Looking for "phone" style two way radio

My family and I have been on a few cruises and are planning on going on one in a few weeks. I am trying to find some sort of communication system that we can use on the cruise ship, other than the standard two way radio. A few years ago on one of our past cruises, I borrow a couple of phones from a co-worker that were a type of DECT phone. These phones could call each other, and we could talk to our kids much easier (and privately) than the standard two way radios. I can’t remember the name of these DECT phones, but they did work pretty well, but the range could have been better. Does anyone know of a product with good range, that can initiate phone calls to other handsets without a phone line? Or, does Motorola or another two way radio manufacturers make a two way radio that can be used in “phone” mode where the conversation is private, and you can talk freely on the handset without having to use a push to talk button?


My cprdless phones in the house can call each other too… However, you do need the phone’s base station operable, as it controls the system.

I have never heard of any type of full duplex communications system in the consumer market.

There are a great number of multi-handset cordless phone models out there that can do handset-to-handset intercoms. These are always full duplex. Some are DECT1.6, some are 5.8GHz or 2.4GHz with manufacturer-specific spread spectrum systems.

A few of them can work without the base. This is sometimes called DirectTalk or something like that. However the transmitters in such phones (as you’ve discovered) aren’t designed for long range, only to cover an average size house. You will get excellent call quality and full duplex with such a device, but terrible range.

There are a few ‘long range cordless’ phone systems that ARE designed for range. As a general rule they are expensive (hundreds of dollars) and I don’t know if any have the ‘base-free’ direct transmit mode.

I think as far as keeping a ‘telephone-style’ conversation (full duplex), you’re probably SOL. Most of the people who would want such a thing just use cell phones, so you’re going to be stuck with PTT (push to talk).

As far as privacy goes, there isn’t much. A handful of the FRS radios have scramble capability, but it’s not a real encryption it’s just inversion scrambling which can be decoded by anyone else with a similar radio.
The TriSquare eXRS radios use a simple frequency-hopping spread spectrum which gives them a greater measure of privacy- without more specialized equipment you need to know the several-digit-long ‘frequency code’ being used. However they use the 900MHz band so you may not get quite as good range as a real GMRS radio.

Finally if you want real privacy, there are a few business style portable radios that can be set up to use real encryption. These however are significantly better built and of course far more expensive (as they’d normally be used by police departments or private security forces), but I think the store here has a few. Jeff or one of the other buytwowayradios.com guys can help you more with that if interested.

hope that helps…

Thanks for the help guys. I JUST found what I am looking for, but I think the expense is going to be too prohibitive. Have you guys heard of the EnGenius DuraFon? I just received my latest “Hello Direct” catalog, and these phones are advertised there. They clamin Long Range Mobility, up to 12 story range, up to 3,000 acre range (outdoor), and up to 250,000 square foot (inside). Perfect for a cruise ship! But the handsets cost $399 retail! And I would need two of them. Ebay has some handsets, but EnGenius makes a bunch of different phone system products. The particular product I am looking at is the DuraFon. The problem is, they show a 1X and 4X model…I don’t know if they are referring to the number of lines (1 line or 4 line) or the range (1X range or 4X range) of the phone. Anyone know about these phones?

Just called EnGenius, the 1X and 4X models are referencing phone line capability, not range. So the 1X phones would do the trick. The problem is, you have to buy a “base” unit in order to register the phones to communicate with each other. Once the phones are registered to the base unit, you can place calls to the phones to each other (walkie talkie type of thing) independently from the base unit, but you can’t just buy two phones by themselves. So, for a new base unit (which comes with one phone) and an additional phone, I am looking at $850, which doesn’t make alot of sense considering I am just looking for this functionality over a 10 day cruise.

If you are trying to keep the price under $150 or so, then give these another look: http://www.buytwowayradios.com/products/trisquare/trisquare-tsx-300-2vp.aspx They are not exactly what you are trying to find, but as ChrisQXR mentioned they are rather secure (private) since they use 900MHz, and they have VOX. They are far from a perfect solution for what you want, but they are at least closer to what you are trying to find than a traditional GMRS radio. The only problem you might have is the range inside the ship.

Here is a review: http://www.twowayradioforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=129

Thanks for the reply Jeff. Just quick update that I should have been clearer on. I am not looking for security necessarily, just better privacy, in the sense that it’s kind of rude to have a two way radio conversation sometimes, as the speaker will be broadcasting the other voice. And, it’s much easier to have a full duplex converstaion, on a phone call handset, then on two way radio speakers. So, that is all I meant by privacy. I don’t care if others are listening in or anything like that, I just would rather have a telephone type of call/communication on a traditional phone device.


There are small single ear pieces, but they can be a bit awkward. People might think you are part of the crew, though they are becoming common to use with phones now. :slight_smile:



Another option is to use an earpiece (VOX capable) with a small radio that will fit in a pocket like a Cobra microTALK CXR700.

In another year there should be wireless Bluetooth style headsets and earpieces available (but that is too late to help you).

I am going to ask around in here if anyone knows of a radio that has a phone style design, but at the moment I am afraid I am not much help.