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A recent phenomena in amateur radio has been the influx of inexpensive handheld 2m/70cm radios from companies such as Baofeng. These claim to have the primary features like power output and frequency coverage that many other brands with a fraction of the price. For example I can purchase a Baofeng radio for $36.00, but the same style radio from Yaesu costs at least four times more.

What am I getting for the increased cost of the name brand?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you intending to ask about evaluating handheld radios, or other types as well? $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Oct 22 '13 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ @kevin, my specific experience has been with hand held radios - I'm not aware of hf rigs like this. $\endgroup$ – W5VO Oct 23 '13 at 1:54
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You're getting a better warranty and the ability to send it for repair if you have issues. You get a better manual, a programming and operation experience that has been improved based on the feedback of the ham community over every model of radio they've produced. The programming software is often better for established brands (although there's third party software for the Wouxun portables that isn't half bad). You probably get a better front end, meaning better sensitivity especially in RF noisy areas, as well as cleaner filters, meaning cleaner transmit and receive signals.

I've used a Wouxun and a Yaesu side by side. I'm always afraid I'll break the Yaesu because it costs that much more. They're both pretty sturdy. The Wouxun menu is limited (six character display vs Yaesu's full LCD screen), the Yaesu has more features including wide band receive and 220MHz coverage. The Yaesu is much more comfortable to field program once you get the hang of it, whereas the Wouxun can't even have its scan list programmed in the field.

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You generally get polish and and reliability from name brands that you may not get from the cheap knock off radios. That said, you really can't beat the price - it's worth it to get one and try it - just keep in mind it might be a little quirky.

eHam is a good place to read reviews: http://www.eham.net/reviews/

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