What are some online resources that can be used for finding an HT package?
I am a new Ham (K7BED) and only transmitted for the second time, today. I want to say to purchase a low cost HT (such as a Baofeng UV-5/5R/5RA/whatever) but that was what I did and it was a waste of money and nothing but frustration.
I just went out today to a local Amateur Radio shop and picked up an Alinco DJ-500T and so far I love it! When comparing the two radios side by side my contact today said that the Alinco wins by far for voice clarity and volume. Plus the Alinco is NOT ridiculously hard to program.
Right now I have the standard antenna on the Alinco.
I will repeat what I've seen other's mention and that is to buy a low cost (100-200 dollars, stackexchange can't use dollar signs in answers apparently) dual-band HT such as from Alinco, Yaesu, Kenwood (though I've not found a dual-band Kenwood for under $300 or so new), Icom, etc.
I went to AES web store (just one example of many online stores) and browsed through what they have. The first Japanese radio (though it is produced in China I think) was the Alinco DJ-500T for $129.99, then the Yaesu FT-60R which is a little bit bigger and didn't fit my hand as well when I looked at both in-store today. I preferred the Alinco mainly because it fit better in my hand, but also because I saw a video online showing how to manually program the Alinco and I thought it made more sense than the Yaesu.
If you can, definitely purchase a non-knock-off Diamond or other higher-end antenna for your HT, though honestly I am not unhappy with the stock antenna of this Alinco.
You may also want to invest in a AA battery pack if the radio you choose has one available for purchase. The Alinco DJ-500T does not have such an accessory available for purchase.
You may also want to invest in a magmount antenna for your car or vehicle. And you may want to consider purchasing extra batteries so that you will never have a dead battery.
Also consider purchasing the ARRL Repeater Directory or sign up on repeaterbook.com and print off your local repeaters and those that are in the areas you travel in.
You may want to check into any local ARES/RACES groups and repeater groups as well, as you will find many local Hams who could definitely become your mentors.
I have yet to see a "starter set" for Ham Radio equipment, but if you decide to purchase from one specific vendor, either online or in-store, I'm sure they can hook you up with the things you will need.
I know there is a Diamond X50 antenna which usually would be firmly mounted to a pole in your yard for VHF and UHF reception for a VHF/UHF capable transceiver in your home (base station/portable/HT acting as base) if you don't plan on going mobile with the HT. That is just about $100 most places I think.
I know that as a newbie Ham Radio can be very confusing, and honestly I am still quite confused by many things but I am only a few months into being licensed.
All that being said, you will definitely need to be licensed before you transmit for the first time. And the Volunteer Examiners can become your mentors as well. They will have a lot of good advice for you. I live in a tiny population town but I have met a lot of great Hams here.
So I would go into radio shops (such as Ham Radio Outlet if they have actual storefronts, Universal Radio, American Electronic Supply, and I'm sure there are other small outfits all over the USA and other countries.
If you are licensed as a Technician I'd definitely suggest a dual-band HT that handles VHF and UHF (144mhz band and 440m mhz band) and you wanted to spend the money up front you could go with a mobile or portable transceiver that also does the 50mhz (6 meter) band. If you do plan on quickly getting licensed as a General or Extra feel free to purchase equipment that can handle all modes, and HF + 6M + 2M + 70cm and higher if you want. But you will also need to factor in cost for the antennas and connectors and installation, plus antenna analyzers and other equipment you will need.