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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Excellent audio quality
Good signal strength
Great build quality
Tons of features
Complex menu system
The Midland GXT1000VP4 is a truly premium two-way radio, outpacing the competition in terms of range, audio quality, and feature set.
Two-way radios should be an easy and reliable way to communicate without the need for cell towers or satellites. However, these handy devices are often hamstrung by poor sound quality, limited range, and difficulty overcoming interfering obstacles. We tested the Midland GXT1000VP4 to see if it avoids these common pitfalls—and offers enough extras to justify its premium price.
The Midland GXT1000VP4 is built of durable plastic and feels like a device that should be able to take a beating, though the plastic screen will likely pick up scratches with time. The belt clip is made of plastic as well, but it has a metal hinge and spring that should prove more durable, and the buttons are rubberized and satisfyingly tactile. They are large and easy to manipulate even while wearing gloves.
The headphone and microphone ports are covered by a rubber cap that snaps securely into place to prevent dust and moisture from entering these sensitive interfaces. In general, the GXT1000VP4 is reasonably weather resistant with a JIS4 weatherproofing rating. You won’t want to dunk them in a lake, but they should hold up to a rain shower or a splash from a canoe paddle. Weatherproofing also means that these radios won’t be bothered by dust and dirt, contaminants that can be as deadly to electronics as water.
Overall, we found this radio to be superior in terms of reception and sound quality.
Based on our testing, we think the GXT1000VP4 should be comfortable to use for all sizes of hands—they’re a little on the large size (about eight inches tall), but not uncomfortably bulky or especially heavy. It takes two hands to turn on the power or change the volume, but we found them easy to use one-handed otherwise. The quality of the belt clip also means their “pocketability” isn’t a major issue.
However, you will likely want to supply your own headset, as we found the included earpiece to be very poor quality. Aside from being incredibly uncomfortable, the microphone barely worked in our testing—the most we were able to get out of it is was a whisper when using the recommended (and appropriately-named) “whisper mode”. This was seriously disappointing in such an expensive set of radios.
A car charging adapter was also included in the box. This is a very thoughtful choice, as it greatly expands the potential for recharging your radios while traveling.
We found the process of opening the battery door to be reasonably intuitive. We had to release the locking mechanism at the base of the unit and pull upward on the battery door, which then easily slid out. (This is a little confusing because you may expect the battery door to slide straight down after the locking mechanism is released rather than lifting up.) Installing the batteries was simple, as was replacing and locking the battery door.
Charging the Midland GXT 1000VP4 is easy using the included charging stand. The units can be charged simultaneously, and they lock in with a reassuring snap. We didn’t have to worry about them accidentally falling out if bumped or jostled.
The GXT1000VP4 is ideally suited for group communication.
It takes 24 hours to initially charge the batteries and then 12 hours for subsequent rechargings. It should be noted that the red indicator light on the chargers does not change color when charging is complete—you have to refer to the battery life indicator on the screen instead.
While it’s easy to get the handsets up and running, setting up and using the extra features is an uphill battle. Just looking at the branching tree of menu options in the manual might be enough to scare you away. To make matters worse, the simplistic screen shows only obtuse abbreviations that probably only made sense to the engineers who designed this system. However, for those willing to persevere, this radio has a lot to offer.
The black and white display is large and clear - we could easily view it in most lighting conditions. It includes a handy red backlight that activates automatically when the radio is powered up or when buttons are pressed, before then turning itself off to save battery while the device is not in use. It uses simple, somewhat antiquated technology, such as is typically found in digital watches or calculators, and though crisp and clear, this type of display is limited in the complexity of what it can display. This leads to cryptic abbreviations that make navigating the radio’s many menus a real headache to get acquainted with.
The GXT1000VP4 features 50 available channels and boasts an advertised 36-mile range. We found this range difficult to test due to the fact that two-way radios, even on the premium end of the spectrum, are unable to communicate through large obstructions. If there are too many houses, trees, or especially hills, even the best radios tend to struggle.
In our testing, the GXT1000VP4 did an admirable job of overcoming physical obstacles, passing through forests, residential areas, and even small hills. But the minute we went behind a ridge or a large block of buildings, we found ourselves cut off. Overall, we found this radio to be superior in terms of reception and sound quality.
All the extra features included in the GXT1000VP4 worked pretty much flawlessly, with the exception of the aforementioned headset. The weather radio scanned and picked the right channel within seconds, and the group call, hands-free activation, and privacy code features were also excellent.
It is worth mentioning though, that the menu systems to access these features are frustratingly complex, and you will need to spend a lot of time referring to the manual to make full use of them.
One of the main reasons to choose the GXT1000VP4 over other walkie-talkies is its wide variety of extra features. On a basic level, it comes equipped with scanning and monitoring buttons: scan to look for activity on available channels, and monitor so that you can hear the volume of your radio in order to adjust it. There is also a keypad lock function to prevent you from accidentally changing settings.
You also have an SOS siren and an NOAA weather scanning feature that provides you with the local forecast and can run in the background to relay severe weather alerts. We found the weather scanning feature both useful and effective—it would be great for getting forecast information in remote locations without cell service, or as an essential part of an emergency preparedness kit. We were unable to test the SOS siren, as that sends out a distress locator signal and is strictly for actual emergencies.
The weather scanning feature is both useful and effective.
Other features that would be useful for emergencies (or just for day-to-day use) include a “whisper function” that allows you to speak quietly, a silent vibrating alert mode, and nine levels of eVox (Easy Voice and Sound Activation Transmission) that allows for hands-free voice-activated communication. This hands-free capability was one of our favorite features and could be vital in a number of situations where you are unable to press and hold a button to talk.
The GXT1000VP4 is ideally suited for group communication. There are 142 privacy codes included in the radio—that gives you up to 5560 channel options to help keep your conversation separate from others’. There is also a group call feature, which allows you to create a group among various radio units and make direct calls within that group, and 10 different call tones.
This radio also has several different power settings that can be used to improve battery life.
Retailing for $89.99, the Midland GXT1000VP4 lands itself at the high end of the consumer two-way radio market. Considering its many features, excellent performance, weatherproofing, and build quality, the cost is not unreasonable.
However, it is worth noting that far cheaper radios such as the Arcshell AR-5 (which retails for around $25) are nearly its equal in terms of performance. It’s really the extra features that make the Midland stand out.
Though the GXT1000VP4 features top-of-the-line performance and features, the much cheaper Arcshell AR-5 will get you similar audio quality and obstacle-piercing power for a much more wallet-friendly price.
The GXT1000VP4 beats the AR-5 hands down when it comes to features such as hands-free communication, group management, and weather radio scanning. But if you are just using it to keep in touch with a hiking partner on the trail or a skiing buddy at the resort, the AR-5 is all you are ever likely to need. (Not to mention the AR-5 comes with headsets that actually work.)
However, the GXT1000VP4 compares very favorably against Midland’s other products—it beats out the cheaper LXT500VP3 in every possible way.
Definitely worth the price if you need the extra features.
If you need to communicate amongst a large group, talk with relative privacy, or stay aware of developing weather patterns, then the Midland GXT1000VP4’s premium price is more than justified. It has a few hiccups, but it also crams in tons of features, great range, and impressive audio quality into an attractive, professionally styled unit.