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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: 65 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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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.

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
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