Midland GXT860VP4 42-Channel GMRS Two Way Radio Review – Vibration alert & NOAA weather radio
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Summary of Midland GXT860VP4
The Midland GXT Pro 860 is a mid-price general mobile radio service (GMRS) two way radio that features 42 channels for communication and a NOAA weather alert system. It also sports a 36 mile range, which is a surprisingly long distance for such an inexpensive radio system. For what it is, this two way radio is wonderful. Everything seems to work the way that it is meant to, though some of the functions do not quite meet the standards that are set in the packaging and marketing materials. This radio set is a great choice for overall use, but if you need something that is going to have a lot of additional range it might be a better idea to opt for other higher range Midland two way radios.
• Rechargeable battery packs.
• Capable of hands free use and includes headsets.
• Easy to operate.
• Vibration alert.
• NOAA weather radio is a nice addition. Most two-way radios do not come with this feature.
• Magnetic pads hold radios into charging base.
• When using the “AA” batteries as an alternate power source, they die a bit too quickly.
• Packaging is a nightmare.
• Earpiece is hard to keep in the ear.
• Range is not nearly as long as it states that it is.
This GXT series two way radio comes in a standard package and includes warranty information, a user manual, two of the radios, a charging base, two earpieces, two rechargeable battery packs, an AC adapter for the charging unit, and two belt clips. All-in-all, pretty standard. The outer cardboard packaging is helped along by an inner package made of thin plastic which holds everything together inside the box. This is, presumably, to help prevent any theft or damage of the unit.
The GMRS radio set itself is made of hard plastic. It is black in color and features an orange-lit digital display on the face. The back has slots for the attachment of belt clips. The top features a volume knob and the antenna, which is very sturdy. The right hand right of the unit (when looking at the face) has input and output ports. The left hand side features the transmission button. As usual, the battery slot is located on the bottom of the back of the unit. The bottom features slots for charging on charging base. The slots also have a piece of metal which works with magnets on the charging base to help hold the radios in place, should the unit be moved. It can be held upside down and the radios will remain held to the unit.
The buttons and various knobs on the GXT radios are very sturdy and well built. There are five buttons on the front of the radio: a call lock button, a menu button, up and down arrows, and a monitoring and scanning button. The volume/power knob on the top of the unit is well built as well. It stays where it is turned without trouble, which is a step up from a lot of the units which are available on the market. The transmit button on the left hand side of the unit is sturdy as well. It is also made of hard rubber. The speaker and microphone for the unit are located on the front underneath the buttons, as usual.
The earpieces are made of hard plastic and fit inside and around your ear. The product comes with two of these, and this is a good addition for someone who wants to be utilizing outdoor or camping equipment or hunting without alerting any animals around to their presence. The earpieces are supposed to be one size fits all, but in reality they simply do not work as well as they probably should.
As far as features go, this two way radio has a slew of them. It sports 42 channels that communication can take place on, though it is odd that there would ever be a need for 42 channels and this is not properly explained. The range that is stated on the packaging and documentation is 36 miles. 142 privacy codes can be used, which apparently provides 3124 channel options total, though this honestly just feels like too much. NOA weather alert radio is also included with the unit and includes a weather scan.
Three power settings are available, low, medium, and high. These let you adjust the transmission power and allows for the conservation of battery life. Hands free operation is available with up to five levels. There are two primary methods through which the unit can get power: through the use of AA batteries (4 per radio) or a rechargeable battery pack which is included with the unit.
This midland radio also sports channel scan, silent operation, and call alerts. The silent operation is assisted by the fact that there is a vibration alert function on the unit. Besides that, the unit also features water resistance, though this is only meant for light spraying and not for complete submersion of the radio under water.
This midland two way radio looks good. It is sleek and black. The face has a digital readout and the area around the face is a nice silver. Buttons are marked with white paint to allow you to know which buttons do what. Everything is where it should be, from a design perspective, except for, perhaps, the transmit button, which would be better located on the other side of the unit. Other than that, it is perfect.
The digital readout is everything a person would expect it to be. It functions properly and has an orange backlight which is easy to read. It is clear from the readout that you receive how much battery power you have left and what mode you have the radio in. Even in the dark, this light is bright enough to read.
The first experience of unboxing this product, should you decide to purchase it, is likely going to be a very frustrating one. The packaging is an absolute nightmare to get through. The cardboard outer casing is constructed in a uniquely challenging way, which makes getting to the plastic inner casing much more difficult than it probably needs to be. Once you are able to get to the plastic shell around the unit itself, you will meet the second problem: the devices are next to impossible to get out. They are so tightly stuck inside the plastic shell that, after around fifteen minutes of trying, you will probably have to resort to trying to pry them out with something or cutting the packaging (though either method could potentially damage the device itself).
Once the unit is out, the next step is to simply put the unit together.
This is as simple as it could be. You simply slide off the battery case lid on the bottom of the back of the unit and insert the rechargeable battery packs. They only fit in one way. That’s it. Put the lid back on and turn the volume knob up and the unit is ready to go. It doesn’t even need to be charged first. The earpieces are easy to attach to the unit and easy to use, though they do have a bad habit of falling out of the ear repeatedly. That is to be expected though, not everyone has the same shape of ear.
Using the unit is not very complicated. Though the instructions are needed to determine some of the functions, it is relatively intuitive if you try to figure it all out on your own. One small complaint is that the transmission button is located on the left side of the unit. If you hold the unit in the palm of your hand, the button will be underneath your thumb. This is not as comfortable as it would be if it was located on the other side (like it is on most units of this type).
The location of the audio input and output holes is also uncomfortable. It would be better if they were located on the top of the unit, were that possible. As is, you will be holding the unit exactly where those inputs and outputs go in, making it somewhat uncomfortable to use. There are ways to solve this, and it is a slight design error, but it does not damage the image of the unit too much. It is still easy to use, just a little bit more uncomfortable. It can be assumed, however, that most people will not even use those functions at all, so it shouldn’t have much of an effect on the unit overall.
One of the nicest additions to this unit is the fact that the clip on the back is removable. Though a lot of people might not want to take the clip off, the fact that you can do so at your leisure is a nice addition. The clip is also relatively heavy duty compared to other radios. It seems like it would stand up to a good amount of heavy use without too much trouble.
One of the major issues with this unit is the range. Though it does have settings which can be used to modify the range, they do not modify it enough to make too much of a difference. The problem is that the company advertises this unit as having a 36 mile range. In reality, however, that range is actually closer to 5 miles. Maybe even 10 miles in perfect conditions. It works well if you are within a mile or a mile and a half of the target that you are talking to, but much further than that and there is a steep drop in terms of quality. This also depends somewhat on the power you put into it. The unit has three settings: low, mid, and high. On high, the range is farther but it is not too much of an improvement. The documentation does state that weather conditions and the season may play a role in affecting how well it works. In terms of range.
Battery life is pretty good on this unit. It lasts longer than would be expected. If you opt to use AA batteries instead of the rechargeable battery pack, then you might be in for a bad time, however, because it simply does not work as well as it should. Those batteries will die much more quickly. For a camping gadget, you would want this to have a long battery life regardless of the type of battery you use in it. That isn’t the case, unfortunately. Stick with the rechargeable battery pack.
This midland radio pair does have a few minor drawbacks. With that being said, it is still a good unit for the money. There is absolutely nothing glaring wrong with the Midland GXT Pro 860 and, if you are looking for some cool camping radios, this is a good choice for you. As far as radios go, most of the time they only need to be used in ranges under a mile. For that, this is a very good unit. The case displays a range which simply isn’t feasible and probably cannot be achieved using these radios, but that is not too big a deal. One of the only other complains about the product, if it is a complaint at all, is that the packaging is an absolute nightmare. Whoever managed to get that puzzle piece together must not have put much thought into the fact that someone was going to be opening it at some point.Other way to look at it is,Midland want to make sure that unit is not damaged during transit and shipping and handling.
This GMRS radio pair is good for what it is. There are other two way radios that are available and it might be a good idea to shop around. If you are choosing this unit because of the range that is being advertised for it, you may want to try something else, because the range advertised may not work for all conditions. Other than that, the unit works and looks wonderful and is a good pickup for the price if you are in the market for new communication gear or cool camping gadgets to keep you connected with your group.