Motorola T600 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Waterproof and floats, good range when there are not obstructions
Cons: Expensive, bulky, challenging menu navigation
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This radio floats and is waterproof to a meter deep, which should keep it protected in any wet environments. That feature comes at a price though, as it is more expensive and twice the weight (8.4oz) of similarly equipped options that aren't waterproof.
Range and Clarity
The T600 has better range than most others we tested, especially when unobstructed by terrain or vegetation. It communicated up to six miles away in our straight line test, which was certainly above average. This range significantly dropped when we moved into hilly terrain, but this radio was still above the middle of the pack. When this radio lost connection, it was more apt to sent incomprehensible messages than others. When other radios would just not make a call, the T600 would make a very scratchy and broken one.
The PTT button has a high and low half, which allows you to decide to transmit at .5 or 2 watts. This feature lets you decide if you want to save battery with lower power, or get better range with higher power. The confusion comes when you are on one of the FRS frequencies that are designated to be at .5 watts. When on those channels, it still will not transmit at 2 watts even if you press the high half of the PTT button. This split button can help you make a longer call when you need, or save battery, but it can also be unclear as to what power you are transmitting at.
Ease of Use
We really appreciated user interfaces that use a combination of buttons and knobs for quicker adjustments, but this radio only utilizes buttons. Combining the "up" and "down" arrows to change volume, privacy codes, and channels sometimes created confusion over which one we were changing. Having an interface of only buttons requires navigating the menu to make simple changes like the volume and the channels, and that took some familiarity to do efficiently. If the ambient noise increased, you were left scrambling to press the right buttons to increase the volume while you can't hear the person on the other end.
The hands-free VOX feature was not very useful to our testers. It was unreliable as to if it would transmit when you talked, or it may transmit when you were not talking if there was a loud ambient noise. It required you to keep the radio close to your mouth, but its bulky size made this usually uncomfortable. You could use this with the external plug-in earpiece, but the radio is not rated for water use with the earpiece plug open. In real life, this radio's real value comes in its water resistance, so any feature that opens its waterproof ports defeats the radio's value. The T600 has some good features, with plenty of built-in security codes, channels, and weather channels. It also has a flashlight on the bottom to help if you get stranded in the dark, and it has the option of red or white light. The scan function is good if you are communicating with multiple groups.
It also has a whistle built into the backpack clip. However, you have to move a small catch to remove the whole clip to be able to put your mouth on the whistle - something that could be challenging in an emergency situation. The clip worked in most situations, but we could not rely on it to stay secure in the roughest conditions. The spring was just not strong enough, the clip lacked teeth or texture for holding friction, and it seemed prone to breaking.
We were happy to find that the buttons were larger than average, so it was realistic to work this radio with gloves on. It also has an average amount of settings and a good display screen, so there are not too many options on the menu to wade through. We also appreciated the simplicity of the battery hatch closure. Making a waterproof door could have easily been over-engineered, but Motorola utilized a simple two screw design with an effective rubber seal that makes it easy to change batteries.
Weather Resistance and Durability
The T600 performed exceptionally well in our water resistance tests. It met the manufacturer's specifications of being able to spend thirty minutes one meter underwater (with ports closed of course). It also floats and flashes its light when it goes in the water, which makes it much more likely to be found if you drop it off of your watercraft. This radio is clearly designed to spend time in the water, and Motorolla executed that intent well.
The waterproof and floating exterior also works to defend the radio from terrestrial threats such as rocks and getting squashed in a backpack. This radio showed very little wear after our testing, and we have little question it will continue to last. The charging and earpiece ports are the only potential weaknesses to the water-resistance of this radio. If you forget to close them before submersion, you are risking this radio failing. The small plastic pieces on the backpack clip also seem like a likely piece to break with rough handling.
This radio only lasted eleven hours in our battery test. This was less than half of the life of some of our top performers. While that was a shorter performance than many others, the T600 has the convenient feature of accepting regular AA batteries in place of the supplied battery pack in case you run out without a way to charge it. Motorolla reports that this radio will last longer on regular alkaline batteries, but we did not do a formal test to check this.
Weight and Size
At 8.4 ounces and 2.5 x 1.5 x 7.5 inches, this is one of the larger radios in our test group. This is not surprising considering the extra material it takes to make it waterproof and floating, but it is still a small drawback. When clipped to a backpack or in a pocket, it felt larger and usually uncomfortable.
This radio is quite blocky and dense, so it felt even larger than its dimensions suggest. It would be better stashed in a storage compartment of a boat or somewhere else that you could keep it off of your body.
If you need a radio to use on the water, this is worth the extra money over cheaper options. A quick dip in the water for most other radios will mean you need to buy another radio, but the T600 won't even flinch if you drop it in. If you don't care about the aquatic prowess of your radio, there are plenty of cheaper options that have similar capabilities that will provide better value for your money.
The Motorolla T600 is a stellar option with good range for people who live their life on the water. It has top-notch waterproofing and it floats, but its size and user interface can leave something to be desired.
— Gray Grandy