Very nice find you don't often get transcievers with a hand crank built in. These arn't technically Ham Radios though GMRS and FRS are not ham bands in the US, they are liscenced specifically for GMRS and FRS use, Hams arn't suppose to operate on those bands, much like a GMRS/FRS liscense holder (GMRS is individual while FRS is for an entire family) is not suppose to operate on Ham Bands.
None the less this a good radio in terms of FRS/GMRS offerings for the price point. Very cool. (I have an advanced amateur radio operators license in Canada. basically the GMRS/FRS is more like a walkie talkie than an actual Ham Radio, such as the Baofang ones that operate in the UHF and VHF spectrums, GMRS/FRS is a much more specific band, where as Ham Radios have band plans for much larger spectrums.
More info here
You can apply for a GMRS license if you are 18 years or older and not a representative of a foreign government. If you receive a license, any family member, regardless of age, can operate GMRS stations and units within the licensed system. You can find information about GMRS licenses in the Universal Licensing System (ULS). The ULS radio service code and description for GMRS is ZA – General Mobile Radio Service. The FCC service rules for the GMRS are located in 47 C.F.R. Part 95.
FRS seems ok though e Family Radio Service (FRS) is licensed by rule. This means an individual license is not required to operate an FRS device. You can operate an FRS device regardless of your age and for personal or business use so long as you are not a representative of a foreign government.
The FCC service rules for the Family Radio Service (FRS) are located in 47 C.F.R. Part 95.
IMO get a GMRS liscense or it won't be much use except in a confined area example around a city block in size FRS devices have a maximum power of ½ watt (500 milliwatt) effective radiated power and integral (non-detachable) antennas. If you operate a device under the rules that apply to GMRS, you must have a GMRS license.
BTW I suggest getting your technicians or more advanced Ham liscense and get an actual Ham Radio it is a gateway to a lot more potential. Example the baofang has a much wider band availability and has more power behind it for about the same price.. of course you don't have the hand crank..
how useful the radio is depends on what you want to use it for... it does have uses..
The main drawback is that under FRS use legally you will have a very small transmission range most likely as the 500 mW is ERP
an integrated circuit I just picked up for a couple bucks itself has 500 mW transmission capacity.
It is very cool though, and has tons of applications...
The alarm clock and hand crank for power just make it something you could actually use day in and day out. The flash light etc.. could also be useful in the dark. If you have other people with FRS radios in your neighbourhood or prepping group you could use it to stay in touch while doing things nearby but not in view or where you don't want to be loud.
also it is midland so you might be able to reuse the midland mic on other midland or other kit you get down the road...
I have a cheap baofang UV-5R for my UHF/VHF needs and it has come in handly the power options on the XT511 are something everyone wants in their kit, ac/dc AND handcrank..
If you don't need range will be great. If you want range get a GMRS liscense or ham liscense. Bear in mind you can only operate it on LOW setting if you do not have a GMRS license legally... but it is capable of up to 4 watts which might be a mile or two.. but with FRS you can only operate it on LOW power (500 mW) legally.
gmrs liscense apparently costs about $85.
If you are interested in getting a ham liscense I am willing to Elmer (tutor) but I'm more or less a lid.
Yes I will agree, it is not a HAM radio - but is a two way radio with many uses.
I never liked anything with a crank, old world war II look out radios were like this at one time - had a generator that you could crank.
A plus is that you could devise a way to hook it up to a solar charger and have a all in one radio as long as the batteries holds out.
All the GMRS / FRS radios requires a license for use, regardless of the power level.