When a couple of my FRS/GMRS radios began to malfunction, it was time to start looking for replacements. Surfing the Internet, I ran across eXRS radios by TriSquare Electronics. What I read about eXRS sounded interesting and intriguing. Making a call to their home office in Kansas City, MO, I found their staff to be helpful in answering questions about their radios.
TriSquare Electronics has two models of eXRS radios, TSX100 and TSX300. The TSX100 is the smaller of the two in size, easier to operate and has the most popular features in a two-way radio. TSX300 radios are about one inch taller, weigh a little more and have an extensive list of features. Features that are common to both models: No FCC license required and legal for all ages VOX (hands free operation) Roger Beep (turn off or on) Silent mode operation 5 Selectable tones for page/call Operates on 3 AA or rechargeable batteries Optional dual desktop charger & NiMH battery Backlit LCD Realtree APG camo or slate gray Able to talk one-to-one or one-to-many Internal 'phone book' for setting specific channels The TSX100 This is the easier of the two radios to operate. Excluding the power and PTT button, the TSX100 is controlled by two rocker buttons (volume and up/down) and four push buttons (menu, call, select, right arrow). The Menu button controls seven functions Channel, Phone Book Contact Selection, VOX, Ring, Roger Beep, Backlighting, Transmitter Timeout. The Call button transmits a ring tone to other radios when pressed. The Select button returns to the main screen. The Right Arrow button turns the sound off/on and controls channel changes. When first turned on, the radio goes through an initialization that tests all LEDs on the screen and battery power. When the battery begins to run low, a battery icon appears on the screen and there is a beep every two minutes.
The TSX100 has 1000 user selectable channels; 10 of the channels can be programmed into the phone book for quick and easy access. The TSX300 The TSX300 takes two-way radios to a new level of capability. For starters, this radio has 10 billion (with a B) channels, 100 of which can be programmed into the phone book. In addition to the power, PTT, call, lock, two menu access buttons and an up/down rocker button, the TSX300 radio has a 10-button keypad just like a telephone. The character set gives you the ability to put your name in 'My Radio', enter a name for the contacts in the phone book or a Group Channel, and send Text Messages to other TSX300 radios. Text messages can be up to 80 characters. There are six predefined text messages and you can create four user-defined messages that can be stored in memory. Regular communication texting between TSX300 units is like any other form of texting. The menu button gives access to Text Messaging, 10 NOAA radio channels, VOX and Settings. In Settings, you program the Ring Tones, Call Alert, Roger Beep, Transmit Timeout, Key Beep, Backlighting, Private Channel, Cloning, Clear All. A couple of these features or settings deserve further explanation.
The TSX300 takes two-way radios to a new level of capability. For starters, this radio has 10 billion (with a B) channels, 100 of which can be programmed into the phone book.
Private Channel is used for talking with another TSX300's private channel. This feature utilizes 'My Radio' for caller ID and also for call waiting ID. Cloning duplicates all of the settings and phone book contacts from one TSX300 to another via radio signal; that eliminates trying to manually match two radios. In standby mode, the screen shows the battery power, call alert (ring/vibrate/both/off) and current channel.
The Range Game -- TriSquare does not state any specific range. Instead, they claim their eXRS radios have a range equivalent or greater than other portable UHF 2-way radios. To test this, I pulled out a set of Cobra LI7000's and a set of Midland GTX (both GMRS). The results: .75 mile (open fields with a tree line in between) - all four radios performed well with good, clear reception; .88 mile (half open fields and half dense wooded lot and power line overhead at one end) - all four radios showed noticeable loss of reception but could still communicate, the eXRS radios picked up some static; 1.0 mile (2/3 open fields and 1/3 wooded lot) - the GMRS radios had good communication; the eXRS were just as strong but had occasional interference; 2.3 miles (hilltop to hilltop, a mix of open fields, heavy wooded lots) - the GMRS radios were clear but the signal reception would fade in and out, the eXRS radios performed similarly but with some interference; when one radio was inside a house and the other outside (relatively open line of sight), usable range dropped to .5 mile and interference became noticeable in all radios.
--- TriSquare Electronics TSX Radios Pro's and Con's:
TSX300 Value Pack TSX300 Radios NiMH Batteries Desktop Charger Headset w/Boom Mic Belt Clips Instruction Manual MSRP...$99.99 (grey), $109.99 (camo) Website: www.trisquare.us
Conversations on eXRS radios are more secure than FRS/GMRS radios (+); No FCC license is required (+); Operating the TSX100 is very straight forward and easy (+); The TSX300 has just about any feature you would want or need (+); eXRS radios do not communicate with FRS/GMRS radios that most people already have (+ and -); eXRS radios seem to pick up a little more static around EMF sources (-); TSX100 and TSX300 radios are water resistant, not waterproof (-). TSX100 Value Pack TSX100 Radios NiMH Batteries Desktop Charger Belt Clips Instruction Manual
MSRP...$69.99 (grey), $79.99 (camo) TSX300 Value Pack TSX300 Radios NiMH Batteries Desktop Charger Headset w/Boom Mic Belt Clips Instruction Manual
MSRP...$99.99 (grey), $109.99 (camo)
For more information,visit their website: www.trisquare.us
First Published May 2011