If you want a very small radio that you will forget you are carrying, the Midland X-Talker T10 is a good option with some assets that make it stand above other small radios. In this small of a package, none of the walkie talkies meet the standards of the larger ones, but the Midland X-Talker gets closer than many of its rivals. It stands out with good water resistance and excellent battery life, but we found it to have poor range and a far-from-accurate battery indicator. If you are buying a radio for a sport like climbing where the range isn't that important, but the size is, you could be a good fit for the X-Talker. As a bonus, it has pre-programmed privacy codes to improve communication among your group when there is lots of radio traffic, which most budget models lack. Among models in its price range, we feel that this model offers the best value, earning it our Best Buy Award. Again, if a large range is your priority, it's unlikely that any model in this price range will suffice for your needs.
Midland X-Talker T10 Review
Cons: Poor range, inaccurate battery indicator
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
In the sub-class of small radios, the X-Talker is quite well equipped. It has some water resistance and really strong battery life but lacks the range and ease of use that some of the larger radios possess. This radio is also one of the cheapest options available, so it offers pretty good value for your money.
Range and Clarity
The X-Talker performed poorly in our straight-line range test, not even connecting at our first checkpoint one mile from the start line. This put it very low in comparison to other radios in the test. Surprisingly, its range didn't drop significantly when exposed to forested and hilly terrain, so it gained back some clout with those tests as the other radios dropped their range in the tougher terrain.
There was a large difference in the real-world range between the budget-friendly models we tested. Despite many of these models being marketed to transmit over dozens of miles, our experience with these types of radios was in the 2 miles or less range, and consistency was hard to find.
Ease of Use
Changing channels and volume settings is never as easy with buttons as they are with knobs, but a lack of knobs makes for a sleeker design here. While the X-Taker has a good display screen, our testers found that its button-based menu system was harder to operate than it needed to be. You will quickly learn the ropes after reading the directions and become accustomed to how to change the settings you want to, but it could be easier with some twist knobs. The small size of this radio made it hard to operate with a gloved hand, but that is an obvious trade-off for its small overall size.
We appreciate that this model does come with 38 privacy codes, which can block out chatter on highly-trafficked radiowaves when everyone in your party utilizes the same privacy code. It's the only model in its price range with this feature. It also has a scan feature, can receive NOAA weather alerts, and has a keypad button lock. The keypad button lock is a handy feature when you want to keep your radio on but stuffed inside a pack or a tight pocket. It prevents inadvertent channel changes, which would put you out of reach from members of your party.
Weather Resistance and Durability
This radio is in the small group of those that came with a water resistance specification from the manufacturer. Its manual just say that it is water-resistant, but that its one year warranty does not cover water damage. It took a shower of water from a hose and our wet fall hikes with no problems. Its casing seemed up to the challenge of surviving the bumps and scrapes that come with a life in the outdoors.
We appreciate this protection in our investment, despite its price being low anyways. Communication becomes increasingly important as weather turns foul, and being confident that your radio won't peter out in moderate precipitation while you transmit a message to your partner(s) is a real benefit.
This is an area where the Midland X-Talker performed very well. It lasted over twenty-one hours total in our battery life test (sending one 10-second transmission every five minutes), putting it in the top group of finishers in that test. This model runs on non-rechargeable alkaline batteries (three AAA).
While the radio lasted a long time in our battery test, its battery indicator on the screen was very confusing. We were confused to see that the battery indicator showed full when standing by, but it showed the battery had lost charge when we pressed the transmit button. This discrepancy between battery indications continued throughout the test in various fashions. We did appreciate that as the radio was in its final minutes of function, it dimmed its screen to channel power into making more transmissions.
Weight and Size
At 3.9 ounces and 5.5 inches tall, the X-Talker is one of the more slight radios in our test. It fits nicely in jacket pockets, waist belt pockets of backpacks, and clipped to a strap. We could easily forget that we were carrying the radio until we needed it.
Clipped onto our shoulder strap, this model rides along just about as discrete as possible for a modern walkie talkie. We like the clip but don't trust its sturdiness enough to keep it clipped outside of a pack or pocket when skiing or mountain biking downhill.
As one of the cheapest radios we tested, the Midland X-Talker performed quite well for the price. It narrowly missed earning our Best Buy Award for its strong value. It has pretty good performance but lacks the range to have it hit all the bases. It is by far the cheapest option we tested with any water resistance. If you want a solid radio in a small package but a huge range isn't key, this could be a good buy.
We like the size and water resistance of the Midland X-Talker T10. The battery life is great, despite a lackluster battery indicator. It is easy enough to operate to make work and the price is quite hard to beat. Its poor range is simply the norm for this price range. You can pay triple the price to get a better radio, but if your budget won't allow it and your needs don't demand much range, this model is our top recommendation, winning our Best Buy Award.
— Gray Grandy