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Cobra PR 245-2 VP W/T

indispensable LAN accessory, much like a six-pack of diet Mountain Dew and use that as my hook as to why all you readers and owners of hardware tech sites should read or post my review, even though not directly computer- related. I could but I won't, because it isn't why I asked Geeks for a set for review. Instead, I was interested in getting a set of these two-way radios because walkie-talkies are just plain fun. Not only that, but they are cheap fun that most everyone reading this can afford.

Cobra Package Front     Cobra Package Rear

The two-way radios come in an ordinary clear plastic clamshell. Inside is a bright red cardboard insert printed front and back with lots of useful product information, the largest proclaims “up to 6 mile range”. We shall see... For those of you interested in product packaging I give this product an A in curb appeal. As usual, for this type of plastic clamshell however, it is very difficult to open but I have talked about that particular subject previously until I am blue in the face already and don't really have anything new to say about the issue.

Features:

Scan (channel/privacy code)
Call Alert (5 selectable tones)
Key Lock
Roger Beep (selectable on/off)
Backlit LCD Display
Battery/Power Saver

With GMRS/FRS, auto squelch/maximum range, privacy codes, channel scans, call tone settings, confirmation tones, and probably a few other new things I overlooked, technology has changed so much since the last set of walkie-talkies I owned years ago. I decided to actually read the documentation before use, even though I used to fancy myself pretty familiar with walkie-talkies back in the day. Fortunately, the documentation itself is fairly robust for a product at this price point, with a pamphlet for the battery charger base, a pamphlet for the walkie-talkies themselves, and an offer to receive lots of unsolicited junk snail mail aka warranty registration card.

Cobra Paperwork

One thing that needs to be mentioned with the Cobra GMRS/FRS PR 245-2 VP and most modern two way radios in general, and that is that they operate in what is known as the GMRS/FRS range. The PR 245-2 VP, for instance, has 22 channels which are broken down into 15 GMRS and 7 FRS channels. To operate on the 15 GMRS channels the FCC requires that you have a license; the FRS channels, however, do not.

I hear you thinking out there. So what is the difference then between the GMRS and the FRS? As best as I can tell the only difference between the two is that GMRS transmits at a 1W minimum power level, while FRS only transmits at ½ W maximum. The above power levels stated are also the power levels for this particular set of walkie-talkies. This makes the GMRS more suitable for longer range transmissions.

Cobra Front     Cobra Rear

Out of curiosity I decided to find out what was actually required to obtain a FCC GMRS license. What did I find? Well, let's just say even I am not sadomasochistic enough to bore you with the government legal ease mumbo-jumbo. So let me summarize: You get an FCC Registration Number (FRN), fill out a LONG form which looks worse than an income tax form, pay 80 bucks, and if all goes well in the end you get a 5 year GRMS license. Is it worth it? I will leave that to you to decide, but in my case and for my intended use, the answer is no.

The first thing I noticed when I started using the walkie-talkies was that they actually got a signal down here in the dungeon, umm I mean my basement condo. Ask any of the current or former staff here and you will find this is something that my cell phone just can't match. After wandering down the road maybe two blocks walkie talkie in my hand and the other one still in the condo, the signal starts to break up--not anywhere near the (up to) six mile range claimed on the package, but I am using FRS instead of GRMS. Besides, a few blocks are fine for my needs anyway. The second thing I noticed was the long life of the included rechargeable battery pack (In a pinch you can also use 4 AAA alkaline batteries in each walkie-talkie). I would like to tell you an exact number for the battery life but after 5 or 6 hours on and out of the charger, along with an occasional conversation I gave up. My batteries wore down before those in the walkie-talkies.

Cobra Pair

There is certainly plenty of power here for an afternoon outing before you will need to put these walkie-talkies back in the base to charge. According to the manual you can expect up to 24 hours battery life for 4 AAA alkaline batteries. If I were to guess about the long battery life I would say it is attributable to the power saving mode the walkie-talkie enters after 10 seconds of inactivity.

Other areas of interest are the attached belt clip so you can wear your walkie talkie like a pager if you want, and the fact that the antenna itself is made of the same seemingly durable plastic material as the rest of the casing. This removes yet another of the problems with older walkie-talkies which normally had a thin metal telescoping antenna that I usually managed to crease in the first week and totally break off shortly thereafter.

Conclusion:

If you are the type of person that wants a camera, music player, or Internet access in your cell phone the Cobra GMRS/FRS PR 245-2 VP two-way radios are probably too basic for your tastes. Consider the Cobra GMRS/FRS PR 4000-2 WX two-way radios instead with its built-in digital compass and other extras that might be more to your liking. Me? Well I haven't used a compass in 25 years since I was in Scouts.

In my informal testing and for my use, though, the Cobra PR 245-2 VP was a near perfect fit with decent range (FRS) and long battery life in an attractive compact model that is small enough that you can keep in your pocket, or make use of the attached clip and wear it on your belt. All for a very low price. Now if only my cell phone provider could learn some of these moves.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Long battery life
  • Low price

Cons:

  • GRMS use requires license

I would like to thank Geeks for providing us with the Cobra GMRS/FRS PR 245-2 VP two-way radios. At the time of publishing this particular item is unfortunately out of stock. When they get more GMRS/FRS two-way radios in this should be the link.

Geeks

Added: July 9th 2006
Reviewer: JimAdkins
Score: 10  
Related Link: Cobra
Hits: 6478
Language: english

  

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