The radio snob in me wants to start off by saying that there are other radios out there – and many of them are a lot more reliable than the Baofeng UV-5R. Icom, Motorola, & Yaesu make excellent HT (Handy Talkie) radios. And you might be much better served by having a more substantially reliable radio like one of those. If I had to put my life on the line I would prefer to have a radio I know I can count on to work when I need it to.
But as these are so inexpensive, and easy to get (on BANGGOOD) and since you’re usually looking at around $150 to get one of the better brands I decided to write this article to discuss the entry-level Baofeng so folks can understand what this radio can and can’t do. And since we now own 2 of them we shouldn’t talk too much smack about them now, should we.
The Baofeng uv5r review & Guide
Lets set your expectations. This is not a top-of-the line radio. Its not supposed to be. Its cheap, so you can rest assured that problems with these radios can arise from time to time. We’ve had one that cannot receive or transmit if the channel is changed unless you turn the unit on/off.
There are several known variants of this radio. All of them are the same hardware, the only difference is the firmware (software) they ship with. If you buy on Amazon you are probably getting the latest firmware, but there’s no guarantee. Its not a game changer, they all pretty much run the same from what I can tell.
Don’t drop these. They aren’t cream-puffs but they are not meant to be roughed up like some other radios are. But the build feels solid enough for what its meant to do.
Our suggestion is to get a good HT from Icom or Yaesu if you can spring the +$150, and get a few Baofengs as beaters and backups. Strength in numbers. But if you want something today buy the Baofeng and you rest easy that at least you covered it.
Not horrible, but only if done on a computer. If all you care about is 4-5 frequencies then you can do it on the unit. You need the computer program CHIRP to program the HT. You also need a special USB cable. Avoid the cheap knockoffs. Been there done that.
You can download a greatly improved version of the Owners Operating Manual here. Its a good idea to save a copy of this to your emergency USB stick with all your other emergency documents. You DO have an emergency USB drive, don’t you?