[ Don't have a UV-B5 yet? Get one here. ]
Ben (PA2OLD) called me out for being so slow to post about the Baofeng UV-B5. Hans posted some general information about it when he discovered the UV-B5 and UV-B6. (Yes, back in November - just wait, it gets worse.)
On the surface, it is your typical dual band 5W Chinese HT: 136 - 174 MHz and 400 - 470 MHz along with 65 - 108 MHz FM receive. Here are the links to the radios on the Baofeng site: UV-B5 and UV-B6. Of note is the lack of the customary flashlight (for the UV-B5) and, perhaps more importantly, 2.5Khz steps. You can get one at the 409Shop for $53 (USD) along with many of the usual accessories (USB programming cable, serial programming cable, extra batteries or chargers) - no colors or AA/AAA battery packs yet. Give them time and I am sure they will show up. As you will find, the UV-B5 does not share the same form as the UV-5R, so you won't be able to share batteries or chargers. However, the programming cable from your UV-5R should work.
No surprise.. a Yahoo Group has been started for the UV-B5.
Hans, in his full review, says:
"For now this is the HT to compare others with – the receiver is at least as good as the Wouxun KG-UVD1P and outperforms the Quansheng TG-UV2. Overloading is not impossible, but far from easy – almost unreal for an HT this price."
"The Baofeng UV-B5 is close to perfect. The only two niggles are the 5-character limit for alphanumeric descriptions and the belt clip screws which are too short. For the rest: best value for money to date. Needless to say, I’m keeping this one."Hans also points out that you can save a few dollars if you don't want the pretty box by ordering from AliExpress. I'm guessing price was not the biggest factor when Hans did his "Best/Worst of 2012" and ranked the Wouxun KG-UVD1P ahead of the Baofeng UV-B5. If price had been weighted heavily it looks like the UV-B5 might have been the winner.
Lastly, after living with the radio for a while he found some problems with the FM tuning and memories. He also reports the battery life, while not horrible, isn't great.
And Ben got his hands on one. He's got a summary page here with lots of pictures. He comments:
"The radio works excellent and the modulation is also good, not like some UV-5R types.I also think that the battery is more than enough capacity.Bob (K0NR) really likes it as well:
This Baofeng UV B5 cost at the 409shop only 53 Dollar, which is in Euros (with the exchange rate of January 2013) € 41.75 including shipping."
"My overall assessment is that Baofeng has cleaned up the issues with the UV-5R (and don’t forget, I really like that radio!). The UV-B5 is a sweet little radio that will make a splash when it hits the US market."Given my tardiness, the price, and the glowing reviews from the big name ham radio bloggers above, I'm surprised these things aren't the talk of the internet. The Yahoo group is of a modest size and Google searches don't reveal much beyond the links above. (I found one other review, but there wasn't much meat to it.) Here is the best video I found. (Best meaning the better of two.)
So for now, I'm calling the UV-B5 the best kept secret in the world of Chinese radios!