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  #1  
Old 09-03-2008, 02:05 PM
jwilkers jwilkers is offline
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Default Midland GXT-900 Review

Midland GXT 900 Review

FCC ID: MMAGXT950


** Note: AN FCC GMRS LICENSE IS REQUIRED TO USE MOST FUNCTIONS OF THIS RADIO!


Channels 8-14 and Channels 34-37 are the ONLY channels you may use without a license!!

Midland's Highly anticipated 2008 Full featured model is certainly that.


**Midland has taken the extra steps to include new frequency/tone squelch options that allow up to
42 channels within the 22 FRS and GMRS frequencies. This review will explain that later.

Features of the GXT 900 include:

High, Medium and Low power settings for flexibility and battery life.
CTCSS and DCS for interference protection.
Group setting and Caller Identification for selective calling within a group.
NOAA weather radio WITH alert function.
Channel Scan.
Voice-Inversion scrambling for added security.
Waterproof design.
Increased communications capacity via CTCSS and frequency settings for 42 "virtual channels"
"Vibrate Mode" to allow for silent paging, or calling in noisy areas where you cannot hear.
Dual channel watch function.

This model looks and feels like most of the recent models Midland has released over
the years. It has a hefty look and feel, yet is generally light in weight. It fits easily
in the hand and the controls are easily accessible and functional. The case is
attractive and functional looking. It is definitely not a children's toy.

With all the functions, the radio is "menu driven". This means channel selection and
all other functions require the use of the menu system. The "menu" button gives access to
all the FRS/GMRS functions. Weather radio functions are accessed via the same button by
holding down the menu button until the WX function appears.

The CTCSS and DCS tones are combined into one menu and setting, rather than
two separate classifications. This makes it more handy for those not familiar
with these type systems. These fal under the "group" mode settings which can further be
modified to call specific radios by assigning a unique ID for each radio, thus allowing one
radio out of a group to be called, rather than all radios.

You need to read and understand the manual to become familiar with the functions and how to use them.
This radio is a complex and flexible piece of equipment and requires proper study to use properly.

** Explaining the 42 "channels":

These radios utilize the combined 22 frequencies of the Family Radio Service (FRS) and General
Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). Regardless of channel selection, they are using only the 22 frequencies
authorized in these two services.

A system, known as Continuous Coded Squelch System (CTCSS), also incorrectly
referred to in some cases as "Privacy Codes", allows these "extra channels".

On most cases, a user must manually select a CTCSS tone. With the GXT 900/950 series,
these are "hard-coded" into the channel selection. You could be on channel 42, which
is actually the same exact frequency as channel 22. (this is an example only, I have NOT
analyzed the exact frequency/CTCSS tone combination.) The only difference is that the
channel selector automatically assigns a CTCSS tone. This is why you cannot manually assign
a "Privacy code" for any channel above 22. If you were to have the correct frequency/CTCSS tone
set on the first 22 channels, you could exactly match the "extra channels".

All in all, this does simplify matters. You need not assign a CTCSS tone if the radio does it for you.
It *does* complicate matters if you only want to use license free channels as mentioned in the
beginning of the review.


Performance Evaluations:

Receiver interference from household electronics seems to be above average.

Audio output is typical for consumer radios. If you are in a noisy environment, you need
a headset. Keeping the radio in vibrate mode also helps a great deal if you have no headset.
Just keep the radio where you can feel it vibrate. The included headset works well and should be
sufficient under almost all conditions.


Transmit Ranges: (evaluated with supplied battery packs)

Home to vehicle: .75 mile
Outdoor person to vehicle: 1 mile
Vehicle to vehicle: .75 mile
Home to outoor person: 1 mile
Person to person outdoors: 1.25 miles.

Battery life with the supplied packs is sufficient for normal use. If you use these radios
on High power (GMRS Licensees only), then battery lifetimes will suffer.

The memory channels were eliminated in these models. I don't consider this a
drawback. I've never used the memories, as their use was cumbersome.

The radios are durable and will stand up to some rough handling. Since they are
waterproof, use under wet conditions is acceptable.

You need to read the manual. These radios have alot of features. Once
familiar, they are easy to use.

I really cannot find any fault with these radios. They are designed well. They
are full featured and will serve well for what they are designed for.


As always, you may direct quiestions to me and I can answer them, as well as edit this review to accomodate them.

Last edited by jwilkers; 09-03-2008 at 05:28 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-03-2008, 09:42 PM
BackBlast BackBlast is offline
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Default Re: Midland GXT-900 Review

So, no range improvement over the GXT-800 line? I thought it had a higher measured ERP?
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  #3  
Old 09-04-2008, 02:12 AM
jwilkers jwilkers is offline
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Default Re: Midland GXT-900 Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by BackBlast View Post
So, no range improvement over the GXT-800 line? I thought it had a higher measured ERP?
Well, power output never tells the whole story. Antenna design, as well as terrain are major factors, especially with UHF. It is also summer, where all the trees have their leaves. This will be a factor in blocking UHF transmissions. I do my tests in an average suburban environment. At times very unforgiving. If I were in flat farmland, I'm sure my tests would yield far greater range.
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  #4  
Old 09-04-2008, 11:31 AM
magnumfour magnumfour is offline
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Default Re: Midland GXT-900 Review

Thanks for the detailed review of the new Midland radios.

One more question: In your opinion, how do these radios compare with the Cobra 7200s in terms of range and clarity? I noticed you reviewed the 7200s earlier this year and, although foliage (i.e., trees and leaves) may be a factor in the tests, you would likely be in the best position to provide some information and guidance.

Once again, thanks for the review.
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  #5  
Old 09-04-2008, 12:14 PM
jwilkers jwilkers is offline
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Default Re: Midland GXT-900 Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by magnumfour View Post
Thanks for the detailed review of the new Midland radios.

One more question: In your opinion, how do these radios compare with the Cobra 7200s in terms of range and clarity? I noticed you reviewed the 7200s earlier this year and, although foliage (i.e., trees and leaves) may be a factor in the tests, you would likely be in the best position to provide some information and guidance.

Once again, thanks for the review.
The LI7200s had better range overall. Sound clarity is probably close in both radios. Since both radios have a vibrating call function, calls in noisy areas won't be missed if your radios are in a position to feel the vibrations. Both accomodate headsets.
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  #6  
Old 09-05-2008, 08:16 AM
MartyA MartyA is offline
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Default Re: Midland GXT-900 Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwilkers View Post
The LI7200s had better range overall. Sound clarity is probably close in both radios...... Both accomodate headsets.
I mentioned this in another post, if you set the LI-7200 to "High" and then plug in an accessory like a headset it automatically goes to Medium power. This cannot be changed, and the manual states this. So if I had the 7200 and the GXT-900 side by side using headsets would the LI-7200 have a better range at the "Medium" setting compared to the 900 at the "High" setting?

Your reviews are excellent, but may I suggest adding an accessory test? Some consumers are going to use them. Someone who sees the comment "...LI7200 had better range overall..." (such as myself) might purchase the 7200 which I did) and find that using it's own accessories results in a significant reduction in range.

Anyone want to buy an LI-7200 bubble pack? Used about 10 minutes...
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  #7  
Old 09-05-2008, 08:29 AM
MartyA MartyA is offline
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Default Re: Midland GXT-900 Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwilkers View Post
The LI7200s had better range overall. Sound clarity is probably close in both radios...... Both accomodate headsets.
I mentioned this in another post, if you set the LI-7200 to "High" and then plug in an accessory like a headset it automatically goes to Medium power. This cannot be changed, and the manual states this. So if I had the 7200 and the GXT-900 side by side using headsets would the LI-7200 STILL have a better range? What is the power difference of the 7200 at the "Medium" setting compared to the 900 at the "High" setting?

Your reviews are excellent, but may I suggest adding an accessory test? I bet many consumers are going to use them. Someone (such as myself) who sees the comment "...LI7200 had better range overall..." might be swayed to purchase the 7200 (which I did) over another radio but later find that using it's own accessories results in a significant reduction in range - worse than my old, beat up set, which are in need of replacement.

There is an idiosyncratic feature which renders my LI-7200 useless to me for it's intended use, but if that did not exist I would still be disappointed with range of the LI-7200 and not be able to use it.

Anyone want to buy an LI-7200 bubble pack? Used about 10 minutes...
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  #8  
Old 09-05-2008, 10:45 AM
jwilkers jwilkers is offline
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Default Re: Midland GXT-900 Review

I don't post many acceeesory reviews in case people prefer to use their own accessories. One accessory may perform better than the other, then I'd get comments like... "well, you said this will work". The Supplied Midland headsets were touched apon, since they were included.

I really doubt the Medium power setting will affect range much.
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  #9  
Old 09-05-2008, 08:37 PM
Cklicker7239 Cklicker7239 is offline
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Default Re: Midland GXT-900 Review

I recently purchased a set of these and love them. If you want to get a great deal on these go to circuit city.com and print off the page with price and all the details. They actually just bumped up the price from 59.99 to 69.00, and I assume because they are now out of stock. Anyways take this print off to bass pro shop or any other large outlet where they will price-match. I did this and saved 21 bucks and a shipping fee.
On to the topic of distance. I actually have modded my radios with bnc connectors and have attached one radio shack UHF/vhf antenna to one unit, and an old Uniden BearCat scanner antenna to the other. I will eventually buy tuneable matched antennas for them, but I have to order them at one place then pick them up at another place. So, that will tell you it's kind of annoying to find a place with proper antennas. The original max distance (urban Setting) was around 1.5 Miles. Now, with the antenna mod, I am getting around 2 miles, and actually haven't maxed them out.
This may be irrelevant, but before the mod, I was only able to pick up 2 maybe 3 weather stations, now with the antenna mod, I can get 5 to 6 channels. I also do realize that the weather band is a completely different than uhf. I hope this info helps and I apologize for misspelled words. Also if anybody wants to know how I did the mod just post a response, and I hope I am not the only one who wants to max out their 5 watt ERP.
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  #10  
Old 09-05-2008, 08:44 PM
Cklicker7239 Cklicker7239 is offline
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Default Re: Midland GXT-900 Review

I forgot to mention this in my previous post. Does anybody know how the hell you can charge the radio without docking it? In the manuel it mentions that you can, but it is a no-go. I also use rayovac hybrid aa batteries in my radios and they last forever. I used them last weekend with out turning them off and my batteries never dropped below 2/3's. AMAZING!!!
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