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Confidently, painlessly and quickly sift through all technical specifications, facts and figures to get the core information you need to make an informed purchase of two-way radios. Clear up "data confusion" and glean the most relevant information from manufacturer tech sheets.

FACTOR 1: RF Power

Most customers transmit from a relatively close proximity between 2-way radios, roughly the size of your "average" construction site - one-half to one mile. Transmitting a distance of that average construction jobsite requires much less than 1 watt of output power.

When do you need 5 watts of RF output power? You need it to overcome interference in the real world. In the real world, 2-way radio users aren't dealing with an optimal situation - a clear line of sight with nothing in between the user and the persons they are communicating with. Buildings, terrain and everything else between you and the receiving parties will create interference and degrade your transmitted signal.

When taking into account real world factors, 1 watt may not be strong enough to overcome interference; any signal that reaches the intended receivers will be very weak and difficult to understand. Models that feature low/high power options allow you to choose when to save power and when to crank it up.

FACTOR 2: Battery (type / capacity / voltage):

Everything begins with the battery when it comes to portable (handheld) 2-way radios. If battery isn't good enough, then nothing else within the 2-way radio can be work well enough. You want a rechargeable battery technology that does not hold memory and can be recharged many times, which is why a high-capacity Li-ion is better than NiMH. Battery capacity, measured in milliamps per hour (mAh), indicates how long the 2-way radio can operate between charges. The higher the number, the longer the run time.

Battery voltage is also directly related to the 2-way radio's RF output power. If a 2-way radio has 5 watts of output power (efficiently) it needs to be backed by at least a 7 volt DC battery pack. TIP: If a two-way radio technical specs sheet claims 5 watts of output power, but only has a 3 volt DC battery pack, it's either a typographical error or an outright lie.

FACTOR 3: Dimensions and Weight:

This one's pretty obvious, and it's the same reason we wear watches instead of carry clocks. Toting around a large, heavy two-way radio all day long creates unnecessary fatigue. A compact, lightweight radio that is rugged and durability is ideal.

There's a pretty wide range between competing models. I have seen differences of ten ounces or more in weight between comparable models. Remember to take the battery and antenna into consideration if the spec sheets don't specify the total weight of the radio.

FACTOR 4: Channels:

If channels aren't programmable, they don't do you a lot of good. Most 2-way radios on the market today feature programmable channels. The more channels your 2-way radio has, the more frequencies you can program, and thus the more options you have to avoid interference from other groups of people using the same frequency. http://www.jango.com/music/Linkz?l=0