Over the years, I’d somehow gained the reputation of ‘2-way radio junkie’. I don’t know if that is a bad thing. But this label is one of the reasons behind this Motorola T600 review.
A firm in my area had politely asked if could help them out in picking between a Motorola T600 and the T460 based on my reputation as an ‘expert’. They wanted to buy a bunch of them for their tour guides and needed my expert opinion on which model to select. Money wasn’t an issue.
I waived the substantial fee they suggested for the job. I didn’t need that type of motivation for a task like this. Besides I get to keep the two walkie talkies when I’m done.
Over a 4-week period, I used both walking talkies on different occasions. The T600 accompanied me to a week-long camping trip with my friends. I joined another group two weeks later and took the T460 along.
This Motorola T600 review is part of the initial report (with some commentaries and without the boring technical details) I sent to my contact at the firm.
Motorola T600 H20 Talkabout Review
Inside the box were two neon green Motorola portable 2-way radios. The dominant green color is offset by the black highlights. It is one device you can’t fail to find even in poor lighting.
The gadget seems well-built with thick plastic casing. It felt rather heavy but the upside to that is you’d know immediately if falls off your belt clip.
The unit comes with an IP67 rating. That should account for the plastic body and the fact that all the buttons on it are protected by a waterproof cover. In effect, it could a dunk in water for about 30 minutes and come out working as nothing had happened to it.
On the left-hand side of the radio are two push-to-talk (PTT) buttons. If battery power is a concern, you’d never have to use to second PTT button as it is used only for high-power transmissions. These are battery-drainers in case you are wondering.
All the other important primary buttons and controls are located on the front of the radio.
Located at the bottom is the flashlight with the on/off switch situated on the upper left corner. There is also a removable belt clip that also functions as a whistle. Imagine being lost and due to some extraordinary back luck, you can’t contact your group. That whistle would become very useful to help others locate your position especially if you get sick of shooting.
Other items inside the box include a split USB charger so you can charge both units with a single cable, a pair of NiMH rechargeable batteries for each device, and 1 user guide.
Getting the Motorola T600 ready
I’ve discovered over the years that given a choice between tons of functionalities and ease of use, the majority of users would opt for the latter in their walkie talkies.
The T600 scored marks for easy setup and use. Once you figure out how to open the battery compartment and installing the battery pack, you are ready to go.
And of course, like any decent walkie talkie, this one can also be powered by AA batteries. The dual power source is a must-have feature these days especially if you are likely to end up in some far off place without a charging source. You would need 3 AA batteries for each unit.
As I earlier stated, all the primary buttons are located on the front of the device. If you are not a total newbie, you could easily figure out how to operate it without the manual. For new users, it would properly take just a couple of hours to master the basic operations.
For instance, it is quite easy to select any of the 22 channels. And for those times you want more privacy during transmissions, you have the option of 121 privacy codes. To put that plainly, at your disposal are over 2000 channels to choose from, making it very likely you can find an unoccupied channel easily.
The location of the PTT button on the side is quite convenient if you have medium to small-sized hands. I know for a fact folks with relatively large hands prefer their PTT button at the top of the set.
That said, sending a message was easy with the PTT buttons. I tried the second PTT button to see if there is a difference in range. I wasn’t able to reach an acquaintance several miles away from the effective range. This could be because of the surroundings. There were too many obstructions (trees, small Hills, etc).
In any case, the tour firm already knew about these limitations so I wasn’t too fussed about looking for a mountain-valley clear line of sight to test the long-range capabilities of the device.
I was able to send and receive clear signals over a couple of miles. That was the best I could get from the device which wasn’t surprising even with the official 36 miles range.
If I’m paid just a dollar for all the times I had to explain to people why their new 2-way handheld radios have considerably less range than what they were led to expect, I’d have retired years ago a very rich man.
The official range is usually based on ideal conditions. These conditions are almost impossible to get in real life testing. Even veteran users with top-of-the-line hand-helds are usually satisfied with 3 miles max.
The performance of the battery was top-notch. There was no need to use the extra AA batteries I carried along as a fully-charged battery lasted me the whole day.
A completely flat battery takes roughly 8 hours to get to a full charge. At the camp though, I turned in for the night with some battery life left. I then plugged it to charge overnight at base camp.
The 8 hours charging time though could be a problem for those without a charging unit close by and had forgotten to carry enough AA batteries that can power the units for 23 hours.
I liked it that it came with a low battery alert. With that, you’d be alerted in time to either recharge or swap batteries.
Other Notable features
- The flashlight automatically switches on if it falls in a body of water. That would make retrieval easy. But this could be redundant since it floats. Unless, of course, this happens at night
- Another flashlight-related feature is the soft red light it beams it in addition to the strong white one. The thought behind the red beam is linked to preserving your night vision. The idea is great only if you have to use the flashlight by the campsite.
- It has an emergency alert feature that emits a loud siren followed closely by a transmission that lasts about 20 seconds when it is activated.
- There is the VOX functionality so you can use the radio without holding it. Hikers, mountaineers, bikers, etc consider this an essential feature in any modern walkie talkie.
- 11 weather channels and with weather alerts to keep you updated on weather conditions in the locality.
- You have the choice of 20 call tones which you can customize. You could have your own unique ‘end-of-transmission’ tone to let people know you have finished transmitting
- Waterproof with IP67 rating
- Decent range on both FRS and GMRS
- Dual Power Source
- Includes Transmission time-out for power saving
- Able to float
- Has an emergency alert tone
- PTT power boost
- Built-in flashlight
- Compatible with other radios
- Rather heavy
- Flashlight turns on easily
In my years of testing two-way portable radios, I have never come across a device with downsides that render them practically a piece of junk. Having read this Motorola T600 review, you must have noticed that it didn’t balk that trend.
Every feature in the walkie talkie worked the way it is supposed to. There were no major surprises or disappointments with it. It is regular survivalist radio that is also suitable for other outdoor activities like camping, hiking, skiing, and for event planners.
Features such the 22 Channels with 121 privacy codes, dual power source, waterproof with an IP67 rating, built-in flashlight and much more, are all integrated beautifully into the rugged-looking, compact 2-way portable radio.