When I decided to get a decent and reliable walkie talkie for my buddy as a gift, one of the devices I considered and actually tested was the Motorola MS350R. For the price point, I’d say I was impressed with its performance.
Needless to say, this Motorola MS350R review would give you a fair idea of what impressed me and you can also be a judge of it.
But as they say, you need several hours of hands-on experience with a gadget before delivering your take on its performance. I took the device through its paces for about a week before handing it over to my friend. so you could say this review qualifies as a comprehensive evaluation of the Motorola MS350R
To be clear though, evaluation of products, like this Motorola MS350R review, is a largely subjective affair. After all, we all desire different things from our gadgets ranging from the design and how they sound and functions while using them.
That said, this is my own take as a lover of 2-way handheld radios who has used different walkie talkies over the years.
Motorola MS350R Review
Unboxing the Device
A few weeks after I ordered the pack, it arrived my address in standard packaging. Inside are a pair of 2-way radios, a desktop charger with two charging docks, a pair of NiMH batteries, two belt clips and a wall adaptor for the charging station.
The yellow and black radio weighs about 7 oz and a bit on the big side for my hands. The ergonomic design, though, mitigates the size as it would sit comfortably in your palm.
It has a rather small square-shaped display. But you won’t have problems reading the display from any angle and the backlight enables easy operations in low light conditions.
All the buttons you would need to operate the set are placed in the front. There are 5 of them including buttons for switching channels, squelch control, opening and scrolling through the menu and for switching on the built-in LED flashlight at the bottom of the set.
On the left side are the TX/TR push-to-talk (PTT) buttons. The upper button is the power boost PTT button if you want to transmit at a longer range.
There is a port for attaching accessories at the top right-hand side of the device just below the stock antenna. It is a standard 3.5mm jack for your headsets, earphones, etc.
The battery compartment is situated at the back of the radio. You would have to unscrew the nut holding the back panel to have access to it. That is not hard as long as you have the right screwdriver. It can also hold 3 AA batteries.
Setup and Performance of the Motorola MS350R
Like I stated earlier, removing the back panel and inserting the included rechargeable battery was quite easy for me. So also was closing and screwing it back on.
The power button is the top middle button on the front of the device. The display instantly came on after pressing it. The primary numbers on the amber-colored display were large and easy to read.
It soon became apparent that the display was all about numbers and icons. There were numbers and icons representing barrows operations like battery level, channel number and frequency, various alerts, and so on. You would be able to recognize them given enough time.
Communication and range – The packaging claimed a range of to 35 miles; but from experience, I knew I would never be able to get up to that. The furthest I could manage was 2 miles when I went mountaineering with a buddy of mine.
This is normal for walkie talkies of in this price range. Even a range of 1 mile is considered decent in some expensive, high-end radios.
The PTT buttons worked pretty well for transmitting and receiving messages. However, you’d have to wait at least a second after pressing the PTT button if you don’t want your first words to be cut off.
As for the audio, you won’t have much to complain about. It is clear and loud even in a noisy environment. And you have the option of attaching a headset if the environment is too noisy. But if you attach the headset during TX/TR, you automatically activate the VOX function for hands-free use.
Remember not to put your mouth too close to the device when speaking if you want the person listening to hear your clearly.
Weatherproof – The Motorola MS350R has a rating of IP67. This means it can still be optimally functional when it is submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. The rating also means you can operate it in wet conditions and during dust storms.
I never had an opportunity to work with it when it was raining. But a pool of water proved an effective means of testing that rating.
Okay, the first thing you’d noticed is that it would float in water. That makes it easy to retrieve. And I could easily picture how the bright yellow front color would make it easy to find when visibility is low.
I was quite relieved that it stood up excellently to the water test.
Battery life – Folks who have used this device are unanimous that you get more joy from using the disposable AA batteries than the Included NiMH rechargeable batteries.
The rechargeable battery powered the set for a maximum of 9 hours of continuous use. When I used good AA batteries, I replaced them after about 3 days. It is likely that translates to about 25 hours if you use the device non-stop.
I won’t be surprised if you ditched the rechargeable batteries altogether in favor of good AA batteries. I used the NiMH battery only once after I discovered the longevity of the AA batteries.
The charging dock had a very serious flaw. It doesn’t indicate when the battery is full. The charging indicator light never changes color or goes off no matter how long you leave your walkie talkie to charge.
That makes it impossible to know if you have a full battery making over-charging and the possibility of damaging the battery highly likely. So you better get a smart charger that switches off automatically when the battery is full.
Other important features of the Motorola MS350R
- It comes with 22 GMRS and FRS Channels and an extra 8 repeater channels to hook on to nearby repeaters helping you to extend the range
- You have access to 121 privacy codes so getting a free unoccupied frequency would never be an issue
- 11 NOAA weather channels with weather alerts
- 10 different call tones
- VibraCall for silent operations especially if you are hunting or the environment is so noisy that call tones can’t be heard
- Comes with an audible low battery alert to let you know when you are running low on power
- There is a built-in flashlight that comes in handy during evening adventures
- Time-out timer
- Keystroke tone signal and keypad lock
- Channel monitor
- All-purpose 2-way radio
- It is waterproof with IP67 rating
- It floats when submerged in water
- Ergonomic design
- Dual Power and dual charging options
- Comes with a range-extender
- Repeater capable
- It is durable
- Great battery life using AA batteries
- Charging dock has no battery-full indicator
- Not really waterproof if you are using AA batteries
The bottom line based in this Motorola MS350R review shows this is a walkie talkie that would help you stay in touch with friends and families whether you’re spending time with them at a park, camping, hiking, kayaking, etc.
It is an all-purpose, waterproof device clearly engineered for the outdoors. And as long as the range is not beyond 1 mile, you would be able to reach the intended party easily with crystal clear audio. If there is a repeater in the vicinity, the range can easily be extended.
The device is easy to use and comes with 22 Channels, 121 privacy codes and 11 NOAA channels that alerts you of the weather conditions in your locality. With the MS350R, you would never be caught unawares by extreme weather conditions.