Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
FANTASTIC radios at this price point
on December 27, 2013
I own three UV-5RE+ radios, and they're absolutely excellent transceivers at this price point. Heck, even at twice the price they'd be great radios.
They have a feel of quality that's unexpected. In other words, they don't feel flimsy at all. The plastic is thick, and under the battery cover there is a metal plate/chassis. The buttons click more loudly than expected, but they give reassuring tactile feedback. The power/volume knob even has a reasonable amount of firmness to its movement preventing accidental adjustment, and it doesn't wobble at all.
I won't get into all the features because you can review the description/literature for those, but suffice to say it has most of the features of a Motorola, Kenwood, or Icom that would cost you over ten times as much. (That being said, it is in no way a direct replacement for commercial-grade transceivers made by those manufacturers).
Audio quality is good, though the speaker is a bit tinny and doesn't provide much response on the low end. It is loud, however. The mic is adequate; Not what you'd find on its big cousins, but much better than comparably priced blister-pack radios that you'd get from a big box retailer.
Reception is also surprisingly good. It's just about as good as many more expensive radios and scanners out there. I haven't done much transmitting, but a few tests did again show surprising range.
It has a scan function, but I'd estimate it to scan one channel per second. If you have more than a few channels programmed you can miss entire transmissions in the time it takes to cycle through. So if you're thinking about buying one as a replacement for a proper scanner, just don't.
However, you can monitor two frequencies simultaneously. There is no appreciable lag in reception of either one, so it is a quite effective two-channel scanner. One bit that bothers me is that when you key up (transmit) it will transmit on the last of the two channels that received something. (There may be a setting for this, but I'm not sure). That can be an issue if you want to monitor one while transmitting only on the other.
If you don't know much about radio communications, some of the settings are going to be daunting in the sense that their menu descriptions are extremely shortened abbreviations or initialisms, and the included manual doesn't shed much light on them.
I would give one piece of advice: Buy the programming cable, or buy a package deal that includes the programming cable. Even though the software is a bit, shall we say, hodgepodge, it does work. Each channel is entered in a separate line in a spreadsheet type of arrangement, and can include a text label in addition to all the other settings. Even though the software doesn't have a "professional" feel to it, programming is quick and easy.
The antennae I received were different from the one pictured. They are about 25% longer, much thinner, and more flexible. (One of my radios has the stubbier variant that's pictured). I prefer the ones I received for their flexibility.
Even the battery life is quite good! I've been using the radios mostly for monitoring, and I've yet to actually drain one of the batteries, despite occasionally leaving one on overnight. (In case you're wondering why I have three of them, it's because they're so cheap that I keep one at my office, one in my basement, and one in my jacket -- I mean, why not?)
The one downside of BaoFeng is the quality of their accessories. With my first radio I got a speaker mic. It felt flimsy, audio quality was horrendous, and the cable worked its way loose of the housing after one day of barely any use. The earpiece/mic included with these radios also has a flimsy feel to it. I haven't bothered using them, so I can't comment on audio quality. The charging bases are reasonably well-made, but are very lightweight and have a lower quality feel than the radios themselves. But again, at this price you can't even get another radio with charging base and lithium ion batteries, so it's not a real problem!
One design weakness (which is not unique to the BaoFengs) is that the base doesn't provide power to the radio. If you leave the radio on while it's in the charger it will drain the battery. Once the battery is drained below the level at which the charger no longer thinks it's full, it will start charging it. This makes for a very short discharge/charge cycle that will probably shorten battery life.