Two way radio vs. Walkie talkie: What’s The Difference?

Walkie talkies and Two way radio systems are often interchangeably used. When these terms are mentioned, people immediately think of bulky cellular phone-like communication devices that have antennas and push-to-talk buttons.

However, it should be noted that there are actually differences that distinguish these two from one another.

In essence, a two-way radio — like how its name implies — is a device that is capable of receiving and relating/transmitting radio signals. On the other hand, a walkie talkie is a type of two-way radio that is portable. Meaning, all walkie talkies can be viewed as two-way radios, however, not all two-radios are walkie talkies (e.g. Two-way radios that are mounted on desks or walls).

The two are also distinguished in terms of the way each device is marketed. When manufacturers present two-way radio systems, they often package them as high-end communication gears that can be used in a wide array of sectors — from the military to media to event management. Meanwhile, walkie talkies are presented to the consumers as an inferior product, often depicting them as children’s toys.

Apart from the abovementioned, here are some more notable distinctions between the two communication devices.

Frequencies. Two-way radios offer a range of frequencies whereas walkie talkies only have one. This allows multiple users of two-way radios to talk at the same time in private. If you’d observe, two-way radios are widely used in the military — these gadgets allow officers to helm different training exercises simultaneously, with each having different settings for the different parts of the team. If the communication line is not that relatively complex (i.e. Communication among amateur radio operators), simpler walkie talkies are recommended.

Sending and Receiving Radio Signals. In walkie talkies, one user is allowed to do just one transmission capability — he or she can either speak and relay a message or listen and receive; not both. Though it is not recommended, two-way radios are capable of letting operators speak and listen at the same time.

Stationary Systems. If you are to use a two-way radio system for your organization, there are available stationary systems that you can utilize. This is particularly beneficial if you have command hubs, long-term stations, or general headquarters.

Licensing Requirements. As mentioned, two-way radio systems provide a range of frequencies; as they have different bands, users of this type of communication system need to secure a license first. This additional step obliges operators to shell out more money. Hence, if the situation tolerates the basic feature of walkie talkies, these cheaper communication solutions are more preferred.

When choosing which of these two communication devices you should invest in, you must take several factors into account — from the purpose, frequency of use, number of operators, to the budget you’re willing to allocate for your organization’s communication system.

Before purchasing anything, it’s best to consult first with experts and discuss with them your needs and preferences. This way, you can wisely decide if what you need are walkie talkies or two-way radios.

Two way radio systems can help teams operate more efficiently. Need radios for your business? Check out Tidewater Communications today.

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