: Set

includes two radios, rechargeable batteries and desktop

recharger, will also run on AA cells, 3 km range, 8

channels, 36 codes, battery meter, swivel belt clip, keypad

lock, timeout timer, no call charges, high-impact

polycarbonate construction, 'tested to withstand the

equivalent of five years useage'.


Dead handy in certain situations


Range is variable, 14 hours to recharge.

The Concept Motorola's T552 radios are basically souped up

walkie talkies. The basic set for just under £100 includes two

handset units and a recharger - you can also buy a waterproof bag, a

hands-free set up and a nylon carry case for easier stowage. Range is

claimed to be 3 km, but that's line of sight and heavy foliage and /

or big chunks of landscape can reduce that considerably.

Features You get as many features as you can manage really -

all the electrickery seems present and correct with a choice of eight

channels, various interference suppressors, a scanning option so you

can find your dim mate who's changed channel without telling you, a

key pad lock etc.

The units come with rechargeable batteries and a charger, which is

great, though you can use AAs if you want. Life based on an estimated

90- per-cent standby time use is around12 hours with the

rechargeables or a more useful 30 hours with alkaline AAs. The one

snag with the rechargeables is that it takes up to 14 hours to get

back to full charge. The display does include a battery meter though,

so you have an idea of what's going down.

In Action We found the Motorolas straightforward to use,

though like any electrical device with an LCD menu - think mobile

phones - it takes a while to work out what does what.


the best use we found for them was on long mountain climbing and

scrambling routes, where your partner disappears round corners, the

wind whistles and belay calls get really confused. With the Motorolas

you can use your normal calls, but with the luxury of actually being

able to hear them. Potentially a life saver in fact.

We found the best place to mount them was on the shoulder strap of

a pack, close to your head, so you could hear the incoming bleep more

easily. Incidentally, you have to leave a pause before speaking or

the bleep buries your first word, but you soon get used to it.

With distances of only 50 metres involved, there were no range

problems at all and we reckon they'd be great for climbing

instructors or for club use. You'd want a waterproof case though -

we've heard from people who say they don't like water - and possibly

a handsfree kit.

They can also some in handy for walking or mountain biking groups.

One at the front and one at the back means that if something goes

wrong, the tail end charlie can call ahead to the front man and

minimise confusion. That's particularly the case with groups of

mountain bikers when a simple mechanical at the back of the group can

throw things into confusion with a load of shall we / shan't we go on

/ back debates as everyone tries to work out what's happened.

They're not going to replace mobile phones though, the range is

too limited and subject to interference by hills, large shrubberies

etc. They might work well on high mountains though, where there's

line of sight communication between camps.

More specifically we found them easy to use and we didn't manage

to break them...


We haven't given the Motorolas a mark since we don't really have

anything to compare them with. However they feel well made and are

easy to use and Motorola is an established electrical manufacturer so

we'd expect them to be as good or better than anything else out

there. It's also a big plus that you get a fully functioning pair

plus batteries and charger in one pack for around 100 quid, or

£99.99 if you're going to be anal.

We suspect the main market for these is with professional guides

and instructors and possibly mountain rescue teams, but if you climb

a lot of mountain routes or get out mountain biking in groups, they

could make your life easier and, potentially safer. Not quite mobile

phones without tarifs as the range is limited and variable, but

within those limitations these are easy to use, seem tough and work


Drawbacks? The belt swivel mounts supplied aren't great on rucksac

shoulder straps and the 14-hour recharge is slow, plus for multi-day

trips you'll either need a fag socket recharger or to use AA cells

instead of the rechargeables supplied.

Overall, dead useful in the right situations, whether they're

worth buying depends on you and the sort of stuff you're getting up

to. If it's long mountain routes or fragmented group days out, they

could make your life easier.



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