A yellow walkie-walkie is set on the edge of a wooden picnic table, beside an RCA commercial two-way radio set on a wooden, indoor workbench.

Don’t Confuse Walkie-Talkies for Commercial Two-Way Radios

Commercial two-way radios are easily ranked among the best communications equipment you can use regardless of your industry. Yet you might be surprised to learn that there are some workers out there who think they can outsmart the system by replacing two-way radios with “cost-saving” alternatives — namely, walkie-talkies or cell phones. Trust us when we tell you that these options are not saving you anything. In our experience, phones and walkies don’t come close to the quality and reliability you get from commercial two-way radios, and will only end up costing you more by learning that lesson the hard way. However, for the sake of argument, let’s discuss how each of these perform, and how they measure up to the communication requirements of your network.

Difference #1: Purpose

Let’s start by comparing walkies and radios since they’re more closely related. If you aren’t familiar with the terminology, you might think that a walkie-talkie and a two-way radio are the same thing. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Walkie-talkies as they’re known today do resemble many handheld two-way radios — but they offer limited range and are made with cheaper materials. Because of that, they’re usually marketed as toys for recreational use like hiking or camping. 

Conversely, not all two-way radios are like walkie-talkies. Mobiles and compact base stations are two prime examples.

Mobile commercial two-way radios are those that you see installed inside vehicles and mounted to external antennas. They’re often used by forestry services, trucking, and police departments, because they offer crystal-clear audio over wide areas. Plus, being mounted inside vehicles means they’re not carried around or dropped like handhelds, and therefore last longer. Be sure to take a look at RCA’s BRM300D as an excellent option for any mobile radio needs.

Base stations are perfect for those employees who operate indoors, whether at a workstation or in a warehouse environment. RCA recently took this concept and made it truly exceptional. Their new compact base station is considerably smaller than previous versions, and also extremely powerful. At five watts, it offers the same coverage as handheld units, but only requires AC power in order to run. It can be easily secured to both desks or walls to avoid potential theft, similar to mobile radios. It looks just like an intercom, and is convenient for any desk design. Learn more about RCA’s amazing RDR2750, and how it’s been taking the two-way radio industry by storm.

Along with traditional handheld models, mobiles and base stations can communicate with one another over a wide area, offering superior coverage on either UHF or VHF. What’s more, the frequency band that you use must be assigned by the FCC so that you don’t interfere with the coverage of other businesses or organizations around you.

The vast majority of us know what a cell phone is and how to use one, but how does it compare to radios? For starters, it depends on coverage from a tower you don’t control, and is subject to the rules and regulations of a carrier you have to pay on a monthly basis. The only registration required for two-way radios is through the FCC licensing mentioned above. 

Difference #2: Quality

You want the communications equipment you invest in to last a long time. That’s where commercial two-way radios outshine any competition. The money that some might think they’ll save by using walkie-talkies or cell phones will disappear after those are easily broken and coverage is lost when you need it most.

As we mentioned already, walkie-talkies are essentially toys. They aren’t IP rated, which means they won’t be safe in hazardous environments against dust, water, or flammable materials. Their coverage is limited, and a few good bumps or drops will probably leave them inoperable. (In other words, stick to using them at camp.)

Cell phones can be even worse. I’m sure you’re no stranger to low bars when you’re trying to place a call. Also consider that when bad weather or local emergencies strike, phone lines can be tied up and prevent you from reaching anyone. Two-way radios are always turned on and connected, which means you don’t have to dial anyone when you need assistance. You push a button and relay a message — or you activate an alert — and you’ll get help immediately. And when it comes to durability, how often have you seen people drop and crack their cell phones? (The answer is all the time.)

Commercial two-way radios are designed for the long haul. They come built with durable chassis, include mid-tier or intrinsically safe options depending on how harsh your working conditions are, and can be coupled with accessories like premium holsters to keep them securely fastened. Plus, their coverage is unbeatable: RCA has options that offer crystal-clear audio across the length of a football field or multiple floors in a single building.

Difference #3: Power

If you need communications equipment that will work for several hours on a given shift, you don’t want to put your faith in walkie-talkies or cell phones. Walkies don’t have powerful batteries, and phones can often lose power when they’re trying to reacquire cellular signals or roaming. 

RCA commercial two-way radios will not let you down. Handheld units that are battery-powered come with a minimum of 12+ hours on a single charge, and still have upgrades available that can extend that. As long as you recharge their batteries correctly, these radios might just be around when you retire. 

Better yet, avoid batteries by choosing mobiles and base stations that run off vehicles’ power supplies and AC outlets, respectively.

The Case for Commercial Two-Way Radios

It should be pretty obvious that we’ve busted any myth that wants to advocate for walkie-talkies or cell phones over two-way radios. But we enjoy a good debate, so let us know: can you think of any features or aspects that we missed? 

Now for the important question: if commercial two-way radios are the way to go, which brands are the best? In our minds, there’s only one — RCA.

Why? Quality, performance, durability, and coverage are all essential — but we also recognize how important these units need to be with your budget. That’s why we choose options that compete with any comparable models from other brands and still cost you at least 30 percent less. That’s even after the industry has seen price increases for much of its radio supplies. Many of these units are even available to ship as soon as today, in spite of other brands that are seeing months-long backlogs due to the supply chain!

Are you concerned these RCA two-way radios won’t work with the ones you have from other brands? Good news here, too: RCA communicates with all two-way radios, regardless of brand, thanks to RadioSync technology. The only caveat is whether your radios are on an analog or digital network — and even then, we have units with mixed mode capability that can switch between both, making them ideal if you ever want to transition over to digital!

So the next time that you’re in the market for the best available communications equipment, make sure to choose commercial two-way radios, and make sure those radios are from RCA. Once you’ve tried them out, we guarantee you’ll never look back. 

Give us a call at 888.299.6340 when it’s time to place your next order, and one of our award-winning customer support specialists will be ready to assist you immediately.

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