Thursday, October 16, 2014

Anytone AT3318UV-E: Mini-review

A mini-review from Mike on the Anytone AT3318UV (A,B,C,D &E) Yahoo Group:
"I talked a friend into buying two of these tri-band handhelds because of the advertised FHSS (frequency hopping spread spectrum) feature, which turned out to be more of a random frequency trunking feature and probably a misunderstanding of the FHSS term by the Chinese manufacturer.

The radios were purchased from the exclusive US importer "Import Communications", who notified all buyers about the mistake with the FHSS option and offered a refund if so desired. 
So here I sat with my friends two otherwise good looking and great sounding 2m, 220MHZ and 440MHz plus part 90 certified handhelds as he mulled over keeping or returning the radios. After reading up on the manual, perusing the extensive programming software and living with these handhelds for a week I decided I can't live without it and and purchased one from my buddy who originally bought the pair.

These radios cover 136 to 174, 220 to 225 and 400 to 520MHz transmit and receive plus .52 to 30MHz AM HF (10KHz steps), 64 to 108MHz WBFM, 118 to 136MHz AM and 225 to about 260MHz FM receive only. The radio works surprisingly well in the AM broadcast and HF SW bands with an appropriate antenna and I did not detect any overload problems feeding it with a large G5RV type HF antenna.

The radios have a very extensive but fairly easy to navigate menu system unlike any Baofeng or Wouxun I have used and I love the various banks I can assign to memory channels to scan only specific banks if I want or I can scan the entire memory. There is also a quick talk around feature for your programmed repeater frequencies and all sorts of other nifty features that I don't see on other Chinese brands.

When using the AM/FM broadcast or SW feature, if you receive a call on whatever two way frequency is being monitored the broadcast band will temporarily mute during the call then pop back in about 5 seconds later. You can listen to music or local news and not miss a radio call. 
The receiver performance is also much better than Baofeng and Wouxun radios I've tested. I live in a very RF rich environment and was recently comparing a Baofeng UV-5R, a Wouxun UV8 plus a Yaesu VX-8R and FT-60 at a local hilltop about a half mile from a major repeater site with lots of RFI.

While listening to some simplex activity on 146.52 I noticed both Yaesu radios were hearing lots of things the Baofeng was not. Some of the signals that were almost full quieting on both Yaesu radios just did not exist on the Baofeng UV-5R. I was also playing with the cross band repeat on the new Wouxun KG-UV8D at the same location and noticed it was not repeating things that I could hear clearly on the input frequency on the Yaesu radios. 
I repeated the same tests with the new Anytone AT-3318UV-E and its on par with the Yaesu radios and could hear every weak signal the Yaesu's could in the heavy RF environment. The Anytone also cross band repeated weak signals very well under the same conditions.

I'm not knocking the inexpensive Baofeng radios, for the price they great little radios and they measure very sensitive on a service monitor. But put them in a busy RF environment and their shortcomings will show up. The Wouxun KG-UV8D is also a really nice radio and quite a leap from the first Wouxuns I played with. But the AT-3318UV-E performance is is better and you get 220MHz tx/rx and a lot more features for just a little more money.

Playing with the AT-3318UV-E menus its also apparent that Anytone engineers are familiar with how American commercial and amateur users interface with two way radio equipment. Other Chinese brands have odd and useless features and will not do many things that radio users are demanding. 
The transmit and receive audio is extremely good and better than most handhelds I own including many Motorola, Yaesu, Icom and the like. The receive audio is almost Hi-Fi and people who I know personally come out of the speaker sounding much more like themselves than any other handheld radio I have used in recent times. I also gets great unsolicited transmit audio reports.

The 3318UV-E is also more compact than a Wouxun KG-UV3 type or KG-UV8D, which I had just purchased and sold after playing with the Anytone. So far battery life is very good from the stock 1800mah pack and I can't say enough good things about this very modestly priced handheld, its just a winner all around, despite the misunderstood FHSS feature.

I think the closest competitor to the AT-3318UV-E model is probably the Kenwood TF6a, which runs about $190 more and is not FCC Part 90 compliant, although its HF receive is SSB capable. The TH6a is also a design from 10+ years ago.

So there is my story about a pair of radios purchased for a specific feature and when that feature did not pan out the radios turned out to be so good I couldn't send them back.


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