Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
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.