The best and worst of 2014

GT-3 Mark II Stock Photo

A little bit late, but better late than never!

The best Chinese hand held:

  • Baofeng GT-3 Mark II. Good, bright and loud TX audio, a good front-end and a good stock antenna tuned to ham radio bands.
  • The Baofeng UV-B5/B6. Has been around for some time, but still one of the best buys out there.
  • Most Wouxun dual band radios, and the (now ancient) Quansheng TG-UV2. These are more expensive, but worth it.
  • Zastone ZT-2R. Excellent miniature hand held, 100% identical to the Yaesu VX-2R. Receives from 500 KHz up 10 1000 MHz.
  • There are Anytone hand helds which might belong into this category, but these didn’t arrive in time to be incorporated here.

The worst Chinese hand held:

  • To be honest, there really isn’t one. Most just fall into the category “You get what you pay for”, even the $17 Baofeng BF-888S. Just don’t expect top quality. TX/RX audio and the ability to keep unwanted signals out will disappoint at times.

Most interesting hand held developments:

  • Wouxun KG-UV8D and Puxing PX-973. With two independent VFOs and cross-band repeater capability these radios offer more or less the same functionality as a mobile radio.
  • TYT DM-UVF10. This radio combines analog with digital (dPMR), and is dual-band instead of single band. While pricey and not yet 100% perfect, this radio is a shape of things to come.

Best mobile radios:

  • Alinco DR-138 (VHF), DR-438 (UHF) and DR-638 (VHF/UHF). While based on Anytone designs (AT-588 mono-band and AT-5888 dual-band), Alinco managed to shave off the last annoyances that were left.
  • The VERO VR-6600PRO might deserve a place here, but we can’t be sure until we got our hands on one. My review sample is in transit.

Alinco DR-638Worst mobile radios:

  • QYT KT-UV980. A total waste of money, unless the manufacturer sets things straight — FAST.
  • Leixen VV-898. It’s fun, but quality-wise underwhelming in almost every respect. Reports suggest that the failure rate is high.

Best technical ham radio blog:

Best ham related websites related to Chinese radios:

  • Chirp. More and more hams start to rely on Chirp more than on any other radio programming tool.
  • Miklor. If you have trouble figuring out your Baofeng radio, John’s website is the place to go.


7 comments on “The best and worst of 2014

  1. Bold call .
    I own the GT-3 mk2 , UV-5r , UV-B5 , and UV-82 as well a few other hand held .
    To say the GT-3 is the best is subjective at best . Just what was taken into consideration ? If its just the antenna ? ( Oh boy )

    But never mind , the GT-3 shows that Baofeng might be a little more serious in the future , I would like to see an end to the flashlight and alarm , a clicky switch for the squelch ( 0 squelch ) button so you don’t need to hold it down all the time , and the flashlight alarm button could become the radio button/switch . Baofeng should make a hand held that’s a hand held rather than a toy . Get rid of the mikey mouse features . To say Baofeng is the best , or one of the best radios to come from China ? , very bold call .

    Baofeng has done a lot to bring ham to the masses , I wont discount that . But there is still work to be done to be even close to the best . I have a TYT TH-UV8R that takes UV-5r batteries , it has better firmware , is easier to program / live with , and performs better than the Baofengs .

    Im sorry , but from my perspective the GT-3 could possibly be the better Baofeng , but not more than that , and then it would depend very much on what you want from the radio and the one thing that lets the GT-3 down is the lack of accessories . Push come to shove , over all . I would have to give it to the UV-5r series / body . ( And I would do so reluctantly because I would have to consider the larger picture )

    Best from China ( for me = Not the Baofeng )

    • Subjective? No. Subjective equals ‘a matter of taste’. I only look at performance, especially under challenging conditions. Yes, a new radio and its form factor comes with a downside too, like initial lack of accessories.

      And yes, there might be even better radios out there, but it’s impossible to review them all. Most Chinese manufacturers don’t care about reviews (or hate them as it might expose weaknesses) and won’t lend me one. As a result this list includes as much as it excludes. If I were filthy rich and had nothing else to do, who know what I could accomplish! 🙂

  2. Well, I’m happy with my VV-898, but then I have few local users (that are on regularly) and I kept my expectations low, because of the price.

    One thing that has evaded me is when you have two frequencies displayed and one of them becomes busy, I can’t see any indicator telling you which it is. If you take the Baofeng for example, they have a flashing arrow to show which.

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