I put this table together as a convenient way to compare cost and features of Relay and a couple other popular options.
Comparison of Portable Group Communication Devices
|Relay||Basic Cellphone||FRS Radio (UHF)|
|Initial Hardware Cost||$99||$29||$29|
|Recurring Monthly Cost||$6.99||$5-15||$0|
|Privacy||Private||Private||No or Limited Privacy|
|Communicates With||Other Relay Units||Any Telephone||Any FRS Radio Within Range|
|Range||Cellular or WiFi coverage||Cellular coverage||Up To Several Miles|
|Form Factor||Compact, Rounded||Medium, Regular||Medium, Protrusions|
The “basic cellphone” column assumes purchase of a typical “burner” phone for each group member specifically for the task. Obviously, one could use existing phone and service and eliminate that cost for one or more members.
I also didn’t get into harder-to-quantify details, like bright kid-friendly colors and rugged construction of the Relay, or that FRS radios and cheap cellphones can be bought in any box store at a moments notice in case of loss, damage, or adding a new member to your group.
Also, what applies to the FRS radios also applies to amateur (ham) or CB radios, other than the hardware cost - and you might already have one or more of those. Most FRS radios can operate on rechargeable or disposable batteries - handy when you realize at the last minute that you forgot to charge your device.