At this moment the Baofeng UV-3R is a hot item. A lot of HAMs order one in one of the famous webshops in Hong Kong for prices less dan $ 50,-. My XYL qualified the HT as "a nice toy" and I must say she's right...
Some people say (and no, I'm not referring to the Stig, hi!) that the Yaesu VX-3R and Baofeng UV-3R are identical. From personal experience I can say that is not the case. Judge for yourself:
Two things are noticable if you see the HT's side by side:
- the keypad of the Yaesu contains the functions whereas for the Baofeng you sometimes need to guess what buttons to press (i.e. how to activate scanning?)
- both HT's are tuned to PI3AMF; the Yaesu shows an alfanumerical label whereas the Baofeng doesn't have the option to label memories
And when I mention memories, Yaesu has plenty of memories whereas Baofeng only contains a hundred.
If you have programmed all of your memories it would be nice to scan through them, or better have the HT scan through them, to check for activity. It looks as if the Baofeng has problems locking the PLL on frequency. And this results in an awfully slow scanningspeed.
The same behaviour with the Baofeng is noticable as well when switching from TX to RX.
If there's a factor 4 (or more) difference in price it will also show in the build quality.
A black screw looks a bit better than the metal one in the Baofeng.
Also the connector for the headset doesn't show that good. You could see a small bit of the PCB and some paint scratches.
If you start using a HT one of the first things you're gonna do is place the battery. With the Baofeng you need to use a bit more force to put the battery in the compartiment before you can close the back. If you're using the VX-3R it's a matter of brute force.
When you order the UV-3R you receive two antenna's, one for UHF and one for VHF. The HT is capable of TX-ing from 136-174 MHz and from 400-470 MHz. If you compare this with the Yaesu (144-146 MHz and 430-440 MHz) it sounds logical that you receive two seperate antenna's.
The Baofeng contains a DSP circuit; if the signalstrength is reducing you can hear the DSP circuit popping in to reduce noise (though it also removes the high tones from the signal)
The pricedifferences shows without a doubt; the audio is too loud from the speaker, when using the headset on 2m you've got an RFI problem (the HT keeps TX-ing) and the 2nd harmonic on 2m hasn't been surpressed well enough. Of course all these things can be corrected; check out the Yahoo group for more info/pictures.
Which HT do I prefer? In and around the house (in combination with the FT-8900 in crossbandmodus) I prefer the Yaesu VX-3R.
My opinion about the Baofeng? Vero (the manufacturer) hasn't completed it's product yet. If I were them I would incorporate all modifications (volume/harmonic surpression/RFI) into an improved version of the UV-3R and increase the price a bit.
I wonder what would happen if we unlock the VX-3R and measure the harmonic surpression across the available frequencies. Would it be as bad as the UV-3R? Maybe, maybe not. Without a doubt there will be some frequencies were the HT won't make it up to the requirements. But I guess Yaesu did look at their customergroup and restricted the VX-3R only to be used on 2m and 70cm. If Vero was smart they would make sure that their HT would fullfill the requirements on 2m and 70cm.
Though there are a lot of disadvantages I've put the Baofeng in my coat; first of all because of the weight (compared to other HT's like Wouxon a.s.o.) and size. And if I accidentally drop it I wouldn't mind too much...