If you decide on buying a walkie-talkie set, chances are you will try to find the best buy for the lowest possible price. That is totally understandable and we do that with everything else we buy in life, so why not walkie-talkies. The problem that you will be encountering here is two-fold:
So as you can see, cheap walkie-talkies are a definite possibility but you need to know what you will be using them for. As a rule of thumb, always go for a cheap device if you are buying it for kids. There is simply no reason to overpay for something that your children will use as a toy. Not only that, you can expect that walkie-talkie to be soon tossed aside and exchanged for some other novelty your kids might start to fancy.
Also, don’t bother investing too much in the best walkie-talkie if you’re using it in your neighborhood to stay connected with your friends, neighbors or kids while they are out playing. You do not need crazy range in those situations anyway.
However, there are situations when you should really invest serious money and get walkie-talkies that are built to last and have great range. Some of those situations are:
The most important thing about walkie-talkies, besides range, is the battery life. You are taking them with you wherever you go and you want to make sure that you have a device with a quality battery, especially if you’re going somewhere in the wild where you will not have a chance to recharge them.
Most FRS and GMRS walkie-talkies use standard AA or AAA batteries that have a pretty short life. You can use them around the house but don’t count on them if you are going hiking or camping.
So turn your attention to rechargeable batteries. There are three different types of rechargeable batteries, and guess what, if you decide to go for the cheapest walkie-talkie you will also be buying the cheapest battery that doesn’t have a very long usage life.
Nickel-cadmium batteries have been around the longest and they have a decent life expectancy. They will last around 2-3 years if you are taking good care of them and are not prone to overcharging problems. They will, however, suffer from memory burnout if you are not using them properly. These batteries always have to be drained before recharging. Another minus here is that these are the heaviest batteries in the bunch.
These are similar to Ni-Cad batteries but they do not share their problem of memory burnout. They are also slightly lighter. They will typically last around 1-2 years, depending on how you use them and how you take care of them.
Lithium Ion batteries are the most expensive you can get. They are also the lightest but the problem with them is that they have a life cycle and once that life cycle is reached they won’t take another charge. Also, they require a special charger but are can be charge in as little as an hour.
Most batteries are built on a usage cycle of 5/5/90. This means that the manufacturers assume that you will be talking and listening 10% of the time and that the device will be on standby for 90 % of the time.
So there you have it. If you need a walkie-talkie for somewhat professional use, it pays out to buy a slightly more expensive device. If you are going to be only using it occasionally or want your children to have something to play with, then you can save yourself the trouble and get something cheaper.