Motorola Talkabout T5000 review: Motorola Talkabout T5000

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
Reviewed:
Updated:

The Good Competitively priced; decent range; long battery life.

The Bad Bulky antenna and power button; crowded faceplate buttons.

The Bottom Line The T5200 may not be the most attractive Motorola radio available today, but it's a good performer for the money.

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Not all FRS radios are created equal, especially when it comes to Motorola's extensive product line. There's a world of difference between the company's top-of-the-line T6300 series, which won our Editors' Choice award for the T6320 and its no-frills T5200 model, which is geared toward the budget-conscious consumer. Unfortunately, the T5200's design is not up to the standard set by its feature-rich sibling. Not all FRS radios are created equal, especially when it comes to Motorola's extensive product line. There's a world of difference between the company's top-of-the-line T6300 series, which won our Editors' Choice award for the T6320 and its no-frills T5200 model, which is geared toward the budget-conscious consumer. Unfortunately, the T5200's design is not up to the standard set by its feature-rich sibling.

Conspicuous casing
As noted above, the T5200 isn't Motorola's most attractive radio. In fact, it comes in only one color: Rosewood Red. Housed in a plastic casing, the radio weighs a hefty 6.18 ounces. All six of the rubberized function buttons are located on the face of the unit, with the exception of the bulky on/off volume knob, which sits atop the radio next to the antenna. The placement is fine for radio use, but its poor placement becomes obvious when the radio is worn on a belt (a removable belt clip comes with the package), making for an uncomfortable fit.

The T5200 has all the features we've come to expect in a midlevel radio, including a 14-channel/38-subchannel receiver, five audible call alerts, an onscreen battery meter, roger alerts (talk confirmation tones), and an accessory jack for hands-free use. You'll have to purchase a headset separately.

Banking on performance
On the plus side, we found the T5200 provided a decent range of clear communications. We managed to get reception for up to 1.5 miles in a neighborhood setting where trees and buildings were abundant. Out in the great wide open, the range improved but still fell short of the 2-mile limit (in fact, few FRS radios actually transmit at this range).

Another plus was the battery life. Motorola claims up to 30 hours of use (3 hours talk, 27 hours standby), but we managed to squeak out almost 40 hours under normal operating conditions before running out of juice. The three AA batteries needed to power the T5200 aren't included, and this model doesn't work with rechargeable batteries.

The T5200 performs well enough to compete with other radios in its price range, such as Uniden's 420, but if comfort and style are important, you may want to upgrade to Motorola's T6200. However, if you're a first-time buyer and can find the radio sold as a pair for $40, it's a decent starter set.

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Motorola Talkabout T5320

Part Number: T5320
Low Price: $9.95 See all prices