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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: 46 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $174.95
Description: 2 meter FM mobile transceiver providing 65 watts of power
Product is in production.
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AJ4YQ Rating: 5/5 Aug 10, 2012 19:01 Send this review to a friend
Very solid  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought this radio to go in my new Tundra. It fits very nicely into a slot in the center console. I like the solid heat sink. It is built like a tank and the front facing speaker is loud and not "tinny". The 65 watt output assures that I can work them if I can hear them. Scans great!j
KD2AKG Rating: 5/5 May 10, 2012 05:46 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I received the TM-281A around Thanksgiving of 2011. HRO had a great special on it. It is a very solid radio. The knobs and mic operate smoothly and have a quality feel. The receive audio is very clear, and the sound the from the front-firing speaker is loud. You don't need an external speaker with this one. Transmit audio is very good as well, and most people usually complement the audio and ask what model radio it is. Programming is very easy. The hardest part about programming is the alpha tags, but after doing it once or twice it is very easy. It could use more memory channels, but for me, the 100 are enough. Overall, a great radio for the money.
KF5IRG Rating: 2/5 May 4, 2012 06:09 Send this review to a friend
281A and DTMF TONES  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
If you are going to buy this radio to access IRLP or ECHOLINK systems then after purchase
check to see if ALL DTMF work! My ham buddy
purchased this radio and I thouhgt I might get one too, but after installing in the mobile to test, I came to see that DTMF has issues, at least on this one. some times they would work but
the 3 A B never worked! I have an Icom 207 and a Yaesu 7900 that work Flawlessly I was just getting tired of taking the radio in and out of Truck. I THOUGHT I would get one of these 281A but I will wait to see what kind of answers my buddy gets fro Kenwood and I'll do a follow up. You would think that DTMF Would never be an issue but I had the same issue with a Yaesu 897D some DTMF not working....I sold it!. Well that is my take on this Radio and yes it does run Hot if you use it for any Length of time. But that is to be expected because there is no fan! 73
KD8RWO Rating: 5/5 Apr 2, 2012 23:57 Send this review to a friend
Excellent for a 2 meter base or mobile  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have received nothing but praise for my audio and signal strength. Full quieting at 30 miles away (as the crow flies) on low power. Its a small radio and seems very durable. Programming is the easier than any other radio I have tried. For 150 bucks, I feel I made a wise purchase.
KK7XE Rating: 5/5 Mar 30, 2012 09:16 Send this review to a friend
Nice 2 Meter Radio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Have at last installed the radio in the pickup. For some time it just sat on a small shelf that has access to the coax coming in. Was not mounted in the bracket and zero heat problems as I saw in the previous post. It's simple to program and in the truck, the front firing speaker is great. Nice clean, crisp audio. It works great for scanning what ever one would like in the VHF spectrum. Very pleased with the radio as it does just what it's built for.
KC9TND Rating: 3/5 Feb 8, 2012 05:40 Send this review to a friend
Word of Warning  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
A word of warning to those considering this unit for base station use. This is NOT a unit one can just plop on a desk or shelf. The chassis is a heat sink that requires air circulation in order to keep the operating temp down. The unit needs to be mounted in the included bracket regardless of whether it is mounted under or on top of something. It's not a design flaw, but none of Kenwood's literature makes this design feature apparent. I have not put this unit in operation yet so have rated it 3 of 5. I will update this review when I've used the TM-281A for a while.
N7JPF Rating: 5/5 Feb 7, 2012 07:38 Send this review to a friend
Nice Basic unit  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just got my KW this last week, to replace my aging Yaesu in the car. I have also had Icoms in past, and this is my first VHF-mobile Kenwood. I love the audio and front-facing speaker, and since I have some hearing loss, that is important to me. It was easy to program, and I like how fast it scans. The microphone feels a little large, but it does everything a person could ask for. The price was right for this basic little unit!
W8FOP Rating: 5/5 Jan 14, 2012 14:24 Send this review to a friend
Very Pleased!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I received the TM-281A as a Christmas gift. I have Icom and Yaesu two-meter rigs so I had the opportunity to make some comparisons.

The 281 scores a solid ten out of ten in terms of receive sensitivity, transmit quality/audio, adjacent channel rejection, audio output/speaker sound and ease of operation. After a short time reading the manual, operating and programming the rig is extremely easy. I'll rate overall performance/quality and features compared with my other rigs below on the 1-10 scale.

Kenwood TM-281A: 10
Icom IC-2200: 9
Yaesu FT-8800: 7

If there is any negative with the 281 I think the display brightness could be just a tad brighter however that's being real picky. Otherwise, this rig is fantastic in all respects.
I operate the 281 in the shack as a fixed station and I'm probably going to purchase the Kenwood desk mic to compliment the rig.

You will not be disappointed with this rig for mobile or base use. Thanks Kenwood!
KC9OSX Rating: 5/5 Dec 24, 2011 11:38 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I chose this radio, for the low cost, and MIL-STD rating for vibration and shock, because I was putting it into my work truck (07 freightliner). After using this radio for a couple weeks, I'm tempted to sell my Icom 208h, to buy another Kenwood for my car. I have been getting great, unsolicited audio reports, which I never had with my Icom. Receive is great as well, sensitive, yet more resistant to intermod than my Icom.
I was a little worried about the small front-firing speaker, but it is plenty loud enough, even in the noisy environment of a big truck. I can even turn the volume up as high as it goes, with no noticeable distortion.
This is by far, the easiest radio I've programmed. I was a little lost at first, but after a few minutes, it all clicked. My other radios, I have to get the manual out to do anything with them!
As for durability, only time will tell. It seems to be taking the abuse quite well, though.
So far, the only downfall, is that there is only 2 power settings. More memories with banks would be nice, too.
I would definitely recommend this radio to anyone looking for an inexpensive, durable 2 meter rig.
W7TKO Rating: 4/5 Dec 16, 2011 12:10 Send this review to a friend
Good Starter  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The Kenwood TM-281A has some limitations but all in all is a good VHF radio. Upon initial inspection, I was not too thrilled about the plastic top, seems somewhat flimsy as compared to other VHF radios. I will agree with the others that this radio is easy to program and the ergonomics are adequate. I have several nits regarding it's operation. First, the radio only has two RF power settings; 25W and 65W. Second, you cannot save RF power settings to individual memory channels (someone correct me if I am wrong). Third and last, the PTT on the mike is somewhat stiff (IMHO). Would any of these nits keep me from suggesting this radio to others... no. This little VHF radio packs a lot of punch and has loads of features.
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