Design - 8.5/10
Features - 8/10
Range and Sound Clarity - 7/10
Price - 10/10
The Cobra CXT 235 is touted to feature a compact design and is advertised to have a range of 20 miles. However, what the actual range is quite less. The device also has NOAA receiver, which means that you will be prepared for storms and emergencies with this device. The small device also has a feature which allows you to transmit hands free using the Voice Activated Transmission(VOX). Meaning that you will be able to perform other tasks while in touch with others. The multitasking potential is amazing on this small but sturdy device. It also seems to have five different selectable tones which will help you distinguish between different parties for incoming calls.
The box containing the radio set
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There is a total of 2662 channel combinations available on this device when the 22 channels are combined with the 121 privacy codes (38 CTCSS/83 DCS). These combinations prevent interference from other radios. The pair of radios also includes rechargeable batteries and a “Y” wall charger. The radio can also be used with AAA alkaline batteries.
A word of caution to those who might be interested in the so-called ‘Privacy Code’ features. This feature does not prevent others from listening in to your conversation. It just prevents you from receiving unwanted transmission from other people. Let’s say your group is using channel 11 with privacy code set to 22. You will not hear any transmission on channel 11 unless it is preceded by the correct privacy code. But anybody listening in to channel 11 without using privacy code can hear everything you transmit.
The included NiMH rechargeable AAA batteries have very low capacity of just 300mAh. Based on our measured power consumption, this is barely enough to sustain 1-2 hours of operation if you do a lot of transmission. To extend the runtime, you would need to replace those batteries with higher-capacity versions, such as Sanyo eneloop or Tenergy Centura (800mAh).
One huge drawback of this device is that you cannot use it while it’s charging! While the walkie talkies are plugged in to the AC recharger, you can turn them on but they are unable to receive any calls. That means you cannot leave them in standby mode while being recharged, which sucks big time in our books.
Features and Design
The CXT235 features a power saving mode that is really good. After 10 seconds of inactivity, it goes into a ‘Power Saver’ mode which reduces the average input current to around 20mA, down nearly half from the 40 mA that is absorbs otherwise. This doubles the battery life, redeeming the fact that it
One of the biggest features of this device is how sturdy it really is in real life situations. We gave this device to one of our children. We set it on a “lock” feature, basically means that everything else was disabled but the push to talk worked. It took quite a beating but still performed flawlessly. The thing just is made to take a beating, it seemed. Reception at about 1.5 miles was decent, though the audio was a bit muzzled, but it’s nothing that you have never heard before. The “lock” feature has now become a standard feature in most mobile walkie talkies these days. What we notice is that this thing does not have a belt clip in the box, so you will need to purchase your own if you are looking for one.
The AC adapter’s charging current is around 30mA. That means it takes about 12 hours to recharge the included 300mAh batteries. Personally, we went with AAA rechargeable batteries and used our own charger for the battery tests and we found that the provided battery was subpar and that the after markets one were in fact, much better.
As we all know, the GMRS is controlled by the FCC, and you have to apply for an operational license to use those channels, or risk a fine. The FRS (Family Radio System) function in these (and all other similar radios) is only allowed on channels 8-13, and are max-set at 0.5 watt of power, which there is no going around. So, you will have to get used to the stunted functionality if you are not planning on paying more to get a premium licence.
Compromise Vs Price
One more complaint that we have with this device is that the LED indicator on the CXT235 does not tell you the correct amount of the charge just after you have plugged it out. It’s a little design flaw, if you will. You know that the engineers who put this together should have made it give out some kind of alarm or display some sort of word when the batter is low or is approaching low battery. However, it shouldn’t have had a quarter battery indicator because people think that if it’s a meter it’s going to grow to show either a full charge battery or one that needs charging and that’s not the case, since your device is working fine
The price of this device is where the real deal is. It is the cheapest on the market, and that is what makes this thing so damn attractive. The entry level price point almost makes it akin to middle end hardware at an entry level cost, something that really entices me as a user. Second hand refurbished models are even cheaper, going in as low as 20 dollars. Definitely worth considering at that price point, in all probabilities.
The bottom line is that this is a small, nifty radio that has its set of quirks. The thing is made to last and is sturdy. But it obviously has its own set of limitations attached to it. You might be able to overlook quite a few of them if you are just looking for a cheap radio that just about works out for you.
All in all, this product, the CXT235, is definitely worth considering if you are looking for something with a few compromises in the ultra budget category