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on February 12, 2014
I had seen reviews of these radios before but I have been taking a break from the ham community for a while. Besides, I still have a perfectly good, barely used Kenwood TH-71 so why would buy another? To be honest, they looked cool and they were cheap. I ordered one, then I ordered a second one, aftermarket antennas and a programming cable.

To cut through the BS, these radios are amazing. I really didn't expect this level of quality for the price. They are not perfect, but they can compete with the major brands that cost 4 times as much. Each came with a charger base, a wall wart to power the base, a lanyard, a dual band antenna with a male SMA connector, and a ear piece, microphone thingy so you can look like a secret agent dude. Anyway, here is what I thought.....

Pro: Quality feel, not cheap plastic junk like I suspected. Battery capacity is 3 times the capacity of the stock battery in my Kenwood...1800 maH at 7.4 volts. When operated at low power, this should give the radio a long battery life. The frequency range seems to cover not only the 440 and 2m bands, but also GMRS, FRS, MURS and business band. It is completely programmable using the CHIRP software (and the cable). You can also download the entire local repeater list and copy it to the radio. The radio can also be programmed manually as to repeater offset, and tone using the keypad. DTMF is also possible using the keypad. It has a dual VFO and can scan in VFO or memory mode. The output is rated at 1 or 4 watts. I don't have the right adaptor to verify that, but that's what the manual claimed. Power can be switched between high and low from the keypad.

Semi-pro?: The display acts as a mode annunciatiator, meaning that the color changes to show if the radio is standing by (dark) transmitting (orange) receiving (blue) and purple (standby, not in power save). All these colors are changeable through the menu. There is also a mode light which I'm sure would have been adequate, but to each his own. As an added gee wiz feature, it has a flashlight and a strange alarm mode. The radio will receive the commercial FM band also. I almost forgot, it talks. There is a voice that tells you what mode you are in (vfo or memory) and what channel you are on. Interesting, but it gets annoying sometimes. Im not sure if it can be turned off.

Con: The radio has a 4 watt maximum output. While this is probably adequate, 5 would have been preferred. My Kenwood puts out 5 on the battery and 6 on external power. The choices on this radio are 1 or 4 as claimed by the manufacturer. I would imagine that this is related to the battery voltage which is also lower than the 9.6 volts of the Kenwood. The only real problem I have with the radio is that the secondary functions on the keypad cant be used to program the radio unless you are already in the menu mode. Its best to use the cable. I would prefer that the flashlight, and alarm thing weren't there. Its a radio, not a disco light.

Over all, this is an incredible value. If you are looking for a cheap way to get started in ham radio, this is it. With the right adaptor, this could be used as a mobile or base radio. All you need then is an external antenna.

I wont get into the legality of operating one of these radios without the proper license. Just 3 weeks ago a guy got caught operating on 2m without a license, he was fined and his equipment was taken. The licensed ham he was talking to got a warning letter for even talking to him. All the info is available on-line. You can take the practice tests on-line. The tests are like 10 bucks. Most people in the community love to help newbies. Its just not that hard to do it right. Ok, I have preached enough.
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on September 16, 2015
I know these get a lot of mixed reviews and mostly about how hard they are to program.

Those other reviews only inspired me to learn how to manually program this!

Along with learning how to manually program the radio, I learned how to modify the charger base for extending the external power supply for a variety of voltages.

The instruction manual that comes with this is pretty much garbage, however, there are multiple manuals online and my favorite was a list of the menu options, what they are, how they work and what settings should be set for HAM radio use.
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on April 20, 2016
You know when you buy a Ham radio, you expect to pay money for it. I have in the past owned nothing but Yeasu radios. Handhelds and mobiles. I never use my mobile in my vehicle, in fact I haven't had it on in very long time so I decided to part with it. It was a dual band so I wanted still to have a dual band radio. I saw this and thought "well I can't lose anything trying it". I love this little radio. It's every bit as good as the others I've had in the past. Quick to charge, holds it's charge well and hits all my local repeaters that my Vertex handhelds struggle to hit. The audio quality is comparable with the other handhelds that cost much higher. I used it for a couple of weeks with the stock antenna that comes with the radio. It worked admirably. I purchased an aftermarket antenna for the radio and it's made a fantastic increase in what it is capable of (ExpertPower XP-771). All in all for the money you pay for this radio, it's worth way more. If it breaks it's cheap to replace. Only major issue is the programming of the radio. Not super hard but fiddly. The addition of a programming cable and using the free Chirp software makes things so much easier.

So as someone who needs a radio for emergency purposes (Storm chasing, Emergency Management) would I recommend this radio, I'd give a resounding yes. Don't buy one.. Buy two. At this price having a spare is more than affordable.
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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 March 13, 2014
So I want to get my Technician Class Radio license and wanted something inexpensive to be able to use for my quest and ran across this relatively inexpensive Baofeng UV-5RE. Having been a previous owner of a Yaesu FT-50R and Yaesu FT-60R I really wanted either another Yaesu FT-60R or the FT-90R but those were not in my current budget of $100 or less. They were close at around $150 though and I love how solid Yaesu products are built. I might sell a bunch of my crap and eventually get another Yaesu.

For the Baofeng UV-R5E, it came with the dual-band (2 meter / 70cm) radio, charger, headset for around $40 – thats not a typo - but I also purchased a Nagoya 771 antenna and a speaker/mic which upped the price to $57 - also not a typo. Out of the box its quite plasticy looking but feels solid, battery attaches in a solid fashion and feels right when holding. The belt clip "screws" on with actual screws which to me is a plus. I briefly went through the menu’s and they are pretty straight forward I feel, but I am a gadget kind of guy and adapt to devices right away.

I cant say I favor the backlight lasting maybe 5 seconds after the PTT is let go. When transmitting the backlight is orange, then it goes to a light blue and then to no color background. I think I will also get a different antenna for it. I don’t have any issues right off the bat but in forums I have been told the stock antennae isn’t worth the plastic it was molded in. I will write more about the radio as I get more into it. As I progress I will eventually work my way to a General and Extra class for digital and morse code, then bounce the the FCC for a commercial license like the General Radiotelephone Operators License, Marine Radio Operator Permit, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System operator or something. Not fully projecting that far yet.

I was quite delighted to see that I could utilize the 70cm band to punch in the frequencies of my Motorola T5420 Talkabout and essentially use it as a second unit, NOT transmitting on the amateur bands in the fashion that the FCC dictates. As far as my research has lead me to believe.
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on September 12, 2014
So I have 3 Wouxun HT radios, seen this and for the price could not pass up the chance to give it a try.

There is a lot of people who complain about how difficult it is to program. Buy the cable, download a free copy of CHIRP
( ) and your problem is solved.

Now on to my review,
got it all programed, an with another HT i transmitted and it received nice and clear, when I went to transmit with this one...... NOTHING! I check all menu function and all were set properly. UGH! I plugged an external mic into the jacks and it worked fine.....hum. I removed the mic and same thing, no voice. it would send the carrier but no audio by using the side PTT button.
Called Amazon and as always no questions asked, they sent me my return label and will refund my purchase price plus shipping, SWEET!

I did order another one, lets hope this one is in perfect working order. Will find out in a couple days....wish me luck!

I have also order an aftermarket antenna. the stock one is only 7" tall and might account for the lack of range with this unit. Granted its only putting out about 5 watts, from what I have read a longer antenna really helps its range.

Unlike the Wouxun radio this is opened to tx on all 2m/70cm freq. from the factor. Remember if you are not a ham or fcc license operator you have been waned.
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on May 5, 2014
Decided to get the Baofeng UV-5RE Plus after a disappointing experience with the GT-3. Wow! What a surprise. It's a very small packet of robust metal and solid plastic with a very readable display and a better antenna. Even the plate which looks like chromed plastic is a thick solid metal plate. And it did manage to key into the repeater without any issues (the GT-3 did not handle it). It's a little more compact than the Wouxun KG-UVD1P. It looks this unit will be my main unit from here on. And for half the price from the GT-3 this is a MUCH better radio.

- Very solidly built
- Good readable display
- Relatively easy to program
- chirp support
- Super cheap...
- Includes all necessary accessories
- Slow scanning mode (3 channels per second) -- however who cares....

=== Update 5/8/14 ===
- Programming is surprisingly easy, much better than the Wouxun
- It has a tone CTCS scanning mode (which can be handy)
- I'm surprised I can key into my regular repeater on low power and from inside my home...

=== Update 5/9/14 ===
- The Kenwood connector has its connectors placed too close to the edge. I had to shave off a little bit of the programming cable and mic cable.

Note I owned a Yaesu VX-7R and besides the extra features (scanning is pretty good) and it has 6m (never used), I like the Baofeng better.

=== Update 5/18/14 ===
Continue to be impressed about this unit. Took it with me on a hike (lots of trees around) and was able to reach a bunch of repeaters on low power (1W).
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on July 15, 2014
I cannot hit repeaters that are 3-5 miles away, even on "high power" (4-watts), (though signal can be heard from nearer radios). Other Baofeng users can hit the similar repeaters. I have an obviously transmit power problem, and cannot get the radio repaired/replaced because it is a few days outside of the "30-day return window". (As a new ham, It took me a few weeks to be 100% that I was absolutely configured properly for the repeaters). Now I'm stuck with a useless radio.
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on June 8, 2014
This is an update/rewrite of my previous review. We need to start with what this radio is not. First off, it is not a "Walkie Talkie". I know that it is priced like one and at less than $40 I don't blame you for having that idea. As I am sure you have already read in both the comments and Q&A sections, this may be a cheap ham radio, but it still requires obtaining your amateur radio license from the FCC. I bought this radio when I began throwing around the idea of getting my own license. If I had known then what I do now, I would have skipped this radio completely and saved up for the Quad-Band Yaesu VX-8DR. For someone with their Technician Class License, who can transmit in the 6 Mtr, 2 Mtr, 1.25 Mtr and 70 cm bands, it is a real let down to realize I need to now go out and spend the money on a new radio because the Baofeng UV-5RE Plus cannot do half the things the Yaesu can. The only up side to the Baofeng is that it is less than 1/10th the price of the Yeasu. That being said, I do like this little radio. It is not very powerful but it's battery lasts forever from a full charge. That is critical when the power goes out for an extended period of time or you choose to go hiking/camping and have no immediate access to a power source.

In time, this radio will probably land in my "Go Bag" for emergency use or as a backup radio while out on the trail.
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on December 11, 2016
This was my first ham radio, and although many people scoff at them, I'm extremely happy with mine. I don't do much on VHF/UHF anymore now that I have HF radios, and quite frankly this radio has all but been replaced by an Anytone TERMN-8R, you cannot go wrong with this radio. Granted, quality control is somewhat lacking, but if you get a lemon, exchange it! And please, if you're going to use this radio in non-emergency situations, get a ham license (a little studying and $15 will get you a ten year ticket) and learn the dos don'ts. You will definitely want to get a programming cable... I ordered and it works fine on my computer.
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