Motorola Talkabout T6500 series
Motorola's Talkabout two-way radios run the gamut from inexpensive, entry-level models to pricier, high-end models with all the bells and whistles. The T6500 strikes a nice balance between the two, offering a pair of durable FRS/GMRS (Family Radio Service/General Mobile Radio Service) radios plus a dual battery charger for $79.99.
Housed in a durable, plastic casing surrounded by thick, rubberized grips, the Motorola Talkabout T6500 is designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor use and is available in a two-tone gray or a bright yellow color scheme. The T6500 weighs 6 ounces, is slightly pear shaped, and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. There are five function buttons on the front bezel for viewing and scrolling through menu options, transmitting call tones to another radio, and scanning and monitoring channels--all are conveniently positioned for one-handed operation. The yellow push-to-talk (PTT) button is located on the unit's left side directly under the on/off/volume knob, which in turn sits atop the radio next to a semiflexible 2.5-inch antenna. On the right is a covered accessory jack for an optional hands-free headset. The smallish display--0.7 by 0.5 inches--with silver trim is barely readable in even the best lighting conditions, but the red backlighting is worse and actually makes it harder to read. White light would have been a more practical choice.
Feature-wise, the T6500 has a lot to offer, including 22 channels and 99 Interference Eliminator (privacy) codes. Channels 1 through 7 operate on both the GMRS and FRS frequencies, channels 8 through 14 are FRS only, and channels 15 through 22 are exclusively for GMRS broadcasts. It's important to note that GMRS use requires an FCC license, while FRS is unlicensed. As a result, FRS channels tend to be crowded, but Motorola tackles that problem by adding 61 extra privacy codes (38 is standard) that are exclusive to Motorola users, so it's easier to find an open channel. There are also 8 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather channels that provide updated weather conditions for your area, and the T6500 can be set to alert you when the NOAA broadcasts a weather emergency, even while you're in two-way radio mode.