Design - 9.2/10
Features - 9/10
Range and Sound Clarity - 7/10
Price - 8/10
We have reviewed a lot of walkie-talkie sets, and the Cobra ACXT145 are very small, compact sets. One of the great things about these is that they are simple, sturdy and solid. The range on these is fairly decent. The battery on these is good enough for a day’s work. Overall, it seems that these are basic sets for that is good for normal everyday use only.
The walkie talkie comes with a charging station and a USB wire. However, you will need to supply your own power converter to charge it, unless if you are plugging in directly to USB charging port.
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The design of the ACXT145 is rugged, and it feels good in the hand. It makes you feel that it is made to last. The battery compartment isn’t easy to open and I think Cobra needs to look into a redesign. It took me quite some time to open it up. However, there is no battery indicator present. A user can never know about the battery status at any time until its low. Also, there is a lack of a backlit LED. There is no battery indicator status while recharging. A great thing is that you can use normal AA batteries with these. So, if you need cheap backup batteries, you should be able to accommodate that easily. It’s water resistant, rugged, and that gives me peace of mind. It comes with NiMH rechargeable batteries, and a nice dual cradle to allow you to charge both from any USB power source. I am not so sure about having the flashlight on the bottom of the unit. It would be easy to accidentally activate it and not notice, and suck your batteries dry.
The battery compartment cover is secured by a screw. While I understand why this is done, if you need to replace the batteries in an emergency, you need to have a flathead screwdriver or a coin handy.
First, it can be used on low power in FRS mode or (Family Radio Service) which does not require an FCC (Federal Communications Commission) license. However, if you choose to use it in GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) mode, you are required to obtain an FCC license at a cost of $65.00. You will be an illegal GMRS operator if you use this device without having the license. I would not have ordered this radio set if the requirement for spending $65.00 for a license had been made clear to me.
Features & Performance of the Cobra ACXT145
For basic operations, such as selecting channel and volume, and using push-to-talk, the unit works well and is easy to use. The built-in weather radio function works well, although it was somewhat confusing at first, as switching back requires a long press rather than the short press to get into that mode. Likewise, using the other advanced features, such as privacy codes, VOX, is also confusing. If you want to use these features, a little effort and practice will be required. the VOX function works well on this unit, but again, with no feedback, it is hard to tell it is working. I think that our major complaint here is that there is no indication of transmitting except a minor LCD change that is hard to see as there is no backlight coming on when one triggers that action.
The buttons and controls are okay at best. The lock/call button often gets pressed accidentally locking the radio. Disabling the lock is not an intuitive task. You can turn off the so-called “roger beep” which would be a dead giveaway if you were using them in a situation where stealth is required. It does have a headphone/mic jack, but external headphone/mic is not included. The best part is that the flashlight on this can be used while the walkie-talkie is turned off completely.
This unit also has a vibrate function as well as an audio alert feature. You can choose both, either, or neither, for your communication alert needs. In addition, the audio level is much closer to the beep level. The data display screen is difficult to see in less than perfect light and some of the data is so close to the edge that a shadow can make it unreadable. The squelch works very well on this device. Sometimes, it goes a little overboard. Usually, when you transmit, releasing the PTT switch will turn on the receiver, and you will hear a brief burst of static before the squelch kicks in. Since there is only a minor change in the LCD to indicate you are transmitting, it is easy to wonder if the unit is actually working. I would prefer a small red LED lit up during transmit. The brief squelch noise was a way to tell you just successfully transmitted.
The walkie talkie is not waterproof. Cobra mentions that this ACTX145 is adhering to the IPX4/JIS4 waterproofing standards. This, I would call water resistant. If you are not familiar with the grading system, there are 9 levels of water resistance: IPX0 to IPX6 is water resistant. Anything above IPX6, such as IPX7 and IPX8, is waterproof. Therefore, 4 is kind of in the middle, which allows moderate to heavy splashes of water. So, unlike say, a Samsung Galaxy S8, you should not expect it to work underwater in swimming pools or survive drops in water bodies.
The packaging of this device
No matter the brand, do not expect anything near the advertised range, unless you are on an absolutely unobstructed geographic plane, such as a desert or a beach. The range on the ACTX145 seems to be a bit exaggerated on their official site. We have been testing this walkie talkie outdoors and we have found that we can receive very well up until 5 miles with good reception when there are no obstructions around us. However, after 5 miles, the range began to disappear. In an urban setting, we have had success of up to 2 miles. The connection was spotty. We heard a lot of static and cracking at the same time.
Our experience of using these while driving was not great at all. At about a quarter mile apart, at slow speeds, we would here a constant whooshing noise, but the communications went through. This is on par for a personal walkie-talkie. The problem starts when you are driving on a difficult terrain. The communication during driving around a hill with a lot of trees was not understandable at all. We tried going out in open air, and that didn’t help either. That is not a great thing to have on a long road trip where you have to be going through difficult terrain.
The battery life on this device is average. While not in use, these Cobra ACXT145 walkie-talkies will go in a power saving mode, which is a good feature. even when not in use, the radio’s batteries won’t last you over 48 hours. In my experience, they were almost drained after 8 hours of continuous usage.
The Cobra ACXT145 has 10 NOAA weather channels. You can use this walkie-talkie as a weather radio. Please note, however, while in radio mode, you cannot be paged/radioed by someone else. We could not figure out how to disable it and switch to the walkie-talkie mode without having to turn the walkie-talkie off and turning it back on, which seems like a very trivial solution.
If you are in need of something with an extremely long range, you might want to see what else is on the market. These are not quite as compact, but very well-built walkie-talkies. The case fit and finish is very good, and the click-lock for the belt clip is very secure.
Overall, this walkie talkie has a rugged design and a solid build. This Cobra ACXT145 set is built like a rock. Nothing about this product says “cheaply built”. On the contrary, I was not afraid of damaging the radios by accidentally dropping them.