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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.
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on September 4, 2017
It took a couple of weeks for this radio to arrive. Charged up fine when I first got it. Used the radio for 3 days. Charged it up a 2nd time and worked for 3 days, no problem. Charged it up for the third time, charger died. Charger base works but the 10 volt power supply stopped working. Baofeng warranty requires returning the item to authorized seller or repair center. So you have to send the whole radio back with packaging and original invoice, and maybe you get YOUR radio back or you get a refurbished one, or you get a new radio. Since I only have $25 into this, shipping it would cost half of what I paid for it. Useless warranty actually. That said, the radio works great when coupled with an original Nagoya NA-771 antenna. Stubby that comes with it has terrible losses, so you might as well order an NA-771 antenna. The stubbie does work great when placed atop a mini UHF adapter and mated up with RG59 with an air wound 1:1 choke/balun about 14" wound around a 6" in form and then raise it 10 to 15 feet in the air and you have a nice antenna. On the radio itself the stubbie stinks. The NA-771 appears to have been made for this radio so its a good fit.

Now on for the rest. Programming is great when using CHIRP but you need a cable for it. Order OEM Baofeng and you won't be disappointed. Order from someone in mainland China who says its OEM Baofeng and you may or may not get OEM. I got a knock off which required so much work that I ended up buying OEM and having it shipped priority. The knock off is a 10 year old version of the chipset and the UV5R uses a modern chipset that downloads the drivers automatically without further install of driver software.

The radio performs well, expect that you will put 4 watts out ONLY if you have an adequate groundplane. Your arm is not an adequate groundplane so figure keep it on high power and using it handheld will get you about 1 to 1.5 watts out. Maybe 2. Hits repeaters well on VHF, iffy on UHF depending on distance, line of sight, and what's between you and the repeater. Simplex works, but you will maybe get 25 miles with nothing between you and the other unit. Maybe. Not a shoe in. Works good with mobile antennas, and Nagoya makes one for this unit that matches it well.

All in all, don't count on the charger. There are numerous complains about it bouncing around the net. Mostly the biggest complaint is it needs 10 volts into the cradle to charge it. You can purchase step up USB cables and step-down cigarette lighter plug adapters on eBay just be prepared to wait.

Also, go for the BL-5L 3800 mah battery. It will give you double the life. All in all for $25 the radio is worth it but the charger is junk.
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on November 17, 2017
Love the radio. Works like a champ.... However this thing losses stars for the following
1) The accompanying cd is garbage.. I tried installing it and it is in Chinese and would not load anything at all, So not quite sure what is on my computer now. I understand now I have to use a 3rd party program to be able to program the radio. Its called "CHIRP"
2) the programming cable that come with it... Oh wait. it didn't come with it...

Baofeng... You have an awesome product. Package the right accessories with it!!!!
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on February 27, 2017
I have bought a lot of these radios. They are a great little two meter radio. I use them to scan local police chatter and they work well. They are not the fastest scanning radio but if you don't put a lot of channels in, it works well. I would certainly recommend anyone buying a radio to buy a programming cable as well. It makes programming multiple channels a breeze. They have been very durable for me and I have dropped mine many times. Battery life is great. If you don't transmit a lot, you are good for the day on a charge. I have worked stations on the satellite SO-50 with just the stock antenna. They are a great starter radio and for the price they can't be beat!
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on December 5, 2013
I'm a HAM newbie, but fairly technical and experienced with a variety of electronics - DSLR, home-built computers, music recording gear, etc. I also built a short-wave radio kit a while back. I also do usability and UI design for my day-job. I really don't have anything new to add beyond what others have said, but wanted to throw in my $.02. The build quality is solid, and way beyond what I'd expect for something of this price. I was hesitating on buying the two-pack, but have no regrets so far. I bought these both for occasional "walkie talkie" use, for my SHTF bug-out bag, and also as a way to learn HAM radio, something I've wanted to do for a long time.

I have actually found the user interface and menu system quite solid. The learning curve is mostly around learning HAM radio terminology. I would not recommend this for someone non-technical who just wants a walkie-talkie. But for anyone wanting to break into HAM radio, after a week of testing it out, it seems like a no-brainer.

I ordered a separate USB cable for programming (the radios did not come with one). I had several failed attempts to get the correct drivers, but eventually the internets led me to the right one and I got both radios connected and have tweaked some settings, including the start up message. Very cool.

I bought the NA-701 antennas, and didn't even try the ones which were included yet. However, I may swap out and use those when I'm just in walkie-talkie mode, to cut back on potential interference with other users.

Long story short - after 1 week of use, I couldn't be happier with these. They were recommended by a friend who is an experienced HAM operator.
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on June 1, 2013
I have a wouxon, a puxing and an earlier Baofeng. This is tied with the Wouxon (and I have the pricier Wouxon, legal for commercial and amateur). Much better than the earlier Baofeng. Many of the hams on our local repeater are using this Baofeng, and they work great. The audio sounds as good as their pricey "name brand" mobile radios, seriously. There is one guy I talk to regularly, and I can't tell if he is on his icom mobile or the Baofeng. Assuming he is close enough for the 5 watts to reach.

This really is a fantastic deal, and all hams who use VHF/UHF should have one! Of course the manual is really hard to use. There are sites on the net with English as a first language explanations. Also, it goes without saying that you should use the programming software to program this rig. Makes it much easier, even though the software is also hard to understand. But it works. Buy the correct USB cable. Don't skimp on the ones with the fake prolific chip, you will have driver woes forever.

For those just browsing, please remember this is an amateur radio, and you do need an FCC license! This not a replacement for a "family radio". Search for FRS if that is what you are looking for!
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on February 7, 2014
Didnt want to spend alot on a scanner so my police friend highly recommended this unit and I understand why. Generally when you pay as little as possible for something you get what you pay for but not with this. Works great, construction is solid and fells like a quality unit when it in your hand, my friends are surprised how good quality it is for the price. Don't need the CD to set it up, I didn't even read the instructions I did the next best thing and used YouTube. I found several instruction videos that made it easy to set up, the instruction book is confusing but is handy for reference. I found all my local police,fire,ambulance, and emergency input numbers easily on the web. Small enough I walk around with all day and it takes up no more room than my phone. Battery last a long time as well.
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on August 7, 2015
This little radio will give you the most bang for your buck of any portable radio on the market, period. Not only is it dual-band, which was almost unheard of with portable radios, but it's light, the battery life is excellent to outstanding, and the price is UNBEATABLE. Yes, they do require some knowledge regarding how to operate them, but there are lots of great Youtube videos demonstrating how to use them. Once programmed, using them is very simple, not much more difficult than a CB radio.

If/when I want two-way communication with other family members, I will simply buy extra radios and use them outside of the traditional HAM bands (144 and 440 mghz). Yes, this is technically faux pas, but the hammers can't come down on you if you're not operating in their ranges. Doing it this way, you can easily get double the range of a FRS/GMRS radio.

I highly recommend that you replace the stock antenna with a 'duckie', a longer, flexible one that will greatly increase reception quality.
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on April 20, 2014
The radio itself functions Amazingly well. Except the so called "Plus" model is no more advanced than the base 5R model. I actually contacted one of the supplier, he told me the difference is only cosmetic. But the extended battery designed for 5R would not fit 5R Plus, which makes it a headache, so get the base 5R model if you can.

I am a first time walkie/talkie user, but didn't have much problem learning to use it. Hook it up with a computer and program from there does make things 10 times easier, but if you only want to setup one or two channels or if you only plan to use it in frequency mode, then that's not necessary.

If you do decide to hook it up with a computer, I recommend using a linux OS(I use Fedora), So that you can forget about the stinky "driver", you don't need driver on linux OS, just make sure your python is properly installed and package serial is also installed. The software "Chirp" works flawlessly on my computer.
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This BaoFeng UV-5R VHF/UHF Dual Band Radio was recommended to me by HAM enthusiast as a good starter radio. I was fortunate enough to find someone that could help me program this using the BaoFeng cable (not included) and "Chirp" software (also not included but free for download).

This is generally good quality all the way around, except for the included antenna (which I replaced with a better one). I like that it can be programmed for FRS, GRS, and NOAA. I would have liked it to be programmable from the keypad, but that seems above my abilities (if even possible),

We now have 5 of these for family members and are very pleased once they have been configured.

Highly Recommended!

CFH
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