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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: 73 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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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.
KD8NXH Rating: 5/5 Oct 17, 2014 18:52 Send this review to a friend
Tough as a brick and easy to use  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I love this radio it is as tough as a brick and easy to program and use.

I received it for my birthday and I believe it is an awesome first 2m mobile radio for new hams.
K5SSR Rating: 0/5 Oct 15, 2014 16:15 Send this review to a friend
Good radio BUT WTF  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have iPhones, iPads, iMacs, Dell 7 and 8 all kinds of pro audio stuff and consumer electronics stuff...
Then there is this Kenwood 2 meter transceiver. Now don't get the wrong idea the radio is wonderful but in this day of iPhones etc etc they are so EASY to use. What's wrong with the designers of these radios? Are they all on drugs or are they simply lazy? The menu /button system of use is SOOO out of date. Come on guys build stuff that is EASY to program. I will not be buying any new radio stuff until they do fix this.
We as ham keep buying the lousy stuff they build... stop.
Icom Kenwood Yaeasu they all can do a better job. Make them!
Ham Radio guys were at one time leaders of tech... now we just follow... sheep... baaah baaah
Phil K5SSR
WB4QNG Rating: 4/5 Jul 23, 2014 21:12 Send this review to a friend
Great radio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Great radio. Bought it to replace an Icom V8000 that bit the dust. While the 8000 had a few features I like better it isn't worth the extra $70. The good the 65 watts is more than adequate. It is easy to program without the cable. The front firing speaker is great. Is has a fast scan rate. The not so good. You have to program all the settings for either 65 or 25 watts but you can program a button on your mic to switch between the two. Not bad. Next is the menu driven squelch would rather have a knob but I set mine at one and it works fine. Easy to change sittings. The reason I gave it a four rather than a five is because the radio needs a lower watt setting. It seems a shame to have to transmit 25 watts to hit a repeater I can hit with one watt with my HT. I would highly recommend the radio
N0UY Rating: 4/5 Jul 18, 2014 18:17 Send this review to a friend
Keeper  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought this radio used for use in the shack. The display is easy to read from a distance. The speaker is loud and clear. The menu system is quick to get on to but I agree that the squelch is a little unhandy being menu driven. Great audio reports from a larg mic. With the buttons on the front I do not accidently hit them while speaking into the mic like I did when they are on the back. The only thing that I would like that this unit doesn't due for me in the shack is to be able to save a specific power output setting for each memory stored. You either get them all on High or Low when it's obvious that distant and local repeaters don't require the same setting. Thats the only reason I didn't give it a 5 rating.
N4GKS Rating: 5/5 Jul 1, 2014 12:29 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I like the small case and I'm going to use this rig for my go box. Large heat sink and large mic with lighted buttons. Easy to program so the software isn't necessarily needed unless you have many repeaters to program. I may buy another for my vehicle.
AC3RK Rating: 5/5 Jun 20, 2014 08:28 Send this review to a friend
Great bang for the bucks  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have owned Icom, Yaesu, and Kenwood V/U transceivers over my 40+ years operating and have found this a great value. My TM-281A at the house is hooked to either an Elk 2M/440L5 or Arrow OSJ 146/440 antenna depending on operational needs. If I have radio line-of-sight to a repeater or simplex station, we can work. The menu system took some getting used to, but through reading the clear manual, I hardly have to bring the book out any more. The heat sink in the back gets warm under multiple hours of heavy operations at high power; but output is not affected. Front speaker is loud and clear. I have not used it mobile so cannot speak to that usage, but have no reason to expect anything less than superior performance. At this price, I could not have asked for anything more.
W5BXY Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2014 08:45 Send this review to a friend
Good Radio for the price  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought one of these about 8 mos ago to use on base connected to a Diamond F23 vertical which I would also recommend. This is my first Kenwood VHF radio although I have used Kenwood’s exclusively on HF for years and love them. So far the radio has worked perfectly, easy to program and I have no complaints other than I personally do not like a menu driven squelch which is very unhandy for mobile use. I’ve had good signal reports and the receiver is very sensitive with a good antenna attached. I plan to buy another one to install in my car. In spite of the menu driven squelch I have to give it a 5 all the way. For the price you can’t beat it.
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