Our “Pick of The Bunch” blog series are written to help you get a better understanding of the two way radios available from the world’s leading manufacturers. In this week’s blog we will be talking about the options available from Kenwood, although you may be used to hearing the name Kenwood when talking about car stereo equipment, they also supply some of the best two way radios currently available on the market.
A vast array of radios are available from the Japanese manufacturers, no matter the environment that you are working in Kenwood will have an option for you. Unlike other manufacturers Kenwood’s radio’s aren’t a single product with the option for UHF or VHF, how Kenwood works is the attribute an odd or even number at the start of the product name with odd being UHF and even being VHF. An example of this would be the Kenwood TK-D340 is UHF and TK-D240 is VHF.
The first radio that we are going to be taking a look into is the licence free TK-3401D. Using DMR446 frequencies the TK-3401D is ideal for a variety of working environments these including businesses that offer services such as hospitality, leisure activities and education. With the radio being licence free the TK-3401D as suggested doesn’t require a licence, this saving cost but with a downside to this being that the radios will not transmit as far as many of the other radios that we will be talking about in this blog post due to power limitations.
Exceptional sound quality is both transmitted and received due to both an AMBE+2TE vocoder for audio input whilst a BTL audio amplifier provides 1.5W output both with minimal delay. The TK-3401D also has VOX capabilities, this allowing for hands free usage of the radio should it be required within your working environment. When used with compatible VOX accessories should the user be completing work that requires both hands or be unable to reach for their radio, voice activation will allow for the user to simply speak and their message will be transmitted on their current channel. Something to keep in mind though is that this function needs to be activated when programming the radio, it won’t just work right out of the box unless stated to your supplier you require this feature.
The TK-3401D comes as standard with a 2000mAh Li-Ion battery. With the battery being high capacity it allows for the radio to work for up to 18 hours, thus meaning that no matter the work or activity you are partaking in the battery should be more than sufficient to last. Should the radio begin to run low on charge though, a low battery warning notifies the user that their communications may be about to cut short, allowing ample time for the user to get the radio back on charge or to replace the battery with a spare. Should this not be an option, there is also a battery saver mode that reduces transmitting power and allows for the radio to continue operating for a brief period of time.
Built to IP55 standards means that the TK-3401D has a limited protection against dust intrusion whilst also being safeguarded against splashes of water. Tied in with its black box design not only does the TK-3401D look rugged it backs it up with its IP rating. Operation of the radio remains simple in line with all models available from Kenwood. The face of the radio has both the speaker and microphone whilst the top of the radio is home to the antenna, tri-colour LED for status updates, channel selector knob and also a volume/power knob.
The TK-D240 and TK-D340 are digital two way radios from Kenwood, with the latter being UHF and former VHF, these are the most popular current Kenwood two way radios on the market. Depending on the environment you will be working in, this will decide what frequency band is best for you. Should you be working in built up areas such as a city then UHF will be the best choice, but should you be working in wide open lands such as farm sites then VHF is what we would recommend. To avoid confusion, throughout this section of the blog I will be referring to both radios as the TK-D340.
This is yet another radio that takes on the common black box design, the TK-D340 is rugged yet simple to use making it an ideal choice no matter what environment you are working in. Built to IP55 protection standards ensures that the radio not only has a limited Ingres against dust intrusion, but also is protected against high pressure jets of water from all angles. Alongside its Ingres protection rating the TK-D340 is also built to MIL-STD-810 C/D/E/F/G, this ensuring its continuous operation in a variety of weather and environmental conditions, allowing the TK-D340 to operate in temperatures as low as -30°C through to 50°C.
There are many accessories that are available for the TK-D340 that make it an ideal choice of radio. Audio accessories such as remote speaker microphones allow for the radio to be kept at the waist whilst transmitting a message, similarly earpieces allow for any incoming transmissions to be heard directly into the ear meaning that every message received is heard with crystal clear quality first time. Single or multi chargers are available to purchase for use with the TK-D340, your choice will obviously depend on both quantity and the distribution of radios around your workplace.
The TK-D340 despite its ruggedness is a fairly compact radio, standing at 121.4mm in height, 54mm in width and 33.8mm in depth whilst also weighing in at 285g*. Weights and dimensions may differ depending on the battery that you have attached to the radio, but even with heavier batteries the TK-D340 is still capable of being carried via the use of a wrist strap or belt clip.
*Accurate when used with the Kenwood KNB-45L 2000mAh Li-Ion Battery
With 32 channels this allows for sufficient communications between a medium to large workforce. The TK-D340 has the ability to perform channel scanning. With the 16th of 32nd channel programmed to channel scan, when selected the radio will continuously skip through programmed channels until an ongoing transmission is found, once complete the radio will then continue scanning. Key lock can also be used on the TK-D340 to ensure that accidental operation of the radio doesn’t happen.
If you would like to learn more about the TK-D340 then you can check out our comprehensive video review by Jacob below.
The next radio I will be talking about in this blog post are the only analogue ones featured, the Kenwood TK-2000 and TK-3000. Yet again the differing names refer to the two bands with the TK-2000 being VHF and the TK-3000 being UHF, for sake of simplicity during this section of the blog I will be referring to both radios as the TK-2000.
An extremely simple radio the TK-2000 is the best value for money device featured within this blog post. A very much “No Thrills” communication device the TK-2000 does exactly what it says on the tin, provides instantaneous crystal clear transmissions whilst remaining rugged and reliable no matter the environment that it is used in. The TK-2000 stands at 113mm in height, 54mm in width and 24.9mm in depth whilst weighing at 203g with the KNB-63L 1130mAh Li-Ion battery attached. Relatively lightweight in comparison to other radios available at this price point, the TK-2000 can be carried via the use of a belt clip or wrist strap with ease.
Features available to use on the TK-2000 include VOX voice activation, this allows for the radio to be used hands free if required when used with compatible accessories. Busy channel lock out ensures that should a channel currently have a transmission ongoing then you will not be able to transmit until the other user has finished, this ensures efficiency with communications as it doesn’t allow for cross communications.
Kenwood NX-3220/NX-3320 Range
The Kenwood NX-3220 and 3320 range of two way radios are an advanced set of two way radios each with their own characteristics. A black box, partial keypad with screen and full keypad with screen models are available for both UHF and VHF bands. Similarly to the Kenwood TK-D240 and TK-D340 the NX-3220 is the VHF model and the NX-3320 is the UHF model, the only difference in naming being that the second number is the indicator. To make the reading of this part of the blog easier I will be referring to both UHF and VHF versions of the radio as the NX-3220.
Due to the three different models of NX-3220 radios having relatively similar features I will be talking about those features here, should you want to learn more about the aesthetics of these radios they will be discussed further down in the blog.
The main talking point of the NX-3220 range of radios is the fact that it is GPS compatible. Ideal should you be working in environments where workers have potential for their security or safety be at risk. When used in collaboration with a dispatch solution, radios can be monitored to their exact location whether that be city wide or within a working site. GPS is ideal for working alongside such features as Man Down and Lone Worker (Explained Below), this will allow for fast response to ensure that risk of fatality or injury is minimised.
Lone Worker: This feature monitors the activity levels of the radio. Should the radio be inactive for a pre-programmed period of time an alert will be sent to the user, if this alert is still not responded to then a high priority alarm will be sent to the base station notifying them that the radio user may be in trouble, allowing for fast action to be taken.*
Man Down: Working similarly to the previously mentioned Lone Worker, Man Down monitors orientation rather than activity levels. As suggested by the name should the radio be laid on its side for a pre-programmed period of time then an alert will be sent to the user, if unresponsive then an alarm will be sent to the base station notifying them that their colleague may be at risk.*
*Does not require dispatch solution but effectiveness greatly improved when used with GPS.
The NX-3220 range has an amass of features that can help with usability of the radios for operators. Busy channel lockout ensures that transmissions do not cross to help conversations flow, should someone already be transmitting on your selected channel then you will not be able to interject until they have finished talking, cutting out the chance of potentially irritating repeats of instructions. Another feature to make use of with the NX-3220 is “Key Lock”, by the press of a button all functionality of your radio will be locked to ensure that no accidental transmissions are made when carrying the radio, this ensures that channels are kept free for people who actually need to be using them. Alternatively a time out function will automatically cut out an ongoing transmission should it go on for too long, this could be through accidently press of the PTT button or just a colleague rambling.
Designed for use in harsher working environments these radios are built to IP67 rating. This rating ensures that the radio has a full Ingres protection against dust intrusion whilst also being protected against submersion in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
A final note being on the large collection of accessories available for use with the NX-3220 range of radios. Towards the bottom of each product page on our website you can see accessories that fit each radio specifically including such items as chargers, batteries, antennas, belt clips, carry cases, earpieces, microphones and much more. The only differing factor is with antennas you obviously need to purchase one for your selected frequency band (UHF/VHF) whilst also, should your radio have a screen and keypad a case that would still allow for use of this would need to be purchased.
An additional note on accessories for this radio is that Bluetooth comes readily installed to this radio, meaning that it can be used with selected wireless accessories.
NX-3220E3 & NX-3320E3
The most basic of the three styling choices of the NX-3220, the E3 takes on a black box design allowing for grab and go use of the radio with minimal training required. Aesthetically the face plate of the radio has both a speaker and microphone for incoming and outgoing transmissions. On the top of the device next to the antenna is both a channel selector knob and volume control knob, the latter of the two doubling up to power on the radio. There is also both a 7-colour light bar on the top panel of the NX-3220E3 whilst also having a status LED indicator.
For sending transmissions with the NX-3220E3 there is a large textured push to talk button on the left hand side of the radio, this alongside an emergency button that can be programmed to send out an alert should a radio user have an issue with safety or security. The NX-3220E3 also has two programmable buttons, these allowing for such features as “Talk Around” to be quickly accessed should the system you are using’s repeater to be out of action, bypassing the repeater and sending transmissions straight to other radios within the fleet.
NX-3220E2 & NX-3320E2
This model is the midway point of the NX-3220 range of two way radios. The E2’s only aesthetical difference to the E3 is the faceplate, with it having both a partial keypad and screen allowing for the user to easily manoeuvre around various menus and options available with the radio. As mentioned the partial keypad various functions including a menu access button to the top left, a back button to the top right, a home button bottom right and an enter key to the bottom left. These buttons are all placed to the side of a large 4 direction arrow key. The screen that is on the faceplate of the NX-3220 allows the user to navigate previously mentioned menus, this whilst also allowing the user to see signal strength, channel number and various call signs allowing for you to see whatever information you are looking for at a glance.
NX-3220E & NX-3320E
Finally is the most advanced radio of the three the NX-3220E. A full numerical keypad opens up the possibilities when using the radio, allowing for text messages to be sent to other radios alongside the ability to talk via voice with the push to talk button. Not much more can be said about the NX-3220E but should you be looking for a radio from Kenwood that supplies top of the range communications whilst being packed full of features then look no further than the NX-3220E.
The final radio from Kenwood that we will be talking about today is the mobile TK-D740 and TK-D840, the latter being UHF and the former VHF these are the most popular mobile radio available from Kenwood. As has previously been said in this blog post due to the two different names for frequency bands, I will be referring to both radios as the TK-D840.
Ideal for use in a variety of working environments the TK-D840 is most commonly found within a vehicle. Mountable on a dashboard or within a DIN mount, the simple design makes it a great choice because it is less distracting to drivers. Aesthetically the TK-D840 has a two-digit numerical display showing the current transmitting channel, with an up and down arrow to the left allowing for the user to easily change channels when required. The radio in question is supplied with a remote speaker microphone, this allowing for the operator to send transmissions without having to fiddle with the radio itself providing they are on their desired channel. The TK-D840 is also great for use as a base station for supervisors, if the user isn’t required to move whilst using the radio then having a powerful mobile radio such as the TK-D840 makes logistical sense.
32 channels are split over 2 zones with the TK-D840, this allowing for it to be used by a larger workforce. A channel scan function can be programmed to one of your channels allowing for the radio to quickly cycle through channels looking for transmissions, once a transmission is found the radio will stop, listen to the transmission, and then continue with its scan until the next is found.
One final feature to talk about with the TK-D840 is Lone Worker. Although this is a fairly basic radio one feature that is of great benefit to both the user and the workforce is lone worker. I have previously explained this feature within the blog post, but briefly how this works is that should the radio be inactive for a pre-set period of time then an alert will be sent to the radio, if not responded to then an alarm will be sent to a base station with high priority, this ideal should it be mounted in the cab of a vehicle as it will allow for the base to know should the driver be left in danger.
All radios mentioned in this blog post are available to view on the Radiotronics website, should you wish to learn more about any of them you can check out the website here or give our sales team a call on the following number to discuss any queries – 01425 533 533.