Design - 8.5/10
Range and Sound Clarity - 8/10
Features - 8/10
Price - 7.5/10
Motorola is a brand that is recognized as a serious face in the walkie-talkie business. I have reviewed quite a few of their walkie-talkies, and they are always great. I was wondering how the MD200R would fare, so I snagged these up from Amazon. Just like the last few sets that I have reviewed, these too are marketed as kids’ radios by Motorola. However, they claim that this thing has a range of 20 miles. More on that later, though.
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The package contains a pair of radios, a pair of belt clips and a cable charging adaptor with dual connectors. There are two (AA) NiMH rechargeable battery packs included as well. As far as documentation goes, there is an accessories brochure and a user guide as well.
As far as design goes, the black and green colored housing includes buttons which are made of some sort of rubber and plastic housing. The plastic doesn’t feel cheap at all. This was a common complaint with the past few Chinese walkie-talkies that are of the same type.
The small form factor, as well as large buttons, make operating this radio a simple task, once you acquaint yourself with all the buttons and their functions. I have used this while wearing thick gloves, and it definitely is still as easy to use. There is an attempt to ruggedize the case, and I can see this device surviving a few drops here and there. I had dropped this on a carpet while running around and it still functions fine. These have clips on the back in case you want to attach them to a belt, which is definitely convenient.
Motorola claims that a couple of falls on wooden floors and carpeted areas won’t do this device much harm. While I have indeed dropped this once, I don’t generally drop my devices in order to test them out. The device is rated at IP51, which means that there is protection from dust particles and from a bit of rainwater. This does not mean that it is entirely waterproof. It will definitely not survive a dive in the pool. This unit, however, has not seen any cracks despite a fall. The buttons on this are easy enough for a 5-year-old to use them after a little learning curve. The device is small enough for their little hands too.
The MD200R Packaging
There is no charging cradle in the box, instead, you have to make do with a plug-in power adapter which has two outputs for the walkie-talkies. This could be a minus point for some folks, but I have an older cradle which I have used. The included battery packs make this win a brownie point over the other Chinese manufacturers, who have not included batteries along with the units. On top of that, the battery packs are rechargeable as well. You can also use 3 AA rechargeable or Alkaline batteries if the need arises.
There is an auto squelch, which is fine, and not over the top. The keypad lock prevents your personalized settings from being inadvertently changed when your kids are messing or using the walkie talkies. These have a pager function as well. It will send a one-button beep to alert someone in another room. Apart from that, device is rated at IP51, that is, dust protection and protection from dripping water (vertically falling drops). The device is not backlight, which is a negative.
There are 22 channels to choose from. Each channel has a few subchannels as well. I’d recommend sticking to a channel in your area that is less crowded. I have picked up construction workers radio conversations while driving around the city. Needless to say, that it is not a huge deal, but its better if others don’t hear your conversations. You don’t need an FCC license to use this. The only downside is the low transmission power, but you can just set it up and go ahead and use it out of the box without any paperwork.
Low battery alert
I do not like it when standard technology is replaced by a proprietary solution. It’s a solution looking for a problem. There is no 3.5 mm headset, which means you can only use Motorola approved ones. This is good for Moto as they stand to make money from it, but it’s just bad for consumers who can’t use products they might have already had.
Range is a very controversial issue. Motorola claims boldly that the MD200R features a range of up to 20 miles. This is a marketing gimmick, nothing else. Mind that if you are in need of reliable communications over large distances, you should buy regular high quality commercial walkie-talkies. The moto claim 20 miles is from peak to peak over zero obstructions. This means nothing as most people will use it in settings where there will be obstructions. I have tested this in an urban setting, and I have found that I get up to one-mile range in an urban setting. On a cruise ship, you might just get 5 miles in open water. However, this also depends on the kind of build that the ship has. So, your mileage may vary.
Overall, I found the sound quality a little lacking. This is perhaps because I am spoiled by other higher end radios. If the Moto brand doesn’t mean a lot to you, I would recommend you to look at the Baofeng 888s as well. I have reviewed it and you get a better radio and a ton of accessories for half the price. However, Motorola service and build are definitely better than BaoFeng’s. When you want to give your kid some freedom, and you’re in a remote area with no cell service, the MD200R is a great choice!