updated 11:15 am EDT, Tue July 17, 2007
Motorola today quietly released a new addition to its TALKABOUT two-way radios in the form of the T9580RSAME. Beyond offering hikers walkie-talkie communication at up to 25 miles between units, the pair of handsets also offers Specific Area Message Encoding to deliver text and voice messages through the National Weather Service in the US or Environment Canada. Three-letter codes and voice alerts appear on the display depending on the circumstances; the free service provides warnings for anything from minor inclement weather to hurricanes and emergencies. This could be essential for trekkers without a cellphone or when phone traffic prevents calls, Motorola says.
The communicator lasts for either 9 hours on a stock rechargeable battery or 27 hours if standard disposables are the only option; conversations can be kept quiet by picking any one of 22 channels or enabling the Quiet Talk function, which blocks sounds from all but compatible Motorola handhelds. The company says the T9580 should be available soon at $90 for a set of two units.