Baofeng UV-5RA few weeks back, I was wasting time doing important research on the internetz when I came across the Baofeng UV-5R Dualband Handheld Transceiver.  This radio seemed to have a boat load of features but the sale price was $65. So I am thinking to myself, just how good is a $65 radio?

The last time I went out to a nice restaurant, I blew through $65 pretty quickly so this was not going to be a large purchase. In fact, I realized that we now have HT’s priced low enough to be an impulse buy. As one of my ham buds told me, “filling up the gas tank of my truck costs more than this radio!”

So, of course, I soon broke down and ordered one and it showed up on my doorstep a few days later. I’ve been using it off and on for a few weeks now. I’ve also noticed that there is a real buzz on the interwebz about this little radio. There is usual Yahoo Group (baofeng_uv5r) and youtube videos.

Here’s the short story:

While not perfect, for $65, this radio is impressive.

Besides using the radio and receiving good signal reports, I did check the receive sensitivity, transmit power and frequency — all good. There are quite a few reviews out there, so take a look at articles by W0HC, PD0AC and OE1RFC. Also, there have been quite a few reports of quality problems with this radio…probably more defects than equipment from the more established ham equipment vendors. See the Yahoo Group discussion to understand this better.

Similar to other radios from China, this radio has a quirky user interface…not as easy to use as my Yaesu FT-60. This means that the programming software is a necessity to get the radio set up correctly, which is the major downfall of the rig. The free software program is crapware, with many people reporting a variety of problems with installation and operation. I did finally get it to work, but it was very frustrating.

I find myself grabbing this HT when I head out the door and leaving my other radios sitting in the desk charger. Someone pointed out to me that the low price of this radio makes it an easy choice — if it gets dropped, broken, lost or stolen, I am only out a tank of gas. While I am kidding about the “disposable radio” idea, the low cost does affect how I use it.

73, Bob K0NR