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Transceiver Buying Guides


A handheld transceiver can be a very powerful tool in your flight bag. A Handheld Transceiver can be used for many things:

  • Back-up means of communication
  • Back-up VOR navigational abilities
  • Learning Aviation communication
  • Receiving weather and clearances before starting your engine to save money and fuel.

Before you choose a Handheld Transceiver, it is important to have a general understanding of the different features you may be looking for.


There are three levels of capabilities you can select from.

  1. Scanner – This is a listen-only device that usually covers Airband frequencies.
  2. Transceiver (Com only) – Transmit and Receive over Airband frequencies.
  3. Transceiver (NAV/COM) – Transmit and Receive plus it interprets and displays VOR signals for Navigation purposes.


Scanners are most useful for new students or those who want to become accustomed to Air Traffic Communications such as those who speak English as a second language. The affordable price-point of scanners also makes them a popular item for plane-spotters. Click to search for Marv Golden’s Scanners.

Com-Only Transceivers

The most popular and common Transceivers are those that allow you to Transmit and Receive via Airband frequencies. A Headset Adapter (some Transceivers include these, others offer it as an accessory) allows you to use your Transceiver via your Aviation Headset, thus allowing it to be used exactly like a panel-mounted Transceiver. Most Handheld Transceivers allow you to pre-program a number of frequencies so that you can access the most important ones. Click to search for all Com-only Transceivers.

Certain Transceivers have a Channel Recall feature that allows you to scroll or toggle through the ten most recently used frequencies. This is incredibly useful since you can simply dial-in the frequencies along your route and toggle through them for the duration of your trip – no need to officially program them into your unit. You can search for Transceivers that offer Channel Recall.

NAV/COM Transceivers

A NAV/Com Transceiver will allow you to utilize VOR navigational facilities. This is especially useful if you have an aircraft that does not have installed avionics. Adding this feature increases the cost by only about $30-50. Before you decide to spend extra, make sure it is a feature you will use. If you have a portable GPS in your flight bag, or you generally know your location based on geographic features, or if you are in an area with radar coverage, odds are that you will not need to use a handheld to track to a VOR, let alone to shoot a localizer approach. But, if you don’t want to buy another Transceiver for a number of years, it may be worth it to you to get the top-of-the line now. Click to search for NAV/COM Transceivers.


Most transceivers are comparable in many respects. They generally have a power output of 5 watts, the maximum allowed, rechargeable batteries are standard, and the accessories are fairly uniform. The key is to evaluate how user-friendly the unit is for your needs.

First and foremost, if you ever intend to use the radio in flight, you need a headset adapter. As discussed earlier, all Transceivers either include one or make them available as an accessory. The simple fact is, unless you are gliding, there is no way you can communicate without one. Trust us, we tried to use a Handheld Transceiver parked on the ramp with engine idling - it is next to impossible.

Next, look at the keypad and display. The larger they are, the easier it will be to use, especially if you are bouncing around in turbulence. But larger keypads and displays require larger units. You will need to decide which is best for you.

Finally, the best transceiver for you is going to depend on how you intend to use it. If you are only using it in an emergency, there is nothing wrong with the most affordable unit. If it is a unit you intend to get a lot of use out of, it will be worthwhile to look at more expensive models offering greater ease of use and more features. And if the radio is going to spend a lot of time dormant in your flight bag, we highly recommend you pick up an extra battery case that will allow you to power the radio with AA batteries. And as with any piece of equipment you carry, take the time to learn how to use it before you are in the air.


We carry a large selection of Handheld Transceiver Accessories for current and for older models. We recommend that you check to see what accessories come with the particular Transceiver you are interested in, but definitely think about adding accessories. These Transceiver accessories include: Batteries, Battery Chargers (US and European-Style), Headset Adapters, Speaker microphones, 12v (cigarette lighter) Adapters, Antenna Extenders, Belt Clips, Cases, and more. Search for all of’s Handheld Transceiver Accessories.

Base Station / Panel Mount Transceivers

Marv Golden also carries a variety of Base Station and Panel Mount Transceivers and Accessories. All at great prices!

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