Uniden XTRAK50 – a smarter handheld UHF radio (Review)

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Two-way radio has revolutionized communication, but does it still have a place in the world of cell phones? In this review, not only will we be looking at Uniden’s Uniden XTRAK50, but we’ll also look at why this technology is still so relevant.

The Uniden XTRAK50 is a premium portable, battery-powered UHF two-way radio. It has an operating range of up to 17 km and is designed to be dust and water resistant.

Details: Uniden XRAK50 Smart UHF Radio

Price (PVC) $329.95
Website Australia
Of Autobarn, jaycar, TJM
guarantee 36 months
Manual Manual
Manufacturing country China
About Uniden Australia Pty Limited is part of Uniden Corporation of Japan, operating globally in America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. Since its inception in 1966, Uniden has grown into a global leader in wireless communications and a major global consumer electronics brand.

What are the advantages of a two-way radio over a mobile?

With a few or more radios in a restaurant, construction site, or recreational 4x4s, a two-way radio provides instant, easy, and clear communication that is not dependent on other infrastructure. Here are some additional benefits:

  • Does not require network towers and works within range in remote areas
  • Instant communication (no dialing)
  • Can communicate with a group of compatible radios simultaneously
  • No monthly fees or licenses required
  • Simply press and talk, especially with work gloves
  • Generally more robust
  • Better battery life
  • Better security (discussed later)

Find more details on buy two way radio in our sister publication Small Business Answers.

XTRAK50 – What’s in the box?

The XTRAK50 radio requires some assembly once removed from the box, including screwing in the antenna and attaching the 2700mAh battery. A full battery is quoted to provide up to 30 hours of use. However, the fine print says it’s 90% standby, 5% receive, and 5% transmit. The transmission will consume the most power.

The unit comes with a charging cradle with 240 volt and 12 volt charging cables. From empty, the battery takes up to 4 hours to recharge. A belt clip also attaches to the back of the battery.

two way radio and parts you get in the box

More pleasantly, the package also contains a speaker microphone and an earphone microphone. The speaker mic allows a traditional speaker/microphone attached to a looped cord to be plugged into the device. This allows UHF to be used while strapped to your waist or positioned in a car. The earpiece mic allows for more private communication. You hear sound through an earpiece, and a separate mic can be placed on your collar near your mouth. With this accessory, a VOX function can be activated. It’s a hands-free solution that uses your voice as a signal to start and end your communication, eliminating the need to press a transmit button.

XTRAK50Characteristics of

An inexpensive UHF radio can be had for less than $50, so why spend $300 on a model? The short answer, lots of extra features.

According to Australian regulations, a UHF radio transmit power cannot exceed 5 watts. At this power, assuming uninterrupted line of sight from the antennas, two UHF radios could be 17 km apart. Uniden lets you choose between 1 watt and 5 watt transmissions on 80 channels. At 1 watt you can only reach 7 km, but that would extend battery life.

The TRAK50 has a 2 watt speaker, which doesn’t sound like much but is more than enough to be heard in a noisy environment. In addition, a dedicated button allows you to replay up to 4 minutes of conversation received. This is a great option if you didn’t hear the transmission the first time and avoids asking the other party to repeat themselves.

This radio has an IP67 rating which means it will survive immersion in water to a depth of up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. Likewise, it will take a bit of abuse and dust, but like any device, it will last longer if you take care of it.

A scan function scans all channels for active traffic. You can also customize the scan to watch only specific channels. From there, Uniden offers a feature called Master Scan. The radio is smart enough to avoid congested communication channels and allow multi-channel group communication by switching all radios in the group to an available channel.

A split channel squelch allows two or more radios to operate without hearing other users on the same channel. This is achieved by using one of 154 codes (CTCSS or DCS) on each of the radios in the group.

A voice scrambler feature provides additional security so others cannot understand your conversations and is ideal for private chats.

Other features include a key lock to prevent you from pressing buttons by mistake, a handy torch like on your smartphone and an OLED display. The advantage of this is that it can be read in sunny conditions as well as at night.

Coming soon

Note that the XTRAK50 has a big brother, the XTAK50 Pro. The Pro further offers location sharing and tracking in conjunction with a smartphone, and the ability to use Bluetooth as your car audio system to hear communications. We hope to test this device when it becomes available.

Real world experience

For any radio, audio clarity is extremely important, especially if used in a noisy environment. We compared XTRAK50 to a Uniden UH9060, a 5-watt car-mounted radio with an external antenna. To equalize the reception, we used the optional external antenna connected to the XTRAK50. With the external setup, we saw no improvement in reception. However, from an audio quality standpoint, we found the XTRAK50 to provide superior audio reproduction with clearer, easier to understand voice.

Optional car kit

If you plan to use the handheld in your car, Uniden has a great car kit accessory for RRP$130. It includes an external antenna with a 3.2 meter cable, a 12-volt charger and base, and an adhesive mounting bracket with a magnetic pod that attaches to the battery. This pack improves reception and allows the handheld to easily remove the dashboard when in use. This can be further enhanced by using the speaker mic to act like a traditional car-mounted UHF.

Two way radio car accessories including dash mount

GadgetGuy’s review

You will want this product because of its reliability and ability to transmit up to 17 miles. This handheld also makes a decent replacement for a car-mounted UHF radio, with the external antenna and the ability to be quickly transferred between vehicles.

It is also light weight and comfortable to hold. The Replay function and the excellent audio quality make it a pleasure to use. And, since not everyone wants to listen and be heard by others on open channels, we love that this handset lets you have uninterrupted private communications.

Overall, the XTRAK50 is a premium two-way radio with a solid combination of design, durability, and price, and it won’t leave you wanting for features.

More Uniden news and reviews on GadgetGuy

Uniden XTRAX 50 Handheld UHF

Good points

Excellent audio quality

Clear display in direct sunlight

weather resistant

Accessories included

negatives

The menu system is old school

Expensive but it’s a premium product

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