If you watch our videos or listen to our podcast, you probably hear us comment from time to time on the lack of innovation when it comes to FRS or GMRS radios. If you rewind the clock 10 years, you would find the radios that were for sale then were really similar to the radios that are for sale now. With the introduction of the new Motorola Talkabout T800, there is finally some new and original functionality with FRS radios for us to talk about.
The T800 is a very different FRS radio. Although it is similar in function to the Motorola TalkAbout T460, it adds bluetooth app support and a visually impressive design that is a completely new look for the Talkabout line. However, the most notable aesthetic feature is the display.
The T800 display is uniquely different. Motorola calls it a hidden display, and with good reason. This is the same display concept used for the Motorola SL300 commercial radio, but with more graphics. Simply put, it's just plain cool. This new display is invisible when the T800 is off, undetectable behind the one piece T800 faceplate. Turn the radio on, and the blue LCD display appears, viewable through the now translucent faceplate!
Sure, the T800 display looks great and is easy to read when the radio is on, but that's not the only new upgrade to the design of this radio. The front panel buttons are now raised icons, which should be easier to find and identify when the radio is out of site, such as when it’s clipped to your belt. Towards the bottom, the radio narrows and turns into a loop. This appears to be intended for a carabiner clip, and is quite different from the traditional loops found on other Motorola Talkabout series radios. While this larger loop can be useful for connecting a clip or lanyard, it also makes the radio a little harder to balance on a flat surface.
The rest of the buttons are lined on one side of the radio for easy, instant access. These controls include a button to active the built-in flashlight, high and low power push-to-talk (PTT) buttons, a bluetooth pairing button, and an emergency alert. On the other side of the radio is a micro USB charging port.
The T800 connects to a smartphone via bluetooth and will integrate with Motorola's new TalkAbout app, which is available as a free download for iphone and android mobile devices. The app basically uses the radio as a modem, to enable and manage features such as message and location sharing. These features even work when you're off the grid, as long as the radios are connected and in range.
When you launch the app for the first time, you'll be asked to pair it with the radio. This is very simple and doesn't even require you to press the Bluetooth® button on the radio. Just make sure the only radio that is on is the one that you want to pair. The final step of the setup process is the creation of an account that is linked to your phone number. You can skip this, but it does make a few of the features on the app work better if you are linked.
Most of the Motorola Talkabout App is centered around maps and location sharing. You can download maps offline and share your location, or view the location of your group members even if you don't have cell phone service. The app allows you to add members to your group using their username or phone number, if they created an account during setup. Once you have your group, an easy pairing option is available which sets all radios to match the channel and sub code of the leader radio.
The radio settings option is a nice feature of the app. The screens are kind of limited on most FRS radios, so navigating the menu is usually a guessing game of which icon matches what setting. Having all options laid out in a way that is easy to navigate is fantastic. When you change a setting or activate a feature in the app, it immediately updates the radio!
The T800 is definitely a step forward for FRS radios and its a positive direction for Motorola. There is nothing specific to the T800 model in the Motorola Talkabout App, so it would come as no surprise if app support is added to other Talkabout models in the future. The Motorola Talkabout T800 is now available for purchase from our web site at buytwowayradios.com.
UPDATE: Watch our video and see the Motorola Talkabout T800 in action!