Today’s gadget review is for the Motorola Talkabout T260 Two-Way Radio. You know, a walkie-talkie. Or two, really. We’ve long enjoyed having walkie-talkies but somehow the collection we had in the past just quit working properly.
One of the things I enjoy doing is putting on car shows. We had a slew of walkie-talkies that I’d give to the various volunteers at the show so we could all stay in touch. This might have been where the previous models, which were a variety of low-end units, met their demise.
So, when we moved from our home to another state, the walkie-talkies were one of the things that ended up in the garage sale. Goodbye, random weird walkie-talkies. But that did leave us without walkie-talkies, and that made RVing less normal for us.
RVers and walkie-talkies
We use walkie-talkies for all sorts of things while RVing. The most common use, for us, is in the hitching and unhitching process. I hope she doesn’t read this, but my wife refuses to learn hand signals. That isn’t such a great thing since I don’t hear all that well.
And, like most married couples, my brain has managed to fine-tune my hearing such that I don’t hear her in particular, unless she says something like, “Would you like another beer?” Somehow that statement, and a few others, still seem to come through.
So, we use walkie-talkies when hitching the truck to our travel trailer. Not having had walkie-talkies has made the process less fun—except for others watching us in the campground.
We also use them when one of us takes one of our eBikes out for a go so that we can stay in touch, or even in the grocery store if we break up shopping duty.
Yep, we’re that nerdy that we’re sporting walkie-talkies in the grocery store. Now you see why it was such a bummer when we didn’t have them.
Motorola Talkabout T260 Radio
There’s nothing earth-shattering about this device. If you’ve ever had an FRS walkie-talkie before, you know this thing pretty well.
There are 22 main channels on these things and 121 sub-channels. In theory, you could go to a place like Disneyland, where half of everybody has a walkie-talkie, and still hold a conversation. Or freak out others. Not that I know anything about that.
Since I had mentioned these things are pretty much all the same in terms of functionality, why did I choose this particular unit? Several reasons.
You can charge this with a USB port. So I could charge it in the truck, with the USB charging ports in my RV or even with my Go Power! DuraPACK solar USB charger. I prefer anything that gives me options, including ones that are not proprietary to that product or brand.
This does come with a proprietary-ish Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack, but you can also take that out and three AAA batteries fit in the space, as well. Again, something you can find anywhere. As a nut who loves rechargeable batteries, I also tried those in these units and they worked fine. Again, options.
The company claims up to 12 hours of battery life with the included batteries or 29 hours with three AAA cells. I’m not sure how they calculated that, as communicating takes more power than the thing just sitting there. So if you talk a lot, you’re not going to get the same results.
But then I’m sure this is good for a day of RVing or even a day at Disneyland or that sort of thing.
Range of the Talkabout T260
Motorola claims a range of up to 25 miles—which I can say there’s no way in the world you’re getting that. But in most camping situations you may get 5-7 miles, based on our experience with these. That’s not bad at all, and is certainly about as far as I’d go on a hike or bike ride.
Why not a cell phone?
We all have ‘em and I’m sure more than a few of you are wondering why not just bring a cell phone. But there are a lot of places I go where there’s simply no coverage.
Further, if you really use your cell phone or it’s doing its best to find signal, even my new iPhone 13Pro Max will kill off its battery in short order.
Plus, if I drop one of these things in a stream it wasn’t $1000. They’re relatively inexpensive.
One more thing
While I can’t stress enough that having a weather radio is a good idea for anyone who travels, these do have some weather radio functionality. If I get an alert, this is a handy little device that fits in my pocket to receive some updates about the weather. But it’s only a part of a weather monitoring plan that we have.
Super nerdy stuff about FRS
These devices, like most walkie-talkies nowadays, run on the FRS or Family Radio Service bands. You don’t need any sort of license or anything like that, and all the radios that utilize this band are compatible. I mentioned that we had a bunch of random radios in the past—they all worked together.
FRS, or the Family Radio Service band, is part of the PRS, or Personal Radio Service bands, as outlined by 47 CFR Part 95B of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), which regulates and makes rules for the use of all RF (Radio Frequency) radio spectrum in the United States. The band is usable for personal or business two-way radio communications, and is used by individual preppers, families, community groups, and even some businesses. They are often used for recreation, sports and everyday family and business communications. FRS is more commonly used by kids as a toy, usually with cheap, essentially throw-away blister-pack or bubble-pack FRS walkie-talkies, and is considered more of a consumer band as compared to GMRS.
After recent FCC revisions of the PRS rules, the FRS service consists of 22 FRS frequencies, all of which are now shared with the GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) band. Transmitting on FRS channels does not require an FCC license, but there are restrictions on which radios you can use on the service, as mentioned below.
FRS allows analog FM voice operation, and digital positional and text messaging with strict limitations. Digital voice modes such as DMR, P25, D-STAR, and System Fusion (C4FM) are not allowed on the FRS band.