Pros: The new Cobra 29 LX LE uses the same board and layout as the previous versions. This means that performance in relation to output power, modulation, and receive are very similar to previous versions. It also means that the radio can accept the same modifications as previous models. The Cobra 29 is most often modified with swing mods and those types of modifications such as the capacitor/resistor modification will work on this new model.
Transmit power on this radio stock from the factory was a 3 watt carrier with modulation swing to around 10 watts. Once the modulation had been adjusted the radio had a carrier of 3 watts with swing to 15 watts.
Modulation from the factory was around 85% and was easily increased to 100% by adjusting VR4 inside the radio (AMC Potentiometer) . Modulation was typical for a Cobra 29 and with the addition of a power microphone it sounded loud and clear.
I compared the receive on the new LX LE with a older 29 LTD Classic I had nearby and it seemed that the receive was slightly better on the new radio but it also has slightly more hiss to it. Overall though the receive on the radio should be virtually identical to previous versions.
Cons: The knobs are black and have no reflectivity making them hard to locate in night conditions. On older Cobra's without NightWatch because the knobs were chromed they at least would reflect some light inside the vehicle so you could make a guess at which one to turn. If they had been able to do backlit knobs of some sort on this model or added the Nightwatch type feature it would have really made the radio a slam dunk.
Comments: I really like this radio for two reasons. First, Cobra finally brought their products to the 21st century with an updated design and new features. Secondly, Cobra didn't mess with a good thing when it came to making changes to the transmit and receive portions of the radio. Some people might complain that Cobra didn't make the Cobra 29 any better, they just added some bling to the radio and they might be right except for the fact that the new interface and features do improve the users experience with the radio. It's easier to see the channel display, you can adjust the color, you can scan the channels, and you can store and scan memory channels.
Now even though I found myself drawn to the new display I'd be failing my readers if I didn't point out a couple of things that drive me nuts with this radio.
The dual control knobs on this radio are awful. The volume knob is difficult to grab with your fingers and once you have a hold of it the knob is hard to turn. Same thing with the talkback knob. Now there are only two dual controls on this radio so it's not the end of the world, but the volume on/off knob was the one that really annoyed me. Maybe I just have big hands but I found it difficult to turn the radio on and off compared to previous models.
My only other real complaint is probably the bigger issue. Lack of NightWatch lighting on the control knobs make this radio hard to use in a vehicle in the dark.
The knobs are black and have no reflectivity making them hard to locate in night conditions. On older Cobra's without NightWatch because the knobs were chromed they at least would reflect some light inside the vehicle so you could make a guess at which one to turn. If they had been able to do backlit knobs of some sort on this model or added the Nightwatch type feature it would have really made the radio a slam dunk.
Overall I'm impressed and the new radio definitely has it's selling points. The more modern styling is much more suited to the newer vehicles of today and the display and features will garner more attention from those operators who like to tinker with their options. No need to add blue LED's to your Cobra 29 anymore to make it look cool, you can change colors with the touch of a button.
I'm not sure how well the menu knob will hold up over time and I'm pretty sure the display will be the first thing to go wrong if the radio is going to develop problems but only time will tell on the quality.
Big props to Cobra for taking the risk on the new technology, now if they can just make a SSB version I think they might be on to something.