The trusty portable radio has been an indispensable piece of equipment for workers in a range of industries for decades. As technology advances, so have the features available in these devices. Today, there is an abundance of options, but what do they all mean, and what features should you look for in a portable radio? To help you make good decisions when selecting portable radios, we created a free guide, so you can be sure you choose the right radio to keep your team safe and connected.
Users of portable radios operate in all sorts of work environments, so what is required of radios varies greatly – one size doesn’t fit all. When selecting the right portable radios for your organization, there’s a lot to consider, from understanding what you need now and in the future, as well as factors such as audio quality, worker safety features and build quality.
In this blog we give an overview of these and other factors you can find in our portable radio selection guide, so you can choose the right communications equipment to suit your needs.
Important calls must be loud and clear, so that the message can be heard first-time. You’ll want to take into account several factors that influence the audio quality of a portable, including enhancement options, vocoder and digital noise suppression, active noise cancellation, and speaker performance.
So many businesses, public safety organizations, utilities, and other enterprises rely on communications being available all the time. What networks are available to you? Consider analog and digital networks, multimode radios, and even interoperability with networks outside of LMR, such as WiFi and LTE.
Worker Safety Features
No matter what industry you’re in, safety is always a top concern. Features like an Emergency key, Lone Worker mode, and Man Down sensors can be used to alert dispatch or coworkers to incidents where an injured worker may not be able to make a call for help. Of course, ideally you’d want to avoid getting into hazardous situations altogether, which is where features such as location services, automated behaviors through GeoFencing, and Intrinsically Safe radios come into play.
Simply put, is the device easy to use? A portable radio with the most amazing features in the world is of no use if users don’t know how to use them, or simply don’t need them. Look for features like voice annunciation, programmable function keys, appropriate accessories, and ergonomic design.
Can your radio survive your workplace? Not everyone will need a rugged or military grade radio, but police, fire, emergency services, utility workers, minders, and oil riggers face challenging conditions every day. Rugged radios that meet – or even exceed – the appropriate IP ratings and Military Standards will be able to take a beating while still functioning as intended.
Accessories can play just as important a role in effective communications as radios do. Selecting the right power options can mean the difference between trying to stretch out battery life over an extra long shift, or dealing with a radio that is bulkier and heavier than necessary. Different situations call for different audio or carry accessories to provide optimal usability, comfort and accessibility.
So you’ve got a radio which is reliable, resilient, functional, and efficient – excellent! But how does it look? In certain environments, such as on a construction site, you may want a radio to be highly visible, or perhaps you want to make a statement with brand colors or logos on public-facing staff’s equipment. Colors and custom labeling can also help with things like indicating different talk groups, channels or functions, and can describe users or identify lost radios, making fleet management easier.
Can your radio evolve if your needs change? To meet the constantly changing business environment, you need the flexibility to add functionality and seamless migration options to new technologies when it is time to upgrade. Open standards like P25 and DMR offer you choice in devices, infrastructure, applications, and even multi-vendor solutions. Selecting a portable with OTAP (Over The Air Programming) functionality is also something to consider, as this allows software updates and fleet management without needing to send out a technician, or to bring in radios for reprogramming.
Peace of Mind
Above all the features that are nice to have, the one thing that can not be compromised is trust that your voice calls will be sent and received instantly and clearly. Whether your situation calls for non-critical, business-critical or critical communications, there can be no hesitation or doubt about the reliability of your voice comms. It is just as important to choose a reputable vendor that offers:
- A proven track record in delivering critical communications solutions
- Genuine support for open standards and non proprietary solutions to give you freedom of choice
- The ability to tailor communications to your needs, now and in the future, with solutions that are made to evolve, helping you get the most from your investment
- Strong local partners and support structures in place to help you when you need it.
To find the perfect portable radio that matches your needs and work environment, it is important to factor in all these aspects – hardware, radio standards, a reputable vendor and strong support – so you can have total confidence in the device in your hand, now and in the future.
What should you look for in a portable radio? To read more about the above factors and how you should consider them when choosing a portable radio, download the free Portable Radio Selection Guide now.