Not quite sure what you’re looking for in a two way radio system? In this series of blog posts we’ve decided to break down your best choices from a variety of brands, even including a few case studies too to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting with each radio.
The two way radio industry has been dominated by Motorola for quite a few decades, this the reason why they are the focus of today’s blog, but as time progresses more and more competitors are entering the market. Hytera have been hot on the heels of the American corporation but companies such as Kenwood, Entel and Icom are commonly known names in many industries across the United Kingdom. A technology that has snowballed into consideration over the past few years is Push to Talk Over Cellular, although big companies are now throwing their hat into the ring, a company that Radiotronics highly recommend for PoC is Telo who we will be talking about at a later date.
Motorola was initially founded in 1928 as Galvin Manufacturing Company, at this time the company was producing battery eliminators, but in 1930 the company sold its first car radio under the product name of Motorola. Moving on to more recent times, Motorola has been hugely dominant in the two way radio industry taking up a large portion of the marketplace sales for multiple decades.
The GP340 is the first two way radio that we will be talking about, although many radios were released before this model, the GP340 is an Icon within the industry as it is still the best selling two way radio ever. Ideal for a variety of different environments, the GP340 was affordable yet feature rich meaning that you got more than your money’s worth when purchasing.
Although now a discontinued radio, Radiotronics has existing stock of this product so should you be looking to purchase the old faithful then we are the only company in the country that still supplies them. Available for both UHF and VHF frequencies, the GP340 is analogue meaning that it can only be used in an analogue system, but it is capable of operating with digital models should they have analogue channels programmed into them. For it’s time the GP340 has exceptional sound quality, X-Pand™ Voice Compression ensured that any communications are crisp and clear even in the noisiest of working environments, low level expansion also allows further improvements by reducing noises that can often be heard in pauses of conversation.
Emergency features were aplenty on the GP340 with emergency signalling a possibility, this allows for a pre-defined alert to be sent to a specific person or group of people should the user be in trouble, this done by simply pressing the programmable emergency button on the radios body. Lone Worker is a feature that is present on almost all new radios but was something that really made the GP340 stand out, this feature monitors the radios activity levels, should the radio not be used for a pre-programmed amount of time then an alert will sound on the users radio, if the operator is unresponsive an alarm will be sent to other radios within the network making them aware that a member of staff is potentially unsafe.
Some of the basic need-to-know facts about the Motorola GP340 is that it is an average sized “black box” two way radio. The GP340 stands at 137mm in height, 57.5mm in width and 37.5mm in depth with the standard battery attached, the battery that comes as standard with the radio is 1400mAh Li-Ion and when connected brings the radios total weight to 420g. The supplied battery allows for up to 11 hours usage based on a 05 05 90 duty cycle.
The Motorola GP340 has 16 channels ensuring that it is more than sufficient for small to medium sized businesses, the radio is available on both UHF and VHF frequencies meaning that it is ideal for use in both built up areas and wide open spaces. Channel scanning allows for the user to quickly skip through channels in search of an ongoing broadcast, whilst standard encryption ensures that any communications sent and received are safe from eavesdropping.
Although not the direct replacement for the Motorola GP340, the DP1400 almost certainly took the prize of most popular current two way radio that is available on the market. Yet another “black box” design from the market leaders, but what it lacks in aesthetics the two-way radio makes up for in features. The DP1400 is simple and affordable, a common theme with Motorola radios, but its ability to perform on both analogue and digital frequencies makes it perfect should you be looking at a system migration.
Starting with the basics of the radio, the DP1400 stands at 127.7 in height and 61.5 in width, depending on the battery that is attached to the radio the depth and weight will change. Should the 1400NiMH battery be attached then the radio has a depth of 42mm and a weight of 406g, the 1600mAh Li-Ion slim battery is slightly smaller in depth being 39mm and much lighter weighing in at 341g, finally the high capacity 2200mAh Li-Ion battery is 44mm in depth but only 346g in weight.
As previously mentioned the DP1400 can operate using both analogue and digital, although digital is a paid upgrade, having a radio with both analogue and digital frequencies will allow for the DP1400 to be used as a transitional radio should you be moving from an analogue only system to a digital one. The Motorola DP1400 can be programmed with 8 analogue channels to match the old radios and 8 digital channels, this meaning should you not have the funds to buy a full set of radios for your business you can continue to use the old ones alongside your new radios until you have a full set, at this point you will be able to program your transition radios to be all digital channels. Alongside being both analogue and digital capable the DP1400 can operate using both UHF and VHF frequencies, this meaning that it would be ideal for use in both built-up and open areas of land.
There are many features that the Motorola DP1400 holds. One of the most basic and seen on almost all two way radios is the emergency button, when pressed this will send out a distress signal to all other radios within the network alerting them that you may be in trouble, this can be pre-programmed when purchasing a new set of radios. Channel scanning allows for the radio to quickly run through channels to check for any ongoing transmissions, whilst a channel monitor function allows for a single channel to be listened to even when sending messages on a second channel, this is often used as a channel to alert workers of any issues or safety concerns quickly. The last safety feature that I will mention is Lone Worker, this exactly the same as the one found on the Motorola GP340, whereby should a radio be inactive for a pre-set period of time an alert will be sent to other radios within the system.
The Motorola DP1400 also has accessibility features that help improve the user experience with the radio. An Integrated voice allows for channel number announcements when the channel is changed by using the knob on top of the radio, this ideal should you be working in lowly lit environments where you may not be able to see the markings around the knob. Busy channel lockout ensures that only one person can transmit at a time, this helps as it allows for you to broadcast without being interrupted, the radios would be effectively useless should every time you go to transmit your message is merged in with another operator’s transmission.
A final note on the DP1400 is its ruggedness. Built to IP54 rating this ensures that the radio has Ingres protection from dust intrusion whilst also being safeguarded against splashes of water, this ideal should you be wanting to use it in an outdoor environment where there is a risk of rain or a construction environment where dust presence is common.
The Motorola DP4401e is one of the DP1400’s big brothers. Although not identical to the latter, take away the Motorola logo and you would still be able to tell that the DP4401e is a Motorola radio. A durable look and feel, the DP4401e was designed for use in harsher work environments where the radio equipment used may be subject to accidental drops or coming into contact with excess dust or splashes of water.
Built to IP57 Ingres Protection this means that the DP4401e has the same dust intrusion protection as the DP1400, but the main difference being that the DP4401e is capable of being submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Military specification (MIL-STD-810 C/D/E/F/G) ensures that the radio can be used in a variety of environmental conditions whether this be storms or high humidity, the DP4401e can continue to operate in temperatures as low as -30°C through to 50°C.
Due to the DP4401e being designed towards environments where worker safety is crucial, the radio has a variety of different features that can both assist in safety and efficiency of the workplace. Alongside the previously mentioned “Lone Worker” there is also a man down function, acting in a similar manner, should the radio be laid on its side for a pre-set period of time then an alert will be sent to the said radio, if unresponsive then an alarm will be sent to a base station or other radios within the network to alert them of a potential issue. Man down and lone worker can both be used in collaboration with GPS location tracking, this would allow for the user in need of help to be found quickly to minimise the risk of serious injury or damage. GPS is an optional extra purchase and would also require the use of a dispatch solution for tracking of radio and user location.
Motorola claim that the DP4401e has best-in-class audio and having used one I can confirm that the sound quality is crystal clear. A loud front-facing speaker and intelligent audio automatically adjusts the volume of the radio to ensure that no transmissions are missed, should you be working in a loud environment then the DP4401e would be perfect. Should you also not be in a situation where you are able to talk to a co-worker, pre-programmed text messages can be sent to notify others of your status, some examples that have previously been used by customers of Radiotronics include “Arrived at Location” or “Job Complete”.
Unlike the 2 previously mentioned radios in the blog the DP4401e also has Bluetooth capabilities. When activated this will allow for the user to make use of the many Bluetooth accessories that Motorola make for this radio, although not something that everyone will want or require, this feature is handy as it allows for the user’s movement to not be limited by wires that may get in the way.
A final mention on the DP4401e is its ability to perform over multiple sites and with thousands of devices without the need to add extra frequencies. Using IP Site Connect and Capacity Plus the internet is used to extend voice and data capabilities via MOTOTRBO. Linking up to 15 different working sites this can spread across multiple geographical locations it is almost definitely too complicated for me to explain in a simple paragraph, if you would like to learn more about this then you can check out our dedicated page on our main website by clicking here.
The SL1600 is a relatively new device from Motorola having only been released in the past couple of years*. This radio has a sleek design, quite different from the previously mentioned models in this blog and is ideal for use within hospitality environments. Small in stature the SL1600 is easily concealed weighing 169g and standing at just 126mm in height, 55mm in width and 22mm in depth, this meaning it easily fits in the palm of the average hand.
Available for both UHF and VHF frequencies means that whether being used inside a building or covering estate grounds the SL1600 can be modified to suit your surroundings. With the radio being digital this provides exceptional voice and audio quality, ensuring that transmissions sent and received are heard clearly first time round so that no miscommunications are made.
The SL1600 has an active view display using hidden LED lighting to show current channel, radio and volume information. This screen is easily visible in both light and dark conditions, ensuring that user knows exactly what channel they are transmitting over. Should looking at the screen whilst working not be an option, a voice announcement can be programmed into the radio to notify the user by ear when channel has been changed.
Unlike most two way radios the SL1600 doesn’t require a pod in order to charge, MicroUSB connectivity allows for the radio to be both charged and programmed simply by plugging a cable directly into the radio. Finally the Motorola SL1600 is famous for its simple operation with a standalone power button, channel toggle switch on top of the radio, volume control buttons and push to talk button on the left hand side, these adding together to make the operation fairly easy and allowing for one handed radio operation.
*Accurate as of 2019
The final radio that we will be talking about in this blog is the licence free XT420. Ideal should you be looking for an affordable radio to operate over short distances, the XT420 uses PMR446 frequencies and 219 selectable privacy codes to help ensure a clear signal. A powerful 1500mE speaker also helps to ensure high quality audio, this minimalizing distracting feedback when operating in noisier environments.
With two programmable buttons this allows for commonly used features to be easily accessed. The XT420 is also VOX capable, this is a feature that is required to be programmed into the radio, once activated VOX voice activation allows you to communicate without having to press the push to talk button located on the side of the radio. The Motorola XT420 also has a Tri-Coloured LED which updates the user on radio features and current status, allowing the user to check at a glance for any incoming messages or alerts.
The Motorola XT420 isn’t recommended should you be working over large distances or with heavy building coverage. The radio has an Ingres Protection rating of IP54 meaning that although it has a limited Ingres against dust and protection against splashes of water, using the XT420 in environments where it may be subject to adverse weather conditions isn’t recommended.
If you’d like to know more about any of the radios that have been mentioned in this Blog post then you can check them out on our website by clicking here. Alternatively, if you’d like to chat to one of our Sales Executives then call this number: 01425 533 533