Choosing a radio a few decades back was easy. One quick look and you could easily identify the type of radio and at times even the model too. Today, however, it is easy to get lost. There are hundreds of different types of radios. As if that wasn’t enough, telling apart some of the radios is gradually becoming a challenge.
Two commonly confused types are walkie talkies and CB radios. Though there are different types of CB radios, some people occasionally mistake hand-held CB radios for walkie talkies and vice versa. Luckily, you don’t have to drown in that confusion.
We’ll be looking at some of the key differences between CB radios and walkie talkies. Also, we’ll dig deep and find the different situations where either of the two can come in handy.
Quick Facts About a CB Radio
You’ll find most CB radios installed in vehicles. In particular, trucks hardly ever lack a CB radio of some kind. Despite the differences in design, CB radios usually include a radio unit with a microphone attached to it via a cord.
CB radio microphones are usually enclosed in a casing and have a Push-To-Talk (PTT) button on one side. Pushing down on the button activates the microphone which then converts your sound into an electrical signal as soon as you start speaking.
That electric signal travels to the radio unit and then gets transmitted via radio waves. The signal can then be received across several other CB radios that are tuned in on the same channel. Ideally, the fact that CB radios can transmit and receive signals at the same time makes them two-way radios.
Types of CB Radios
There are four kinds of CB radios. They include:
- Hand-held CB radio
- Mobile CB radio
- Base station CB radio
- All in Handset CB radio
Who Uses CB Radios?
CB radios are mostly popular among truck drivers. This is because they allow truck drivers to get real-time updates about weather conditions and traffic along a particular route. CB radios are equally powerful and also allow you to use amplifiers to get the most power out of them. Drivers love CB radios because they have many channels (up to 40) and because they require no license to use them
Typically, CB radios have plenty of uses. It is also easier to find specific CB radios that are ideal for particular use cases.
Quick Facts About a Walkie Talkie
Walkie talkies are technically two-way radios with fewer features. Many people are likely to find them identical to hand-held CB radios as the two have some strikingly similar features.
Their functioning, however, is different. Walkie talkies usually have a maximum of two channels unlike CB radios that have several. In the past, many walkie talkies were primarily half-duplex.
This meant that you would have to push a button to transmit while the other walkie talkie was “receiving” your signal. Today, there exist full-duplex walkie talkies that allow simultaneous signal transmission.
Types of Walkie Talkies
Walkie talkies can be classified in a number of ways. Two ways include classification by frequency or by purpose.
According to frequency, there are two types of walkie talkies:
- VHF (Very High Frequency)
- UHF (Ultra High Frequency)
According to purpose, they can be classified as:
- Long range walkie talkies
- Waterproof walkie talkies
- Walkie talkies for kids
- Hunting walkie talkies
Who Uses Walkie Talkies Today?
Hunters and kids are not the only ones who use walkie talkies today. Since walkie talkies are simple to use and can continue working for up to 2 miles, there are a number of situations where they come in handy. In addition, walkie talkies are easy for anyone to access and are affordable. You can buy up to four walkie talkies for the same amount of cash you would spend on one CB radio.
Differences Between a CB Radio and a Walkie Talkie
So far, the only real difference between CB radios and walkie talkies has revolved around the available number of channels. Below are some other things that further differentiate CB radios from walkie talkies:
Most CB radios in the U.S. operate in the 27MHz band. This applies to all the 40 channels. However, you should remember that the allowed frequency band may differ depending on the country you are in.
Walkie talkies, on the other hand, work on at most two frequencies and at a specified power. In the U.S., walkie talkies use frequencies that lie in between 462MHz and 467MHz.
As a side note, you should be careful not to operate the CB radio in an illegal frequency band. Illegal bands are mostly frequencies that go over 28MHz.
CB radios are able to work at a distance of up to 20 miles whereas walkie talkies can only manage a distance of up to 2 miles. The large difference does not necessarily mean that CB radios are better than walkie talkies.
Walkie talkies are still preferable for short distance communication. CB radios are also more ideal whenever you want to connect with vehicles in a larger geographical area such as a city.
Walkie talkies are generally more portable than CB radios. Apart from hand-held CB radios, most of the other types of CB radios aren’t very portable. Walkie talkies can be as light as 1lbs., but CB radios can go up to 4lbs.
Regardless, there is no clear-cut boundary on where CB radios and walkie talkies lie when they are compared according to their individual masses.
Number of People You Can Communicate With
Because it can have up to 40 channels, a CB radio is capable of handling a larger number of people than a walkie talkie. Walkie talkies only allow a limited number of people. In addition, if a walkie talkie is half-duplex, it will not allow for simultaneous communication between two or more people. Transmitting and receiving a signal at the same time will thus be impossible.
Walkie talkies only broadcast signals to one another under their own unique channel. For CB radios, this is a bit different. Anyone who tunes in to a particular channel as you and is on the same frequency will be able to hear you once you press the PTT button. However, if you’re in different camping groups and would like to keep your communications private, walkie talkies are the way to go.
In summary, CB radios and walkie talkies mainly differ when it comes to frequency and the number of channels. While CB radios can almost accommodate an infinite number of people, walkie talkies can only manage a specific number at any one time. This is due to the fact that walkie talkies usually have at most two channels and CB radios have up to 40.
Both CB radio and walkie talkies can be used by professionals. However, walkie talkies seem to have more options for different groups of people. They also offer some level of privacy in case you need it. In contrast, CB radios may lack privacy but come with weather channels that give helpful weather updates. This is unheard of when dealing with walkie talkies.
In all honesty, none is considerably better over the other. Your needs will mostly dictate which of the two is an ideal choice.