Although the Motorola MR350R doesn't deliver the range it promises, reviewers say it is decent and note that radio is feature-packed. Build quality is also on the high side of very good, despite some small complaints.
Less than advertised -- as usual. The Motorola MR350R offers one of the highest advertised ranges: 35 miles under ideal conditions. But while quite a few users report that the MR350R has greater range than previous models they tried (and which they usually don't identify), they agree that the maximum range of the MR350R is drastically less than the advertised claims -- even in clear, level terrain or over water.
Stephen Regenold, writing for Outside magazine online, tests the Motorola MR350R and gets what he terms a strong signal across 5 miles of woods. "Static cropped up and voices crackled when the topography got deep, but the needed communication still squeaked through," he writes. We also found a few user reviews reporting maximum ranges of 4 to 8 miles, usually with a clear line of sight.
Other reviews, however, complain that these radios only offer 1 to 2 miles of usable range; several say that if you want crystal-clear reception, you're limited to about half a mile. "If you live where there are trees and hills, the range is more like 0.35 miles, not 35!" writes one Amazon.com user, although he otherwise says the radios are "easy to operate and a great price."
Feature-rich and easy to operate. The MR350R draws near-unanimous praise for its features, including extra-large buttons; a vibrate feature that alerts you to incoming transmissions in noisy areas or when silence is important, as during a hunt; and a built-in flashlight that shines white or red. Regarding that flashlight, Lisa Densmore of CampingLife.com says, "It's a handy feature if you're accidentally caught in the dark on a hiking trail or need an instant light in your tent." She and her testers also liked how easy the on/off and volume control knob was to operate, even with gloves on.
Other features include an emergency-call button, a backlit display and interchangeable faceplates that might seem frivolous at first, but can make the radio easy to find if you drop it. The Motorola MR350R also receives weather channels.
On the downside, both Densmore and Regenold agree that the angle-adjustable belt clips just don't work as they should; Regenold describes them as "only marginally secure," and Densmore says they wouldn't stay rotated at the proper angle.
Sturdy -- with some caveats. A couple of Amazon.com users report dropping their MR350R radios periodically and say they still work fine, presumably due to the rubberized covering. Of course these users don't represent a significant sample size, but it's worth noting that we didn't encounter any complaints about the radios' overall durability.
A couple of issues are noted with some frequency, however. Quite a few reviewers complain that the radio's volume knob, which doubles as an on/off switch, falls off very easily. "It took all of TWO bicycle outings with the radios gently tucked into the silky lumbar pockets of my bicycling shirt for my radio to lose its ON/OFF-Volume knob," writes one frustrated reviewer at Amazon.com.
Quite a few owners also complain that the MR350R's belt clip breaks easily, and some say the battery packs either won't hold a charge or don't securely connect to the radio. When the battery packs do work as intended (which appears to be most of the time), estimates of average battery life vary widely. In general, the rechargeable battery pack meets or exceeds the promised nine hours of use. If you use three AA batteries instead, they last about 27 hours. A few others report longer lives, though, like a reviewer at Newegg.com who says the rechargeable battery was only half gone after a full day of talking off and on.
1. Camping Life Magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good The author recruits teens and pre-teens to test four well-known brands of handheld radios, including the Motorola MR350R, in varied conditions from bushwhacking to inside automobiles and a pair of controlled distance tests. Ultimately, she describes the MR350R as a "kid-friendly radio" and says it's a good choice for general camping and outdoor use.
Review: FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio Shootout, Lisa Densmore, Dec. 14, 2011
2. Outside Magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good Stephen Regenold and a partner test a pair of Motorola MR350R two-way radios while setting up a wilderness racecourse in the Minnesota woods. Regenold is able to maintain a strong signal for 5 miles, finding that trees and hills do not degrade the signal. He likes the channel-scan feature that helps find clear channels and the backlit display. Regenold reports nine hours of use on a single charge and says that AA batteries can be substituted for the battery pack if necessary.
Review: The Gear Junkie Scoop: Motorola Talkabout MR350R Radios, Stephen Regenold, Oct. 28, 2010
Review Credibility: Very Good The Motorola MR350R is one of the most-reviewed two-way radios on Amazon.com, receiving an overall score of 3.8 stars after more than 250 user reviews. The bulk of the complaints focus on the overstated range, but most users are very happy with the sound quality of the Motorola MR350R. A couple of users complain that setting up the radios could be easier.
Review: Motorola MR350R 35-Mile Range 22-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good More than 45 Walmart.com users review or rate the Motorola MR350R two-way radios, and they earn a 3.9-star overall rating. Most like the large controls, and several single out the built-in flashlight as a particularly useful feature, but the largest complaint overall is that the range is shorter than expected.
Review: Motorola MR350R 35-Mile Two-Way Radio with 22 Channels, 121 Privacy Codes, NOAA Alert, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Fair A handful of reviewers rate the Motorola MR350R on BassPro.com, where it gets a score of 4.3 stars overall. Although owners criticize a few small points -- particularly the belt clips that seem prone to breaking -- they're mostly positive about this model. They're also more generous with their range estimates, with some saying you can get up to 2 to 4 miles of clear transmission range in good conditions.
Review: Motorola(R) TalkAbout(R) MR350R Two-Way Radios, Contributors to BassPro.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Fair Just half a dozen or so reviewers have weighed in about the Motorola MR350R on Newegg.com, giving it an overall score of 5 eggs out of 5 possible. One user says that reception was possible at ranges up to 33 miles, but others note that real-world range is greatly less -- as little as a couple of miles under less than ideal conditions. Regardless, as indicated by the ratings, all seem pleased.
Review: Motorola MR350R Two-Way Radio, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of March 2013