Baofeng UV-5RA Review

The market for amateur radio enthusiasts benefits from a saturation fo technology and models. However, this saturation makes spotting the good deals and good radios difficult.

Low priced HAMs with durability and value are necessary. These radios work well for users looking to find a radio to break into the amateur radio scene. They also serve well or as a backup unit to other equipment.

A radio that has been on the market for a few years and serving this niche of users and enthusiasts is the Baofeng UV-5RA. This review will highlight the details of Baofeng radios and how they approach the technology.

The review will also give a breakdown of the essential features to look for in a good low-cost radio.

Baofeng UV-5RA Essentials

Amateur radio allows users to interact through select radio bands without a license. This includes broadcasting and receiving of non-commercial communication. Legal matters come into play when broadcasting on certain frequencies or listening in on such frequencies.

Knowing the radio and broadcast laws for an area can help a user prevent fines. It is best to know the scope of use before landing in trouble.

Pricing

With other radios ranging in price to as much as $600, the Baofeng UV-5RA may seem too good to be true. The radio cost as little as $50 or less at most retail locations.

This includes accessories such as a carrying case, charging stand, and wrist strap.

Sound Quality

The sound is medium to good in most outskirt environments. The speaker delivers quality sound without much distortion or tin tones. The voice transmission is within range with low distortion.

The radio suffers from static and distortion when put in a crowded, RF heavy, location such as a city center. The shielding just isn't strong enough to block out that many competing nearby frequencies.

Bands

The Baofeng UV-5RA works in both 70 cm bands and 2 m bands. The radio has two power levels: 4 Watts and 1Watt. this gives a combination of options for a user to find and broadcast a range of signals.

As a dual-band radio, it allows a user to monitor two frequencies. however, a lack in the Baofeng model is that it doesn't have dual watch capability.

This limits the ability of the user to transmit to both monitored frequencies at will. They can both be accessed with a few button presses but less conveniently than other radios.

Effectively the Baofeng uses duals-standby to achieve a version of dual watch capability. The dual frequency display makes it easy to see activity on both frequencies so swapping can be done.

Frequency attunement range covers 25 KHz/12.5KHZ and 136-174/400-480MHz. The memory can hold 128 channels of presets.

Antenna

The default antenna, referred to by enthusiasts as the rubber ducky, is durable and does an adequate job. The reception range falls into the mid to low parameters of other radios. It is solidly at the middle of the pack.

Users looking to expand from the default range and change the stock antenna will need extra help. The radio isn't built to have the antenna socket homogenous or as an expandable component. Aftermarket kits can allow for changing of the antenna without much difficulty.

Keypad

Programming and push to talk options come through the keypad interface. Unforatunealtye, this interface suffers from poor design and confuses a lot of users. Menus are not intuitive and the overall feel can be frustrating.

The keypad does hold up to general use and the buttons are large enough to avoid a lot of cross or mash typing. Most of the issue here is software related.

Durability

The weakest factor of the radio is the durability. Other models of Baofeng radios do well in durability but the get-what-you-pay-for applies heavily in a radio of this price range. The radio has the same performance of more expensive units but it has to cut those costs somewhere.

In the case of the Baofeng that comes in the alignment and insulation of the parts and the overall stability fo the unit. The parts will break down faster than some other units and shock damage from dropping could be a problem.

Even so, tests indicate that without external damage units last more than 10 years, which comes out to less than a dollar per year of service. hardly a failure in design.

Battery Life

The battery life of the Baofeng UV-5RA certainly tops its impressive features. Standard power draw on competing models can leave the batteries dead within a few hours of operation time. The Baofeng sports a 10 hour talk time and 25-hour idle time.

This out-of-the-box kit includes a cradle charger which can trickle charge. This expands the standby to indefinite and is smart enough to not overcharge and overheat.

Whenever a user gets a new radio it is important to follow through general battery health guide. This will ensure the best conditioning and use of the battery over time.

Replacing the battery on a Baofeng doesn't cost much. Keeping in line with the low price point of the unit in general, the replacement comes in around $12. This is good because it can't be run on more standardized battery sizes in a pinch.

Extras

A bright LED flashlight mounted on the top of the unit surprises users by being bright and efficient. This rare feature to find on a radio can be an extra selling point for those looking for a cheap backup or emergency radio.

The headset that comes with the unit is a rarely found comfortable over the ear type of earbud. Sadly the durability is low on these types of earbuds and the cords can short easily if stored poorly.

Stay in Contact

The important thing to remember when a shopping for new gear is the end user. Budget shopping relies on getting the right product for the right price. Paying for features and options that will never be used just ends up wasting money.

The Boafeng UV-5RA delivers essential features for a reasonable stater price. For those looking to compare with other units or those who simply like to know what is available in the field, check other model reviews here.

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