Revealing 13 Common Radio Features

We know how confusing the world of two-way radios can be with all these new features coming into play, and it can be pretty tough trying to remember and understand what they all do, particularly when so many acronyms are used for these features. That’s why we have decided to try and break all the jargon down for you to help you understand what all these features mean, and which radio may be the best for you.


Click through the index to read about specific features that you may feel relevant to your requirements.

AES Encryption

AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. It is a software loaded on to electronics to encrypt the messages being transmitted before they leave the radio, and the same software on the receiving radio will de-encrypt the message to be understood by the user.

Many digital radios use a level of encryption already in order to create a secure channel of communication, so it is important to consider the necessity of AES encryption for the majority of scenarios.

Radios using the AES features tend to be on the higher end of radio prices and are required to have additional licences for each individual radio which can drastically bump the cost up. For some business where the level of security must meet certain standards, AES is a good option.

Auto-Scan

Auto-scan is one of those features that is ideal with large radio systems that are active across multiple channels. The auto-scan abilities of a radio allow it to be scanning programmed channels automatically to detect for transmissions. If activity is detected by the radio, it will lock on to that communication and allow the transmission to be received, even if you were originally sat on a different channel.

This is great for larger systems that may need to contact lots of people at once, it reduces the risk of you missing an important message.

Battery Capacity

Depending on your intended use for the walkie talkies, battery capacity is something to take into consideration when looking at the features of radios.

The batteries capacity is linked to the mAh (milliamp – hour) of the battery and how long it will last on a single charge. For comparison – a standard AA battery tends to have a mAh range of 2000-3000.

Digital radios tend to be more energy efficient due to the technology they use for communicating, and therefore last longer than an analogue radio with the same battery. Many radios also have a batter save mode, meaning the radio will reduce its power usage whilst not being actively used, but stays active enough to receive all messages and never misses a communication.

If you are intending to use radios all day, it is worth looking for radios that feature a high capacity battery.

The Pronto P-9300 features a 2600 mAh battery and is the newest addition to the Pronto range. Its features are high-tech and up to date!

The Adesso Trek features a 1700 mAh battery, with up to 40 hours of battery life. Perfect for outdoor adventures like a day of hiking or skiing.

Emergency Alarm

Radios can be programmed with a very popular feature of an emergency alarm. With the push of one button, all radios on the same system will have an alarm sound out to notify them that someone needs assistance.

In some case, radios are able to identify which radio has submitted the alarm and display that radios ID to everyone else. This can be incredibly useful for many business sectors as emergencies are unpredictable and can happen anywhere. Being able to quickly notify the team can assists in getting medical attention to someone faster or allow others to get to safety.

Hidden LCD

Hidden LCD displays are becoming ever more popular as a convenient and practical option.

Radios with this feature will look like they do not have a screen, but when channels are changed, or the volume adjusted, an LCD will light up behind the radios body to indicate the status of the radio.

This is incredibly helpful for businesses who may not need a screened or key-padded radio but have use for the status updates. They are much less likely to break than a typical screen, reducing the chance of an expensive repair.

The Adesso TP-3200, a analogue licenced radio with a hidden LCD display

IP Rating

An IP rating is a universally understood rating to determine an electronic devices ability to prevent the ingress of physical particles i.e. dust or sand, and water particles, it stands for Ingress Protection.

The first number determines its protection against foreign bodies, and this is rates 0-6. With 6 being dust proof. The second number it its protection against water, and this is rated 0-9.

The main sense in which most people take this into consideration, is if they are looking for a radio with a level of protection against water. We typically see this for customers such as garden centres or leisure centres with swimming pools.

First DigitLevel of Protection
0 (or X)Not rated, or no rating has been supplied for protection against this ingress
1Protection against solid objects larger than 50mm (accidental hand contact with open palm), but not against deliberate body contact
2Protection against solid objects larger than 12mm (accidental finger contact)
3Protection against solid objects larger than 2.5mm (tools and wires)
4Protection against solid objects larger than 1mm (fine tools and wires, nails, screws, larger insects and other potentially invasive small objects)
5Partial protection against dust and other particulates, such that any ingress will not damage or impede the satisfactory performance of internal components
6Full protection against dust and other particulates, including a vacuum seal, tested against continuous airflow
First digit – protection from foreign body and particulate ingress
Second DigitLevel of Protection
0 (or X)Not rated, or no rating has been supplied for protection against this ingress
1Protection against vertically falling droplets, such as condensation, sufficient that no damage or interrupted functioning of components will be incurred when an item is upright
2Protection against vertically dripping water when enclosure is tilted up to 15° off vertical
3Protection against direct moisture spray at angles up to 60° off vertical
4Protection against splashing water from any direction, tested for a minimum of 10 minutes with an oscillating spray (limited ingress permitted with no harmful effects)
5Protection against low-pressure jets (6.3mm) of directed water from any angle (limited ingress permitted with no harmful effects)
6Protection against powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) of directed water from any direction
7Protection against full immersion for up to 30 minutes at depths between 15cm and 1 metre (limited ingress permitted with no harmful effects)
8Protection against extended immersion under higher pressure i.e. greater depths. Precise parameters of this test will be set and advertised by the manufacturer and may include additional factors such as temperature fluctuations and flow rates, depending on equipment type
9KProtection against high-pressure, high-temperature jet sprays, wash-downs or steam-cleaning procedures – this rating is most often seen in specific road vehicle applications (standard ISO 20653:2013 Road Vehicles – Degrees of Protection)
Second digit – protection from moisture ingress

Lone-Worker

Lone worker is a safety feature that many radios have nowadays. As the name indicates, it is designed for workers that operate alone. The feature is programmed with a pre-determined time frame. The user of this radio must interact with the radio in some manner at least once within this time frame.

If the worker does not interact, it will send an alert to the other radio users in the system, notifying them that the worker has not responded within the pre-determined time frame and therefore may need help. Depending on the severity of risks that the workers are subject to, this time frame could vary anywhere from every five minutes, to once every hour.

Man-Down

There are many radios about these days that have the capabilities for a ‘man-down’ function. Generally speaking, these radios are digital, for example, the P-9200D.

The man-down feature is a safety pre-caution aimed at those who may be working in hazardous situations such as up ladders, scaffolding or perhaps tree surgeons. The man-down feature operates by using a tilt-switch embedded into radio. When the radio is first programmed with its frequencies, it is also programmed with a set angle of tilt. If the radio detects it has tilted beyond the angle set, and no interacts have been made with the radio for a set period, it will emit an alarm to other radio users, assuming that its user has fallen and is now unable to respond.

The angle of tilt can be discussed with your supplier based on your needs. It is important to bear in mind though that radios with man-down, only use data based off the tilt and have no other way of recognising if the worker has in fact fallen, or perhaps their radio was rested on a table and tipped over. It is therefore worth considering the environment your workers are in as to whether this is a necessary feature for you. If the answer is yes, then those few false alarms are likely to be worth it over your workers safety.

the man-down features notifies co-workers when a colleague may have fallen down.

Remote Stun/Kill

Radios with these remote stun/kill features are able to be disabled over the air via your two-way radio engineer or supplier. Disabling the radio remotely will mean that the individual radio will no longer be able to receive or transmit messages to the system it was a part of.

This is a useful feature for organisations and business that may be dealing with sensitive information, and if a radio were to be lost or stolen, it would be important the information does not get out. This may be an important feature for schools as they are often discussing information relating to pupils.

TDMA

Time-Division Multiple Access. A radio that features this allows multiple conversations to share the same radio channel, using different slots for the conversation so they stay separate. This is an ideal feature for a business or organisation that has a high volume of radios on the system.

UHF / VHF

There are two types of frequencies that radios can use to communicate, and they both have their purposes.

Ultra High Frequency: These operate at the higher end of the frequency scale. They are better at penetrating obstacles such at buildings and trees.

Very High Frequency: These operate with a longer wave length than UHF so have the ability to travel further. This makes them ideal for open spaces where there are less obstacles, and they have to opportunity for better range.

It is important to consider the environment in which you will be using two-way radios. For the majority of our customers, such as schools, hospitals, hotels and construction sites, UHF is going to be the preferable option due to its ability to penetrate obstacles better.

However, for open spaces such as golf courses or marine based environments, VHS can be the better choice because there are less obstacles and therefore more potential to travel further.

The best option when it comes to this feature of radios, really does all come down to where the radios will be used.

Versatile Calling

Versatile calling is a feature that is become more popular across digital radios. A radio with this capability is able to have multiple groups and contacts saved so users can select who to speak with rather than broadcasting to everyone who is sitting on the channel at that point in time.

The types of calls that versatile calling covers can include: group calls – calling the radios belonging to maintenance teams, individual call, emergency call – sending an alarm sound to the radios to notify that assistance is needed, or all call – speak as traditional to those on your selected channel.

VOX

Yet another acronym! VOX stands for Voice Operated Exchange. It essential means hands-free communication. Radios with this feature have the ability to pick up on voice commands in order to transmit messages without the push to talk button being used.

This can be an ideal safety feature for rock climbers perhaps, who carry a radio strapped to them for safety, to communicate when they may need help but can’t let go.

The new Adesso Trek has this feature, and is perfect for outdoor adventures like rock climbing.


Summary

It is important to us that we are able to help you find the best radios for you with all the features that you require, whilst avoiding un-necessary purchases of radios with more features and specifications than you’ll ever need simply because it sounds the best. The best radio is what works for you.

We love to chat to everyone about two-way radios, so if you’re ever stuck wondering which features you require, or what they mean, give us a call and we can assist in finding the best radio options for you!

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