Midland BizTalk Business Radio Review
Midland definitely gives you more bang for your buck when it comes to the number of business bands and privacy codes you can program into your BizTalk radio along with the extended range compared to its closest competition.
Last week, Midland officially announced the Midland BizTalk Business Radio as a solution better suited to jobsites and office buildings. I have a set of Midland X-Talker radios that I’ve been using for outdoor applications with plenty of success. Those have a range of up to 38 miles across water or open terrain, but that’s not the environment that the BizTalk is designed to operate in.
So where exactly is the Midland BizTalk designed to work?
The BizTalk is a radio that was designed to operate not so much over long distances, but in spaces where there are a lot of physical interferences. Specifically, Midland rated their business radios to operate in office buildings up to 20 floors and 250,000 square feet. That makes it a great solution for applications like office building security, retail stores, warehouse communication, and – most importantly to us – jobsite communication.
Let’s start off by taking a look at what the Midland BizTalk as to offer on paper, then we’ll take a look at its real-world function.
Features Worth Noting
Numbers to Know
The Midland BizTalk is a reasonably small, lightweight two-way radio. It has 16 business radio channels you can select with the dial on top of the unit. There are also 56 business band frequencies and 142 privacy codes along with a monitor and scan functions. In order to take advantage of this privacy codes, you’ll need to load up Midland’s software on a computer and it will require a PC connection cable ($9.99) that is not included.
Battery and Charger
Unlike power tools, many two-way radios are still operating on Ni-Cad and Ni-MH battery packs. However, Midland went with the more reliable and longer-lasting lithium-ion technology. The included 3.7-volt lithium-ion battery is rated at 1800 milliamps, giving it a total capacity of 6.66 watt-hours. According to Midland, you can expect to get up to 21 hours of talk time from this battery pack.
Each of the new radios comes with its own charger that will allow you to charge the battery onboard the radio and a spare battery with two ports. The battery simply slides and locks onto the back of the radio, so if you’re rotating batteries it’s not difficult or time-consuming to swap them out.
Two optional pieces are included with the package and I would recommend keeping both installed, particularly for use on the jobsite. The first is a belt clip. This is pretty much a no-brainer in any application. You’ll need a small Phillips head screwdriver to remove the two screws at the top of the back in order to install the clip. The mounting bracket doesn’t sit nicely over the screw holes and you have to fight a little bit to flatten it out. This is a small inconvenience considering that it gives the clip better holding strength.
The second optional accessory is a lanyard. The Midland BizTalk doesn’t have the look of a radio that’s designed to survive a drop of more than one or two meters, so you’ll want to make sure that you and your crew keep it securely fastened to your wrist when in use at heights above ground level.
Compatibility and Value
When it comes to compatibility, the BizTalk is pre-programmed to work with two of the radios you may already have on site – the Motorola CLS series and Kenwood PKT-23.
The value proposition is likely going to draw a lot of interest. At just under $90, the Midland BizTalk offers better performance and lower prices compared to models like the Kenwood PK T-23 and Motorola CLS 1110. Of course, a great price doesn’t really mean much if the product can’t hold its own on the jobsite.
As I mentioned before, in order to take advantage of the full range of channels of privacy codes, you will need to pick up a PC connection cable when you order your BizTalk. Midland’s software is fairly intuitive and easy to use. Once installed, you simply point and click the field you wish to fill and the software brings up all the available choices. Click what you want to use, update your radio, and you’re good to go.
We’ve been testing the Midland BizTalk for several weeks now both as a handheld unit out of the box and with Midland’s BA3 concealed headset. I personally like the look of a concealed headset mainly because it makes people around me wonder if I belong to a three-letter law enforcement organization and they tend to give me a wide berth. Even though they’re more expensive, go with the BA3 headsets – the AVPH3 set isn’t compatible.
The performance so far as been outstanding. Communication is clear and the volume is loud enough to be heard well with just the handheld unit with work going on around us. When it comes to hearing your coworker around louder applications in close proximity, the in-ear headsets are invaluable.
Range is a curious thing with two-way radios. It’s rare to be able to get the full range unless you’re out West on the plains or over open water. The BizTalk is designed to work where there’s a lot of interference and it has done a great job for us. Covering the rated 250,000 square foot range of warehouse space is definitely easy. We didn’t have a 20-floor building to test it in, but we did test it on a 900-unit apartment complex property with no issues.
One rather minor complaint is that the channel numbers are raised black on the dial. This black on black coloration makes them a little challenging to see. I’d like to have white numbers for some contrast, though there is an audible voice to let you know what channel you’re on.
We only have two of these units at the moment, so dealing with individual chargers isn’t really a big deal. However, if your crew needs a larger number, there is also a six-port game charger available for $99.99. Spare batteries can be picked up for $29.99.
The Bottom Line
The Midland BizTalk two-way business radio is a compelling choice thanks to its feature set and sub-$100 price point. What you’re giving up are features like VOX (voice-operated exchange) and IP protection against water and dust ingress (the BizTalk doesn’t have a published rating yet) to get to such a low price.
Midland definitely gives you more bang for your buck when it comes to the number of business bands and privacy codes you can program into your radio along with the extended range compared to its closest competition. If you haven’t given Midland a shot yet, now would be the time to test the waters – assuming you don’t expect your radios to be exposed to wet environments.
Midland BizTalk Business Radio Key Features
- 16 Business Channels
- 56 Business Specific Frequencies
- 142 Privacy Codes
- Monitor Function
- Scan Function
- Voice Prompted Battery Alert & Channel Selection
- External Speaker Jack
- Charges Your Radio’s Battery plus an Additional Battery
- Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
- Compatible with Other UHF Business Band Radios
- Easy PC Programmable
Midland BizTalk Business Radio Specifications
- Model: Midland BR200 Business Radio
- Channels: 16 Channels + 142 Privacy Codes
- Operating Frequency: UHF 461.0375 ~ 469.5625MHz
- Power Source: 3.7Vdc Li-ion Battery Pack
- Includes: Business Radio, Rechargeable Battery Pack, Belt Clip, Desktop Charger, AC Wall Adapter, Owner’s Manual
- Warranty: Limited One Year Warranty
- Price: $89.99
Discover more at the Midland BizTalk website.