Review of the Baofeng UV-5RA

The Baofeng UV-5RA is a surprising treat for radio enthusiast because of its compact size and incredible price of $50 or less. I would normally side eye any handheld radio and question what the quality was like for this price point, but I was relatively surprised by what I found when testing it out.

Let’s first talk about some of the awesome features that this radio has. I will dissect some of the high and low points that should be considered when purchasing this handheld a little later. Now take a quick look at a few features this handheld has to offer.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Frequency range (Switchable): 136-174/400-480MHz; 25 KHz/12.5KHZ
  • 128 Channels 50 CTCSS and 104 CDCSS; Channel Step: 2.5/5/6.25/10/12.5/25KHz
  • Dual-Band display, Dual Frequency Display, Dual-Standby; A/B band independent operation
  • 128 memories or programmable channels
  • Battery save function
  • Key lock
  • Built in flashlight
  • RF power may be selected at 4 or 1 watts+
  • 24 hour battery life
  • 12 month warranty
  • LCD screen

Pros

[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B009MAKWC0″ cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”uv5r.net-20″]Let’s talk about price! You really cannot beat the price of the Baofeng UV-5RA. At a price of $50 or less it is beyond a good value for your money. It is often a challenge to find a HAM radio that is absurdly expensive and if you are a newbie like me, you are probably hesitant to drop a lot on new equipment right out of the gate. Some handhelds from comparable companies can run upwards of $200 for virtually the same thing. I don’t know if it’s because the Baofeng is made by a Chinese company that allows for the low price, but I will take it and not complain

The battery in this handheld rocks some serious socks and is pretty impressive in my opinion. I have had a few handheld radios that only hold a charge for 2 to 3 hours, but the Baofeng seems to be holding a charge for 24 hours of idle use and for about 10 hours of actual com time. I think that this is due in large part to the ion lithium batteries that are included. I was also pretty impressed that they batteries came fully charged and ready for use. I am impatient and always want to play with my new toys right away, so I was pretty stoked to be able to jump right in. I should also add that the battery for this particular model of Baofeng handheld radio is far superior as it is H-3800 mAh as opposed to a mere H-1800 mAh of the two other models available.

Sound quality and clarity is one of the most important features that I look for when buying a handheld radio and I was again pleasantly surprised with the Baofeng UV-5RA. The sound quality and clarity was definitely comparable to some of the higher end HAM radios that I have. There is a pretty cool test that you can perform to test for an echo if you are hearing one and it will greatly improve the quality. I tested the Baofeng with one of my own systems to hear how I would sound to others as well as tested it out on an open channel where I spoke to someone states away. My fellow radio user assured me that I sounded crystal clear and even inquired about the radio I was using. Big A + for the great quality of sound and clarity!

One cool little feature that the Baofeng UV-5RA has that I have never seen on another handheld radio is a handy little LCD flashlight at the top. The light is very bright, conveniently located at the top of the radio so it is easily visible and easily to turn off/on. I find this to be a super cool little feature that may come in really handy in many different situations.

Cons

One of the first things that I noticed about the Baofeng UV-5RA was that the exterior is not very durable and likely won’t last very long compared to most other handheld brands out there. The plastic surrounding the radios interior is a rather thin, shiny plastic` and seems as though it would crack easily. A lot of the more expensive casings on other radios are made of metal or heavy duty, very durable plastic. Considering the price of the Baofeng, I can’t complain too much though. This will just be a handheld that I don’t take with me when I may damage it somehow, which is an easy compromise when you take into account the price (again).

Programming is the Baofeng UV-5RA is not an easy task to accomplish and took me the better part of 2 hours to tackle. There are a few ways to program it, but you likely wouldn’t know that until trying unsuccessfully for quite a while and eventually researching a solution online. The manual is no help at all with the programming and might as well be written in Latin. The option to program the radio using its keypad would seem to be a sure fire option, right? Wrong! You might as well skip that option all together and just purchase a USB cord, download the Chirp software for Windows, Mac or Linux and program the radio using your computer. It is much easier than trying to program it using the attached keypad and will save you the epic frustration that I experienced.

I briefly mentioned the manual when discussing the programming issue, but did not go into detail as it really deserves its own section to gripe about. The manual is less than helpful for nearly every situation except explaining how to turn the radio off and on. It is very unclear and poorly written as the explanations are lacking in the needed information to really complete whatever task it is you are trying to do. When I was thumbing through it trying to get an idea of how to program the Baofeng UV-5RA I was kind of surprised by how much information it was seemingly missing. Luckily the radio comes with software that you can install onto your computer that makes up a little bit for the lousy paper manual.

[easyazon_link cloaking=”default” keywords=”baofeng uv-5ra” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”uv5r.net-20″]>> Click here to see more reviews for the Baofeng UV-5RA on Amazon <<[/easyazon_link]