In a mix of progress and planned obsolescence, Motorola has released its latest voice pager for emergency responders.
The Minitor VI hit the market last month - the latest in the legendary voice pager line that dates back to the 1970s.
The Minitor VI is slight smaller than its predecessor, Minitor V, and boasts new features like 16 minutes of recorded voice playback (which can be played and rewound at random), the ability to scan five channels (with two channels muted by tone alert), and it can operate on regular AAA batteries, if needed.
By contrast, the Minitor V records eight minutes of audio and can scan just two channels, while using only a proprietary rechargeable battery.
“We have gotten a lot of feedback since 2007 when we introduced the Minitor V,” said Randy Helm, director of product management for professional, commercial and business radio at Motorola Solutions, in an interview with Urgent Communications magazine.
“We listened to what our customers said and made the enhancements that they asked for.”
Minitor VI will be the first in the series to exclude low band - a problem for fire departments which still use those frequencies, mostly in the northeast where the 33 MHz and 46 MHz bands are popular.
With this problem in mind, Motorola accepted orders for the Minitor V until February 28, and plans to sell the remaining inventory by the end of March.
Unfazed, firefighters posting on chat boards say they will buy low band pagers from other vendors, such as Unication (whose G1 was unveiled last year), U.S. Alert, Apollo and Swissphone.
Others are willing to purchase used Minitor Vs as other fire departments upgrade.
There are some users who question the need to scan five channels while only two are tone activated, and;
"Who really needs 16 minutes of stored dispatch?" posted one user on Radioreference.com.
"Even at a minute per dispatch, why would you need to go back to 16 runs ago?" he wrote.
Minitor VI is available in one and five-channel models on VHF high band and UHF.
Pricing starts at around $350 minus accessories, but less when purchased in quantity.