Uniden radios tested

The Uniden UH820SX-2NB is a state-of-the-art UHF radio, with lots of features that make it particularly appealing to those who go off into rough country, as well as to boaties and anglers.
We took the radios along when we conducted the 4WD ute comparison test we published in the 2013 New Zealand Four Wheel Drive Annual, comparing directly with other units of similar size and type. And we have to admit we were VERY impressed.
Not only are the radios light in weight, but they come with all the attachments you’re going to need, including a hands-free kit which fits in your ear, just like those used on cell phones.
This means you can have the radio attached to your belt via the supplied belt clip or carabineer, and listen or talk without having to hold the radio – particularly useful when driving, or guiding another driver through a hazard.
With certification that the radio meets the world standard JIS7 waterproof level, we had no hesitancy about tossing the radios into a bucket of water, where we watched them float merrily…

We also tested the claims that the 2W radios have a 10km range. We were unable to confirm this, though, with our best distance about 5km, but in rolling countryside which had seen us lose signal from our other radios about 2-3km before. I would expect a longer range in line of sight on open water or flat country.
When we received the brand-new radios they were uncharged, but it was an easy job to charge them up on the supplied “double barrel” charger so both were topped up at the same time, a really useful feature. The radios can also be bought singly, in which case a single charger is supplied.
Charging from flat takes about 16 hours, and there’s a clear battery level indicator on the display. You don’t have to wait until the battery is flat to recharge as they are 800 mAh 4.8V Ni-mH units which don’t create a “memory” like the old NiCad batteries. You get warning “beeps” when the batteries need recharging.
Uniden claims as long as 14 hours operating time, and in our case there was still half charge  left after a day’s testing – about seven hours in total. Uniden’s claims are based on five percent transmitting, five percent receiving and 90 percent waiting using low output mode, which pretty much matches the way we were using them.
An interesting feature was that the batteries were still half charged three months after we did the test, unlike the older radios we have in our kit, which lose their charge quite quickly.

The units have a large digital display, with backlight, so you can easily see which channel you’re using, and the keyboard is also backlit so you can find the right one in the dark.
Switching on involves holding the power button on for a couple of seconds, and then everything lights up. Similarly press and hold to switch off. The volume switch is large and pretty obvious, and squelch can be adjusted between two levels.
Transmitting is via a switch on the left side, There are two transmit power levels, set from the Menu,  with a boost selector to over-ride these and send at maxi power. The radios also come with a built-in duplex mode to allow access to repeater stations.

The radio has two types of scanning, open scanning (OS) and group scanning GS), with a clearly-marked scan button. OS searches all the channels and frequencies in its memory continuously, while GS scan has the added ability to monitor the priority channel every 1.5 seconds. Scan channels and the Instant Priority Channel are easy to programme into the unit.
Other features include CTCSS, which allows a group to talk to one another without hearing other users on the same channel, and DCS, a digital extension of CTCSS which provides 104 extra, digitally-coded squelch codes that follow after the 38 CTCSS codes.

When using the optional extra headset, Vox automatic transmitting operates when you speak, without having to hold the transmit key. Other options include a speaker microphone and a car charger.
There’s a vibrate alert setting for incoming calls, while further features include a busy channel lockout setting which prevents accidental transmission on a busy channel, and there are 10 selectable call tones available.
The Roger Beep notifies the end of transmission, and there’s also a key beep for the keypad as you press each button, as well as a keypad lock.

Finally, two extra, very useful features. One is a built-in LED torch, and another is the facility to turn this into an “SOS” flashing strobe for emergencies.

The units are engineered and designed in Japan specifically for rugged Australian and New Zealand conditions. Dimensions of the radio: 227mm (H) x 68mm (W) x 33mm (D).
RRP: $379.99

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