Choosing The Best CB Radio

Choosing a CB radio can be a bit of a challenge with so many choices out there.  Do I need weather, sideband, talkback?  Do I want a more modern looking radio or maybe something that can be both a handheld and also work good in my vehicle?  Well, we are here to help you.  In this article, we will discuss different features, sizes and other factors that will go into your decision about the best CB radio for you.

   Let's deal with size first.  For your particular application, what size radio do you need?  Compact CB radio such as the Uniden PRO510XL or the Cobra 19DXIV are perfect for small vehicles or other vehicles where they will not accomodate a full size radio.  Typically, compact CB radios are about 4 -5 inches wide and 7 inches deep.  Specific dimensions for individual CB radios vary greatly, so we always recommend measuring the ideal location first then choosing a CB radio to accomodate those dimensions.  Mid-size CB radios like the Cobra 25LTD typically are around 6 1/2" wide and 9" deep.  A mid-size radio will also have more available options to choose from, unlike compact radios.  You can find mid-size radios that have weather, backlit faceplate and more.  Also with a mid-size CB radio, the price will be more than a compact one.  A full size CB radio such as the Cobra 29LTD and Uniden PC78XL are a little over 7" wide and 9" deep.  The full size CB radio lineup is where you will find the most options available.  Bluetooth and modern looking displays are relatively new in the CB world, but can sway your decision easily.  Finally, if none of those will work for you there are many handheld CB radios available. There are range restrictions on handhelds because of the small antenna included, but you can always use a handheld CB radio with a normal size CB antenna with an antenna adapter.

   Now that you have a good idea about the size of CB radio you need, let's work on the features needed.  Many manufacturers use the same features but just name them something different.  For example, a Cobra 29NW has Nightwatch which is a backlit faceplate.  Many Galaxy radios have this, as well as Uniden radios.  Cobra's SoundTracker is another name for an automatic noise limiter found on Uniden radios.  

   The main 5 features are as follows: Bluetooth; which is the ability to connect your cell phone to your CB radio and use the CB microphone to talk via the Bluetooth on your cell phone.  This is a very handy feature for states that have outlawed using cellular phones in vehicles.  Weather; having NOAA weather channels available can be extremely helpful during storms or if you are in unfamiliar locations.  The National Weather Service can update you via the weather function on your CB radio to dangerous conditions while on the road.  Sideband; this can be a very useful feature on the CB radio.  All CB radios are regulated to only having 4 watts of power.  However, CB radios with sideband can have a maximum of 12 watts on the sideband channels only.  Sideband channels are 40 channels over the standard CB frequencies and 40 below it.  The only downside is the only people you can communicate with on sideband is other people with a sideband CB radio.  Backlighting; the ability to see your CB radio at night is very important.  Depending on the location you decide to mount your radio, you may need extra light to see the text under each knob.  A backlit radio usually lights up the text to give you a clearer view of the functions on your radio at night.  Talkback is a nice feature to have.  It allows you to talk into your microphone and hear yourself through the external speaker.  This can be a helpful tool when diagnosing your radio.

The final piece of the puzzle is price.  Prices on CB radios vary greatly.  This is because of the amount of features found on each particular radio.  The price range on CB radios can be as low as $39 and can go as high as $200.  

We hope this article will help you in the purchase of your CB radio.