The new year is here and the new product announcements are starting to roll in! We recently received information on some additions to the Motorola Talkabout line of FRS/GMRS walkie talkies that will be available later in the year and thought our loyal blog readers might be interested in the details.
There are only four new radios this year and two of them are basic, entry level models. They more than make up for it though with the MU350R - the first consumer grade FRS/GMRS radio with built-in Bluetooth support! Read on for more details.
What is Going Away
Usually when something new is released, something old is discontinued. Before I get into the new stuff, let's cover what's going away. First on the list is the Motorola T9680R-SAME. Even though this model has been around since 2008, I really hate to see it go. While it was never really a big seller, it is the only GMRS radio available that supports S.A.M.E. technology for proactive area-based weather alerts. Also going away is the MB140R, which is a very low cost radio with little range and just the basic features.
New Entry Level Models
Replacing the MB140R are two models, the MG160A and the MG167A. Like their predecessor, these are very basic entry level radios that will have an MSRP of $29.99 for a set of two. Unlike the MB140R, however, both of these models will ship absent rechargeable batteries and a charger. They will operate using standard AAA batteries, which are not included.
The most interesting thing about these new models is the color. The MG167A is hot pink from the bottom of the radio to the tip of the antenna! This is very unique and I wouldn't be surprised if it makes this set of radios a hot seller! The MG160A is identical to the MG167A except it is dark blue. Both of these models are expected to start shipping in May, 2013.
Expanding the MD Series
Last year Motorola introduced the MD200R. This radio is black with almost-obnoxious green buttons and a large PTT, but people seem to love the look. It's a low priced radio with a basic feature set, but with decent range/performance.
This year, Motorola is introducing the MD207R. They're keeping the same look as the MD200 except they're switching the obnoxious-green buttons with obnoxious-orange ones. More importantly, they're adding two of the most popular features: privacy codes and weather channels! I expect that the addition of these features will quickly make the Motorola MD207R one of the most popular radios in the line. The MSRP is $54.99 and they are expected to launch in June, 2013.
Bluetooth Support in a Consumer Grade Radio
I have saved the best for last! The Motorola MU350R will be the new flagship radio in the Talkabout line and adds several new features over current models. I'll be doing a special post taking an in-depth look at the Motorola MU350R, so we're just going to scratch the surface here.
This model will not ship with Bluetooth headsets, but will be able to pair with the same type of headsets that you use with your cell phone. This is a big deal and is something people have requested for a long time. You see this type of functionality on a business radio like the Motorola CLP1060 for 5 times the cost.
The MU350R also adds the ability to scan NOAA weather radio channels and claims to have achieved improved audio performance by adding a Class D amplifier and DSP filter. It also adds Dual Watch, which is the ability to monitor two channels at once. This model also comes with two high capacity rechargeable battery packs (NiMH), charges through a mini-USB port, and has "fast charge capabilities". The MU350R has an MSRP of $149.99 and is currently expected to ship in July, 2013.