05 December, 2013

The best of the Baofeng handhelds

How do the cheap Baofeng handhelds compare? I have had the Baofeng UV-5R since I bought it from the 409shop in April 2012, but recently I noticed that the UV-B5, UV-B6, and UV-82 have appeared on the market also. If I should need another handheld transceiver for VHF/UHF, is there any advantage in getting any of the other models?

I prepared the following table in order to highlight differences and similarities. Bold characters signify an improvement for what I conceive to be typical radio amateur use.








Feature

UV-5R

UV-82

UV-B5
Front-end OK OK Improved
Antenna Short Longer Longer
Signal meter On/off On/off Dynamic
Squelch VHF: On/off
UHF: Tiny steps
21. Dec 2013
As the UV-5R

21. Dec 2013
Larger steps
Size and shape Square and small Fits better
in hand, larger
buttons
Fits better
in hand
Frequency/channel change Up/down Up/down Rotary
encoder
VFO/MR button Yes Turn radio off,
then press menu
as you turn it on

3. Jan 2014
Yes
Band button YesNo (in menu) Switches 
automatically
Dual PTT button No Yes No
Programming Need a computer
to enter alpha tags 
Alpha tags 
can be entered 
from keyboard
Alpha tags can 
be entered 
from keyboard
Memory channels 128 128 99 + 16 for FM radio
Display 7 characters
in name
7 characters 
in name
Harder to read,
only 5 characters
in name
Modifications Enlarge mic hole,
(and here),
Low modulation mod
- Unused button as
background
light switch

The UV-B6 is not covered here since the only difference from the UV-B5 is a flashlight instead of the rotary encoder and alarm button of the B5.

My main sources are the blogs of PD0AC (UV-82, UV-B5/B6) and the Miklor FAQs

In general I think the design of much radio equipment is lagging behind other electronics when it comes to user interfaces. Imagine a smart phone user interface on a handheld! That is why I emphasize user interface issues in my final evaluation.

I like the improved front-end, signal meter, and squelch of the UV-B5 making it a strong contender for the winner position. But I don't think they are worth the price of a poorer display. On the other hand, the UV-82 is inferior in my view to the UV-5R due to the need to enter the menu for VFO/MR and band switch functions. So for now I'll stick with the UV-5R.