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Midland X-tra Talk GXT1050

July 13, 2012
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Go into any retailer that sells FRS/GMRS radios and the chances of finding Midland two-way radios is very good. The same is true on the internet. Midland radios are everywhere because they offer a lot of value for the money, and that makes them popular.

--- Physical Description

Similar to previous radios in the X-tra Talk series, the PTT button is on the left side and accessory connectors are on the right. Five buttons on the front acess the menu options, lock/call and monitor/scan. The on/off/volume control and antenna are on the top as is typical. Overall dimensions are approximately 8" tall, 2 " wide, 1 " thick. The total weight with NiMH battery and exulting belt clip comes in at 7.5 ounces.

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Midland GXT1050

--- Functionality

It is amazing the number of features Midland packs into the FRS/GMRS radio. The GXT1050 has all of the common features found in two-way radios: FRS and GMRS channels, privacy codes, NOAA weather channels (10), call alerts (10 tones and 5 animal calls), vibrating call alert, hands-free eVOX (9 levels of sensitivity), channel monitor and channel scan, choice of power (AA or NiMH), roger beep, backlit LCD display, RX/TX indicator, battery power indicator, keypad lock, keypad tones, backlit LCD display, SOS siren, hi/med/low selectable power output (except FRS channels), low battery indicator and silent mode. What sets the TXT1050 apart from other FRS/GMRS radios are the other features and expanded capabilities.

--- Worth Additional Explanation

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50 Channels. While channels 1 to 22 are standard in FRS/GMRS radios, channels 23 to 50 in the GXT1050 radios are not unique frequencies. Midland has precoded these channels to the same frequency as one of the channel 1 to 22, and they are hard coded to a specific squelch code. For example, channel 48 could be the same frequency as channel 13 and DCS number 80. This makes it very easy to set multiple radios similarly without going through numerous menus.

38 CTCSS (Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System...analog) and 104 DCS (Digital-Coded Squelch). In comparison to other two-way radios, they typically have 83 DCS codes. Codes numbers 84 to 104 are available in these Midland radios and have specific digital codes attached to them.

JIS4 waterproof (splash resistant): Splashing water from any direction shall have no harmful effect. This is based on the Japanese Industrial Standards for "ingress protection".

Whisper Mode is a very nice feature and it works very well. In this mode, a person can actually whisper and the microphone will pick it up and transmit as if regular speech.

Groups. While I don't see this as a useful feature, some people would find this handy. Simply explained, Group Mode allows communication among the group members, or it can be set up for direct communication between two individuals in a group without the entire group hearing the conversation.

The 'Dual Watch' function allows the scanning of 2 channels at the same time, the current channel setting and a second selected channel.

--- Room for Improvement

The menu control button seemed to require depressing more than the other buttons to activate (at least it did on the test radios). This could cause some difficulty when wearing heavy gloves.

The belt clip attaches firmly and snaps in place. Having it swivel would be a very nice touch.

The menu system seems complicated and difficult to navigate. When the number of user controlled features is considered, it's probably pretty good.

The same 2 sets of 7 LEDs used to 'block character' display the channels are used to indicate most menu functions with 2 characters. Other indicators such as VOX, Whisper, RX, TX, H/M/L, Group, Battery Power and Vibrate are LED specific and very easy to read. Having the standard mode functions shown by specific LEDs would be a great enhancement.

--- Other Nice Features

The rubber accessory jack cover is easy to remove/insert and is very well designed for keeping out water.

The large LED screen is 1 1/4" wide by 7/8" tall.

A 3 year limited warranty to cover failure due to defects in material and workmanship.

The spring that controls belt clip tension is a larger gauge wire than would be expected. This will make it more durable and secure.

I accidentally dropped one of the radios on a cement floor. It landed hard with a loud 'crack' sound, a bounce, another 'crack', and then it slid; I was sure a 'Dear Midland' letter would be in order. To my surprise, the radio turned on; further scrutinizing with a magnifying glass showed no visible damage. I cannot say whether it was just pure luck or a testament to Midland's claim of heavy duty construction. I don't think any of my older radios would have survived the drop.

--- Power Output

FRS: .42 Watt; GMRS: 5.33 Watts. The FCC limits FRS output to watt and the 5.33 watts for GMRS is pushing the allowed limits. Having this increased output definitely gives it an edge in transmission over older models with lower output.

--- The Range Game

The GXT1050 is promoted as haveing a 36 mile range. According to their printed information, this is based on optimum conditions over water, open rural areas without obstructions or flat areas where you can see the other person. I have developed a system for testing radios fairly and equally around my home based on specific positions. With the assistance of a friend, this is what we found:

.75 mile (open fields with a tree line in between) excellent communication on FRS and GMRS

.88 mile (half open fields and half dense wooded lot) excellent communication on FRS and GMRS

1.0 mile (2/3 open fields and 1/3 wooded lot) at this point, older model radios would have a problem; Midland's GXT1050 had excellent communication on FRS and GMRS. The voice clarity coming from the built in speaker was exceptional at this distance and less during the test.

1.3 miles (just over crest of hill) communication in GMRS was marginal, FRS was out of range

1.4 miles (10% open field, 90% thick wooded lots) no FRS, and GMRS was breaking up

2.3 miles (hilltop to hilltop, a mix of open fields, wooded lots) in GMRS, the communication is better than 'good', but not 'very good'; in FRS, the signal would fade in and out, with background static when the signal did reach.

3.1 miles (hilltop to over crest on another hilltop) FRS would not reach, GMRS was OK, but had a lot of background static

One radio inside a house and the other outside - at .86 mile with a nearby house, power lines, a small hill and scattered trees in between, the radios would communicate in GMRS but were marginal at best

The radios from Midland were the GXT1050VP4 value pack. It includes (2) GXT1050 radios, (2) belt clips, (2) headsets with boom microphone, (2) rechargeable NiMH batteries, DC adapter, AC adapter and dual desktop charging base. This value pack has an MSRP of $99.99

It has been 4 years since my last review of Midland FRS/GMRS radios. Midland has made a lot of improvements and enhancements to their GXT series. With the extensive availability in retail outlets and the internet, pricing is very competitive; buyers can purchase the GXT1050 Value Pack at a good price and have a very good set of radios with all of the accessories.


Clarifying Squelch Codes

The CTCSS and DCS squelch codes in FRS/GMRS radios do not block others from hearing a conversation. These codes are designed to block out all conversations from other people on the same channel...with one exception. If Bob and Tom are on channel 10, squelch code number 12, their conversation can be heard by a Ed on channel 10 with no code. Any transmissions by Ed will not be heard by Bob and Tom since their squelch code is blocking all channel 10 transmissions except those using squelch code number 12.


First Published May 2011



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