- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

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: 51 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:
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to this review.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

You can write your own review of the Kenwood TM-281A.

<— Page 3 of 6 —>

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.

W2UIS Rating: 5/5 Apr 21, 2013 19:32 Send this review to a friend
Excellent 2 Meter Transciver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is an excellent single band transceiver for the rural amateur who wants to work 2 meter FM.
WD5NOT Rating: 5/5 Apr 10, 2013 14:46 Send this review to a friend
Kenwood TM-281A   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is my 2nd Kenwood 2 meter that i have owned the first being a TR-2200A. I have owned Yaesu 1802M and a Icom 2100H but this has them both beat. I really like the design of the radio and ease of programming.The Icom is the hardest radio to program that i have ever owned and would not ever own another one. Overall I really like the radio although I think that i will get an external speaker when i install it in my vehicle. Hands down a great radio
N9ZQZ Rating: 5/5 Mar 3, 2013 16:37 Send this review to a friend
Very Nice  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just unboxed the radio and put it on the base to setup the memories before it goes in the mobile. My local hams said it sounded much better than my Icom 2350. The front firing speaker is very nice sounding and I don't think I will need an external speaker for this radio. The menu system is very straight forward and once I read through the basics from teh owners manual I found the menus easy to navigate. Much easier than my old FT-2800 and the ICom. Can't wait to put this mobile this week.
NT2M Rating: 5/5 Feb 23, 2013 18:17 Send this review to a friend
Great Mobile at any price.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have been using Kenwood's 2-meter mobiles for at least 30 years. I bought a new car last year and needed a radio for it. I always had a dual bander in my car. 2-meter and 220MHz (Kenwood TM-231A). I decided to go with just a single band radio. The TM-281A is perfect for a mobile radio. 65 watts, only a few buttons, great scan options. At $139 it was one of the best ham radio investments for me. You can get very fancy with the options. But the mobile operation is still very simple. Great radio. Would recommend it to all.
KF7ZSE Rating: 5/5 Feb 13, 2013 16:55 Send this review to a friend
BEST 2M RADIO AVAILABLE !  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Small but it packs a lot of punch! I received this radio for Christmas and I love it! It has superb audio quality and great sensitivity. It is very easy to use. I never programed it and I have no need to it is already virtually programed. It is definitely worth every cent! My personal rating for this radio is off the scales 10+! I use it as a all purpose radio plus it is very durable. I don't know what else to say because it is so good let the radio tell you the rest! I have a feeling this radio is going to last for years.

Thanks Kenwood
AD4Y Rating: 4/5 Feb 9, 2013 12:50 Send this review to a friend
Good 2-meter radio   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I pick this radio from a ham radio dealer used but it came with everything like brand new like refurbished and so far so good.. it really gives you the range that you need to reach some repeaters and the front speaker makes it great too. having some issues with the mcp1-a software version 3.10 with the usb cable,but with the freeware CHIRP you can read the radio and program it back with no problem. I will try the krs-271 software and cable as well. But very good radio...
N5MZ Rating: 5/5 Nov 26, 2012 10:49 Send this review to a friend
Winner  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have two TM-271's that have been in use for 6 years. I have a TM-281 that has been in my TrailBlazer for just about a year. Both are solid radios. Good size, nice microphone, all the features I need without extra knobs and features getting in the way. Would I buy another 281? I just did this morning. HRO has them on sale for $119 so I could not pass it by! If you need a solid basic 2M radio you can't go wrong here.
K7EDL Rating: 5/5 Nov 7, 2012 12:15 Send this review to a friend
excelent basic mobile  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have the TM-281a mounted in my truck for about two months and have received many good signal reports. I program all the repeaters on the lower power setting and have the High Low power set on the D button so I can switch the power. The quality of the sound and the front facing speaker make it easy to hear even in my noisy truck.(I always use head phones with HF due to poor hearing)
The radio is easy to program. The only dislike I have is I can't get it to program when the Weather alert is turned on and it doesn't mention this in the manual.
W1REJ Rating: 5/5 Oct 23, 2012 20:10 Send this review to a friend
My First Transceiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is my first transceiver. I had a limited budget to work with, so I decided to go with a 2 meter rig. Next came the process of what to purchase. I decided upon the Kenwood TM-281A due to ratings, and the sensitivity spec. I was NOT disappointed! At 0.18Uv, I am pulling in stations over 100 miles away in Simplex mode, with a Tram model 1100 quarter wave mag-mount on my car as if they were next door.I found it easy to program and for the price I am satisfied.The hardest part of using the radio was finding a way to get the power leads through the jamb-packed firewall, and, building a saddle over the center console to mount the radio. Now to save money for an all band base rig.
<— Page 3 of 6 —>

If you have any questions, problems, or suggestions about Reviews, please email your Reviews Manager.