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No one disputes that digital technology is the future of wireless communications. Yet for all the advantages of upgrading to digital, plenty of business and government users of two-way radios still are getting along fine with analog models. If one gets broken on the job site or simply wears out, owners should have a choice of whether it’s the right time to upgrade to digital.
Icom America recognized that many of its two-way radio customers have either fully migrated to digital or are upgrading their analog models as they are replaced. Yet this leaves out a third category: people who need tough, business-class radios right now but are not ready to go digital.
That’s the idea behind Icom’s new F1000/F2000 series of analog radios, which have rugged construction, 4 or 5 watts of power and an IP67 ingress-protection rating, the highest available for keeping out water and dust. The radio also announces the current channel so users can change channels without looking at the radio knob.
Despite transmitting in traditional analog mode, these radios still benefit from the never-ending advance of digital microprocessor technology, which allows manufacturers to pack more features into smaller packages. VHF and UHF versions are available in three configurations:
All three configurations include features common on some of the most advanced radios on the market:
Advanced motion sensor alerts. An electronic motion sensor in the radio can detect when it is tilted beyond a certain angle and whether it is in motion. This is an optional feature on many handheld radios on the market, but it comes standard on the F1000/F2000 series. The sensor is programmable, enabling the creation of “man-down” and lone-worker alerts that send out alarms in emergencies.
Long battery life. The lithium-ion battery pack in the F1000/F2000 series is waterproof and can keep the radio operational for up to 14 hours at a stretch, thanks to a built-in power-save mode that reduces power usage when the radio is idle.
Inversion voice scrambler. While inversion scrambling is not nearly as secure as the encryption in digital transmissions, it still offers enough security to thwart casual snoopers. That means managers can discuss personnel issues, for instance, without worrying that their workers will hear the conversation.
Loud audio. A built-in BTL amplifier doubles the sound output through the speaker, ensuring the radios can be used in loud environments like factories, stadiums and amusement parks.
In short, these radios are available with pretty much everything except digital-transmission capability.
The value and limits of digital
Digital radios aren’t for everyone all the time. While they generally offer better sound quality, longer battery life and more security than analog radios, they also cost a bit more and require more technical acumen to maintain.
Depending on the size of your radio fleet and your precise needs, analog models may get the job done for years to come. Digital radios enable data tracking and analysis that can boost a company’s bottom line, but not every business can benefit from that.
The key is finding a vendor who will assess your needs and find the right radios to get the job done. They could be digital, but they don’t have to be.