motorola radios

Two-Way Radios: Digital Versus Analog

Analog radios were initially used by the military in the early 1900s. By the 1990s the digital radio was being developed. So which radio is better? The original analog radio or the more modernized digital radio? What is the difference between the two? While most of our Motorola two-way radios feature digital designs, we still offer analog radios like the VX-261 and the VX-264. Choosing the right radio is all about looking at your two-way radio needs and weighing the pros and cons of each device.

Benefits of Digital Radios

For one, digital radios tend to have coverage that is 40% better than analog radios. Other benefits include higher voice clarity, larger range, and more advanced software that is constantly updated. The amount of background noise is decreased due to the radio’s ability to differentiate between human conversation and background noise. This is a huge advantage since background noise can make communicating efficiently extremely difficult. Other benefits of digital radios include:

  • Higher battery life by 30-50%
  • More clear and functional regardless of their range
  • You can hold conversations with multiple individuals on a single channel
  • Compatible with more applications like GPS tracking and unit ID
  • Various safety features that digital radios can be equipped with for fleet units
  • Allow for hands-free Bluetooth communication, which is helpful for those who use them on the go while operating a vehicle or other heavy machinery.

Digital Radio Downsides

There are many benefits to digital radios, but there are also a few disadvantages. Digital radios are more complex than analog radios. For this reason, they do take a little getting used to compared to analog radios.

These radios are unable to handle radio frequency or RF signals. This means that if there is RF noise then the radio may drop the signal altogether, which can be crucial. As with most newer technology, digital radios tend to be more on the expensive side than analog radios. This is in part due to the advanced technology of the devices and all of the options that they come with nowadays.

2 way radio

Benefits of Analog Radios

Analog radios tend to be more simplified and standardized. Due to the simplicity of analog radios, they are typically easy for the average person to use and operate. You do not need to be a super tech-savvy individual to enjoy the benefits of two-way communication. They typically come with a push-to-talk option for easy communication. Since these radios have been around for a while, they are more affordable than digital radios. This is due to the simplicity of the system.

These radios use what is called an FM or frequency modulation, which requires minimal technology for the device to function. There are many companies that prefer the traditional ways of analog radio. The way these radios work is through sinusoidal value waveforms. This means that voice signals are transmitted on a continuous wavelength. Another plus is that they efficiently use bandwidth and do not have digital interference when it comes to the transmission of the human voice.

2 Way Radio

Analog Radio Downsides

The signal of an analog radio decreases once the range is almost exceeded. For this reason, and considering if you are looking to communicate with a large team of people, then analog might not be the best way to go. On a given channel, typically only one two-way signal can be held. This can cause frustration amongst staff or team members when multiple individuals need to communicate at a single given time.

In addition, the technology of the devices is unable to be upgraded. Which makes it unable to support applications needed by businesses. However, analog radio is still a good viable option for radio communication.

If you don’t need all the fancy options that come with digital radios, then analog might be right for you. A local church might find analog radios to be just the right fit. They will only use the devices within a specified perimeter for a couple of hours at a time. However, if you are a trucking company, looking to use radios over the distance of hundreds of miles for long periods at a time, then digital radios might be best for you.

Check out our wide variety of 2-way radios, and let us help match you with the perfect radio system for your company or event


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