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New Guy Question: Tried and True vs. Cheap Import

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#1
I'm going to be taking my Technician's exam here within the next couple of weeks, and the budget does not immediately support everything I'd like so I'm going to start out with a simple dual band HT. I've used icoms for GMRS in the past so I know and trust them, but I've heard a lot about the Baofengs as well particularly the UV-82. The question is this:

Is the IC-T70A HD really worth the price over the cheaper baofeng? I know the iCom is mil spec 810, but does that justify double or triple the cost? I also used Motorolas very extensively when I was a paramedic, but I'm not even sure they produce anything for amateur radio... Your thoughts?
 
Joined
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Davenport,Fl.- home to me and the gators and the s
#2
There's a small percentage of people who wanted to be come hams, but didn't because of equipment cost. Do as many new amateurs do, buy cheap and work up. Getting your foot in the door is the most important thing to do. I have a couple of baofeng uv-5r that I toy around with. Had good reports on their signal, sound, etc. There's a lot of hams who down blast the CCRs, but getting started some times means buying CCRs. (Cheap Chinese Radio)
Do what you feel is best for YOU.
My base is a Yaesu FT2900, and it's really not high priced; it's a great radio.
 
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#3
I've purchased between 10 and 20 CCRs, and have yet for one of them to fall apart on me. I've had a few bad hand mics, but none of the radios have quit after several years of use.

Haters gonna hate, but there's a reason CCRs are so popular. They work reasonably well, and don't cost very much. Some jerks just can't handle amateur radio not being the exclusive domain of rich radio snobs, and badmouth CCRs and people who use them every chance they get, but don't let that stop you. If a CCR is all you can afford right now, then buy one and get your feet wet. You may decide to upgrade to a Yaesu or Icom later, but the experience you gain using a Baofeng will better inform you about what features you want or need when getting a more expensive radio.
 
Joined
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PALM BEACH, FLORIDA
#4
Is the IC-T70A HD really worth the price over the cheaper baofeng?
YES, YES, YES. The T70 is not an expensive radio, but it is an ICOM. Should there be a problem with it, Icom has a FACTORY service center right here in the USA that can repair a defective radio. The Baofeng's, Wouxun's, & Tytera's which are called Dollar Store radios, have nothing here in this country. Not even a place to call to ask a technical question, or fix a defective radio. The only protection you have with a CCR [Cheap Chinese Radio] is by paying with a credit card on Paypal. Then if the radio dies during the warranty period, you can demand a replacement radio, or refund. But the day that warranty ends, you have nothing. With Icom, you have a phone number in California where American employees who speak English can help you. With the Dollar Store radios, you must call China, & brush up on your Mandarin. Sure, a Motorola is expensive, & a great radio. but the T70, which is quite affordable, is light years better than any Dollar Store radio. Check out the Yaesu FT60 also. A great radio less $ than a T70. Again, Yaesu is a phone call away in California, & has American employees who speak English.
 
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#5
And here we have a hater.

Note that he is the one who always calls CCRs "dollar store radios", and he makes several factually incorrect statements about sales and service for CCRs. There are several US sellers that offer some degree of customer service for CCRs. Connect Systems, Import Communications, Baofeng Tech LetsGetReady, and Sanatop are all US-based entities that sell CCRs and offer some level of customer service for radio issues without you having to learn Mandarin, or ship radios back to China. Also, when you buy radios on Amazon or eBay, you have additional protections for returns or refunds even if the seller refuses to help you.

If you look at his posting history, you'll see he spends a lot of time in the Budget and Entry-Level forums trolling. Judge accordingly.
 
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#6
If you must buy a Dollar Store radio, I would suggest you buy it from Connect Systems. They do offer GREAT customer service. But even their CS750 which was $249 maybe on a $189 special. They have a new CS580 for $130, but as of yet, no dual band DMR radio is out there. So if you want dual band, the T-70, of FT-60 is the way to go. Quality, & customer service that won't break the bank. Or roll the dice with a CCR. You could get a good one, or you might not. How lucky do you feel?
 
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#7
OK. To be clear, I do have budget for an iCom or a Yaesu. The question is are they worth the price difference? I love getting both sides of the argument here because it helps with critical thinking and making the right choice. Just because I have a budget for one, doesn't mean I'm going to throw money at a brand name. I want to make sure it is money well spent. Thanks again for all the input.

Sent from my Nexus 9 using Tapatalk
 
Joined
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#8
To me, yes. To others, no. But whether it's radios, or food, I only buy name brand. I'll gladly pay more to drink Coca Cola, vs a no name brand soda. It costs pennies a day over the price of a CCR, to own a quality name brand radio, with US Factory support. Especially since the OP stated he can afford the "better" radios made by Icom, or Yaesu. Go to E-Ham.net to read reports on all the radios.
 

SCPD

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#10
Heres an idea. See if there are any hamfest coming up in your area..you should be able to pick some good used equipment at good prices to get you started..Also maybe ask some local hams if they can help out on where to find and buy. Good luck on the test. 73 de Bob KB9QHJ
 

SCPD

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#13
Dahwg, you ask a good question- and you've gotten some good answers. I'll throw you my opinion.
.
I have owned any number of name brand radios: Icom's, Kenwoods, Yaesu's, Alinco's--Motorolas, Vertex's -- personally as a ham and professionally in work. I have, over the years, seen the whole spectrum of the Good, Bad and the Ugly. I also own some BaoFeng's... in fact I purchased a big box full of UV5's to hand out to my troops when one of our prized engineers dropped her expensive Vertex down a remote site's pit toilet (the Chinese radios $$ factor makes such budget eating occurrences a little easier to take.)
.
I am anything but a CCR hater- in fact, I vocally defend them as neat, economical little radios. They are, in my professional opinion, anything but cheap. ....But.....(don't you just love it when you hear that word..... :)
--But.... I think if you can swing it , go for the Icom. That radio will be with you for a long time. Icom's are easy to set up, solid, tough,-- you know you can get accessories like new battery packs* and such for them... they have good customer support, and quality control.....and the instructions are in American English; easy to read- if you aren't familiar with Chinese radios, that is nothing to sneeze at..
.

FM radio technology is not going to change so much over the next years that your Icom will be left a Dinosaur anytime soon. I am very quick to say of buying anything electronic--> "You don't invest in them, you are just merely possessing them +Temporarily+".... for as sure as most items makes it to the market, they are already Old! (I spent a few days at the CES2017 show in Las Vegas-- and talk about making anything you own electronic seem instantly obsolete....!) FM handhelds fall outside this category-- the FM mode is already old.
.
The Chinese radios, on the other hand...--- I think you will out grow quickly... not that you will not have a use for them, but you will want something that you consider-- perceive, maybe??-- as better. Once you have become comfortably ensconced in the hobby, then try the CCR's. If we were talking a big buck's difference, I'd be saying something opposite, but here the $'s are close. You are about to enter a fun, but challenging hobby-- so I offer you this, taken from my favorite sayings.... "On that long trip across the prairie, Cowboy, you want to start out well mounted"... ie: get as good a horse and saddle as you can afford.....:)
. Welcome to Hamdom!
.
..............................CF
.
.
*Though if I were you, I'd get several of the inexpensive battery holders; the ones that allow you to use AA batteries-- in them use Lithiums-- and should the time come and their regular packs become obsolete, you won't have an orphan radio..... voice of experience
 
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Joined
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Tucson, AZ
#14
Dahwg, you ask a good question- and you've gotten some good answers. I'll throw you my opinion.
.
I have owned any number of name brand radios: Icom's, Kenwoods, Yaesu's, Alinco's--Motorolas, Vertex's -- personally as a ham and professionally in work. I have, over the years, seen the whole spectrum of the Good, Bad and the Ugly. I also own some BaoFeng's... in fact I purchased a big box full of UV5's to hand out to my troops when one of our prized engineers dropped her expensive Vertex down a remote site's pit toilet (the Chinese radios $$ factor makes such budget eating occurrences a little easier to take.)
.
I am anything but a CCR hater- in fact, I vocally defend them as neat, economical little radios. They are, in my professional opinion, anything but cheap. ....But.....(don't you just love it when you hear that word..... :)
--But.... I think if you can swing it , go for the Icom. That radio will be with you for a long time. Icom's are easy to set up, solid, tough,-- you know you can get accessories like new battery packs* and such for them... they have good customer support, and quality control.....and the instructions are in American English; easy to read- if you aren't familiar with Chinese radios, that is nothing to sneeze at..
.

FM radio technology is not going to change so much over the next years that your Icom will be left a Dinosaur anytime soon. I am very quick to say of buying anything electronic--> "You don't invest in them, you are just merely possessing them +Temporarily+".... for as sure as most items makes it to the market, they are already Old! (I spent a few days at the CES2017 show in Las Vegas-- and talk about making anything you own electronic seem instantly obsolete....!) FM handhelds fall outside this category-- the FM mode is already old.
.
The Chinese radios, on the other hand...--- I think you will out grow quickly... not that you will not have a use for them, but you will want something that you consider-- perceive, maybe??-- as better. Once you have become comfortably ensconced in the hobby, then try the CCR's. If we were talking a big buck's difference, I'd be saying something opposite, but here the $'s are close. You are about to enter a fun, but challenging hobby-- so I offer you this, taken from my favorite sayings.... "On that long trip across the prairie, Cowboy, you want to start out well mounted"... ie: get as good a horse and saddle as you can afford.....:)
. Welcome to Hamdom!
.
..............................CF
.
.
*Though if I were you, I'd get several of the inexpensive battery holders; the ones that allow you to use AA batteries-- in them use Lithiums-- and should the time come and their regular packs become obsolete, you won't have an orphan radio..... voice of experience
That is the voice of reason! You've just articulated that gnawing feeling I had. I was an IT guy for years, and part of my job involved cost/benefit analysis of new tech. You nailed it by pointing out the incredibly short shelf life of consumer electronics. If there was no other compelling reason other than name brand, or tech support for a radio that is basically disposable, whose usefulness would not outlast the current model, then there is no reason to pony up the extra cash. However, as you have so adroitly pointed out, these are long term. While I may get into a situation where I need something to do other things, I will always have need of radios that do what these do.

That said, I am beginning to think that spending the extra money is not unreasonable. And I like the idea of having a CCR around for situations where I don't want to risk losing a more pricey radio.

Sent from my LG-H918 using Tapatalk
 
Joined
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Messages
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#15
One point that I don't see in this thread is this. This will be your first radio and if you enjoy the hobby and stay in it over the long haul, you'll end up buying many more over time. Don't get hung up on worrying about your first radio being the perfect one since no matter which one you get, there'll be things you just love about it and things that you won't like as much.

You may also find that you want features that your "perfect" radio doesn't have but you didn't know that those were something you even wanted during your search. D-Star, DMR, APRS, and Fusion are a few that come to mind and at least at this point, no radio includes them all. Starting out with a cheap radio makes the option to upgrade much easier since it was, well, cheap. Spending big bucks on a quality radio and then wanting to upgrade makes the process much more difficult (and more expensive).

Sure, you can sell it and use those funds to get your new radio, but you'll probably sell it for less than you bought it for (depreciation and all) and that difference is probably more than that cheap starter radio cost. You'll even be able to keep the el-cheapo radio as a back-up or when you're in an area where you don't want to risk the high-cost model (be it rain, high risk of loss, or even high crime area). Note, I'm not just talking about those so-called "CCR" radios, but including name brand used radios that fall into the same low-cost price range. In reality, a used radio will often sell for close to what you paid for (assuming you shopped around and got a good deal on the ham-to-ham marker, buying from a company will always add their markup, which you won't be able to make up).

Remember that you're not starting out "on that long trip across the prairie", but just learning to ride the horse. You'll probably want to try out several horses and saddles (radios and modes in this case) prior to selecting one to use on that long ride.
 
Joined
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Messages
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San Diego, CA
#16
There are factors other than price to consider when buying a first radio. Unfortunately, cost seems to be the only thing people look at. The Baofeng radios, while inexpensive, are difficult to hand program, especially for a beginner, and suffer from lack of consistency in their quality control. For example, in four years of HT testing conducted by the ARRL Lab at the Dayton Hamvention, fully half of the Boefengs tested were non-compliant with FCC regulations for spurious emissions. (See link below.)

http://wp.ni4ce.org/wp-content/uploads/qst.pdf

Other issues that crop up with the Baofengs is difficulties with programming cables and software. Inexpensive cables are available on eBay, but these have questionable chips in them and it seems difficult to find the right drivers for the cables at times. Reliable software and cables are available from RT Systems, but people are reticent to pay the price.

Let's talk about manuals. An entire cottage industry has sprung up around writing manuals for the Baofeng and other Chinese-made radios. The manual that came with my Yaesu FT-60R is 80 pages of detailed instructions, including eight pages on memory programming. On the other hand the manual for my Baofeng UV-5RE addresses programming with the note "You can program your transceiver operating in the setup menu to suit your needs or preferences." followed by a list of menu functions and nothing more. (The Baofeng manual itself is only 19 pages long.)

I have the Baofeng only because I won it as a raffle prize at a club meeting. I much prefer my Yaesus.

Heres an idea. See if there are any hamfest coming up in your area..you should be able to pick some good used equipment at good prices to get you started..Also maybe ask some local hams if they can help out on where to find and buy. Good luck on the test. 73 de Bob KB9QHJ
Excellent suggestion...

Just an opinion..... I have had the Yaesu ft 60r for many years.like 10 years, its been banged around dropped and abused and still works like a clock. You will not be disappointed if you buy this one.
Looks like Gigaparts has it on sale https://www.gigaparts.com/Yaesu-FT-60R.html?gclid=CNLmw--ws9ECFc9Zhgod_uoKMQ

Reviews found here Yaesu FT-60R Product Reviews
Tim
That's a good price for the FT-60 and my go-to recommendation for a new ham.
 

KC2GSP

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#17
I don't bash guys who buy the Chinese radios. I think my hatred is placed solely on the radio itself because it is usually the radio de jour for jammers. I guess my whole thing is that I don't buy one because I don't want to reward bad behavior. Has nothing to do with a legitimate ham using it however
 
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#18
Is the IC-T70A HD really worth the price over the cheaper baofeng? I know the iCom is mil spec 810, but does that justify double or triple the cost? I also used Motorolas very extensively when I was a paramedic, but I'm not even sure they produce anything for amateur radio... Your thoughts?
Any Motorola (or other professional radio) that covers the amateur radio frequencies can be used there legally. The issue you'd likely run into is the ease of programming, the lack of "amateur friendly" features like VFO, etc. There are a lot of good reasons to use the professional radios, mostly those of us that work in the industry and only want to have one radio, or better yet, those that have a nearly endless supply of parts, accessories, access to programming software, etc.
But, buying into the Motorola, Kenwood, Icom, Harris, etc. professional radio game can be expensive.

Probably not the best choice for the new amateur.

I occasional work with a field tech that uses one of the Baofeng radios. He knows it doesn't compare to the higher end commercial stuff, but it works fine for what he does. It won't stand a drop off a roof, or getting run over by a car, like the higher end commercial stuff does, but if you treat your gear right, that shouldn't be an issue.
If you are using it -just- for amateur radio use, the Baofeng's would be fine. I would never recommend them for professional or public safety use.

Disclaimer: I've never owned one, so keep that in mind. I have read a lot and know people who do own them...

The frustration level can be high for new amateurs. One thing to look at is to find out what others in your area (friends, co-workers, local amateur club) are using and consider that as a choice. Having a knowledgeable person who can help you get your radio up and running can be a huge benefit. Doesn't matter if it's a $35 Chinese radio or an $8000 Motorola, it won't do you any good if you can't get it working.

This won't be your ~only~ radio. While you may have it for a few years, you will eventually upgrade, or decide to go into another aspect of the hobby. Don't consider this a lifetime decision. Look more at the short term.
 

nd5y

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#19
Depending on your location the cheap receiver in Baofeng radios might be desensed by local FM or TV stations, or other strong signals, and be useless for receiving weak signals that are easily receivable on Icom/Kenwood/Yaesu/Alinco or other higher quality radios.
 
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#20
Depending on your location the cheap receiver in Baofeng radios might be desensed by local FM or TV stations, or other strong signals, and be useless for receiving weak signals that are easily receivable on Icom/Kenwood/Yaesu/Alinco or other higher quality radios.
There ARE actually a few locations that I frequent that are within a mile of a local TV tower. That particular tower has caused some problems with a wireless PA system were trying to run there, so I have a high degree of suspicion that the scenario you mentioned could play itself out there.

Sent from my LG-H918 using Tapatalk
 
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