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Can You Hear Me Now? Nope!,
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This review is from: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio (Wireless Phone Accessory)
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.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 29, 2012, 10:41:02 PM PDT
John Puddle Jump says:
Like all FRS radios it has to comply with FCC limitations imposed on FRS radios in order to be certified as an FRS radio. One of those limitations is that it be equipped with a fixed (non-detachable) junk antenna.
Posted on Mar 22, 2014, 6:11:30 PM PDT
You seriously couldn't figure out how to set the clock without reading the manual?
I've got to be honest, I was taking you seriously up until I read that. The clearly labeled "hour" and "minute" buttons could not be more self explanatory. Sounds like you expected a $500 professional radio for sixty bucks.
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