Reviewed by Louise Totton
I remember having a set of walkie talkies many moons ago (well, about 30 years ago!), and I loved mine! My friend and I were both somewhat into spy games and being detectives, and we had various tools in our arsenal – we lived across the road from one another and we even had a length of string between our bedroom windows so we could send coded messages in capsules made of disposable cups! So the Christmas when I found a set of walkie talkies under the tree is one that really sticks in my mind, as we were able to add some real on the move policing and detective work into our games. At one point, we even managed to pick up a signal from a hot air balloon above the house and were convinced we’d uncovered a sinister murder plot that was to take place at a pub a couple of miles away!
This kind of pretend play and use of imagination is one of the best things about childhood, a time when you really become immersed in your own reality. It’s one of my biggest pleasures watching my own girls grow up and I do everything I can to encourage this kind of pretend play. I have bought the kids walkie talkies in the past, but none of them have ever seemed to really work unless you’re standing right next to each other which renders the whole concept somewhat pointless! But my eldest is going through a bit of a detective phase at the moment so when I was given the opportunity to review a set of Discovery Channel Digital Walkie Talkies, I jumped at the chance. I hoped that a product endorsed by a company like Discovery Channel would be more reliable and usable than the ones we’d tried in the past and the girls couldn’t wait to give them a go.
Firstly, the tech specs. These seem to offer so much more than the cheaper ones that the market seems flooded with. They look like a far more serious piece of kit and like something a proper detective or explorer would use, and far more appealing to both my 10-year-old and 7-year-old than a character licenced one would have been. The box advertises that as well as having a range of up to 3km, they can also be switched between three frequencies so if one of your neighbours has a similar product operating on a given frequency, you can change your frequency so your game can continue.
And the 3km range is impressive to say the least! This is an outdoor / perfect conditions range but we didn’t need a range of anything like that so I was confident we’d be fine. As I said, the Discovery walkie talkies look like a more professional product that most kids’ walkie talkies do – the design is simple and clear and all of the buttons are clearly marked and easy to reach, even with small hands. The walkie talkies are also incredibly lightweight so even very young children should be able to handle them with ease.
The centre front of the product has a little LED screen that indicates what frequency the walkie talkie is currently operating on, and cycling between the three frequencies is really simple and is immediately reflected on the screen. As well as the screen, the front of the walkie talkie has five buttons. These are:
- On/off – pretty self-explanatory!
- Torch – the walkie talkies also have a flashlight on the top edge for in-depth investigations and this switches it on and off
- Channel selector – for cycling between the three channels
- Call – press this and your buddy’s walkie talkie will make a ringing sound, so they know you want to talk
- Talk – hold this in whilst your talking and release when you’ve finished and are ready to listen
There is also an antenna on the top, a speaker and a microphone integrated into the front of the device and a battery compartment (requires 3 x AAA batteries) and belt clip on the back. Even with the batteries in, the walkie talkies feel light but even with the lightness, they don’t feel fragile at all.
The instructions that come with the walkie talkies not only have usage instructions, they also include some suggestions of ways to play with them! The kids started off playing their own way, as kids often do, before moving on to some of the suggestions in the instructions. They have been sneaking around the house, stealthily trying to solve some kind of mystery that I have been reliably informed that I am far too old to ever understand! They have been spying on me whilst I’ve been cooking dinner, passing messages upstairs about what we’re having and whether it smells delicious or disgusting and even sending each other into the kitchen to choose snacks, taking the order whilst they’re onsite!
The games included in the instructions are even more fun, from more involved versions of hide and seek to treasure hunt games and even a cryptic secret codes game. Lots of these will be a lot more fun once the weather improves and we can go outside, but for now they’ve been hiding in the cupboard under the stairs and under their beds.
We have all been really impressed with the clarity, volume and reliability of the walkie talkies. I haven’t tested their 3km claim, and given as where we live is reasonably built up, I’m not sure you’d get anything like that, but I have sent my eldest down to the end of our road with hers whilst the youngest stays in the house and I can report that they do work from that kind of distance. This will be great for in the summer when they walk down to their friends’ houses as I will always be able to contact them and even call them back for dinner (if they answer!).
These walkie talkies are great and the sound and build quality is far better than what I would have expected for a kids’ toy. They would make a lovely Christmas present for any child over the age of 4 and I can absolutely recommend them.
Available to buy from Amazon here.