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Reviews For: Kenwood TM-271A

Category: Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held)

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TM-271A
Reviews: 97MSRP: 189.95
2meter mobile
Product is not in production
More Info: http://
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
NC6P Rating: 2018-01-30
great then gone Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I can't kick too much. I have had this radio for 15+ years and it worked great during that time. Last time I used it in the pickup truck, I noticed that the RX was acting up. Could not copy stations that always came in strong. Then, it would not key up local repeaters while having a full TX output.
On the plus side, it is built like a commercial rig and the free programming software will steer me away from the brands that don't offer it. I pulled out my old Kenwood 241 with the rotten display and am using it. Miss the features of the 271. Have been looking, perhaps for the price, the 281A is in my future. Have a General Electric Mastr Prog that is 40+ years old, still works but only rock bound. For the $, I didn't do too bad with the 271A,
W5KVV Rating: 2017-01-10
Excellent rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Solid performer. It and its successor, the TM-281 are both based on the commercial TK-5xxx series chassis. FPP is not a problem if you actually read the menu. I can have a repeater programmed, PL'd and alpha tagged in 15 seconds from the front panel.

The preset power levels can be adjusted. You can use the trimmer pot VR1 which is easily accessible by removing the top cover. This will adjust overall RF power out, aka, both the high and low power settings. Example: If you use VR1 to bring the low power setting down to say 15 watts, the high power setting will now yield about 35 watts RF out. ALTERNATIVELY, you can go into the factory service menu and adjust both the high and low settings independently. My low power is set to 5 watts, while the high power setting still yields the full 60 watts. It's clearly stated in the factory service manual on how to access the service menu and what to adjust. Come on guys. WE ARE HAMS!

Good RX. My 271 opens squelch at .19uV. (1kHZ tone @ +/-3 kHZ deviation).

I can't complain about the 271.
WA6PH Rating: 2016-03-07
Mic connection nitemares Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I purchased this unit for the front facing speaker and the 4X4 Jeep I used to travel off roads. It has served me well, but does come up with concerns when the mic is pulled on even just a little bit. The coiled mic wire leads one to believe that you can extend it without concern. The problem, as I have experienced it, is that with the type of connections at the radio and the mic itself, the fine wires used don't stretch without breaking contact and needing replacement. I really wish that Kenwood would have stayed with the standard 8 pin connection they had used for decades. Now that was solid and sure.
KC7CJO Rating: 2015-07-01
Great Rig! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've had this radio since around 2003 and haven't had any issues, except for the microphone (replaced with a new one after about 5 years).

My only real complaint about this rig would be it's lack of heat sink for the amount of output power! But I don't have a need for any more than 30-watts on HI power.

It's a great rig and has been VERY dependable!

Earlier 5-star review posted by KC7CJO on 2010-06-11

I was looking through all the reviews on this great little rig and agree with them all!

However, DZRTRAM complained about the high cost of the Kenwood programming cable. I agree, it's a rip off! However, if you go to THIS site:
"Program 2in1 Cable Kenwood TK-350 KPG-4 & KPG-22 Radio"
item # 150180424939

The cost "was" only $14.00 (that includes the $10.00 S&H)! Yes, the cable is only $4.99!

BUT, $14.00 is WAY cheaper than what Kenwood charges and their cable only does MOBILE radios! The one through Kawamall does both Mobile AND Portable rigs (with the 3.5mm & 2.5mm speaker/mic set up)

I am the Radio Tech for our County and use this cable on 80% of our Kenwood fleet radios. I've used this cable consistently for over 2 years now with NO problems.

My only heartburn with the radio is the amount of output power (60-watts) into a 40-watt heatsink!!

Not real good planning there! BUT, you can reduce your output power through the "Adjustment Menu".

You can download the service manual free from the files section in the TM-271A Yahoo Group!

Owner - TM-271A Yahoo Group
Earlier 5-star review posted by KC7CJO on 2009-03-19

I have received many emails requesting the Service Manual for this particular rig and have emailed it with no problems. However, there is a Yahoo Group pertaining to just this rig and the Service Manual is in the files section! Join it and gleen a wealth of information from it!

Also, There have been a number of people who have had Low TX audio issues. I, too, had a problem develop with the TX audio. I replaced the microphone and the problem went away!

So, my advice is that BEFORE you adjust your deviation, find someone else with a Kenwood radio that has a microphone compatible with the TM-271A and try that mic on your radio and see if the problem goes away! The KMC-32 microphone can be ordered for $19.95 + S&H, from "The Antenna Farm"

It's the SAME microphone that comes with the rig!


Earlier 5-star review posted by KC7CJO on 2007-05-30

This is a great little rig! I've had mine almost 3 years now and have had NO problems.

I DO agree, though, that they should have put an analog squelch knob in it and beefed up the heat sink to handle the 60, or so, watts that this rig is capable of. But, hey, NO ONE is perfect! If they made it perfect, we wouldn't have anything to complain about! :)

I haven't had any problems with the microphone, but I have heard others talking about the low audio and that adjusting the Deviation, using the 8-page PDF file from the service manual didn't help.

One solution that someone came up with was to take the microphone apart and carefully drill a larger hole (be VERY careful doing this) where the microphone element opens up to the front of the microphone. This allows more audio signal into the microphone element!

JUST a suggestion!!

Otherwise I've had NO problems and have enjoyed the rig immensely!
Earlier 5-star review posted by KC7CJO on 2007-02-07

I've had this radio for several years and love it! I recently did a modification to allow it to run Packet from an internal connection (the same connection that the "E" version radio uses). I soldered a 6-pin mini-DIN pigtail on to the pads marked for the pigtail and it fit (because it was MADE to do this!).

The instructions, pictures and drawings for this are on the Yahoo Group TM-271A! If you're really interested in this great radio, come join us!

Earlier 5-star review posted by KC7CJO on 2005-02-25

I've had this rig for almost 8 months and have had NO issues, save one. That being the skimpiness of the heatsink. The operators manual states that you shouldn't operate at HIGH power (65W) for extended periods of time or damage to the radio could result.

So, I contacted Kenwood and they sent me an 8-page PDF file from the Service Manual, which explains how to reajust the output power AND how to adjust the Deviation! It you would like a copy, just email me. They, Kenwood, wouldn't let me post it on a website, but said that I can email it to anyone who asks!

It's a great rig and I have NO complaints!
W6YNS Rating: 2014-01-31
Decent Audio or Power Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought the radio thinking it was a simple single band transceiver to program. It has good audio and plenty of power when needed for reaching distant repeaters. The disadvantage is that I found it difficult to program any frequencies on the radio. The only way I was able to program the rig was to purchase the programming cable and download the programming software from Kenwood. I bought the cable off E bay and it made a big difference.
N4FPA Rating: 2013-04-04
Poor durability Time Owned: more than 12 months.
4/04/2013 - Purchased the TM-271A in 2010, used mainly on low power as base station several times per week and same for packet radio. At random intervals, unit began powering off then back on immediately upon transmitting regardless of power setting, and would exhibit same at times during various transmission durations. Checked all external connections, coax, antenna, and swr, no problem. Used another, older replacement radio and did not experience any problems that the Kenwood is exhibiting. Very disappointed with the Kenwood 2mtr radio.
VE5PSL Rating: 2012-11-18
very good Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
this radio is great. i live in an area far from repeaters and i need the higher power to get into them. i often find myself using 60w to get to where i want to be and this radio does a superb job. i run it as my mobile and base rig. i use a homebrew mag mount for mobile and a copper J pole for base. it works great! i would highly recommend this rig to anyone who lives far away from repeaters.
K4SDW Rating: 2012-01-01
All in All Good Radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have owned 2 of these radios for over a year now.
The things I do not like about this radio is the High/Low power setting only. I wish it would let me reduce power down to 5 watts. I don't like having to go into the menu to set the squelch.
Those are the only things I would change if I could. I do like the radio over all and would buy it again. I have gotten very good audio reports and even had a few ask me what kind of rig I was running they liked it so well.
KA3YVS Rating: 2011-10-02
Outstanding Commercial Quality Mobile. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have 5 of these rigs. I am active in Emergency Management and we use one at the EOC, in each of my 3 vehicles and in my home. My wife and sister each have amateur licenses as well. We live in a rural area with limited cell service so power output, reliability and rugged features are essential. I have used these rigs since 2007 and none of them have given me any problems. I use the MCP-1A programming software which works well. My only con was the cost of the programming cable. $69.95 from HRO was pretty steep. I highly recommend this radio.
KE4RWS Rating: 2011-10-02
Love this radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
It’s hard to rate a radio “perfect” because there’s always *something* that keeps it from being a “5”. However, I love the TM-271a and I personally find it easy to use. Although it does differ in design from the typical Kenwood amateur 2-meter mobile, it appears to be based more on the commercial design than the usual amateur architecture, hence the 25/60 watt RF output vs. the typical amateur based 5/10/50 watt output (among other similiarities).

I have owned my 271 for at least two years now and it is a pleasure to use and sounds great on the air. The newest style microphone is a big improvement in my opinion and has a solid, commercial feel in the hand. The buttons are adequately backlit and of good size, as are the controls and lighting on the radio itself. The radio display is also of adequate size and is easy to read, and does not suffer from “washout” from direct sunlight unlike other models of the past. Like most every other radio made today, backlighting is accomplished using LED’s, which should never burn out or require replacement

Some have claimed the 271 isn’t as “sensitive” as typical amateur radio models; however I have never noticed the 271 being less sensitive over my other older Kenwood models. It's clear people sometimes say things like this merely because of their own perceptions about a product vs. real experience or data. The 271 does utilize a typical menu system that takes practice, not to mention getting used to. I don’t know what to tell someone who claims this is too hard for them to navigate because I’ve owned most every radio made for the last 18 years and although different, the TM-271a is among the easiest to program *if* you decide to just learn it and not use older radio models as an excuse to deem the 271 as “too difficult”.

T radio gets very hot using the high power setting if used for even moderate conversations. Although there is no factory cooling fan attached, I use an old CPU fan salvaged from a computer if used mobile, or a small desk fan if used as a base installation. This helps tremendously to cool the heat sink and allows you continuous talk time without the worry of burning your radio up.

The 271 has pads clearly marked on the circuit board for adding a data cable for attaching a TNC for packet, APRS, or whatever data you happen to fancy. Some other brands actually included either a pigtail or a data jack in the event this feature was utilized (the Yaesu FT-2600R comes to mind). Although Kenwood opted not to include a data port, I’m happy they at least provided the ability for people to easily add one if desired. Unfortunately, they did NOT do this for the TM-281 :(

I noticed there is a Narrow FM setting in the menu setup, which makes me wonder if the 271a is narrow band compliant. I know the radio is capable of 2.5 KHz resolution for receive, which gives you the required 7.5 KHz tuning resolution for receive. But the narrow band transmit selection makes me think it may be truly narrow band complaint. I heard Kenwood introduced the TM-281 to have a narrow band compliant 2-meter mobile on the market, which implies the 271 is not. Who knows . . .

I love the 271a and see no reason or need to trade-up for the new 281, as they both seem to have the same features, or at least none that would give cause to change out any time soon. From what I can tell the 281 is pretty much the same radio with an amber backlight (I’m sure there are differences though).