Baofeng BF-88ST FRS Radio Review
The cheapest FRS radios Motorola has are their T100 which go for about $29 a pair and sell like hotcakes. Baofeng entered this market, knowingly or not, with their Baofeng BF-888s radios for around $24. The problem was that those radios were illegal for most people to use and made no pretense about it.
Enter the Baofeng BF-88ST, pretty much a BF-888s with a non-removable antenna and pre-programmed frequencies for FRS.
I suspect they took the BF-888s and tweaked it a little to make the Baofeng BF-88ST. Since they were in there permanently attaching the antenna anyway it only made sense to make a couple of adjustments.
The first thing is that they cleaned up the transmitted signal substantially. It no longer looks like an overturned plate of spaghetti on the screen but more like a real radio. My opinion is that they dialed back on the mic gain a tad because the volume of the signal is lower, and there is a little less clipping. Indeed the audio sounds much better, albeit quieter.
I could not test the power output of the Baofeng BF-88ST as I could not connect my meter in place of the antenna. Judging from what I see in the spectrum, and how it act talking to other nearby radios, I would guess that the power output is close to the same as the BF-888s, around 1 to 1.5 watts.
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|442.563 @ 442.5625
|Maximum power output (2m/70cm)
|.5 watts (untested)
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Would I buy these Baofeng BF-88ST radios instead of something like the Motorola T100? Nope.
I know, you expected me say that they would be good if you were an amateur radio operator and wanted something that could do both amateur radio and FRS, right? Not even.
The Motorola radios are far superior in the transmitted signal, the audio quality is superior, better features right out of the box, they have an LCD screen, and use standard batteries. The only place the Baofeng BF-88ST has the upper hand, aside from being $5 cheaper per pair, is that you can buy a programming cable (there goes your savings, and then some) and add features that the Motorola radios just can’t do.
If I wanted something for amateur radio and wanted to be cheap, I would just get the BF-888s instead of the Baofeng BF-88ST because I could put a much better antenna on them to give them a little more range.