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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
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midland x-talker 36 walkie talky review
Credit: Amazon
Price:  $88 List
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Manufacturer:   Midland
By Gray Grandy ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 11, 2020
54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Range and Clarity - 30% 5.0
  • Ease of Use - 25% 6.0
  • Weather Resistance and Durability - 15% 5.0
  • Battery Life - 15% 4.0
  • Weight and Size - 15% 7.0

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.
REASONS TO BUY
Small size
Solid range
Water resistant
REASONS TO AVOID
More expensive
Poor battery life
Questionable quality control

Compare to Similar Products

 
midland x-talker 36 walkie talky review
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Price $88 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
54
72
54
53
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Star Rating
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Pros Small size, solid range, water resistantSimple, sturdy, great battery life, impressive clarity, average rangeExcellent range, has an extraordinary amount of features/settings, good battery lifeInexpensive, small and light, water resistant, has privacy codesSmall and lightweight, inexpensive
Cons More expensive, poor battery life, questionable quality controlDoes not include NOAA weather channels, on the quiet sideDifficult to set up and learn to use, has the capability to get you in trouble with the FCCPoor range, inaccurate battery indicatorNot that easy to use, just adequate range
Bottom Line A solid contender in the middle of the pack in all categories with small size, decent range, water resistance, but lower than average battery lifeThese compact walkies do their job and hold up to wear and tearThis radio has amazing performance, but requires a ham operator's license to be used legallyThis radio is small, light, and packs plenty of battery life, but lacks the range of larger radiosAverage performance across the board in a small package
Rating Categories Midland X-Talker 36 Rocky Talkie BaoFeng BF-F8HP Midland X-Talker T10 Motorola Talkabout...
Range and Clarity (30%)
5.0
7.0
10.0
3.0
4.0
Ease of Use (25%)
6.0
7.0
1
5.0
4.0
Weather Resistance and Durability (15%)
5.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
4.0
Battery Life (15%)
4.0
9.0
5.0
7.0
6.0
Weight and Size (15%)
7.0
6.0
4.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Midland X-Talker 36 Rocky Talkie BaoFeng BF-F8HP Midland X-Talker T10 Motorola Talkabout...
Measured Weight (Single Radio, with Batteries) 5.0 oz 6.7 oz 7.8 oz 3.9 oz 4.0 oz
Dimensions Body Only 1.30 x 2.20 x 6.10" 6.5 x 2.5 x 1.6" 2 x 1.2 x 3.7" 2 x 1 x 3.5" 2 x 1 x 3.5"
Battery Capacity 700mAh 1550 mAh 2,000 mAh 1,000 mAh 1,000 mAh
Battery Type NiHM, Alkaline AAA Li-ion Lithium Ion AAA AAA
Rechargeable? Yes, or normal AAA Yes Yes No No
Charge Via USB? Yes Yes No n/a n/a
Frequency Range 462.5625 to 467.7125 MHz 462 to 467 MHz 65-108MHz (FM Receive only) 136-174MHz and 400-520MHz (TX/RX) 462.55 to 467.71 MHz 462.55 to 467.71 MHz
Channels 36 128 100+ 22 22
Privacy Codes? 121 available 121 available Yes Yes, 38 available No
Keypad Lock? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NOAA Weather Alerts? Yes No No Yes No
VOX? Yes No Yes Yes No
Scan Function? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Clips to Pack? Yes Yes No (mounts sold separately) Yes 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


midland x-talker 36 walkie talky review - 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.
Credit: 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.

midland x-talker 36 walkie talky review - 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.
Credit: 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.

midland x-talker 36 walkie talky review - 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.
Credit: 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.

midland x-talker 36 walkie talky review - 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.
Credit: 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.

midland x-talker 36 walkie talky review - 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.
Credit: 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
 

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