To best answer your questions, I would like to ask for clarification on what your needs are exactly. In the Cobra
line of consumer radios you have the handheld you mentioned and the GMRS/FRS radio line. Some of the GMRS/FRS radios from both the Cobra line and Motorola
line of radios have GMRS/FRS and Weather receive capability.
Sounds like what you are looking for is a combination unit that covers all of the CB/GMRS/FRS/WX bands and I am not aware of any such unit.
Getting your HAM ticket (License) is a good way to ?broaden? your range and frequency use, not to mention the excitement you have of not just talking with your friends, but also making contacts with other HAMS and reaching people all over the world. HAM radios are just as light and some even have triple frequency capabilities as with the ICOM IC T90 (6M/2M/70cm) or the Kenwood TH F6A (2M/220/70cm).
One clear advantage of the above is you can talk unit-to-unit without a repeater and use a repeater in some cases to extend your range (GMRS and HAM radios) which is something NEXTEL, or Cellular units cannot do.
If you want a weather alert radio e.g. living in tornado ally, then make sure the radio also has that feature, but also check to make sure an emergency alert will override your monitoring to issue the alert.
With the exception of CB and some GMRS and FRS radios you will not need a license, but depending on the power output then a license is required. NOTE: The GMRS/FRS license is not the same as a HAM license according to the FCC.
Define what you need and what you will be using the radios for. Once you have a need identified e.g. keeping track of kids in the campground etc. then proceed from there. You can always get a HAM license and when you do you extend your communication capability greatly. For more info on HAM licensing check out eHam
. I have a ICOM HH HAM 2M/70cm radio and 2 Motorola GMRS/FRS radios. I also have a cellular phone and a wireless card for the laptop. For ambulance duty I also have a HH for dispatch <img src="/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> WHEW talk about weight. Oh wait, I don't carry all of them on me all of the time. <img src="/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />
"If we believe in absurdities, we shall commit atrocities - Voltaire"