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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held) | Kenwood TM-281A Help

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TM-281A
Kenwood TM-281A Reviews: 60 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $174.95
Description: 2 meter FM mobile transceiver providing 65 watts of power
Product is in production.
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W2LTD Rating: 4/5 Jul 23, 2015 16:43 Send this review to a friend
Good solid monobander  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Good solid radio. Great price at major supplier. I had a bit of a time programming in the PL tones. Like some of the other reviewers I wish there were lower transmit power options.
AF5QR Rating: 5/5 Jul 18, 2015 17:11 Send this review to a friend
A nice, clean workhorse  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
If you are looking for lots of bells and whistles, pick a different radio. But if you want a solid workhorse that isnt afraid of shock, vibration and mobile abuse, this is your new best friend.

This radio isnt flashy. In fact, personally I think its just butt-ugly. But it works wonderfully. And at 65 watts, its not exactly a wimp. Its the ugly step-sister you turn to when the prom queen radios are not working.

Audio quality on transmit is very good. Receive is quite decent but not stellar. User interface is a bit clunky at first but it doesnt take long to understand it and make it dance.

This critter gets 5 stars and two thumbs-up. At $130-ish, its a bargain and a lot of fun. Put one in your go-kit. You wont be sorry you did.
KD2CTY Rating: 4/5 Jun 14, 2015 12:43 Send this review to a friend
Great Affordable Solid Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I really love this radio. It is small in size and seems solidly built. I have one installed in the car. I might be buying a second one for using at home. The price is great. I just wish the power setting was lower so I would not have to worry about draining the car battery. All of my audio reports have been extremely good with this radio even in the car.
KG5HFO Rating: 5/5 Jun 13, 2015 04:00 Send this review to a friend
Great buy!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Show me another radio as simple, effective, powerful, and cheap and I'll make sure you wake up from that dream!

Keep in mind that this review is for this radio as used in a base role, not mobile. I don't hardly spend any time in a vehicle so I have no need for a radio in the vehicle. That's what the FT-60 and Tram mag mount are for.

Bought it $100 used in brand new condition. Hooked it up, spent less than 5 minutes in the manual, cleared the memory, and began programming the radio by hand. Unless you have gobs of repeaters/frequencies to program save your money and do it by hand. Dead simple. The audio is full and loud (when you need it to be). The menus are pretty self explanatory. This radio just works! The receiver hears extremely well. Night and day difference between the receive on this versus my Yaesu FT-60. With the same antenna in the same place I can hear, and now work, many more repeaters. I am currently looking for a TM-481A to go with it. Contemplated the V71A but I don't need X-band repeat ability, as I can hit all of the repeaters in the immediate area with the HT and whip.

This radio combined with the N9TAX dual band antenna allows me to hit a repeater at 65 miles day and night. And I can occasionally hit one at 136.6 miles! Read my review for that awesome antenna as well.

The only, and I mean ONLY, thing I would have liked to have seen implemented is a 2w or 5w low power setting.
N8MJS Rating: 5/5 Apr 22, 2015 05:33 Send this review to a friend
Very easy to use  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned the TM-281A for a few years. It was bought for my mobile transceiver. While using it mobile I found it plays very well with my Larsen NMO 150 antenna. You have to read the instruction manual to understand how the menu and dual function control buttons on the front work. Having set the A,B,C,D controls on the microphone to my specific needs I find I never need to take my eyes off the road.
Just recently I brought the TM-281A into my shack for comparison vs my Kenwood TS-2000.
I found the TM-281A to have a MUCH more sensitive receiver. I have a Cushcraft 26B2 for FM and find the TM-281A can hear distant signals easily where the TS-2000 hears nothing.
To me this is a joke. I have spoken with a Kenwood representative about this and the answer I received was, The TS-2000 is more of a compromise on VHF. Similar to comparing a mono band antenna on 10 meters to a multi band antennas performance on 10 meters.
Since I don't do any other modes on 2 meters I have made the TM-281A my primary 2 meter transceiver in the shack.
Thumbs up for the TM-281A.
I will be buying another for my mobile.
N4YAH Rating: 4/5 Apr 15, 2015 16:31 Send this review to a friend
So easy to program it should be illegal.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This radio is very straight forward and simple to operate. It's so easy to program by hand that it feels like you're forgetting something. If you don't want to spring for the programming cable you aren't missing much. It's about as fast to do it by hand as it is to fill out the blanks on a computer screen. Front speaker is great.

I gave it a 4 because it's not perfect. Kenwood could make this a 5 with some simple changes.

1. Add a low output mode of 5 watts.
2. Use a usb interface instead of the mic connector.

I thought the lack of a manual squelch would be an inconvenience, and while it would be nice to have, is not really needed. The menu squelch set to 1 works really well and I have not felt the need to adjust it.
KD8WFU Rating: 5/5 Apr 4, 2015 05:02 Send this review to a friend
from Dave KD8WFU  Time owned: more than 12 months
very nice mobile its clearly a real 65 watts on high not like other that say 75 watts and really put out 55 watts works well for far away repeaters and great sim plex radio
W5KVV Rating: 5/5 Feb 23, 2015 15:47 Send this review to a friend
Powerfull, well built & CHEAP  Time owned: more than 12 months
Icom menus more intuitive? Please. Anyone that spends five minuets familiarizing themselves with the menu system on this rig (or any Kenwood) will find they're light years ahead of Icom & Yaesu. In form AND function.

I have two of these rigs. Both are excellent performers. A true 60+ watts on high. Very well built. I had one mounted in my open top Jeep, it got soaking wet, covered with mud & sand on numerous occasions & still performs flawlessly. These are mil spec built rigs, as they're based on the commercial TK 71xx series radios.

Simply put, you can't find a better mono bander than the 281. The price point is right, & performance/price ratio is excellent.

They make a great shack rig as well if you're only interested in 2m. They don't take up a lot of room, no noisy fan, etc. The commercial KMC-9C desk mic is plug & play. An added bonus, these mics can be found for cheap in a surplus environment.

I'd love to have the UHF version (TM-481), but shipping from overseas is a killer. That leads me to my only complaint with this line of radios, Kenwood failed to import the 481 to the states.
VE7REN Rating: 3/5 Feb 14, 2015 09:43 Send this review to a friend
ehh,its ok  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought this rig after much research.. it has a good build ,nice mic,and great tx/rx..

what I don't like is the constant menu access to program a tone,freq,h or l power.. the mr button is also used for scan function,but is not marked as such.. the buttons on the front access dual features and should have the buttons marked as so.. ,and last but not least a squelch knob would have been better then a menu selection.i was aware of this prior to my purchase,but after experiencing the frustration..i would reconsider... I also own a ft1900,ic 208h,ic 2300,ic2200,ft1802.. if I was to do it again,i would take any of the other models before this one.anyone who prefers a knob,and easy programming......icom seems to be the easiest and most intuitive... cmon kenwood,
W0RUS Rating: 4/5 Jan 9, 2015 18:42 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
$142.00 at the major outlet. At this price, excellent bang for the buck. Easy program without looking at the manual. Good receive audio. Like the radio enough that I went back a week later and bought a second.
Only negative is just two power settings, 25 or 65 watts. If they offered a 5, 25, 65 then I would have said a 5 by 5 for the rating.
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