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Using Zello on Network Radios

October 10, 2018

t199
New rugged, loud, dependable devices compatible with Zello 
Zello push-to-talk (PTT) is most commonly used on consumer devices such as smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Over the summer, our engineering team worked on extending Zello's hardware compatibility with a new type of device - a network radio. In this blog post, I'm going to share key findings, the main pros and cons, setup links, and some use cases for network radios.
What are Network Radios?

Network radios look and feel like a traditional two-way radio, but function instead with an internet connection - just like Zello. A SIM card or WiFi signal can be used to connect to the internet and communicate using Zello. Note that the term "radio" used to describe these devices can be misleading, as most of these devices do not connect via traditional UHF/VHF radio frequencies. 

Advantages

The main benefits of network radios such as the Inrico T199 and Talkpod N-50 devices are that they are very durable and much louder than your common smartphone. On average, they can hold up to 2 days' worth of battery life and are typically less expensive than a regular smartphone with a touchscreen.

These devices are excellent for outdoor use and in noisy environments such as construction sites, manufacturing plants, public crowds, and loud truck cabs. The large PTT button makes communication simple and easy, even with gloved hands. Both Inrico and Talkpod devices have a channel switcher knob on the top, just like a standard walkie-talkie radio. This knob can be mapped to multiple Zello channels for effortless communication. 

Disadvantages

The main drawback to using these devices is that some Zello smartphone features may be unavailable due to the unique qualities of network radios. For example, if the network radio does not have a screen, the user will be unable to send text messages or photos. If the device does have a screen and camera, it's unlikely the image quality will be as good as a smartphone's resolution.

Since some devices are screen-less, an Android screen-mirroring platform installed on a PC will be needed to view and navigate through the Zello user interface (UI). Consequently, it may be a bit more difficult to troubleshoot potential problems. These problems typically aren't game-changing issues, but it's good to be aware of the differences before investing in new devices.

Setup Details

Our team used the app Vyzor to configure the following screen-less devices. You'll connect the network radio to your computer, sync up with an Android screen viewer (such as Vysor), then download and sign in to Zello. Vyzor mirrors the device’s screen to your computer, allowing you to navigate the Android home screen and Zello UI.

For instructions to set up each specific device, follow the links below:

Inrico T199

Talkpod N-50

Where to Purchase

As you may know, Zello does not sell hardware. You can purchase these devices online from the manufacturer or from any reputable reseller in your area. A few sites we have browsed include Network-radios.com and inrico.shop

We are happy to hear any user stories or feedback you have about these devices. They're still new to us and we are still learning! Feel free to reach out to info@zello.com to share your story with us.

Written by Nicole Kimball

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