578 of 585 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Emergency Radio
If you are looking for an Emergency 2 way radio, look no further.
1. AM/FM - These are not Bose speakers, but they are clear. It works just like portable battery powered radios. This is useful in emergencies when the TV and cable are knocked down so you can get news from stations that are still transmitting. I take it out with me on my patio and...
Published on February 15, 2010 by Dr. Wilfredo M. Viray
344 of 358 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big features, small performance
I have to think that there is tremendous quality control variability with this radio based on the wildly different reviews.
I'm a radio geek and have been collecting radios for the last 40 years. When I saw the ad for this Midland I just had to have it. I thought it would be a perfect addition for my camping adventures. The radio seems to be totally loaded...
Published on June 15, 2008 by Mike K
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578 of 585 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Emergency Radio,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)If you are looking for an Emergency 2 way radio, look no further.
1. AM/FM - These are not Bose speakers, but they are clear. It works just like portable battery powered radios. This is useful in emergencies when the TV and cable are knocked down so you can get news from stations that are still transmitting. I take it out with me on my patio and just listen to music or news.
2. Multiple power source - Can run on Alkaline, included Rechargeable battery pack, AC socket, DC through the cigarette lighter, or just cranking to recharge the batteries. With all those sources of energy, you will never run out of power.
3. 5 Watt GMRS Radio - It truly is powerful. Just as strong as my professional radios. Excellent as a base station when traveling or trying to look for help in an emergency.
4. Portability - It comes with a strap so that you dont have to hold it when moving about. It also has a handle so you have a firm grip when carrying it.
5. LED flashlight - You will never be in the dark. I have tried leaving it on the whole night and it still had have charge. I just used the crank to fully charge it again.
6. Weather-proof - I actually used it when there was a one week heavy downpour here LA. It got wet in the rain, but it did not fail.
7. VOX - It has 3 levels of sensitivity. At level 1, it is so sensitive that it will transmit if someone in the room speaks.
8. External Speaker Mic - It is very clear and is functional. It uses the same connectors as my Professional Icom handheld radio, so you can even upgrade the Speaker mic if you wish.
1. Durability - As a base station, or if you don't drop it it is perfectly fine. It is not built to withstand a drop on a hard surface like Professional radios. This is an emergency base station so, you aren't expected to treat it like a walkie talkie. They never stated that it is as durable as a professional radio, so I was not expecting it. So it isn't such a big deal.
2. No carrying case - It would have made it more useful if they included a small bag where you can put this and the accessories, as well as some basic emergency supplies. But, again, this was something I knew that was not included so, it is just a nice to have.
It does everything it says it can do, and does it very well. If you were caught after an earthquake, this is the equipment you will need to have with you. It delivers what it promises, and is better than the other Midland Walkie talkies.
*****UPDATE APRIL 2, 2010********
I performed a distance and clarity test.
1. Midland XT511($65)
2. ICOM F21 4 WATT PROFESSIONAL RADIO($200)
3. ICOM F40GT 4 WATT PROFESSIONAL RADIO($500)
1. My wife standing on the balcony of my house. She has both the Midland and the ICOM F40GT.
2. I will stop every 1 mile and get down from the car and I will use the ICOM F21 to talk to her.
3. I will ask her to communicate first with the Midland, then the ICOM.
1. Midland - I can hear her and understand her without static or noise. The audio quality was a little muffled and was not as loud as the ICOM.
2. ICOM - I can hear her and understand her without static or noise. The audio was noticeably louder and clearer than the Midland.
1. Midland - I can still talk to her. There is some static and a little noise. The audio did not drop.
2. ICOM - Just as good as it was at 1 mile. No static or noise.
1. Midland - Barely audible. Trails in and out.
2. ICOM - Noticeable static and noise, but I can still communicate without drop of audio.
The ICOM can reach further and is clearer than the Midland in transmit and receive, but it still does what it was meant to do and it does do it well, standing up to an ICOM. But keep in mind that the ICOM is just a tranceiver, it does not have any of the many functions of the Midland. I still give this 5 stars for function and excellent value.
****UPDATE November 28,2011****
I am very happy to report that it still works fine and I have had no problems with it. I use it as my mobile base station when we go outdoors. Still doing a great job. do not leave batteries inside if you intend to store it so that the battery will not leak or cause corrosion.
****UPDATE October 26, 2012*****
Amazingly, both Emergency GMRS radios are alive and still used daily. I have one under my car seat, and the other one is supposed to be in my Bug Out Bag, but instead of shelling out money, I used it as my patio radio. I listen to my favorite Radio station, 104.3 FM in LA. Of course I switch over to AM and NOAA just to be sure there are no emergencies, or just to find out the weather forecast. I also Kayak, so it helps to know if the waves are high in the beach area.
All consumer radios have limited warranties, usually lasting only a year. So please TEST YOUR RADIOS extensively in the first year so that if there is a problem with it, they will replace it. But, I am so happy with how long these radios have lasted. $65 for 3 years of extensive use as an emergency radio, flashlight, Patio entertainment and weather forecasts. I only had to change the rechargeable battery and bought a spare after 3 years.
Hope to catch you on the air.
****UPDATE January 16,2013*****
Coming up to 4 years and these radios are still working great. The AC Adapter wire got cut because I accidentally ran over it with the Vacuum cleaner(Genius, I know). I called Midland now and told them, no questions asked, they told me they were sending me a brand new adapter for FREE! That is EXCELLENT customer service right there! Kudos to Midland.
Anyway, I am using the Dual channel watch option now since more of my neighbors also got into radio. I have 2 groups talking on different channels so that it does not get crowded. I then use the Dual Channel Monitor feature to monitor 2 channels simultaneously. We have our radios always on so that we can call each other, and I am acting as a repeater/operator since I have the XT511 Basecamp. We make sure to always have someone in the neighborhood monitoring the radios. It does give us peace of mind that we can call for help to the entire neighborhood at a press of a button.
344 of 358 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big features, small performance,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)I have to think that there is tremendous quality control variability with this radio based on the wildly different reviews.
I'm a radio geek and have been collecting radios for the last 40 years. When I saw the ad for this Midland I just had to have it. I thought it would be a perfect addition for my camping adventures. The radio seems to be totally loaded with just about anything you would need. It has a GRMS/FRS 2-way radio, an AM/FM radio, a weather radio, a clock with alarm and even a 3 LED flashlight. Add to this the fact that it runs on both alkaline and a wind-up rechargeable battery! Wow.
Sadly, none of the functions work very well. Both the AM and FM reception are very subpar. AM reception could only receive the strongest stations and they bled over adjacent frequencies. Many stations that I could pick up on a cheap pocket radio could not be picked up on this radio. FM was worse, only picking up a couple of very powerful local stations.
Weather band worked, but only barely. I was able to pick up many more channels on a little Grundig/Eton wind-up.
FRS/GRMS radio functions were similarly mediocre to poor.
Cranking was more awkward than on other emergency radios that I have used including those by Freeplay and Grundig.
On a positive note, the LED flashlight is nice and the clock/alarm is also a nice feature. You also get a lot of accessories, including an external mic, both car and AC chargers and a carrying strap.
Overall, I was disappointed by this radio. The fact that others like it suggests to me that there may be a lot of variability between radios. However, in general, I would pass on this radio. There are many inexpensive GRMS/FRS radios that would do a better job. If you are looking for a good emergency broadcast band radio check out those made by Freeplay or Grundig/Eton.
107 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise Performer,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)I bought this radio based on Google reviews as I wanted a crank AM-FM primarily. But the GMRS side of this radio is superb, the NiMH battery with additional AA alk options, hand mic/speaker are most welcome.
I use FRS/GMRS quite a bit both on the Motorola commercial side, Ham and family. I have used scores of different radios from $10 junk FRS walkies to $1000 commercial 2-way. For the price, the GMRS performance is excellent. Sensitive receiver, credible power (not published; but I'm guessing 2 watts on the GMRS channels), good carrier and PL/DCS squelch systems and all the junk beeps and bops are disabled by default. The weather and other features are icing on a a fine cake.
Only downside for my application is that the size of the unit is fairly large. It currently is on 7/24 in my office sitting on GMRS channel 7, PL 22. It is replacing my desktop Audiovox 2000 as my full time monitor radio.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Midland has a good idea,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)I just got my Midland XT511 today; This unit pulls in wx signals with clearer and louder reception than my Cobra WXST and my Cobra Microtalk. It also pulls in am and fm frequencies with more clarity and loudness than my Grundig FR200. I also sent out on my familys' GMRS channel a call and in moments got two reports back from my brother who lives about 1/4 mile distance and my father who lives about 1/3 mile distance. Its not actually printed on the box or owners manual that the XT511 transmits at 5 watts output while on Hi, but I will assure you with confidence that 1/3 mile distance with loudness and clarity through homes packed with all sorts of electrical appliances is impressive enough to suggest the full 5 watt output is being emitted from the XT511. Another point of interest that perhaps sets the Basecamp as more of a Basestation above all of the walkies; I've yet to hear the annoying chirp that barks from my Cobras, I believe the autosquelch featured in the XT511 is some nice noise filtering that really keeps the barks and belches from stealing the peace, better squelch than my Audiovox GMRS-2000. On a critical note, I suggest that Midland should enhance thier AVP-7 battery pack and upgrade the 700-mah to something offering longer standby and transmit capability, perhaps 2500-mah or 2900-mah. This surely isnt a 300mw transmit like the radio shack walkies from yester-year and the solid state circuitry offers some loud audio thats going to suck down that old-tech 700mah pack quicker than the avp-7 was designed for. On a side note, the 4AA alkaline slots are a nice home for some 2500-mah energizers that I have charging(seperatly from the unit) as I write; perhaps Midland will make a slight engineering adustment and let you crank-charge the alkaline slots as though it were apart of the nimh system. Nevetheless, the Midland XT511 offers consolidated and refined features; someone or some commitee at Midland must be very happy and proud to be able to brainstorm something into existence that integrates this much form and function into a marketable product. I love my XT511, Thanks Midland.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Can You Hear Me Now? Nope!,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)When you compare the features versus the price the Midland XT511 sounds too good to be true. It is too good to be true. That's because the features do not live up to the hype by the manufacturer's marketing staff. You are likely to be disappointed with this radio.
First and worst is the reception. A radio with poor reception is at best a toy and at worst a doorstop. The external antenna is a whopping 3" tall. It is meant to look like a 1/4 wave antenna but is not. Weather band reception is poor, the worst of any weather radio I own (including two other Midland radios). If you flip through the seven weather bands (manually) while holding the radio in different positions you might be able to receive one if NOAA has a nearby transmitter. Poor reception makes the "alert" function a joke. If the radio cannot pick up the station it cannot get the alert. If you live in an area where dangerous weather is a possibility it would be suicidal to depend on the XT511. There are vastly better weather radios for half the price.
FM reception is equally poor. I was barely able to receive a few of the strongest stations in the region (the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area). Holding the antenna with your hand helps but small, far less expensive FM radios work much better. Reception of strong local AM stations is fair although most have annoying hiss. For a digital tuner the amount of drift on the FM and AM bands is unacceptable. You have to tune back and forth "around" the broadcast frequency to get passable reception. The XT511 feels like a poor analog radio with a digital face.
GMRS/FRS reception is a joke. I tested it with hand-held transceivers from other manufacturers. It works best when the other person is close enough to hear you say, "come here, please" in a moderate voice. Transmit and receive reception from one end of a suburban 3-2-2 house to the other was poor. The person helping me test kept shouting, "did you say something?" The Midland XT511 is in desperate need of a functional antenna or, at the very least, a jack for an external antenna. Then again, once you use the Midland XT511 you may be loathe to waste additional money on accessories.
The manual says the XT511 is "designed to give you maximum range under optimum conditions." These are defined as "over water," "open rural areas without obstructions," and "flat areas where you can see the other person." In other words, in situations where you could easily be seen miming "call me." The manual also notes that, to ensure maximum range, you should "point the ANTENNA upward." I found it actually worked best if you turned the radio on its side. If you need two-way radios buy a pair of hand-held GMRS/FRS radios (with weather channels) and you will get more use out of them.
The mic is also a tiny speaker. Plugging it in disables the radio's built in speaker and there is no option to override this "feature." Given the poor reception under the best of circumstances, trying to understand what is coming over the mic/speaker is a challenge. I suspect doing it like that was a cheap way to cut off the speaker when transmitting. Manufacturers of budget products often cut corners but I wish they wouldn't do that with a chain saw.
The XT511 has a USB jack which the manual claims "can be used to charge a mobile phone" using the dynamo crank. And if you believe that, I have a bridge you might want. If you can do 100 one-arm push ups you might be able to top off a cell phone battery. If you are a normal human, forget it. Even the manual confesses that this feature is "for emergency use only" and that the XT511 "is not intended for recharging a fully discharged battery." I pray I am never stuck with only the Midland XT511 for "emergency use."
For a product this shoddy, the Midland XT511's manual is decently written. That's good because most features are not at all intuitive. I wasn't able to figure out how to set the clock without the manual. Many of the configurable settings have cryptic codes that don't make sense until you read about them in the manual.
The display is odd. The "7:20" time display has a "7" that is 1/2 inch tall next to ":20" that is 1/4 inch tall. The display for an AM radio station at 1080 has a 1/2 inch "108" next to a 1/4 inch "0". Overall it has the feel of a display designed for another location (China?) that was re-purposed for North America.
At half the price the Midland XT511 "base camp" radio might be a reasonable toy for kids. At $50 it costs too much and fails to deliver the promised functions. Mine is going back for a refund. I recommend that you avoid the Midland XT511 and save yourself the return postage.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent transciever,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)Being an Extra class ham operator, I am always looking for radios which could be used in an emergency. i.e. When a disaster has downed all forms of communication, Ham radio operators provided the communications for civil authorities & civilians. This radio is a welcomed addition to my shack. All of the features work as advertised, and work well! My other primary reason for purchasing this radio is my 30 year old son, who has Duchene Muscular Dystrophy. He has extremely limited use of only his fingers & speech. He now has this radio setting besides him on the #1 VOX setting. It is sensitive enough to easily pick his voice up, using the included mic, setting near his shirt collar. His speech comes over the receiver clearly. And best of all, we can now talk back to him, when he calls, needing assistance. I also bought the Midland GXT1000VP4 set of radios. We use one to monitor my son's frequency, while the 2nd charges. When the 'in-use' radio's battery is depleted, we simply set it in the charger and use the other, which is fully charged. It is a great addition for my son's piece of mind! THANKS Amazon for the great prices!!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great emergency radio,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)This radio is performing great for me! I and my wife loves it!! AM radio works fine, (don't forget that AM is directional, you have to turn the actual radio to get best reception) FM radio, gets all the stations in my area perfectly, yeah the sound isn't the best but c'mon its a little mono radio! Its not supposed to sound like your home theatre system! ;-) WX, picks up the weather stations fantastically!! Haven't had a Alert yet so can't comment on that. No weather alerts in the past few days here in Boston.
GMRS, transmits great, receives great! only tested it out over a couple miles so far. But man over all this is a fine emergency radio, I have 4 Rechargeable AA energizer 2500 MAH batteries and currently running it on the Rechargeable side to run it out and test out the dynamo crank. Oh and hey it can also charge your freaking cell phone through the USB port!! C'mon you can't beat that in a emergency!!!! I will update this review when I hand crank the rechargeable batteries once these run down to one line left and let you know how that works. Take care everybody and stay safe!!!
56 of 67 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Childs toy at best,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)This radio is a cheap piece of @#!%*&!!! The way it's advertised as a base radio for a sportsman's outing??? No way!! I wouldn't trust this thing to talk across the street no matter trust my life to it! If I had to rely on it in the event of an emergency I'd feel very nervous. Its construction is very light plastic that feels flimsy in your hand. Reception is mostly static. Range is even worse. The hand mic is a plastic joke. I was so disappointed when I received it I boxed it back up in the very same box it came in and returned it that very same day! For the price(100$), I expected a radio of similar quality as the C Crane C.C. Radio. This is a receive only radio but of great quality in the same price range(125$). I was expecting something similar because I have Midland two way hand held radios that I love and they work great? I can't even imagine that the same company made both of these products! My recommendation is to bring extra batteries and use a 5 watt hand held radio as your base radio and leave this radio at the store. Save your money and get an extra set of Midland GTX hand held radios that can be used at base camp or in the field. I've never given a review this bad ever but this product is so bad I thought people needed to know. Especially sportsmen like myself that rely on technology like this.
40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Run Away, Run Away,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)I own/operate a Recreational facility, and have been using small $10 radios for the past 16 years I have been open. I was looking for an AC run base to use rather than one of the employee radios. Despite all the bad reviews, I decided to try it for myself. I packed it back up the same day. I only needed the GMRS radio, so the other options I will not remark on. The handheld radios I use now, Cobra PR 255-2 VP, can transmit and receive perfectly anywhere on our 30 acre park, even with high power lines, and very dense trees. I keep my handheld radio(Cobra) in the store, and use it every day with perfect results. This Midland XT511 radio was having problems from inside the store to employee radios that were not even 200 feet outside, transmitting and receiving. The XT511 would cut off the first few words they would say, and they got the same results when I was transmitting.
A really odd thing... I also use a regular home scanner to monitor our radio frequency, in the store. When the XT511 is on, it constantly transmitts a pulse that is picked up by the scanner. The only way to get rid of it was by turning the scanner squelch all the way up. Unfortunatly, this also removed any possibility of receiving the employee transmissions.
I used the XT511 on the AC adapter, and on HIGH POWER. I contacted Midland, and they told me it was a 4 Watt Transmitter (since I could not find the information anywhere else, including their site). I could not believe this thing cost 5 times more then my little handheld radios, and was basically useless. If anyone is looking for a portable transmitter for Emergency Use, LOOK ELSEWHERE.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent product, but poor build quality.,
This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Electronics)It is a decent product that has all the features I wanted in a handcrank emergency radio / flashlight / cell phone charger /2-way radio. All of the features seem to work alright. However, the build quality is very poor, especially for an item that is intended to be for emergency / outdoor use. For instance, the retaining clip for the hand mic/speaker broke within a minute of it's being out of the box. It looked like it had been hand glued on, and the glue had been poorly applied. The fit and finish are worse than my $5 no-name handcrank radio/light. I have other Midland 2-way radios and they are much better made than this.
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