Cinema Product Reviews

Spirit GT+ Radios
Manufacturer:  Motorola
Rating:  D-
Reviewed November 2000 by Brad Miller

It's the new amazing "walkie talkie" radio from Motorola.  It's small, it's lightweight, it's got a cool belt clip, but most importantly, it blows!

Almost everyone who has worked in a multiplex has used a Motorola radio before.  While there are several different variations of the standard Motorola radio, the SP50 (pictured below) is the most common.

The SP50 features two channels to talk on, which is particularly nice so channel 1 can be used for downstairs communications and channel 2 can be used for booth communication.  This helps the projectionist differentiate between managerial communication of the floor operation as opposed to urgent booth notices such as "hey, the film on number 12 is burning", which otherwise might go unheard with all of the other talking on the radios in a noisy projection booth.  Another incredibly nice feature of the typical SP50 radio is it's capacity for filtering out unwanted static and random "noise".  The SP50 has been around for awhile and seems to be the benchmark used in theaters today.  You can drop them at least 1000 times before they start to give you any trouble.

The Spirit GT+ on the other hand, features a very nice quick release belt clip along with a small and lightweight design.  In fact, this radio is so small that it can be worn like a pager and never get in the way.

Sound good so far?  If only it performed like the SP50.  The Spirit GT+ does not feature any form of noise filtering (or at least it certainly does not work worth a flip), so wearing it like a pager only to be bothered by it in the event of a call is a joke.  Whenever someone talks on channel 1, all radios tuned to channel 2 (regardless of the actual frequency that is set up) hears the transmissions accompanied with static mixed in for good measure.  This radio is constantly blasting static and random interference, no matter where it is located within the building.  Even out in the parking lot, it's a staticky noise festival!  I'm not sure where this radio is picking up all of it's interference from, but I'm betting it is coming from nearby solar systems, as the amount of noise on these pieces of junk couldn't possibly all be originating from Earth.

But noise isn't the only feature of the Spirit GT+, it's got a nifty little red blinking light that flashes for all eternity once the radio is "called" for the first time.  Just imagine the usefullness of a red flashing light that signifies that at one point in time, maybe even years ago, that the radio "call" button was pressed.  Yes, the possibilities for this feature are endless.  I wonder how much this super high tech light jacked up the cost of the unit?

Speaking of the "call" button, this is one "feature" that someone at Motorola should be fired over.  The call button is a little button that when pressed ignites the flashing red lights on every other Spirit GT+ radio within range and emits the most ear piercing and incredibly annoying array of beeps.  The worst part about it is the BEEP-BEEP-BEEP will go off even from someone "calling" the other channel!  What a marvelous idea indeed.  Make sure to bring PLENTY of aspirin to the theater.

Finally, let's not forget the "you too can look like a Time Life operator" microphone/headset accessory.  Allow me to paint the picture for you.  You've got a crowded lobby full of people waiting in line to buy concessions.  Multiple concession stations are open and well staffed.  But there's just one little problem, virtually everyone is walking around sporting the "Time Life operator" look.  Customers try and place their order, but they cannot be heard from the random BEEP-BEEP-BEEP of the call button as well as the mixture of talking and feedback because one person's microphone is picking up other people's broadcasts and feeding it all back into the main broadcast.  Customers are given the "just one moment" finger while the employees try and confirm the latest tidbit of data through all the noise...which as it turns out is just someone's radio broadcasting everything they say from the voice activated microphone!  The customers go to have their tickets torn, but the door person is too busy telling the cleaners what auditorium to clean next to be friendly to the patrons and again, trying to filter out the noise and what yaking is intended for him.  Yes, with the "Time Life operator" headset accessory, even your best employees can be miraculously turned into seemingly uncaring staff.  This is a good idea gone very, very bad.  Your customers will say "thank you" by never coming back.

Bottom line:  I'm not sure what application Motorola had in mind for the Spirit GT+ radios, but it certainly wasn't to be used in a movie theater.

-Brad Miller
Motorola can be contacted at

Brad Miller is that guy who runs this web site.  He runs an independent engineering service company by the same name of "Film-Tech" and the company also manufacturers film cleaning products, notably FilmGuard.  On the side and for fun, he has always kept a projectionist position at a local theater because "A: I love it and B: it gives me a chance to test and demo my film cleaning products in real life situations".

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