- The most important thing to consider when choosing a CB Radio is how and where it will be used. Basically, there are necessary features wanted for a specific cb:
- Truck CB Radios : A good “peak and tuned” radio is important to boost performance. Truckers tend to want full-featured units as they are a crucial communication tool on the road. The Cobra 29 LTD series and Cobra Nightwatch are one of the most popular CB radios among truckers. Hi-power antennas with weather band reception that are designed for cb and 10 meter radios are also essential.
- RV CB Radios: Important features would include channel scanning, weather and easy in-dash installation and three-way mounting options. RV owners traditionally have ample cab space that can accommodate large CB radios. Built-in S/RF meter while using RF gain to tune in to weak signals is also valuable.
- Pick-Up CB Radios : A compact, reliable build would be the appropriate unit for pick-up trucks. An ANL is an important feature to have, as engine noise can be an issue in larger trucks. It is also recommended to choose the mount that pairs with your truck and a fiberglass CB antenna.
- Car CB Radios: Radio size that performs basic CB functions is an important factor in this type of vehicle. CB radios such as the Midland 75-822 and Uniden Pro are popular with car owners. Choose an antenna that can be attached to the roof or truck of your car
- Jeep/Off-road CB Radios: Off-road drivers usually choose compact CB radios due to space constraints. For a complete insatall, you would need a durable Firestik or Wilson antenna, choice of mounting hardware, high-grade coax, speaker and SWR meter.
Regardless of their price, the CB radios are limited to 4 watts of transmission power, the maximum output power legally allowed by the FCC. Although they can be “peaked and tuned," a process that increase a CB’s performance, all of 'em will have the same transmission power out of the box. There are a number of CB radio manufacturers, some of the more popular ones being Cobra, Galaxy, Uniden and Midland.
CB radios come with a variety of features. This what actually differentiates them from each other, and of course how and where it will be used. Below is a list of the most common features:
- Radio Frequency (RF) Gain - Adjusts receive gain in weak and strong signal areas. Able to block out faint transmissions to eliminate background noise when talking with someone with a strong signal.
- SoundTracker® - Dramatically improves the sound quality of the transmission and reception of CB signals.
- Public Address (PA) Capability - Allows use of CB radio as a Public Address System with PA speaker. Receive signals can also be monitored through PA.
- Switchable Noise Blanker - For increased noise reduction.
- Weather Alert Scan - Will advance to the next clear channel when driving cross-country so that the driver will always get the latest weather warnings and alerts. Instant access to NOAA Weather Channels.
- Nightwatch Illuminated and/or Backlit - Some models include a backlit radio display for convenient operation at night. Ideal for switch and control recognition day or night.
- Instant Channel 9 & 19 - Jump to two of the most popular channels: Emergency channel 9 and Information channel 19.
- SWR Calibration Control - Allows calibration of antenna system for maximum performance.
- Front microphone connector - For convenient in-dash or under dash installation.
- Radio Check Diagnostic - Allows testing of necessary radio functions such as RF power, antenna condition and battery voltage.
- Built-in meters - Some radios include a a meter that displays transmission and reception strength, as well as Standing Wave Radio (SWR) antenna readings.
There is a wide range of radios on the market, and they come with a confusing number of options. Choosing a suitable radio is fairly straightforward as long as you consider which features will best suit your needs, and where you will use it. An external antenna's (which is purchased separately) performance is highly valuable, but that shouldn't be a factor when deciding among various models.