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Midland X-Talker 36 Review

A solid contender in the middle of the pack in all categories with small size, decent range, water resistance, but lower than average battery life
Midland X-Talker 36
Photo: Amazon
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Price:  $70 List
Pros:  Small size, solid range, water resistant
Cons:  More expensive, poor battery life, questionable quality control
Manufacturer:   Midland
By Gray Grandy ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 11, 2020
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 9
  • Range and Clarity - 30% 5
  • Ease of Use - 25% 6
  • Weather Resistance and Durability - 15% 5
  • Battery Life - 15% 4
  • Weight and Size - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Midland X-Talker 36 does a good job of splitting the gap between the small, inexpensive radios with limited capability and the expensive, larger radios that are more powerful and suited for more challenging environments. It is only slightly larger than the smallest competition but has a better than average range. Its weak spots are in its short battery life and Midland's questionable quality control that we expand on below. Few radios that we tested do a good job in this middle ground, and we liked the X-Talker 36 for its ability to round out the field.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Midland X-Talker 36
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $70 List$189.96 at Amazon$69.99 at Amazon
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$70 List$29.95 at REI
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Pros Small size, solid range, water resistantEasy to use, great range, great battery life, good weather resistanceWaterproof and floats, good range when there are not obstructionsExcellent range, has an extraordinary amount of features/settings, good battery lifeInexpensive, small and light, water resistant, has privacy codes
Cons More expensive, poor battery life, questionable quality controlLarge and heavy, very expensiveExpensive, bulky, challenging menu navigationDifficult to set up and learn to use, has the capability to get you in trouble with the FCCPoor range, inaccurate battery indicator
Bottom Line Battery life and the price are the two weakest points of the X-Talker 36 that otherwise has solid range, small size, and water resistanceAside from its larger size, this radio performed with excellence all around, especially in ease of useThis radio is made to live around the water, but is a poor value if that is not important to youLicensed ham radio operators will appreciate the amazing range and tons of featuresWhile it has poor range, this inexpensive radio is our top recommendation in its price range
Rating Categories Midland X-Talker 36 BC Link 2.0 Motorola T600 BaoFeng BF-F8HP Midland X-Talker T10
Range And Clarity (30%)
5
7
7
10
3
Ease Of Use (25%)
6
8
6
1
5
Weather Resistance And Durability (15%)
5
7
9
5
6
Battery Life (15%)
4
8
3
5
7
Weight And Size (15%)
7
3
4
4
8
Specs Midland X-Talker 36 BC Link 2.0 Motorola T600 BaoFeng BF-F8HP Midland X-Talker T10
Measured Weight (Single Radio, with Batteries) 5.0 oz 11.0 oz 8.4 oz 7.8 oz 3.9 oz
Battery Capacity 700mAh 2,300 mAh 800 mAh 2,000 mAh 1,000 mAh
Battery Type NiHM, Alkaline AAA Lithium Ion NiMH, Alkaline AA Lithium Ion AAA
Rechargeable? Yes, or normal AAA Yes Yes, also can use normal AA batteries Yes No
Charge Via USB? Yes Yes Not with supplied cable, yes with a different micro USB cable No n/a
Battery Life Test Results (hr:min) 11:40 22:45 11:00 17:40 21:20
Frequency Range 462.5625 to 467.7125 MHz 462.55 to 467.71 MHz 462.55 to 467.71 MHz 65-108MHz (FM Receive only) 136-174MHz and 400-520MHz (TX/RX) 462.55 to 467.71 MHz
Dimensions (in) Body Only 1.30 x 2.20 x 6.10" 3.9 x 2.4 x 2" Body;
3.15 x 2.2 x 1" Mic
2.4 x 1.5 x 4.9" 2 x 1.2 x 3.7" 2 x 1 x 3.5"
Channels 36 22 22 100+ 22
Privacy Codes? 121 available Yes Yes, 121 available Yes Yes, 38 available
Keypad Lock? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NOAA Weather Alerts? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
VOX? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Scan Function? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Clips to Pack? Yes Yes Yes No (mounts sold separately) Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

With a range of 2.6 miles in a straight line, the X-Talker 36 was only beat by larger and more expensive radios making transmissions at a distance. It is water-resistant and had decent ease of use and features. We were disappointed by its battery life (less than 12 hours) and the microphone jack not working.

Performance Comparison


The X-Talker 36 is a good looking middle ground between the small...
The X-Talker 36 is a good looking middle ground between the small inexpensive models and the larger, powerful models for significantly more money.
Photo: William Grandy

Range and Clarity


For being one of the smaller sized radios we tested, the Midland X-Talker 36 has great range compared to its minimally-sized peers. It even is close to matching range performance with some significantly larger models we tested. In our unobstructed straight-line test, it made calls up to 2.6 miles away. In our test with hills and trees, it performed better or equal to all but our few longest talkers.

In addition to having solid range numbers, the call clarity was notably clear and crisp compared to other radios we tested.

Other than a little condensation in the display, the X-Talker 36...
Other than a little condensation in the display, the X-Talker 36 handled water quite well.
Photo: William Grandy

Ease of Use


The X-Talker 36 scores just slightly above average for ease of use. It has a button array that we have come to expect from most comparable radios. Navigating the menu is intuitive as long as you have some familiarity with the symbols outlined in the user manual. The backlit display is large enough to read, and not cluttered with too many symbols.

We really like having the volume knob to make adjustments on the fly without looking at the buttons and for volume adjustments with gloved hands. We find the buttons large enough to use with smaller gloves but hard to pinpoint with a larger, more insulated glove.

The Midland X-Talker 36 was just big enough to be noticeable on our...
The Midland X-Talker 36 was just big enough to be noticeable on our waistbelt as we rode. We prefer it to live in our pack.
Photo: William Grandy

These Midlands come with a nice charging dock that fits both radios. If you don't want to carry the dock, you can also charge them with a micro USB port on the side of the radio. We like that you can replace the rechargeable battery pack with ordinary alkaline batteries if you need more power and don't have a place to charge.

Weather Resistance and Durability


These little Midlands have a pretty solid outer casing and no small breakable parts that we had any issues with. Throughout their hours in backpacks and on waist straps, they held strong and showed minimal signs of wear. If you did have a major issue, these come with a 1-year warranty from Midland.

While the Midland X-Talker 36 is generally quite solid, we are not as impressed with the quality of the headphone jack/external microphone that it came with as an accessory. First of all, the headphone port on the radio never functioned for us. Trying multiple different headphone options (to rule out the headphones being the problem) we were never able to get the sounds to play in the headphones, or make a transmission through the external microphone. We were surprised to have this feature not work, because the X-Talker 36 had few reviews online that complained of malfunctioning features. Additionally, the supplied headphone/microphone felt cheap and breakable. The foam cover for the earpiece tore easily on its first use, and the earpiece did not fit well in our ears. The supplied headphone/microphone did work when we tried it with other devices, but it would not be our top pick to use consistently with any radio.

One feature we like is that they are relatively water-resistant. Midland claims water resistance but does not offer a formal IP (Ingress Protection) rating, as some other radios do. We subjected this radio to showers of water, and it spent some testing days in damp conditions. It performed well. It did end up with some condensation inside the screen after a wet day, but it was not enough to make it hard to read the display. It has nice rubber covers over all of the electronic ports, which kept water out in all our tests.

The earpiece that came with the Midland X-Talker 36 felt breakable...
The earpiece that came with the Midland X-Talker 36 felt breakable, and the foam cover tore on our first use. On top of that, the microphone jack on the radio didn't work on the one we bought.
Photo: William Grandy

Battery Life


This radio is in the lower end of the field when it comes to battery life. It lasted 11:40 while making a transmission every 5 minutes in our standardized test, which was a few hours better than our worst radios, but less than half the time of our best radios.

The battery indicator on the screen seemed to deplete relatively linearly, which was nice. We didn't get any warning beeps or signals when it was about to die. This lack of beeps could be nice if excessive sounds get annoying for you or could lead you to have the radio die without you knowing if you aren't paying attention to the indicator on the screen.

Weight and Size


This radio packs a lot of features and power for its small size. It is only about 2 oz heavier than our smallest radio we tested, but it generally has better performance than those that are only slightly lighter. The highest-powered and most fully-featured radios we tested were significantly larger and weighed as much as two times more. Its small dimensions and short antenna make it easy to throw into a backpack or even a handbag without taking up much room.

The X-Talker 36 is only slightly larger than our smallest radios...
The X-Talker 36 is only slightly larger than our smallest radios, but works over longer distances and has plenty of features and settings for recreational use.
Photo: Caroline Miller

Value


The X-Talker 36 slides into the middle of the pack in many metrics, and that includes price. It is about double the price of the cheapest options, but it comes with many more features, better usability, weather resistance, and better range than those cheaper options. It is also significantly less expensive than our most expensive radios that have formal weather resistance ratings, longer range, and longer battery life. The general trend that you get what you pay for in radios applies here, so you get mid-range performance for a mid-range price.

Conclusion


The Midland X-Talker 36 does a great job splitting the difference between the more expensive and capable models and the least expensive and basic options. Its range is impressive for its size, but the battery life and quality control is not as good as other radios.

Gray Grandy