By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
As the GMRS category rapidly converts to 22-channel operation, suppliers are beginning to offer the same 22-channel feature on FRS, ½-watt radios.
BellSouth will convert most of its FRS line to 22 channels in June with ten FRS models offering 8 GMRS channels at ½ watt in addition to 7 FRS channels and 7 shared FRS/GMRS channels. The line will lead with a basic unit at an expected price of $11.99 each. Six of the FRS models will offer 38 subcodes, starting at $15.99 or $16.99 each, according to David Rose, executive sales manager for distributor, U.S. Electronics. In addition, the company is planning to offer two two-watt GMRS models with 22 channels in June, pending FCC approval. The GMRS units are expected to start at a price of $29.95, one of the least expensive two-watt GMRS units to be announced.
In addition, Uniden is planning to ship a low cost one-watt, 22-channel GMRS this year, called the GMRS 520, at the groundbreaking price of $19.99 each. The company will offer three additional GMRS models, including the GMRS 540 which adds NOAA weather alert, and the GMRS 522-2 which includes two basic GMRS models similar to the 520 plus a charging cradle and NiMH batteries at $59. These are joined by the GMRS 380 with 15 channels at two watts for $49 each.
Motorola's strategy this year, in both FRS and GMRS, is to offer different styling for different distribution channels, said Randy Schiff, director of marketing, consumer products. In addition, the company is planning to offer one of the first 22-channel, two-watt models, called the T7200, pending FCC approval (See story above on two-watt, 22-channel GMRS). Aimed at enthusiasts such as hunters, the T7200 offers eavesdrop reducer — a scrambling feature for privacy. It meets IP54 International standards for weather and dust resistance and has repeater capability, NOAA weather, replaceable covers, and 10 call tones. The T7200 is expected to ship in February to sports and outdoor retailers at $129 to $139 each.
Motorola will also ship a 15-channel FRS/GMRS radio called the T5800 for mass channels. The one-watt unit with five-mile range has an estimated street price of $39.99. The consumer electronics store version, T5820, adds channel scan and vibrate at $49.99. Shipping for both units is slated for June or July.
In FRS, Motorola's new entry-level products aimed at mass-market distribution lead with the T4300, featuring a unique yellow and red industrial design. The 400mW unit has 14 channels with two-mile range at an estimated street price of $14.99 each . The step-up T5300 adds full ½-watt power (500mw) and has a input for earbuds at $19.99 and the top of the line mass market unit adds 38 subcodes and five call tones at $24.99 each.
Targeting the consumer electronics and office superstores is the T5320, a 14-channel unit with replaceable cover, and five call tones. It is capable of working with a battery charger and carries an estimated street price of $19.99 each. The model T5420 adds 38 subcodes and VOX when used with accessory headphones at $29.99. All of the new FRS models are expected to ship in May.
In other two-way radio announcements, Audiovox said that its FRS WP1 unit with swoop headphones, originally slated as a three-channel unit, will be upgraded to a 14-channel model and will include an LCD display at a retail price of $49 each.
Kenwood said it will ship its new GMRS FreeTalk XLS TK-3131, that claims a total of 1,800 channels, including 15 FRS and GMRS, plus 38 analog subcodes and 83 digital subcodes). The unit has built in VOX and it comes with rechargeable NiMH batteries at a suggested list price of $209.
Kenwood also lowered the price on two FreeTalk FRS models — the EX UBZ-AR14 two-pack is now $60.95 and the FreeTalk FM UBZ-GR14 single unit is $56.
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