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Today I would like to talk about a really best dual-band 2-way Radio that I had an opportunity to test recently – “Baofeng UV-5R Radio”, but first of all, let me tell you why you should even listen to me.
First of all, I have spent years working with different groups, helping them establish and set up radio communications. It was mostly working with construction workers, but also some work on ranches and similar projects where radio communications are a must. This means that over the years I worked with all the different kinds of radio communication devices and know all about how to set up it and what makes one device better than others.
So, we got that out of the way and we can actually start with the Baofeng UV-5r review.
High-end radio for a low-end price? Find the perfect fit for you with the Baofeng UV-5r review
What can you expect to get when buying Baofeng UV-5R?
The overall short description would be: BaoFeng UV-5R is a compact handheld transceiver providing 4 watts in the frequency range of 136- 174 MHz and 400-480 MHz. It is a compact, economical HT that includes a special VHF receive band from 65 – 108 MHz which includes the regular FM, broadcast band. Dual watch and dual reception are supported. The transceiver is a micro-miniature multiband FM transceiver with extensive receive frequency coverage, providing local-area two-way amateur communications along with unmatched monitoring capability.
Looking at a complete package on paper, this definitely looks like a high-end radio communication device for a more convenient price, but of course, we can’t judge everything just by looking at the feature list – let’s talk about the most important features more in-depth and let’s see how it holds up.
Let’s start by taking a brief look at the main features and what can you expect when buying it:
- Frequency Range of 136-174 / 400-520 MHz;
- Output Power rates at 4/1Watts;
- 128 Channels 50 CTCSS and 104 CDCSS;
- FM radio mode (65.0Mhz-108.0MHz);
- Large, easy-to-read LED display and keypad Lock;
- Handy other features, like low battery alerts, emergency alert,s and flashlight;
- Built-in VOX Function mode;
- 1750Hz Burst Tone modes;
- Easily high/low RF power switchable;
- It has a 25KHz/12.5KHz switchable mode;
- Handy monitor channel functions;
- It has a lot of options for channel step: 2.5/5/6.25/10/12.5/25KHz.
- Standard ROGER set is included.
- Also has standard Frequency Stability of 128 and ±2.5ppm Operating Voltage.
- And lastly – DC 7.4V Output power of 4W / 1W (Max 5W)
How far can a “Baofeng UV 5r” transmit? The frequency range of Baofeng UV-5r
First of all, let’s start by looking at the most important thing about any radio communication device – how far away can you use Baofeng UV-5r dual band two-way radio? During my tests of the Baofeng radios, I have noticed that the maximum range of this device on free FRS frequency (you don’t need a license for FRS) is 5 miles.
Sometimes though if we had clear sight and turned up the voltage to the max, we could achieve a greater radius, but generally speaking maximum range in most cases is 5 miles although in heavily populated areas like with a lot of buildings maximum range drops to 3 miles. After 5 miles you will start losing voice clarity. So far numbers seem normal compared to other radio communication devices, nothing out of the ordinary here, and for most professional and casual usage 5 miles of max distance is way more than enough.
Secondly, the frequency range – seeing as this is a higher-end radio with more features, this has a higher frequency range compared to low-end cheap variants. Frequency Range of 136-174 / 400-520 MHz is really nice for both hobbyists and professionals and something I would expect out of an expensive device even, but this device isn’t expensive – high-end features for an affordable price, so far so good.
Voice clarity of the Baofeng UV-5R
Speaking about the voice clarity I mentioned earlier – it‘s actually quite impressive. For this price range, I definitely didn‘t expect this quality and clarity. If you stay in that 5-mile range you will get absolutely perfect high-end voice clarity which you would expect when buying an expensive radio.
Although if you start increasing distance you will quickly start to lose that crisp voice clarity, as I mentioned before – speaking from experience 5 miles is enough for most scenarios of both professional and casual usage, and if you really need good voice clarity beyond 5 miles you should look into buying another device.
Baofeng uv-5r channel range
This specific device has an impressive 128 channels you can operate on, which is more than enough for both professional and casual usage and something you would expect out of a more expensive radio, so again surprised with this. Baofeng UV-5r dual band two-way radio devices also have 50 CTCSS/104 CDCSS technologies which help explain why the voice clarity is so good.
Battery life – a first shortcoming of the otherwise great device?
Lastly talking about technical specifications another really important part is the battery and to be honest with you this is where it starts showing where device makers cut costs. The device only has a small 1800mAh Li-ion battery which is enough for a maximum of 4 hours of heavy usage, before you either will need to switch batteries or charge it. This is not great, on high-power device eats a lot of energy and this battery just isn‘t big enough.
Although I would say for some small usage or hobbyist usage it should be fine, but if your specific needs require longer usage time before needing to recharge, I would advise you to look into other reviews on this site on even more powerful devices with a bigger price tag.
Side note: when speaking about charging I should mention the extremely poor-quality charging station this device comes with, it was really surprising though because as I will talk about later, this device has really good build quality, but the charging station is flimsy and made from cheapest plastic.
Finishing up the technical section I must say that apart from battery life all specifications of “Baofeng UV-5r” devices are really good for this price-quality ratio, but if you are planning on using the device for a prolonged period of time or if you need a higher distance you should think about other more expensive devices apart from that this is really a great high-end device for low-end cost.
How to install and use the Baofeng UV-5R radio?
Programming the device and necessary cables and programs. Do you need a license?
Next up let’s talk about the actual installation of the device and its legality of it, so you will get a feeling for what you are getting into. First, a brief installation preview. If you didn‘t have a USB programming cable before, you will have to buy it.
Speaking about buying, to use most frequencies you will have to buy a license, although there are a few free FCC frequencies available. Before using however you will have to program it using CHIRP – pretty standard procedure for these types of radios, but still, you should be noted that it’s not plugged and playing. You will have to either look into the manual or some YouTube videos when setting this device up, but even for first-time casual users it shouldn’t be too hard, but it will take a few hours.
How to change channels in Baofeng UV-5r?
After the initial setup, it‘s actually pretty easy to use Baofeng UV-5r – there are plenty of handy buttons and nice quality LED screen will tell you what channel you are on. For most users, it will be intuitively easy to understand, for others there is a handy manual packed with the radio which states how to do everything extremely clearly so I won’t go into detail here, this is a review after all not a tutorial.
Difficult to set up but worth it in the end?
Even though you will have to do some initial CHIRP programming for setting up, but even that is not a big problem even if you are just a casual user – there are a ton of YouTube videos on how to set up this specific device for personal usage and for professionals like me who are used to this it was just a standard procedure – nothing out of the ordinary.
Overall, I really like how simple it is to use them because not everyone out of my clientele is tech-savvy people and this device has all the functions that make it easy to understand without sacrificing nice functions like a display screen.
Baofeng UV-5r dual band two-way radio devices have none of the unnecessary things and my team members don‘t get overwhelmed. This in my eyes is a big plus and again if you are just a casual user, don‘t get scared setup isn‘t something difficult and with help of YouTube videos can be completed in a few hours maximum, and also it‘s completely legal if you follow proper instructions so you don‘t have to fear about that either and if you want to tune into some other channels like police channel (highly illegal) or railroad channel you should check in with your local laws and buy licenses you would need.
Is it worth your time and money? Summary of Baofeng UV-5r review
- Very convenient and powerful radio
- Flashlight equip
- Great entry-level product
- Comes with a lot of accessories
- Cheap charging station
- Not exactly out-of-the-box ready
- Does not come with a programming cable
- Low capacity battery – not for long heavy usage
Read more buyer reviews and buying tip at Amazon
Low capacity battery and complicated installation – is it a deal-breaker?
Let‘s do a summary and overall verdict. First of all, all technical details apart from battery life were great. There aren‘t many better alternatives with these specifications in this price range. Although, if your specific needs call for longer than 4 hours of heavy usage at the time, you should either look into different devices specifically made for long usage times or buy spare batteries.
Next, we talked about installation – if you are experienced in the radio communications field and programmed similar devices in the past, this is no different from those, just standard programming using CHIRP and if you are a new user, don‘t get scared away when you see the fancy word “programming” – it will only take up to few hours maximum to set up this device using manuals available online or just simply watching many out of available YouTube videos.
Simple yet complex
Overall this device has all the nice features you would need from high-end devices, like a keypad, display screen, changeable antenna, etc., but it doesn‘t overcomplicate things. It‘s a perfect balance between all necessary features and being simple enough to understand. Even your less tech-savvy friends or team members will quickly understand how to use this device because everything is intuitive. You won‘t need to carry a manual around and you won‘t have to spend a long time teaching your team members how to use this device.
Is Baofeng uv-5r legal?
Lastly, I am seeing a lot of questions regarding the legality of these and similar devices and I am going to repeat myself time and time again – follow programming instructions closely and use free frequencies, don’t rush the installation and everything will be legal, but if you try accessing illegal frequencies or use illegal wattage which interferes with important communications you will get punished by law.
The Bottom Line of the BaoFeng UV-5R Review
The overall verdict is – 9 out of 10. Incredible device for this price, if you only looked at the price you would think that it‘s a low-end device, but it‘s actually a high-end one, although there are few shortcomings due to this low price. First is a low-end battery with only 4 hours of heavy usage. The second is complicated installation if you aren‘t an experienced user in CHIRP programming, also you will need to buy programming cable separately because it is not included in this set and as a bonus charging station is very poorly made, but that isn‘t a big deal, due to here being other means to charge it.
Overall unless you have special needs for your work or hobby, like very high distance or long continuous usage of the device without charging, I would definitely recommend buying Baofeng UV-5r– there aren’t many other high-end devices for this price.