Astro: The Bottom Line...FINALLY!!!
I just got off the phone with a VERY helpful gentleman at Raytech Electronique near Montréal. He provided me with a comprehensive answer (finally!) to the Astro Situation here in Canada.
So, here goes:
You CAN use an Astro in Canada. You can even buy an Astro in Canada. BUT (and it's a big but) it has to be the Maple Leaf version of the Astro. You see, according to the fellow I spoke to at Raytech, there are TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF ASTRO 220's on the market. One is for sale in the US. I call it the Mighty Stars and Stripes version ...all gung-ho, can-do with a haircut you can set your watch to. It puts out 2 big watts of sheer Yankie power. But it seems that 2 watts is way too much for us sensitive Canadians. Any Astro unit sold up here must be modified to put out a lot less power...something like 0.5 watts. I guess we like our electronic gizmos to be more in line with our mild Canadian, let-it-be and pass the doobie attitude.
After all, there is a similar situation with the Garmin Rino, a sort of GSP/Walkie Talkie unit. It is available as a 1 watt unit in the US and as a .5 watt unit in Canada. Unlike the Rino however, users cannot switch the power levels on Astros. Canadian and American Astros are hard-wired to either put out 2 watts or .5 watts. So if you travel to Canada with an American bought unit, you can't use it. And you can't just flick a switch on it to lower the power so it conforms to Canadian regulations.
BOTTOM LINE: If you want to use an ASTRO in Canada. You MUST use the lower powered unit that is sold up here and NOT the higher output unit sold in the US. The units sold in the US violate Canadian regulations. I guess they are just a bit much for the delicate radio waves we have up here on the frozen tundra. But the lower powered "Astro-Canuck" unit is good to go. And get this...it is cheaper! Raytech sells them for only only 544.44 Canadian Loonies.
Now, where's my credit card?