10-4, Good Buddy

With no monthly or per-call charges, two-way radios can be handy alternatives to cell phones

When you reach the observation deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, the first thing you notice is how quiet it is up there. Without the din of blaring taxi horns and swearing bike messengers, New York City can seem almost tranquil. At least it did to me--and a few dozen tourists--one afternoon last week before I whipped out six walkie-talkies and broke the spell with crackling static and a round of shrill beeps. I felt a little guilty, but, hey, I had a job to do.

The low-cost walkie-talkies of old, which transmitted only 100 yds. or...

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