By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New 2006 GMRS two-way radios are offering longer talk ranges of up to 18 miles, compared to 14 miles last year.
“Range really has been the biggest thing people seem attracted to,” said Midland marketing communications manager Chris Oehlert.
Cobra consumer products senior director Sally Washlow said research showed that consumers want long range, but only if it is in a small form factor. The size “is probably almost as big a story as the range,” she said.
Midland is claiming one of the highest range capacities this year at 18 miles, followed by Cobra at 17 miles.
Midland's Oehlert notes that optimum range is calculated over water or flat terrain, and that typical city or forest areas could see much lower capacity.
Some suppliers, therefore, claim more conservative ratings such as Motorola and Audiovox, which cap their lines at a 12-mile capacity.
Cobra is offering a long-range 17-mile radio this year, which is downsized to approximate the size of a small cellphone, only thicker, said the company. To achieve the longer range, the 17-mile model LI 6000-2WX VP uses two built-in lithium-ion batteries as well as antenna matching, said Washlow. The unit offers 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, along with NOAA alert radio and a dual-port desktop charger at $79.95. It is joined by a 14-mile version called the LI 3900-2 WX VP, at $69.95. Other 2006 Cobra GRMS models are available in ranges from 6 miles to 15 miles in various form factors.
The new Midland 18-mile units include the GXT600 with 5-watt power and 121 privacy codes, as well as vibrate alert and NOAA weather alert. The step-up GXT-650 has a camouflage mossy oak finish and adds nature calls (for hunters) at $74.99 per pair, or $104.99 including batteries, charger and headset. The basic 18-mile GXT-600 is available at $64.99 per pair or $94.99 with charger pack.
Motorola's GMRS line for 2006 offers ranges from 5 miles to 12 miles with the entry-level starting at last year's opening price of $19.99. The new top-of-the-line SX-700 has 12-mile-range, 11 NOAA weather channels and hands-free dialing without an accessory at $79.99.
Audiovox will ship a 12-mile GMRS unit called the GMRS 1262. It has rechargeable batteries, 22 by 38 channels, NOAA alert and built-in high intensity LED flashlight. The unit has a suggested retail price of $59.95 per pair and is also available with a charger at $69.95.
Other Audiovox models fall into the 7-mile and 8-mile range and include the 7-mile GMRS 762CH with FM radio, high intensity LED flashlight, slim-line design and lithium-polymer rechargeable batteries at $69.95 suggested retail price with charger. The 8-mile GMRS 862 is available at $29.95 and comes bundled with a charger at $39.95. The new Audiovox products will ship in April.
Uniden increased its range this year to up to 15 miles, up from 10 miles last year. The company also added a voice-scramble feature and increased the number of privacy codes to 142 starting with model GMR 1558. Among the new models are the GMR 1048, 1558 and 1595 at suggested retail prices from $39 to $79 per pair with charging kit. Depending on the model, shipping starts now through May.
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