The Baofeng UV-5R is the radio responsible for a renaissance in the handheld radio market. No longer do you have to spend hundreds of dollars on a useful amateur radio. Is it worth the hype? Read on!
Let me start by saying that no, the Baofeng UV-5R will not hold its own against high-end radios like the Kenwood TH-D74, Yaesu FT-60R, etc. It was never designed for that so just get it out of your head. It is, however, a remarkable and completely usable amateur radio and has spawned more radio models than any other radio around, such as the Baofeng BF-F8HP (I have a review of that radio too!).
In fact, for the price, I would go so far as to say the Baofeng UV-5R is an outstanding radio, and you get more for your money with this radio than you do with any of the high-end pricey radios (this coming from someone who owns pretty much all the pricey radios).
Starting with the build quality of the Baofeng UV-5R you find a radio that far exceeds what you would expect. For my hand, it is a little too short but that is a very personal observation, it still fits pretty well.
All of the buttons, knobs, and keys on the Baofeng feel good when used and are very responsive. My only complaint here is it seems that the BAND button is a little hard to press as it is not raised like the A/B and VFO/MR button is. This is a very minor complaint as I really do not use that button much.
The Baofeng UV-5R employs a low-resolution dot-matrix type of screen but given its size on the radio it is very readable and serves the user well. Even with my older eyes, I can easily see what I need to use and program the radio without a problem.
Speaking of programming, it is true that the Baofeng UV-5R, like all analog Baofeng radios, has a unique menu system that is wildly different than what most people are used to with their Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom and other major radios. The menus also seem to confuse people who are new to amateur radio, which is to be expected since there are a ton of features. Once you get the hang of it however there is no problem with programming the radio in the field. No, it isn’t as easy as my Yaesu FT-60R but then again it costs a small fraction of the Yaesu’s price.
The speaker on the Baofeng UV-5R is pretty small, yet has pretty good audio output. It truly is amazing what they can do with these things today. In the overwhelming majority of communications, I have no problem understanding people easily through the speaker. When operating at the extreme edges of range it can become a problem, but that is rare.
Programming the Baofeng UV-5R with a computer is pretty easy and straight forward using the free CHIRP software. This is one area where the big boys actually lagged behind with their proprietary programming software. Today, most radios that are not digital can be programmed with CHIRP making it very popular. This popularity means you are going to find plenty of help using CHIRP with your radio if you want to.
Lastly, the Baofeng UV-5R comes standard most of the time with a 1800mAh battery that provides plenty of talk time on your radio. You can also get batteries of various sizes including AA battery packs. I usually recommend people start with the standard battery pack as it provides excellent battery life in a fairly small and easily portable package. Larger batteries of course add weight and bulk which defeats some of the great things about this little radio.
If you are into tinkering, there are even a ton of Baofeng UV-5R modifications you can find on the internet (I don’t really recommend do any of the mods if this is your only radio, but they are so cheap, buy a spare!). This just wouldn’t be a proper Baofeng radio review without mentioning they exist. These mods really can make using a Baofeng radio more fun, but then using Baofeng are fun anyway 🙂
Baofeng UV-5R Test Results:
|Transmit audio||CLICK TO LISTEN|
|Maximum power output (2m/70cm)||3 watts/ 1.4 watts|
|Size||265 * 58 * 44 mm|
|Actual weight||7.4 oz|
|Baofeng UV-5R manual||CLICK TO DOWNLOAD|
|Programming software||CLICK TO DOWNLOAD|
|Baofeng UV-5R Overall score|
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