My TriSquare Review

This is a purely non-technical review as I don’t any test equipment to do an objective review.

I got the TSX3002VP(Color: Charcoal, Black and Silver) from Amazon because the price was within my price point. Paid $79 for the two radio plus charger set, with two headset boom mics. They work well enough, but I won’t use them, too flimsy.

The contoured radio fit nice and comfortable in my average sized hand, with ribbing on both sides to provide a sure grip. The buttons can be operated with the thumb, so one handed operating is possible. When batteries are installed, the radio feels substantial without being too heavy or bulky.
The Lighted buttons themselves, while being a bit “floaty,” have very smooth action, with a defeatable “beep.” The keyboard lock is handy. The only buttons that function with the lock engaged are volume up and down, power(which also serves as the light on/off) and the call button.
The supplied belt holder seems like an afterthought. It doesn’t “hold” the belt and the detachment is dodgy at best. I don’t use it. I just superglued a cell phone swivel button to the rear.
The supplied battery charges in the cradle either in the radio or out. If in, the radio doesn’t sit securely enough in the cradle.

The menu system is fairly intuitive.
The NOAA weather function is handy, but if you don’t live in a metropolitan area, the antenna’s length gives marginal performance at that frequency band. I was able to get good enough performance to use it in Redlands, Ca. That’s near San Bernardino.

Setting up the radio was easy, as I had already downloaded and studied the owner’s manual online.

As a test, I took one TSX300 and a Motorola FRS radio with me.
In a neighborhood filled with trees and one story homes, I was able to get about 1/2 mile away before the FRS was out of range. The TSX went about a mile before comms were lost.
One thing I found odd was the quality of sound. I could hear what I can only describe as a wavering that is most likely the result of the FHSS. It wasn’t objectionable. The voice quality sounded slightly digitized, but fully intelligible and readable. At the highest volume level, the radio audio was loud enough to hear over heavy traffic without distortion.

The 10 Billion channels ensures no interference, while the FHSS ensures no one can intercept your comms without some very sophisticated equipment.

All in all, this radio is very usable and worth the money.

Some features I’d like to see:

A “Go Ahead” tone that alerts the user that it is okay to talk. This ensures that the transmitting user knows that at least one other radio is synched up.
Better belt clip.
Extendable antenna to get the best range. The present antenna is most likely wound so as to make it physically short.
Although the radio is pretty rugged, I’d like to see it a little more so.
Waterproofing and floatable would be nice.
A bit more “Business” radio look. This one looks a bit like a toy.

Bottom line: I would wholeheartedly recommend this radio.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for a “real life” test, I have a couple of questions for you:

1 - Did you mean FRS radio? the low power (0.5W) kind and not GMRS (1W) which MAY work at a range equal to the Trisquare? I just want to see if we have compared it with its real competitor
2 - Did you try 3xAA rechargeable in it? will it work with the same power? This is because I see that they have specified 3xAA Alkaline = 4.5v or the MiMH pack which I think has 4x AAA = 4.8v, but 3xAA rechargeable can only muster 3.6v. All voltage are nominal of course.

If the set works fine with 3xAA rechargeable then there is a chance that a Lithium pack may be available/made for it later (with a different charger of course, Lithium requires a different charging protocol), LiON are of course 3.7v which tie in well with the 3xAA rechargeable at 3.6v. Alternatively the set may even tolerate a 7.2v LiON (fully charged NiMh pack will have about 6v already).

The reason I mentioned LiOn is because I will only use the set occasionally and
a - Alkaline may leak or drained in between the time I pick up the set, could be months.
b - NiMH has a high self discharge rate and need to be stored discharged, again charging overnight before use can be a drag/hard to plan
c - LiOn can be stored fully charged and has a low self discharge rate, all the more suitable for the sporadic type of use.

Good questions.

The Motorola FRS radios I used are rated at 500 mW, but if that is true, the range on them versus the TriSquare should have been closer in distance. Given the range, I’d have to say that the FRS radios were outputting no more than 250mW, since the power out has to be 4x to give twice the range. That means that the range on the FRS radios should have been about 25% less than the TriSquares.

For my initial test before my review, I used the radio both with the included pack and with Alkaline AA bats, with the included pack having the longest run time, about 9 hours versus 5-6 for the alkalines. I do not use rechargeable AAs for anything where radio is concerned because, while being “Close enough” to AA Alkalines in terms of nominal voltage, they don’t give an acceptable discharge curve for my operating style and habits.

Short statement: The included pack and the AA Alkalines gave the same performance in terms of range, but the NiMHs lasted longer.

I would use LIon batts, but haven’t bought them yet. When I do, I will post the results of that test. I’m anticipating better results in terms of operating time because of the Lion’s discharge curve.

I should add that I use the “traditional” spec of 5-5-90 in my operating style for the most part.

Hope this answers your questions. I appreciate any input you care to give.


I was thinking of AA NiMH cells, not NiCad, which should have the same discharge curve as the included pack (as they are of the same battery chemistry), but of course they started off having only 3.6V having only 3 cells as opposed to the pack 4.8V which I think because it contains 4 cells.

The issue here is that usually transmitter output is quite dependant on supplied voltage and low voltage may decrease it so much.

For all I know the unit may work very well with just 3 AA NiMh because of their discharge curve, Alkaline may have nominal 1.5v but can dip severely under high current drawn (which is like when you press the PTT to send 1W out), under such condition Alkaline may dip to say 1.1V momentarily and the designer of the unit may take that into account in the electronics. If NiMH AA were used it could well tolerate the current and remains at their nominal 1.2v. AA NiMH cells are available now in capacity of up to 2700mA which should outlast the pack of 700mA.

My guess is that in order to allow the unit to accept both the AA and a rechargeable pack, for reason of size, the designer chose to use 4xAAA cells to fit inside the well reserved for 3xAA. AAA cells do not have good power to size ratio 4.8v x 0.7 = 3.36W compare to 3.6v x 2.7 = 9.72W for 3xAA NiMH cells.

Now then if we can fit a LiON battery (not AA Lithium cells which are different) then we can have a very good power pack. Let’s say we can use 3 AA sized rechargeable LiON battery wired in parallel which gives 3.7v but 2100mA for example, or a rectangular shaped cell phone type of battery (chose one that fits well, say the cell used in the Fuji digital camera) then it’s even better.

I hasten to add that then the included charger can’t be used as LiON requires a different charging mechanism.

Having said that I have ordered a set of TSX300, they should be here anytime now, I will be able to play with the permutation myself :slight_smile:

Yeah, I think NiMH or LIon AAs will work great in the radio. Alkalines are good in a pinch. I wouldn’t use NiCads in any radio.

Glad to hear you’ve got a set on the way. I think you’ll be happy with them.
Let us know how they work out for you.

Remember that the belt clips are the real weak part of the package and use a belt pouch or even epoxy or crazy glue a swivel cell phone belt clip to it, you’ll thank me later. :wink: Also, the headset mic is kinda flimsy, but functional. You can get even better ones on the sister site to this one for a reasonable price.

A little off topic, but I’m going to be buying another set for my 5 and 6 year old daughters, because they are always bugging me to play with mine and wifeypoo’s. I think if I get them their own radios now, they will someday become hams, too…


While I was going nuts about FHSS, I’ve learned that there is an alternative called the Nextel PTT whereby handsets have the walkie talkie function built-in which Nextel called Direct Talk.
The idea is to buy these used handset and have yourself an excellent set of digital walkie talkie with FHSS. The spec is 600mW output (slightly more than FRS) and the advertised range is 6 miles, user have quoted 1 to 3 miles in town, which seems to be equivalent to our TSX, roughly (range is a function of power transmitted as well as receiver sensitivity + error correction here, beside natural obstacle).

You can quite cheaply build up a system, chosing from Motorola to Blackberry sets, the Motorola tends to be ruggedised type with rubber coating etc. and can be had from eBay for about US$15 (used but in good condition), even flip phone type is available i530 for example. They will need a SIM card but any, even non-active one will do, the requirement here is simply so that the phone can boot up past the “check for SIM” part and then into the system, you then switch over to “Direct Talk”. You have much less channel, only 10 but also you can make up a private channel.

The attraction for me in this case is that there are time when the use of a walkie talkie is conspicious and may attract attention, for example the use of walkie talkie is not common in Vietnam, even if it was not illegal, its use is still largely police and security related, thus a “cellphone” by your side will not give rise to any suspicion that a walkie might (it just might, but why attract attention when you don’t have to).

Beside the Nextel type are fully commercial item that also have plenty of spare and accessories available, I will try a set and see.

FHSS is easier to understand when there are just 2 units involved, in a cellphone that’s just the phone and the cell, but in the Trisquare when there are more than 2 units all in a group, surely there has to be a master clock? We have seen report of people being disatisfied when using the Trisquare in a group, in one case about 12 units were meant to be used together but inevitably some went out of sync and did not get the call in time. I wonder if it was because of this sync issue.

Have you bought further units for your kids and hve you tried to use more than 2 at the same time on the same frequency?

I have used four of the trisquare tsx300’s together, and struggled a bit to get them to work right off the bat in a group. When I use them in pairs alone, on their own channel, they seem to work flawlessly. (always) But when I switch the 4 radios to a group channel, I found that I had to either wait for a long time (a minute maybe) before that radio would start hearing the others in the group or be heard by the group. And a couple of times, it seemed like I had to turn the radio off and turn it back on to get it to synchronize. Sometimes it worked right away. This was a little disturbing, because I was hoping they would work in the group as well as they do to each other. Still, I got them to work, so if I ever do a larger group I might just have to wait a bit. I am assuming the radios are working perfectly, because they all talk to each other in pairs fine. For some reason the group talk just seemed a little bit lethargic getting going…

Overall, I am very pleased with the radios though, they have at least as good a range as a typical GMRS radio (I compared against a midland) and about double the range of an old motorola FRS talkabout. This was an identical test for all three radios in the same location and time. The location was a typical suburban area, with the midland and trisquare radios both going just over 1 mile. The audio sounds pretty good, although the quality in my opinion is a little worse than good old analog narrowband, but what you get in return (privacy, security) is a no-brainer. As many reviews have described the audio as a bit distorted or steamy, it might be a little bit that way, but completely intelligible. I am a happy customer and plan to buy more radios as other family members get to be in the “club”.

I have been looking for a long time for someone to finally make an affordable FHSS radio, and someone did it! Way to go trisquare!

So how could we make it work in a group? Let’s imagine 4 people being given the radio and at the onset they all worked when they are together, then we all set out in different direction (in a mall or in the wilderness), let say one will go out of range but might come back into range later, but if the “master” call went out to regroup, that particular radio may not receive that call, the master have no way to signal to that “lost” radio to reset and the hapless radio user may continue forth without knowing that the group is regrouping even if he/she is in range (but out of sync)? Sounds like disaster to me.

If that were the case, I would ensure that everyone got the message, and if one didn’t acknowledge, I would go to their private channel and try there.