For two-way radio users looking for top-quality business-class radios that transmit on licence-free bands and are secure from eavesdropping or interference from every kid or drive-through within a five mile radius. Motorola has just introduced the new DLR1020 and DLR1060.
They use the same licence-free 900MHz band as the Motorola DTR410, 550 and 650 digital radios (and can be programmed to work with an existing fleet of DTR radios.)
I have been a big fan of the top-quality DTR radio and these two new models add a slightly more compact option. DTR and DLR radios will appeal to a lot of professional users who appreciate the best in clarity, ruggedness and range. In day-to-day use, DTR and DLR radios outperform nearly every VHF and UHF radio on the market, especially inside buildings and dense urban areas.
The DTR and DLR radios use a unique digital algorithm to rapidly hop across hundreds of frequencies in the licence-free 900MHz band, staying on one frequency only 90 milliseconds. The DTR and DLR have preprogrammed talkgroups, or “channels,” which are not really fixed channels but rather hopping algorithms. There has been no documented case of anyone able to monitor a conversation using any consumer-level equipment. Short of perhaps the military, the only way to monitor a DTR radio was another DTR radio - and even then, it had to be on the same channel PLUS the same ID number. With the older DTR radios with 10 channels and 100 unique ID numbers, there are almost 1000 combinations available. In 10 years of owning a fleet of DTR radios, I have never heard a peep from another user.
With the new DLR1020 (two channels) and DLR1060 (six channels; soon to be ten channels using the latest customer programming software,) Motorola has come up with a more compact form factor and a simpler design that uses the same technology. Now, with the choice of 18 possible talkgroups plus a four-digit ID number, there are almost 200,000 possible combinations to choose from.
But how do the new DLR radios compare to the existing top-quality DTR radios? Well, thanks to the folks at http://www.buytwowayradios.com I just received a sample of the DLR1060 in the mail yesterday. I wanted to put it up in a head-to-head test against my DTR radios and report on the results.
Based on my results, I am predicting Motorola is going to sell a lot of these radios to users who can appreciate their compactness, quality of sound, range, privacy, ability to transmit on licence-free frequencies, and a lower price in relation to the DTR radios. The following are my evaluations, based on a score of 1 to 5, in comparison to the existing DTR410, DTR550 and DTR650.
The DLR radios use the Motorola BP90 battery rated at 1800 mAh. This should be good for 14 hours of life, at a standard test environment of 10% transmit time and 90% standby time.
But the DTRs were known for long battery life, and the standard battery that comes in the 410 and 550 was good for 14.5 hours, even though it is smaller at 1200 mAh. The extended battery in the 650 (and can be fitted to any DTR radio) is 1500 mAh, and is rated at 19 hours.
The DLR1060 does not use an LCD screen with backlight like the DTR; it uses an LED light plus voice prompts. In my informal tests, I found the DLR battery life to be only slightly shorter than a DTR. Here are the battery life ratings from Motorola:
DLR = 14 hours
DTR (standard battery) = 14.5 hours
DTR (extended battery) = 19 hours
DTR = 5
DLR = 4
The DLR meet military standard 810 C, D, E, F and G. It is protected from heat, cold, humidity, dust, shock and vibration. The DTR meets military standard 810 C, D, E and F. It is protected from all of the above PLUS rain. This means that the DTR is more protected from water splashes and rain than the newer DLR.
DTR = 5
DLR = 4
Surprisingly, my testing found the range of the DLR with the fixed stubby antenna to be nearly identical to the DTR with the removable 1/4 wave rubber antenna.
On my usual range test course through a very dense urban neighborhood, I was able to raise a DTR sitting upright inside my car at about 15 city blocks away. The signal made it through my car, house, and 15 blocks of old homes and mature elm trees. That is an AMAZING performance for any line-of-sight two-way radio! I found only a few feet difference in range between the DTR and the DLR.
Range estimations will always vary from user to user, depending on the height of the antenna and what is between the two radios. But my rough city range results are:
DTR410 with fixed stubby antenna = about 13 city blocks
DLR1060 with fixed stubby antenna = about 15 city blocks
DTR550 with 3 1/2" quarter-wave antenna = about 15 city blocks
DTR550 with 7" half-wave antenna = about 16 city blocks
DTR = 5
DLR = 5
The DTR has always had among the best clarity of any two-way radio. Being digital, it will not even transmit unless another radio is in range, and sound is always clear even out to the limits of reception. The nature of digital is that the voice always comes across as 100% or nothing; there are no fuzzy, barely-readable transmissions from the fringes of range.
The DLR has a slightly smaller speaker and an audio output of .75W compared to the 1W audio output of the DTR, which causes it to sound slightly more muffled. While the new DLR seems similar to the popular CLS series, its audio is much more clear and natural. Listen to the audio sample of the DTR, and with only slightly less depth, that is pretty much how the DLR sounds. http://www.buytwowayradios.com/blog/2010/12/business_two_way_radio_audio_samples.aspx
DTR = 5
DLR = 4
This is no contest. The DLR is easily half the size and weight of the DTR (which were known for their compact size.) The only issue is that the DLR looks a bit like an FRS radio, which may be important in situations where the more business-class size of the DTR may imply more professionalism, but slip the easily detached belt clip off the DLR and it fits in a small pocket.
DTR = 4
DLR = 5
VALUE FOR MONEY
The DLR1060 retails for about $60 less than a DTR550. For that, you don’t get a backlit screen where you can read the name of each channel and the name of the radio calling you. You can also send simple text messages on the DTR, and any radio in your group can be configured to call up any other DTR radio individually - all while still keeping the channel free for other users.
On the DLR, you can’t call another user privately without advanced programming, but when a group call comes in, the person in question can reply privately, using the top ‘private reply’ button. Users can also switch to another channel for a conversation that won’t interfere with the main channel.
DTR = 3
DLR = 5
Motorola is famous for poorly-written manuals and completely non-intuitive customer programming software (CPS). The new CPS is much better but instructions are a bit too simplified.
The DLR radios can be programmed to integrate into a existing DTR fleet, but it is not intuitive and there are no detailed instructions on how to do this.
Out of the box, the DLR will communicate with a DTR if both are left at their factory default settings. The five Public Groups in the DTR when left at (or returned to) factory defaults, correspond to the first five channels of the DLR radios. To talk to a DLR on channel 1, switch to Public Group 1 on the DTR; to talk to a DLR on channel 2, switch to Public Group 2 on the DTR, etc.
DTR = 1
DLR = 3
I love these DLR radios! If I didn’t already have a fleet of DTRs, I would forego the customer programming software and cable, and just program them right from the radio. All the average user will need to do is change the Profile ID numbers on all radios to the same four-digit number. To get into programming mode, you press the + button, the PTT button and the power button simultaneously, and HOLD THEM DOWN until it beeps and announces it is in programming mode. You then press the menu button and follow the voice prompts to change the ID number. It literally takes less time to program than it does to read this paragraph.
I predict these radios will be hard to keep in stock. Thanks again to www.buytwowayradios.com for the sample. They don’t replace my DTR radios, and the DTR series has features not duplicated in the DLR. The DLR radios are their own unique design, and if I didn’t already have a fleet of top-quality, licence-free business radios, i would look seriously at the DLR1020 and DLR1060.