Are New Two-Way Radios Always Better?

A field technician holds an RCA radio away from him to test coverage while outdoors.

You might think that this is an odd question to ask, but we’d argue that not all new two-way radios are necessarily better radios. Sure, some changes are undeniable improvements, like radios that are digital versus those that are analog, or industrial models that are far superior to recreational walkie-talkies. But the solution to one customer’s radio needs and applications can be quite different compared to others. Here are some examples of what we’re talking about.

Wireless Radio Accessories

Radios and smartphones have benefited from similar technology over the years. Holsters, for instance, are an easy and cost-effective means of extending the life of any two-way radio, while several models now come with advanced Bluetooth compatibility. When it comes to the latter of these, is going wireless always the better option?

It depends. Bluetooth is convenient — as long as it pairs. Its earpieces are often small to be ergonomic, but this may make them easier to misplace, drop, or have stolen. And, unlike two-way radios, batteries for Bluetooth accessories can’t be individually replaced, therefore requiring your customers to purchase entirely new accessories once their older ones expire.

A better option for radio users can actually be a wired approach. Wired earpieces and speaker mics can be used with portables to create an experience that, while it may not be entirely hands-free, is still arguably more convenient than having to hold those portables. This equipment runs off of its radio’s power, making it more likely that the only thing your customers will need to replace are radio batteries. Plus, your customers can still get crystal-clear audio from wired earpieces and essential noise cancellation from speaker mics.

Base Stations

Base stations have long been a tool of desk users and those working in shared office space. But older models have typically been larger and have offered limited configurations based on the desk space available. That’s why many users have since gravitated toward portables as a more flexible alternative.

The only problem? Desk users have a tendency to leave their portables left turned on in their charging cups, and keep them plugged in while using them throughout the day. This may seem like an innocent behavior to keep their radios constantly charged, but it can actually cause battery degradation and overheating.

That’s why RCA developed the ultra-compact RDR2750. This base station is smaller than some office phones, which makes it far easier to mount to areas like desks, walls, shelves, posts — basically, anywhere there’s an AC outlet for power. It’s also powerful: despite its size, it still gets the same coverage as a portable.

This is a situation where we would argue that new two-way radios are better, especially if your customers:

  1. Need a versatile base station that can offer a variety of mounting capabilities.

  2. Are trying to avoid theft and loss, because the station can be securely mounted and only runs on AC power.

  3. Want an easy setup process that only requires plugging the unit in.

Wide Area Coverage

Push-to-talk over cellular radios have become popular as the best of both worlds when comparing radios and smartphones. Offering the capability to run on 3G/4G or wireless networks, these models can provide instant communication between two offices at two completely different parts of the country, as long as they’re are on the same network. They also operate on full duplex mode, which allows phone call-style conversations between users.

There is a potential drawback to these radios when it comes to network infrastructure. If customers’ cellular or wireless networks become interrupted, so too will their ability to communicate. Still, there aren’t enough repeaters to offer the same kind of wide coverage and secure networking that these radios afford, making it easier to understand why others would accept the risk.


Some handheld two-way radios have been around for a long time because they continue to offer the best balance of quality and price. That’s been the case for RCA’s RDR2500, which has been a consistent favorite among radio users for several years. It has the durability that many users need while on the job, can be preprogrammed with the appropriate emergency alerts, and utilizes superior audio capabilities thanks to X-Sound+.

Do we expect that a new portable will one day replace the RDR2500? We suppose it’s possible. But in our experience, that won’t be anytime soon.

Where other radio lines have made surprise moves to remove some of their best-selling models, RCA has remained committed to having the RDR2500 in stock and ready to ship.

Additional Features

Most two-way radios include upgraded models for users who want additional features. Touchscreens are often one of them. Going from the RDR2500 to the RDR2550, or from the RDR4220 to the RDR4250 or -80 are evidence of this, providing digital alternatives to traditional keypads with services like text messages, group and private calls, and Caller ID. While these can certainly be helpful, your customers may still prefer using base models, especially if they don’t anticipate needing these types of additional features.

Now that we’ve shared why we think new two-way radios aren’t always better, what are your thoughts? New models may come with new features, but those may not be better than the radios that customers are already used to — or that they really need.

Become an RCA Reseller

If you aren’t already an RCA dealer, we highly encourage you to become one. We’ll help you grow your sales margins even more by providing a powerful secondary line of industrial models that your customers can rely on. We’ll also train your reps on the best ways to penetrate markets and opportunities they might not have known existed.

As for radio models, we carry a full lineup of portables, mobiles, base stations, and repeaters, not to mention plenty of accessories like premium-quality holsters, earpieces, and speaker mics.

All RCA models are eligible for volume discounts on both pricing and warranties, and will ship to you faster than any other line.

If you have questions about the information above, or you’d like to discuss the dealer signup process, please contact us today at (855) 657-0090 to speak with one of our dealer development specialists.