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Midland GXT2000VP4 Two Way Radio Review

GXT2000-front-detail-600x400.jpgIt's been a few days now since the brand new Midland GXT2000VP4 walkie talkie first arrived, so we've had a little time to kick the tires and find out what we like and what we don't. When we shot our first impressions / unboxing video, we were relying only on information provided by Midland, so it was a lot of fun to actually get to try out this long awaited two way radio.

In this review we are going to draw a lot of comparisons to the Midland GXT1000VP4 walkie talkie. The GXT2000 is in many ways an extension of the GXT1000, and many of the features are the same. This review is going to concentrate on the differences between these two models, so you may want to take a look at a GXT1000VP4 review or two. It's also important to mention that even though we are testing the GXT2000, this info should also apply to the new Midland GXT2050VP4. The GXT2050 is basically the same radio except for the Mossy Oak camouflage and a few extra call tones. That said, let's look at a few features.

Power
Back-shot.pngThe GXT2000VP4 has a different FCC ID number than the GXT1000, which usually means that there were enough changes between the two models that Midland had to have the product tested and submitted for approval. Much of this test information is public, so we can see that the GXT2000VP4 was tested and found to have 2.649 watts of output power. This is less than half of 5.33 watts that the GXT1000 was reported to be pumping and is a slight disappointment. This is still a nice jump over the 1.67 watts of the Motorola MT352, for example, but we were anxious to see if this drop in reported power had any impact on the range in our real world test.

A true comparison to the GXT1000 was what we wanted, so we took both radios to eight different locations in the area surrounding our office. These locations varied from .4 to 2.13 miles away. On our "test course" both radios performed very well at all locations at or within 1.5 miles - the audio was easily understandable and background noise was not overly distracting. At less than a mile, transmissions were even more clear and background noise was minimal. Our course included two locations that are in excess of 2 miles, and this is where we started to experience issues. At one location (2.13 miles away, 10 meter elevation difference) we were able to communicate consistently, but with moderate to severe background noise. The GXT2000VP4 outperformed the GXT1000 at this location, doing a better job of noise reduction. The other location was 2.1 miles away with the same elevation as our office and we were not able to communicate consistently with either radio. The GXT1000 would break squelch occasionally, but the GXT2000VP4 didn't give as much as a hint that it was sniffing out a signal.

Based on the test, it does seem like the GXT2000 has less power than the GXT1000, but this was only noticeable when we were pushing the very edge of the range for both radios. The GXT2000VP4 makes up for this, in a way, with what seems like better noise reduction. In many of the locations we felt the GXT2000 had a stronger signal because the voice sounded louder and there seemed to be less background noise.

Lithium Battery
On-the-desk.pngThe most touted feature of the GXT2000 is its lithium polymer battery. Lithium batteries have a decided advantage over NiMH in that they are lighter and don't suffer from the "memory effect". There are few manufacturers of consumer grade GMRS radios using lithium batteries and we're excited to see Midland move to this technology. Midland advertises these batteries as having twice the power and three times the charge speed of the previous model. That is an average life of around 16 hours and a 2 hour recharge time. Both are impressive numbers.

We discovered a couple of facts worth noting in regard to the batteries. First of all, Midland doesn't seem to be advertising that the GXT2000VP4 will operate on standard "AA" batteries as well as the included lithium ones, but we confirmed that they will! This is a nice feature if you find yourself needing radios right away and don't have time to charge them.

It's also important to note that the charger is NOT compatible between the GXT1000 and GXT2000. The radios are the exact same size and have the same footprint, but the technology required to charge a lithium battery is different from that required to charge NiMH. Midland has taken some precautions by changing the GXT2000 charging base slightly so that a GXT1000 radio will not be able to rest on the charging contacts. The plug size is also different on the back of the charger so it isn't possible to use the same wall or vehicle plug.

Audio Quality
This may actually be our favorite new feature. The GXT2000 lists "HD Audio" as a feature on the back of the packaging, but this feature wasn't heavily promoted by Midland so we were very curious as to what it meant. Well, it didn't take long to find out! The volume on the GXT2000 is noticeably louder and clearer than the GXT1000. There was an issue with previous Midland models in which the radio volume was very low when an accessory was connected. We connected an XLT SM300-ML1 to the GXT1000 and the volume could be heard, but would be a struggle in a noisy room. The GXT2000 was considerably louder and more on par with what you would expect.

We compared a Midland GXT2000 to a Motorola MR350R, both using the XLT SM300 speaker mic. At maximum volume the output from the speaker was around the same loudness, but the GXT2000 seemed clearer.

The "HD Audio" feature may also be responsible for the reduced noise noted above.

Larger Display
Midland's press release states that "the GXT2000 series adds an improved LCD screen that is larger and easier to read". Honestly, we're not too impressed. The technology used for the display is identical to what was used previously. The new screen may be slightly larger, but it is hard to see a difference. The layout is definitely different, with a row of icons underneath the main portion of the screen, but that doesn't necessarily make it easier to read. Like most FRS/GMRS radios, you still need to have some idea of what the icons and acronyms that are shown mean if you want to explore any advanced functions.

Direct Call / Group Mode
The GXT1000 had a direct call and a group mode feature, and Midland removed both of these in the GXT2000VP4. These features were very difficult to use - you almost had to have the manual in front of you just to use it. We would love to see Midland implement this functionality in a future model, but make it more intuitive and easier to use. If having these features in the GXT2000 meant that they had to work the same way they did in the GXT1000 then we're probably better off not having it. It only leads to unhappy customers when someone buys a radio because they want direct call, and then they get it and find out it is more difficult to use than it's worth.

Weather Scan
Midland also added the ability to scan weather channels with the GXT2000. This is new, and when activated the radio automatically scans the NOAA weather channels until it finds one with a signal. If you move out of range or the signal stops then it continues to scan. We're not huge fans of this feature. It's common to be in an area that can receive a broadcast from more than one NOAA station, and you're better off selecting the station that is closest to you. Relying on weather scan could result in landing on a station that is a good distance away and broadcasting weather for a different area. We can understand that it may be useful while travelling, but generally we recommend you avoid this feature.

Conclusion
We are fans of the Midland GXT2000VP4. They have definitely improved the audio quality and accessory volume. The lithium batteries are lighter and longer lasting than the NiMH batteries in previous models, but Midland didn't sacrifice the ability to operate on standard AA's. The power of this radio does seem to be lower, but in our testing this was made up for by the improvements in audio.

Do you have a Midland GXT2000VP4? We would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think of it!

22 thoughts on “Midland GXT2000VP4 Two Way Radio Review”

  • gggg

    i thought the range was much smaller

    Reply
  • RF

    If I'm relying on something for emergency situations then I'm not going to be using 20 year old tech. Upgrade your devices or be a settler of obsolete gear. I also wouldn't rely on UHF FRS/GMRS for emergencies.
    In the case of 1000 vs 2000: You have a choice of charging OEM batteries for 12 hours (6V 700mAh) vs 2 hours (7.4V 1200mAh) and having the latter last about three times longer than the older one.
    If you use four AA alkaline batteries on the 1000 you'll get the required 6V for similar power but if you use rechargeable Ni-MH you'll only get 4.8V reducing power output. You may also see that the batteries won't last as long once the radio detects a certain drop in voltage and it thinks the batteries are depleted where in other devices they may continue to work.

    Reply
  • badon

    I think the move to lithium batteries is for increased profitability. The batteries are only usable for the gadget they're designed for, so you can't standardize to reduce the number of batteries you have to carry around.
    Plus, since lithium batteries die after about 18 months to 3 years EVEN IF THEY ARE UNUSED, you will have to keep buying them. Even worse, if the company discontinues the radio and the batteries, YOU HAVE TO BUY A NEW RADIO. That's utter BS. I have banned lithium batteries in my own usage. I use Eneloop AA's for everything, and if the gadget won't take AA batteries, I won't buy it.
    Imagine really, really NEEDING to buy new batteries locally, like in an emergency situation. You couldn't do that if you absolutely have to have some weird model of battery that was discontinued 20 years ago. If your gadget takes AA's, no problem, you can buy them anywhere, any time, and they will work for as long as your gadget still works.
    Screw lithium.

    Reply
  • NESA TISA

    Stanice su dobre za te pare a sam domet bilo koje rucne stanice u realnim uslovima je oko 2km bilo koja marka da je u pitanju pa i manje

    Reply
  • Jon

    I just bought a pair of these today, and it appears that Midland has modified the design so that you can no longer use AA batteries. There's also a sticker inside the compartment that says "Only use Midland BATT12Li Li-Polymer battery pack," and there's a plastic molding blocking off the "extension tube" where the fourth AA would slide up towards the base of the antenna.
    Curiously, the extra AA contacts are still present in the main battery compartment, but they are not connected to anything (I checked). I expect it was simply cheaper for Midland to use the same molding as the GXT1000 than to produce another one just for the 2000.
    This isn't a show stopper for me, as I'm never away from a power source for more than 24 hours, but it was a little disappointing, inasmuch as it's always nice to have alternative power sources available in a pinch.
    But if anyone was planning on buying the GXT2000 and using them off the beaten track without access to either AC or 12V DC power for several days, then I would think that the lack of AA compatibility would be a deal killer.

    Reply
  • I just bought a pair today. The AC adapter has a two-pin US plug of course, but it is marked as 100-240V, 50-60Hz, so it could be used pretty much anywhere with the right pin adapter. There is no provision for USB charging, but a 12V "cigarette lighter" adapter is included for recharging on the move.

    Reply
  • Girish J Bhatia
    Girish J Bhatia July 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Hi There,
    I really like your comparison and reviews on the two way radio sets. You are doing a good job in your comparison where I have found none so far. Kudos!
    I am from the Middle-East(Dubai) and would like to purchase these sets and looking for some specs if you can help!
    1) Does the Adapter rating say it works from 110V to 230V or only 110 US only?
    2) Can I charge the Radio through a USB on a flight or train or car so that its easier on the go? Which has this feature?
    Please advice either Midland or Motorola or Uniden.
    Kind Regards,
    GB

    Reply
  • Yes. Your Cobra GMRS radios are legal for use in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. You can freely bring your GMRS radios into both Canada and Mexico. Enjoy your trip!

    Reply
  • M L Thompson

    If I buy one in the US, will it also work in Baja, Mexico? Need it for communicating with other workers on a cattle ranch.

    Reply
  • Derick Conner
    Derick Conner May 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Just bought a set and I definitely hear the charger buzzing! They are jumping around like you said, on the battery meter, and sometimes even going out of high power!

    Reply
  • MITCH

    I think that the 2.6 ERP will still give me the range that I need, but I would really like a test or info on the volume and clarity in a rather noisy environment. Any tests done on that? Really on the fence about purchasing these radios at this time especially with the battery issue. Please get an update out soon. Thanks

    Reply
  • Jerry

    Has a recall been issued on the radios?

    Reply
  • Roger

    Steve, I am very close to getting these radios and really appreciate how quickly Midland has identified and solved the LiPo battery issue. Is there any external identification (mfr date, serial no., etc.) to identify the units that have the new, improved battery packs? I would like to avoid having to get the units and then go through the battery replacement process.

    Reply
  • Steve

    The new units perform well. I don't get any battery flakiness until the radios have been on standby for close to 20 hours! Pretty impressive standby duration. When they approach that, the radios will kick down to Low power, and the battery meter flash, but they still work. Up until that mark, I got solid battery performance without power levels jumping all over. Also, the new chargers in his batch did not buzz. Another plus.

    Reply
  • Steve

    Received an update from Midland. Apparently the issue was a battery contact issue with the LiPo battery packs. That would explain why you don't see the issue with AA batteries in the unit.
    This has been corrected in recent runs and they are sending me new sets. If you contact Midland, I'm sure they will replace your radios. They send brand new ones in return. I've been dealing with them since I got these, and I have to say, their customer services has been nothing less than spectacular. I worked directly with the customer service supervisor, and it's been terrific.

    Reply
  • Steve

    I've been in contact with them. They found an issue with how the radios measure power remaining in the battery. I am awaiting resolution. Interesting that you say it doesn't happen with AA batteries. That's one test I did NOT try, but I did try many others. I thought I had bad battery packs, but as I swapped them around, I found the issue stayed with the radio. But then was inconsistent.

    Reply
  • Jeremy

    Steve,
    I am havign the exact same issue. I just got this set of GXT2000VP4 radios yesterday, let them charge until the charge light turned green, and STILL the display either drops power output or completely turns off. I am going to contact Midland first thing this morning when they open. This problem does not happen with AA batteries.

    Reply
  • Are you finding any issues with the chargers and batteries? I bought 3 sets. All 3 chargers buzz when charging. Some noise is normal,but you can hear these in a quiet room.
    Additionally, I'm finding the battery behavior a bit odd. 4 of 6 radios battery meters fluctuate when transmitting, even when fully charged. Sometimes dropping so much the radios go to lower power mode, and in a few cases, the displays totally turn off and on again. Not seeing really good battery performance. Wondering if the new LiPo batts are not quite ready for prime time.

    Reply
  • J.D.

    Just got the GXT 2050 radios, tested them out today. Temp 10 degrees, overcast skies, gentle rolling hills/farm land. Placed one radio in a pickup and tested as it was being driven to just over 4 miles from the house. Some intermittent static while in the pickup but overall good reception. Interestingly when the radio was removed from the pickup the reception was crystal clear both ways at just over 4 miles. Very happy with that! Most of the features/functions are pretty straight forward with the exception of the SOS feature. I thought initially that it would sound the alarm on any/all radios set to the same channel but it doesn't. It only alarms on the radio that the sos button was pushed on, so i don't really see the use of this if no one else can hear it over the radio freqs. Also the included headsets are ok but the earbud portion seems rather large and didn't fit my ear very well and it was hard to keep the microphone in front of your mouth, the sound quality was good though. I will definitely be ordering a pair of the tactical headsets though. Overall happy with size, weight, love the quick charging batteries, sound quality is very good and would recommend these radios without hesitation.

    Reply
  • Thanks for the response. I just found them confusing, and didn't see a common rating, so that's why I called Midland. I agree though, I'm a Midland fan, and most certainly will be giving these radios a try.

    Reply

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