I’m used to getting emails from organizations, groups, business, families, and friends requesting that I recommend a suitable walkie talkie.
This Cobra CX112 review is the result of one of such requests.
My neighbor wanted an entry-level, durable 2-way handheld radio for his family of four to use on a fishing trip last summer.
I recommended the CX112 because it is a sturdy device that does all the basics pretty well. And they won’t even need a license to operate it since it comes with 22 channels with 7 of these exclusively FRS channels.
I understood there won’t be any need for long-distance communication. So this was a safe bet as you don’t get considerable range on a radio with a transmission power of O. 5 watts.
One benefit of this sort of request is that in most cases, I get to play around with the device before handing them over. Which is exactly what happened here or this Cobra CX112 review wouldn’t have been possible.
Cobra CX112 Review
Appearance and Description
At about 5 inches long and just short of 1.5″, the 112 is small and compact enough for the average adult hands. Kids would find it rather large. But my neighbor’s kids were teenagers and looked like full-grown adults: holding it won’t be a problem for them.
The walkie talkie is predominantly black with ash/grey-colored buttons to make for a subtle contrast. I’m not sure many users are going to fall in love with the rather small LCD.
When in operation, despite the size of the display, you would clearly see the channel displayed with bold numbers. Other items on the display include the battery, weather, transmit/receive and channel/volume icons.
You’d think that is too much for a small display, but it doesn’t feel or look crowded.
On both sides of the LCD are the four grey buttons you would use quite often. The two on the left are the call button and power buttons while the up/down arrow buttons to change channels and adjust the volume are located on the right.
The PTT button is located on the left-hand side of the device while on the right-hand side you would find the USB port covered by a rubber flap.
Up top, just beside the antenna is the speaker/jack.
At the back of the walkie talkie is the battery compartment. To get to it though, the cover must be removed. It uses 3 AAA batteries. You have the option of using either disposable or rechargeable batteries.
This is a basic walkie talkie so there is nothing complicated about getting it ready for use. Of course, the batteries would have to be inserted first.
Getting to the battery compartment involves removing the belt clip latch before lifting the battery compartment cover by also pulling up its own latch.
You can now insert the batteries while making sure the polarities match the markings. Replace the cover and you are ready to go.
Power it on by pressing down on the power button.
Performance of the Cobra CX112
Real-life testing of the CX112 was carried out in the neighborhood and some woods a quarter of a mile away. My observations were consistent with the report I got from my neighbor when they got back from the trip.
Range – You would be sorely disappointed if you are expecting the company’s 16 miles range written on the pack. Perhaps, under ideal conditions and line-of-sight communications, you might be able to get up to 5 miles using the GMRS channels.
Using the legally allowable FRS channels and frequencies, the best I could get was about three-quarters of a mile. In the woods where there are trees and other obstructions, the range was about half of that.
I wasn’t expecting much from a device with just 0.5 watts of transmitting power. But I was still a bit disappointed the range wasn’t better than that. A mile range in the woods would have been nice.
TX operation – If you are left-handed, you would love the location of the PTT button on the left side of the device. We all know it’s far better using the thump the press it and that only happens if you are holding the radio with your left hand.
That said, the PTT easily responds to slight pressure. The microphone at the top needs to be about 2″ from your mouth to get the best audio quality. Any nearer than that, all sorts of distortions in audio quality begin to creep in.
When you release the PTT button after relaying your message, the receiving radio gets an audible beep to indicate they can now talk. Roger beep is always a nice feature to have.
Because the buttons are reasonably responsive, adjusting the volume using the up/down arrows went without a hitch.
Sound quality – Straight off, I have to admit I have worked with radios with far better sound quality. But the audio output is not that bad. Some folks might even think it is better than ‘not bad’.
The bottom line is as long as you don’t bring your mouth too close to the microphone, people on the other end would be able to pick out individual words. I guess that should be good enough for entry-level devices.
Battery life – It’s such a shame Cobra didn’t see fit to include at the required AAA batteries.
You would have to buy them yourself and if you want to get the best from the gadget, it recommended that you purchase rechargeable NiMH batteries and disposable AAA alkaline batteries.
The rechargeable battery died after 5 hours. I wouldn’t know if the battery extender feature did any good here. The low battery tone alerted me to the problem while I was otherwise occupied with something else.
When I looked at the display, the battery icon was blinking. I immediately swabbed to disposables and never went back to rechargeable batteries.
With the disposable cells, the battery indicator showed 50% power left after two days of testing the device. If I have to guess, I’ll say 72 hours of constant use is possible with the disposable batteries.
Clearly, it is a simple call to prefer disposable batteries to the NiMH cells after trying out both.
Summary of the Specifications of Cobra CX112
Weight – 0.14 lbs (65.4 g)
Dimensions (WHD) – 1.96” x 5.16” x 1.46”
(Channels – 22 GMRS/FRS Channels
Range – 16 Miles
Power Source – Dual power: 3 AAA Batteries Rechargeable/Disposable
Weather Channels – 10 NOAA Channels
Alerts – NOAA Weather Alerts and Call Alert Tone
Noise Reduction – Auto Squelch
Tones/Notifications – Roger Beep Tone, Low Battery Alert, Keystroke Tone Signal
Ports – Micro USB Port,
Jack – Speaker, Microphone, Charger
Warranty – 1 year
Battery/Power Saver – Yes
Plug-In Charge Capable – Yes
- It is easy to use
- Buttons are very intuitive
- Flexible USB charging
- 22 channels
- Comes with roger beep
- Very affordable
- Poor range
- Rechargeable batteries don’t last long
What should become obvious from this Cobra CX112 review is the basic nature of the device. There are no bells or frills; it is just a simple walkie talkie you would be happy with if your expectations are reasonable.
The device is easy to use with intuitive buttons that respond easily to pressure. With the tough plastic casing, it is likely you won’t need a replacement if it drops.
This, definitely, is not a walkie talkie for long-distance communication and other outdoor activities such as hunting.