Review of the Baofeng UV-B5

Being a HAM radio enthusiast and relative new comer to the handheld radio club has led me to try out a few of the radios currently on the market that are not crazy expensive, but not cheap quality. My search has led me to the Baofeng UV-B5 recently and as a whole I am pretty pleased with the little handheld radio. As with anything, there are a few things that I would like to change or that don’t meet my expectations, but for the price of $50 or less I cannot complain too much.

The Baofeng US-B5 comes with some really great key features and specifications. Here is a list of them that allows for a broad scope of you will be working with if you decide to purchase this particular handheld radio.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Dual VHF UHF UV B5
  • Frequency Range: 136-174 & 400-470MHz
  • 99 memory channels
  • Lithium ion battery pack with 1800mAh high capacity
  • FM radio function
  • Emergency alarm function
  • U/V cross band receiving
  • 1750Hz burst tone for repeater function
  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • DTMF encoder

Pros

[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B00BXVOKTW” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”uv5r.net-20″]This handheld comes with a great accessory package and includes everything that you will need to use your radio as well as wear it around if you choose to. The package includes an AC charger for easy battery charging on the go, a 7.4V 2000mAh lithium ion battery, hang strap, belt clip and a user manual. You really won’t need much else except maybe a USB cord to connect the Baofeng UV-B5 to your computer for programming or any other software essential needs.

I really like the more compact size and shape of this Baofeng model. It is the perfect size for a handheld radio as it is not too big or too small. It fits rather well in smalls hands and is a great for female or young HAM operators.

The antenna on the Baofeng UV-B5 is quite a bit longer and is far better than the antenna on its predecessor the Baofeng UV-5RA. There is far better quality of sound and range with this new and improved antenna. One of the other things that I really liked about the antenna was the option to swap it out with a different one that may meet my specific needs at a given time.

A really cool feature that the radio has is a channel frequency knob that will allow you to manually switch frequencies when it is convenient for you. I find this to be a particularly appealing feature since I intend to use my Baofeng UV-B5 when I am mobile and on the go. It is very helpful to be able to change the frequency based upon location, terrain and signal strength.

The most important and most improved features of the Baofeng UV-B5 are the new manual and ease or programming. I tested out the sister device, the Baofeng UV-5RA, and was rather disappointed with its manual as it seemed incomplete and was super hard to read. I am happy to report that this model has a new manual that is easy to read, understand and seems to be relatively free of informational gaps! Also new to this handheld radio that relates directly to the manual is the channel programming option. During my testing of the previous Baofeng radio, I was unable to use the manual to guide me through the channel programming after much trying and frustration. I resorted to using the Chirp software and plugging it in to my computer. That is no longer a necessary step with the new manual as it is very clearly explained how to program the radio. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up here as it is a feature that none of the other Baofeng handheld radios currently has.

Cons

baofeng uv-b5There were some definite cons to this handheld radio that were major issues for me and one of them being the fact that you can only enter alpha tags that have up to 5 characters. That is a major drawback as it limits the range and location with which you can use the Baofeng UV-B5. I personally need a handheld that allows for more character than that and I am not nearly as seasoned an operator as some out there.

The scan feature is super slow and it doesn’t increase with the speed at which you turn the dial. Faster turning definitely does not mean faster scanning in this case. I know that I could just go out and purchase and actual scanner, but that’s one of the features of this handheld and I want it to work properly. This does seem to be an issue with this specific Baofeng model however as I did not experience this with the others I have tried.

The buttons on the Baofeng UV-B5 are really too small and close together for nearly anyone to use without hitting something wrong a few times. It can be pretty frustrating to enter the information that you need to when you hit the wrong keys constantly. The display is also an area that could use some improvement. It is pretty small and hard to read. I’d like to see a bigger screen with cleared text and a better backlight, personally. The last issue I have in regards to buttons and knobs are the dials on the top are actually somewhat difficult to turn, which then makes it hard to adjust the volume and frequency properly.

The battery life of the Baofeng UV-B5 leaves a lot to be desired. It is a far weaker batter than prior models and doesn’t hold a charge for nearly as long as it should. The battery does come fully charged, which is great, but it dies after a few hours of idle use alone. When I was actively using it for com purposes it drained even faster. I would think that a high voltage battery would come with it, but given the low price point I guess what you get is what you pay for here.