Motorola TalkAbout 250 Review


Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted walkie talkies. I remember begging my
Dad for a pair and one day he came home with two that he had picked up at a garage sale. I
had to then coerse my kid sister to play army or cops and robbers with me outside so I
that could test them out. This consisted of about 15mins of:

"Amy, do you read me?….Over"
"Amy, what’s your location?… Over"
"Hey, are you there?!"
"If you went back in the house, I’m telling Mom!"

All this was followed by the wonderful sound of static. Back then, walkie talkies were
oversized units with long antennas and crappy performance. They usually ended up in the
reject toy pile under your bed.

But times and electronics have changed. Enter the Motorola TalkAbout 250. The
Talkabout is a rugged portable two-way radio. Here’s the specs:

Size: 4.5" tall (without antenna) x 2.5" x 1.2"
Weight: 7 ounces
Range: Up to 2 miles range* with .5 watts of power
Power: 3 AA batteries (up to 30hrs talk time)
Channels: 14
Codes: 38

The Talkabout is made of a thick high impact plastic. It
feels very sturdy. I wouldn’t be afraid to drop one of these radios for
fear of breaking it. The 250 comes in either yellow, black, cobalt or
cammo colors. 

The front of the unit has a large volume dial that is easy turn with
the pad of your thumb. Next to this dial is a small LCD screen that
displays your battery power status, channel and code. The display is easy
to read and can be backlight when needed. Next to the display are 2 rubber
up/down buttons. These buttons let you cycle thru the channels or codes.
The buttons are small but are easy to press. The power button is next and
is small and red. Press it once and the unit powers up. Press and hold it,
and the unit turns off. The talk button is a large button in the middle of
the unit. It is easy to find and press. 

There are 4 other buttons on the front that allow you to scan, lock and
monitor the channels. The antenna is short and flexible. A beltclip comes with
the unit that you can attach to the back. One the left side of the unit is an
audio accessory connector so you plug in an earbud receiver, earbud with
push-to-talk mic, flex ear receiver, or remote speaker mic. The built-in voice
activation feature will let you use the earbud with in-line mic or headset
totally hands-free talk.

The Talkabout 250 really works great. It has a nice loud speaker that is
clear and easy to hear. When you’re not talking, the speaker is quiet. You don’t
hear that annoying white noise sound. The radio is also easy to use. Even my 6
yr old niece was using it like a pro in about 2 mins. These radios are great for
using in the woods, in the mall, a work sites etc.  There are fourteen,
no-licensed required Family Radio Service (FRS) channels and built-in codes that
block out unwanted chatter. You can use channel scan to monitor all fourteen
channels and keep in touch with more than one group.

I really like the Talkabout. I had a lot of fun testing them out and didn’t
find any problems with them. They would
be great for anyone that is into camping, or other outdoor sports. 

Price: $89.99 (from

Clear, loud audio

Buildings and terrain can cause interference


Product Information

  • Rugged
  • Portable
  • Clear, loud audio
  • Buildings and terrain can cause interference
Posted in: Gear, Miscellaneous, Wireless
{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Julie January 14, 2003, 12:53 am

    Post your comments here on the Tom Bihn ID Bag Review.

    Just click the POST REPLY button on this page.

  • Mauguam January 17, 2003, 10:46 pm

    Hey! My name is Megan!! I made your ID bag! Thanks for the great review! 😀 It’s always good to hear feedback, especially when it’s positive. Sorry about the business card slot, I had to chuckle because all of the other bags I make, with and accessory pocket, have one. You never know we’re always redesigning a little.
    I’m in the middle of making a new batch with some new colors!!! In addition to what you’ve seen, we’ll also be putting out Black/Charcoal with a Wasabi liner, Black/Grape with Wasabi, Black/Silver with a Denim colored liner.:) 😉 Sounds fun, huh? Can’t wait for you to check out some of our latest designs.
    Best Regards,
    Tom Bihn Seamstress

  • moosecat February 6, 2003, 7:55 pm

    I just bought this bag largely on the strength of this review. Although I only received the bag yesterday, I have already moved my life into it and done a fair bit of walking around with it in use. I am extremely happy with my purchase. Here are my specific impressions:

    – The bag is obviously of very high quality. There is a lot of reinforcement, and the hardware feels good.
    – The jelly-like padding on the shoulder strap is wonderful — that padding plus the width of the strap equals no shoulder pain.
    – I love the color scheme. I bought the black/charcoal version with a red interior. I can bring it into conservative meeting rooms (I’m a lawyer) without feeling self-conscious, but the stylish design and splash of color on the inside prevents the bag from being too boring.
    – The price is definitely right. For the quality and design of this bag, I don’t think you can do much better for $80. Compare to the Waterfield Designs bag, which more than doubles this price.

    The only things I’ve come up with as possible changes are nits:
    – Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t mind even a couple more pockets on the inside. Perhaps in the main compartment. And maybe one of them could be another zippered pocket. I’ve always liked bags that included a small zippered pocket for change, not present on this bag.
    – I wish the buttons to which the brain cell attaches were either removable somehow or not present. I don’t use a braincell (at least not yet), and I’m afraid that documents or folders in the main compartment will emerge with impressions made by those buttons. Time will tell if this concerns is well-founded.
    – I also wouldn’t mind a small exterior “slash” pocket, possibly on the side, so that I would have a quick place to stick my cell phone if I know I will be using it and don’t want to take the time to stow it in the zippered exterior pocket or one of the internal pockets.

  • Judie February 6, 2003, 8:51 pm

    Moosecat – I agree with the suggestions you had for tweaking the interior of the bag, espicially about making a way to cover the snaps if you don’t have a Brain Cell.

    I also think it is too cool for words that Tom Bihn Seamstress, Mauguam, read the review and posted here.

    I can’t wait to se the new colors and the new designs.

    Judie :0)

  • curious February 12, 2003, 12:11 am

    Originally posted by moosecat
    I just bought this bag largely on the strength of this review.

    Same here. 🙂

    Haven’t moved my life into it yet, though. Nevertheless, a few first impressions:


    • the shoulder pad is one of the nicest I’ve seen. It’s much nicer than the WaterField one, not least because the TB one doesn’t use velcro. Also, the Waterfield one doesn’t deal well with rain in my experience; it gets annoyingly waterlogged. While I haven’t taken the TB bag out in the rain yet, the shoulder pad seems to have a water-resistant coating.
    • I like the outer organization area more than I thought I would. I was worried that the large open pocket underneath the flap would lose some of its usefulness because it doesn’t have a zipper close. But the sides of the bag extend past the top of the open pocket to the top of the bag, creating a sort of “rim” that protects things from falling out. I’d still prefer a zipper, but this “rim” is very well designed.
    • The care that has gone into crafting this bag is very impressive. There are lots of small features that are exactly what I like to see: barely noticeable touches that enhance your use of the bag without calling attention to themselves. For example, the loop where the shoulder strap connects to the bag is angled slightly back, presumably to position the shoulder strap properly. Or, for another example, consider the outside pocket: it seems to have an extra layer of plastic over the zipper, which gives me greater confidence in its water-resistance. Great touch.


    • I wish there were a thin “file” pocket between the organization area and the main section.
    • I agree with moosecat, I’d like some way to cover up or remove the snaps.
    • As stated in the review, the handle doesn’t match the quality of the rest of the bag. It’s too narrow in diameter (maybe 1/2″?). The more there is in the bag, the less comfortable it is to use.
    • as mooscat said, another zippered pocket wouldn’t hurt.
    • I would prefer it if the pocket on the outside of the flap had diagonal access instead of straight vertical access so I could open it more easily while carrying the bag on my shoulder.

    Well, I’m looking forward to putting this bag through its paces!

  • curious March 9, 2003, 9:33 pm

    Since it’s been about a month, I thought I would update my comments. The ID is a great bag and it deserves the extra kudos.

    As long as I’m updating these comments, I might as well give you a bit of background and comparisons with other bags. Before I bought the ID Bag, I picked up a Trager Hipster at a local store. It has nearly the same measurements as the TB ID bag, and it has a file pocket, which the TB ID bag lacks. But I ended up returning the Trager — something I almost never do. The Trager had two major problems:

    • The Trager didn’t hold enough. I could just barely fit my subnotebook and a few files in with a book or two. The main problem was the organization section, which tended to bulge into the main compartment.
    • It hurt to carry the Trager! The strap is attached to the back & top of the bag — not to the sides — which means that the full weight of the bag leans out from your body. Bad bad bad!

    Similarly, the Waterfield Medium Cargo bag didn’t make me happy.

    • Above all, the Waterfield seemed a bit cramped. Fine lengthwise, but too narrow in width. I didn’t like having the organization flap hanging inside the main compartment. Also, the zip to the main compartment is entirely straight, instead of dipping down at the ends to allow a wider mouth.
    • The pockets in between the outside organization pocket and the main compartment are too flat, though they will hold an external mouse, AC adapter, or CD drive with ease. The problem is that small items — say a checkbook — disappear in these pockets. Anything smaller escapes notice entirely. Not good for a forgetful soul like me.
    • The airplane buckle is more of an annoyance than it’s worth: it tends to get caught on things and release, especially when being pulled out of under an airline seat (oh, the irony!). The bag actually works quite well without using the buckle — the flap doesn’t really serve much purpose and securing it doesn’t keep anything from falling out since the pockets under the flap are zipped — but the male part of the buckle hangs down and makes annoying clinking noises if left unlatched.
    • I really hate the velcro on the inside lip of the magazine pocket.
    • As I said above, the shoulder pad gets waterlogged in the rain.
    • I never could figure out why the cell phone pocket was on the left side of the bag; like a lot of people, I carry shoulder bags on my left shoulder, so I would have preferred to have the pocket on the more accessible right side. I ended up using the pocket for extra pens.
    • Although extremely well-made, the bag just seemed too bulky for what it could hold.

    On the positive side,

    • The Waterfield Cargo bag’s materials are gorgeous: the woven indium flap is smooth to the touch and surprisingly elegant (I got the bag in Lead). The contrasting goldenrod interior looks nice and serves its purpose well, making everything in the bag easily visible.
    • The Waterfield is stitched on a par with the quality of its materials. Attention to care is evident everywhere.
    • I love the leather on the handles. Buttery soft, but firm and resistant to scratches. They feel wonderful in the hand.
    • The pocket on the outside flap is very well-designed. The zipper is angled perfectly so that if you carry the bag on your left shoulder and swing the bag slightly forward, the zip seems perfectly horizontal, providing easy access to everything inside. Great when you’re on the go.
    • The surprising thing is that I like the separate gear pouch best of all and still use it in my Tom Bihn bag.

    Which brings me back to the Tom Bihn ID bag. 🙂

    First, an update on my complaints in my previous post:

    • I don’t even notice the snaps in the main compartment anymore. My file folders don’t get caught on them, and I don’t see any indentations in my papers & files when they’re stored against the back of the bag. Maybe the light padding in the back of the bag offsets the snaps?
    • I still wish there were a file pocket in between the organization and main sections.
    • The only annoying thing about the bag is the pocket on the outside flap. I have to open the vertical zipper all the way to find & get things out (even little things). I think the zip is too low — I have to stretch to open it all the way down and I’m always afraid stuff will fall out. I really wish this zip were horizontal or diagonal. It’s just not convenient for rapid access on the go.

    Now for an update on the good stuff:

    • Performance in the rain — even sheets of freezing rain — is top-notch. Nothing gets wet in the Tom Bihn ID bag, even in the unzippered organization area. The shoulder pad remains comfortable and stable, and doesn’t get waterlogged. And it remains perfectly dry inside the pocket on the outside flap, too.
    • The “rim” on the outer organization area works remarkably well, far better than I anticipated. No problem with things falling out or getting wet in the rain. I would still like to see another zippered pocket — someplace for my wallet! — but all in all, I’m very happy.
    • The ID bag doesn’t look very big, but it holds a lot! I always seem to be able to find space for just one more book.
    • The ID bag is really well balanced, much more comfortable to carry than most shoulder bags I’ve used.

    So, in sum: Congratulations to Tom Bihn on a very nice bag! I’ve ended my bag search (after about 6 months) … but I’ll have to buy a new one from you if you add a file pocket and fix the outside pocket! 😀

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