In all honesty, reviewing the Cobra 18WXSTII was something I was a little bit anxious about.
I’ve been a fan of this model of CB radio for a long time, and I’ve repeatedly sang its praises amongst friends and family in the past. So reviewing it in an objective manner where I didn’t walk all over my previous statements was something I worried about.
This CB radio is ideal for navigational purposes, it can be a serious help in on-the-fly route planning to avoid traffic jams and roadworks.
If you travel long distances regularly for your job, it’s a solid piece of kit to accompany you. You can receive weather updates and other important alerts and communicate with other CB radio users when necessary.
It’s also ideal as an entry level CB radio. It’s not as overpriced as some of its competitors but still delivers all the functionality required of a radio of this type. And for its price the transmission range and reception are both more than adequate.
If you are looking for a CB radio in a tight budget, this is one of your best bets.
Cobra 18WXSTII Review:
The neat, compact black design looks amazing. The design isn’t overly ‘busy’ so you can clearly see all of the important information you need to see right off the bat.
The volume and squelch adjustment knobs are both clearly visible and easy to see. Located beside them is two dedicated buttons: one to instantly switch to channel nine, the other to instantly switch to channel 19. Another dedicated button exists just off to the side for instant access to weather stations so you can keep up with NOAA alerts.
Aside from that, you have the tuner – which is of a reasonable size that it shouldn’t be too difficult to operate. You also have the speaker, which is seamlessly integrated into the device. The speaker is a little bit too quiet for my tastes, with full volume being the “default” state to leave it in if you’re planning on hearing much at all.
The upside is that the device can be easily plugged in to an external speaker. Given the price range of the device i’d say that was a more than reasonable compromise.
The small size of the device means you won’t be struggling to make room for it, which is ideal in vehicles that have less room. You don’t need to be driving a gigantic jeep with hundreds of space. Any vehicle with a DIN slot to spare can handle this device.
The sturdy, hard wearing handset comes provided in the packaging, it must then be plugged in to your CB radio. The cord for the actual handset is pretty long too, which is great if your forced to install it in a more awkward or out-of-reach position.
The buttons are slightly smaller in scale to what you would realistically expect, but there isn’t too long of an adjustment period. Anyone with smaller hands probably wouldn’t find it too much of a challenge right off the bat.
It isn’t particularly difficult to get the Cobra 18WXSTII installed. It’s largely just a cause of slotting it into a DIN radio slot or utilising a mounting bracket to get it mounted.
However, you’ll need to buy and install an antenna on your vehicle first. This kit doesn’t come with its own antenna. Installation also typically requires a coax cable, an antenna spring and a few key other items. But once your vehicle is prepped to install a CB radio, the actual installation is a piece of cake.
Unfortunately, this device does not come with a meter for measuring the standing wave ratio. This means that you’ll need to score one yourself beforehand so you can properly tune the radio to start using it. Utilising the manual provided with your radio if you’re having difficulties using said meter to properly calibrate your device.
Cobra 18WXSTII Functionality
There’s a few reasons I think the Cobra walkie talkie 18WXSTII really holds up against some of the more expensive CB radio models on the market. The most important one being that it does everything a CB radio really needs to do. Sure there are other radios specialised to more niche use cases, but odds are if you’re just a regular person looking for a standard CB radio – this will fulfill every need you could have.
Some of the functionality you can expect to see includes:
Dedicated Weather Functionality:
As mentioned before, this device has a dedicated weather station button so you can quickly switch to weather channels to receive updates and information regarding the weather.
It’s built around the user being able to easily access all sorts of weather info – it has access to ten of the most important NOAA weather channels.
Out on the road and see a few grey clouds starting build up? Simply flick over to the weather channel so you can find out what’s happening. This is actually critical in planning your routes – especially if you’re doing time sensitive deliveries and don’t want to be delayed by inclement weather.
Early warnings about terrible weather can make a huge difference in more than just travel time – they can save your life.
This is another feature that I love so much about this radio. It makes use of the Sound Tracker System (or STS for short) to selectively erase and minimize noise generated by RF interference.
This works with both incoming and outgoing transmissions – so even if you’re travelling through a busy city that’s bustling with RF signals: you should still be able to hear other people concisely. Furthermore, this STS functionality applies to weather alerts too, so you’re not going to miss out on vital information because of hissing.
Auto Scanning Functionality:
Radio enthusiasts may come to take auto-scanning for granted. It’s a feature that you seldom notice when it’s included – but if it was missing you’d think something was seriously wrong.
The auto-scan on this device will scan every single one of the 40 CB frequencies it’s capable of scanning and narrow in a band that’s actually being used.
The only downside is that the display is less than optimal for communicating exactly what channel you have navigated to.
You honestly shouldn’t expect to see many problems with range with this device. Obviously range is somewhat variable based on the density of objects and obstructions in your environment. But you’ll be hard pressed to find this CB falling under 2 miles, with it averaging out at about 3 on regular days.
Considering one of the main purposes of CB is largely to communicate with traffic in your relative vicinity, this is pretty much ideal. The fact that this CB radio is effectively entry level and more than reasonably priced only makes the range on it that much more impressive.
Obviously, your antenna will play a factor in this too. But for most average users this is the experience you can expect to get.
Room For Improvement? Definitely!
Here comes the hard part of the review. I mentioned earlier that I was anxious to start this review because I liked this radio so much. But in the interest of impartiality, I’m happy to impart my less-than-positive thoughts surrounding this radio.
It’s already been mentioned, but the screen leaves much to be desired. It’s quite hard to make out and it’s a very out-dated old school LCD design. The good news is that you do get used to it, you just need to make sure there isn’t too much glare around.
A modern screen on this device would honestly breathe a new lease of life in to it. That’s one of the only real pain points I have.
The only other pain point has already been covered – the speakers. I like how seamlessly it’s integrated into the device. I also like the front facing direction of the speaker. But I don’t like how quiet the speaker is at times, and really noisy traffic can drown it out if the volume is not up to it’s maximum limit.
As I’ve already addressed, this issue is easily avoided by simply connecting the device up to an external speaker.
Unfortunately, this trick only works for the speaker – you’d have to re-engineer this whole device to use a different screen.
In summary, this radio is an absolutely ideal radio for beginners or folks who don’t want to splash out too much on a CB radio. It has all of the features and functionality you could really ask for in a CB radio.
The stylistic, nice compact design can save you a lot of space. Of the two main shortcomings this device has: at least one is easily rectified with a nicer set of speakers.
If you’re an everyday CB radio user who’s looking to make a serious upgrade – this is probably not the radio for you. But if you’re just entering into the world of CB radio, this radio will likely last you years before you ever even need to consider upgrading.
The easy access to weather info coupled with auto-scan and the relatively easy installation process mean this CB radio is about as close to plug-and-play as you’re going to get. Especially in its price range.
All of the standard features such as squelch control and some level of noise removal are present… along with nicer, more niche features such as dedicated NOAA weather access. This radio is ideal for anyone who needs access to the bare bones of CB radio with some luxury options sprinkled on top.