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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: 50 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $174.95
Description: 2 meter FM mobile transceiver providing 65 watts of power
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.kenwoodusa.com/Communications/Amateur_Radio/HF_Base_Mobile/TM-281A
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You can write your own review of the Kenwood TM-281A.

<— Page 2 of 5 —>

AE9C Rating: 5/5 Mar 16, 2014 16:11 Send this review to a friend
GREAT 2m.RADIO !!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
GOT ONE NOV.LAST YEAR FROM AES,EZ TO PROGRAM,NICE SOUNDING AUDIO,PROGRAMABLE MIC, NICE SIZE, FRONT SPEAKER..GOOD JOB KENWOOD..!!! SO GOOD I PURCHASED ANOTHER FOR THE JEEP.. AE9C
 
KF7IKS Rating: 5/5 Nov 17, 2013 02:14 Send this review to a friend
Up to SNUFF  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Got my 281 Kenwood a couple days ago and it works great. Our town as another Ham guy told me is in a ditch and it really is. I have had an HT 5W but had a lot of trouble getting ANYWHERE. After receiving the Kenwood, I am now easily hitting Repeaters in Indianapolis which is 40 to 50 miles away and have no doubt it will go even further, not bad for a 65W radio. If I can program it any dummy can do it. It's very portable easy to hook up to a power source, I have mine on a Marine Battery on the floor of my Pathfinder, so I do not have to worry about automotive battery drain or even lightening strikes, though I have never been hit by lightning. All I can say is, Good Job Kenwood
 
KC8RTU Rating: 5/5 Nov 4, 2013 14:36 Send this review to a friend
Like very well  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Pug and play easy to program nice manual.I like front speaker used with stack 2meter beems. Price is fair.Lots of power with 65ws.
 
NW0LF Rating: 5/5 Sep 12, 2013 05:11 Send this review to a friend
Typical Kenwood Quality  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased one to use in the house so I could put my remoted ICOM 207H back in my car. The mic has a much heftier feel than the ICOM and the PTT button took some getting used to. The front firing speaker is nice but I have it paired with a SP-430 speaker because I like the sound of it. The menu driven squelch was a bit weird at first but I found the point I needed it easily. It was also different going from 5 power levels to 2 which leads to my 1 nit. I would prefer to be able to adjust power from 1 button instead of going into the menu settings but it is definitely not a deal breaker. I did discover that rag chewing at full power will heat the case up enough to keep coffee hot. However, the 25 watts on low power is more than enough for the local repeaters. It is definitely a keeper.

Wolfie, NW0LF
 
KF4YTL Rating: 5/5 Sep 1, 2013 19:48 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio Own 2 now  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I liked the first one I bought so much. I had to get a second. Now I have one mobile & base. I have been using for about 6 months now. The audio is very loud with the front firing speaker. Which was what I was looking for since I drive a loud truck. Very solid build. The mic has a great feel. And the 25/65w is a great plus. I have had no problems hitting the local repeaters with the 5/8 wave antenna I am using it with mobile. I have had great reports on the TX audio as well.

If I had only one thing to knock on this radio... Since the audio is so loud. It would rattle the plastic covers where the aluminum and covers meet. I had to open the case and add rubber tape to the edges to stop the distotion / vibration. Other than that, it is a great 2M radio. And very loud for noisy conditions. I would recommend it, if your looking for volume.
 
NI4JM Rating: 3/5 Aug 1, 2013 06:14 Send this review to a friend
OK for a cheap VHF mobile.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned this radio for a year plus now. It works ok for what it is. I do like the front-firing speaker and the audio coming out of it sounds great. I do NOT like the squelching on the RX at all. It is waaaay too tight even on level 1. There are areas on the road around my area where the power lines are extremely noisy and will wipe out even local repeaters from my receiver. Normally, with my 8800 I would just lower the squelch and deal with the noise. With this radio, that can't be done because the next level below 1 is 0 and that is OPEN. To give you an idea, without power line interference, signals below an S3 disappear below the squelch threshold with it set at 1. To help remedy this I used the S-Meter squelch and set it to 1. Also adjusted the sq hang time to 250ms which allowed the weaker signals to come through even the most horrid power line noise. If I could find a service manual I could make the adjustment and I would probably give the radio a 4. Other than the 25/65 watt power levels, (I'd prefer a 10/65) the radio is just OK.
 
KD5YVY Rating: 5/5 Jul 31, 2013 21:20 Send this review to a friend
Excellent!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I love Kenwood products, my first ham radio was the TM-261a , I used that radio for ten years before buying the TM-281a. The 65watts is great, what I really enjoy with the 281a is the great receiver it has. At first I did not like not having know to manually tune my squelch, but after getting used to it, I leave it "1" and never have a problem hearing "noise" , if my squelch breaks I know it's a signal from another station coming in.

The only CON I have for this radio is it only has two power output settings 25L/65H and seems like 100 brightness level settings.

Would I recommend this radio to another operator? Without a doubt!
 
WU9F Rating: 5/5 Jul 5, 2013 20:43 Send this review to a friend
Love it!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased my first a little over a year ago. I installed it in my truck. It works at least as well as I hoped and better than I really expected. It is easier to program with the computer. I liked it so much I bought a second a couple months later for my base station. They both get used daily. Great audio in and out. I like the front fired speaker and do not need an external speaker. I may buy another for our other vehicle.

I like the simple functions to operate...especially mobile. It just works easily and well. It will so about anything you might want, but the simplicity of operation is very important in a mobile rig. This one exceeds my expectations.
 
KC2OHP Rating: 3/5 Jun 4, 2013 19:31 Send this review to a friend
Not as good as its predecessor.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Summary says it all. It falls short of my Kenwood TM-271 in all ways that matter. The RX is slightly less sensitive, the internal speaker doesn't sound nearly as good, the TX audio is of a slightly lower quality, and the TX power output is also slightly lower. I don't know if mine is just a lemon, but I highly doubt it; it probably has to do with the fact that it's made in China, unlike the TM-271. It isn't a junk radio by any means, but I would expect it to be at the very least as good as the TM-271. If there was no TM-271 I would probably give it a 4. The 271 gets a 5. In conclusion, if you can buy a new TM-271 instead you should certainly do it; the TM-281 is definitely not an upgrade of any kind, at least, not mine. I sent mine back and it's in transit as I type this.
 
N8DJR Rating: 4/5 May 24, 2013 05:16 Send this review to a friend
Rock Solid Mobile  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This commercial grade looking mobile is a work horse with 25 watts at low power and 65 watts at high power, all you need is a good antenna and you're set. The Kenwood TM-281A has great reception and selectivity for those who like to scan out of band like I do, it makes a great VHF public safety scanner with scan speed rates that keep you in the action plus all the new step increments keep you better tuned to these new crazy NBFM band splits like "159.3225".

I like to test my antenna set up by first seeing how many of the NOAA weather radio channels I can receive using my dual band Larsen 2/70B NMO I was able to receive 5 frequencies here in Iowa, not bad for a dual band antenna NMO mount on the trunk lid. Next I called some really far away repeaters in other counties the replies I got were "Great Audio" and "Sounds Good Over Here" so my testing was done and so was my install. I have not had any issues with noise or image reception yet. I am out in the farm lands with barely any cell phone reception but I did take a few trips to the Des Moines Metro area and the radio behaved in high RF environments with really high noise floor where signal-to-noise ratio is horrible "Intermod Alley" the Kenwood remained silent, not a peep so I am happy with the front end on the mobile and the "S-Meter Squelch" was great on this mobile unlike Yaesu I could never get that to work but on the Kenwood you set the Squelch to S-3 the radio wont make a peep until it receives a signal with at least S-3 or better received signal strength.

My 3 gripes are only two power settings 25/65 High or Higher I was afraid of overheating even with the great big heat sink air cooled chassis. I normally like to use 10 or 15 watts in the mobile keeps the radio from getting hot and drifting off frequency or reducing power and keeps me from needed a jump start later. There is no voltage monitoring system like Yaesu mobile that prevent you from draining your battery beyond starting capacity so you have to be careful sitting in the mobile rag chewing while the YL is in the salon getting her hair done.

The other was the memory bank system was limited to only 20 channels per bank and the banks are not linkable like other radios so either you scan just a few of your favorites or you scan the whole memory system, not too fun if you have several zones to program that you want to keep separate.

And last but not the least no AM aircraft band 118-137, Alinco is the only manufacturer who's mono band VHF mobile includes this band. It wasn't a deal breaker but I would have loved to add civil air band to my scanning in the mobile.

In closing if you are looking for a starter mobile or you're already a veteran big 2m fan and want a new mobile this Kenwood TM-281A is a great radio at a great price you will not be disappointed.

Dave
 
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