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Sunday, September 1, 2002

Technology

Two-way radios: 'Talkabout' easy as a talk in the park
Gizmos

By JAMES CUMMINGS
Cox News Service

DAYTON, Ohio -- The prices on two-way radios for communication between family members are continuing to drop, and Motorola, a leader in the Family Radio Service field, is marketing its least expensive model, the Talkabout T4300.

Family Radio Service radios are designed to send and receive messages up to two miles, and they're ideal for communicating across a campground, a neighborhood or a park. Family Radio Service radios have their widest range outdoors on flat, open terrain; buildings in urban neighborhoods cut their range to about a mile.

The bright red or yellow Talkabout T4300 is especially designed for children and has a slim body that small hands should find easy to grip.

The controls are simple enough for even a small child to use. Once two radios are set to the same channel, all the user has to do to send a message is to press the TALK button and speak into the microphone. When the sender is finished speaking and releases the TALK button, the radio automatically sends a beep signal to let people listening know that the channel is now open to send a response message.

The Talkabout T4300 uses the same 14 channels as other Family Radio Service radios. It can be used in conjunction with other 14-channel radios, including those from other manufacturers. The radios can be locked on a channel to keep small children from accidently switching frequencies.

Having 14 available channels makes it less likely that someone else within a two-mile radius will be on the same frequency. But in particularly crowded situations, such as major amusement parks, finding a free channel can be tricky.

Some more sophisticated family radios have codes that divide the 14 channels into subchannels, and the Talkabout T4300 can only be used with those radios if the code function is turned off.

Testing a sample pair of Talkabout radios, my 12-year-old daughter and I were able to talk easily across a local shopping mall and between a mall store and the parking lot. The radios also were handy as intercoms between the second floor and basement at home.

The Talkabout T4300 has a suggested retail price of $19.99 for each unit. They can be found at discount stores and electronics retailers and can also be ordered direct from Motorola at motorola.com and entering T4300 in the search engine.

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