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Review of the Baofeng BF-888S UHF FM Handheld Transceiver

Updated on November 10, 2014
The Baofeng BF-888S
The Baofeng BF-888S

The Story

I had really good experiences with my Baofeng UV-5RA dual-band FM Transceiver, I was curious what other Chinese made two-way transceivers were available on Amazon. I was looking for a 2M handheld transceiver at a low price but found that, for some reason, Baofeng does not make a single band FM Transceiver for that band. Instead I came across the Baofeng BF-888s which covered the UHF 70cm band. The Baofeng BF-888S for some reason is also marketed under different brands including the Retrevis H-777, Bestfire BF-888S, and the Baofong BF-666S. All of these UHF Transceivers have the same specifications and are just slightly different cosmetically. In fact I purchased the Pofung BF-888S because for some reason it was a dollar less than the Baofeng branded equivalent.






The Gamble

It is hit or miss with Chinese made electronics marketed under their own brand names, such as Baofeng and Pofung. I had good experiences with my Baofeng UV-5RA so I thought I would gamble another $15 dollars of my hard earned money on the BF-888s. As recommended in the reviews, I also purchased the USB programming cable that will allow me to program this transceiver using my computer.



The Radio

My Pofung branded BF-888s handheld transceiver arrived two days after purchase. I am subscribed to the great Amazon Prime program so I get free two-day shipping on most items. The BF-888S came in a smart looking box which included the instruction manual, rubber ducky antenna, belt clip, base charger with AC cord, and one battery pack. The radio did not come with any programming software, I assume the manufacturer thought that you would use the free Open-Source application CHIRP. The BF-888S was a little smaller than I envisioned but I am impressed on the fit/finish of this little transceiver. The case looks as good as handhelds made by any of the Japanese manufacturers. The buttons, volume, and channel controls have very good tactile feedback and feel sturdy. The battery pack clips firmly in place to the back of the handheld and the belt clip looks and feels durable. The USB Programming Cable, purchased separately, is also a quality piece that also bolsters my confidence in Baofeng products.

Get your Baofeng BF-888S on Amazon!

BaoFeng 1PCs 888S Walkie Talkies 1500mAh Rechargeable Battery 3 Miles Long Range with Earphone LED Flashlight
BaoFeng 1PCs 888S Walkie Talkies 1500mAh Rechargeable Battery 3 Miles Long Range with Earphone LED Flashlight

I own the Pofung branded BF-888S, this radio is the same as the Baofeng BF-888S. It is a lot of radio for a little price!

 

The Specs

The BaoFeng BF-888S boasts some pretty impressive specs for its price of under $20 retail.

It covers the 70cm (400-470Mhz) band for both transmit and receive. RF Power is between 4 and 5 Watts. I measured 4.5 Watts from my BF-888S transmitting into a dummy load. The label under the battery cover indicates <5 Watts.

The BF-888s supports both simplex and semi-duplex modes of operation. You can set PL tones to trigger repeaters or use CTCSS or DCS Tone Squelch. In addition, it has 16 memory channels and VOX capability.

A pleasant voice announces when the transceiver is powered on, channel selection change, and when the battery is low. A LED on the face of the radio lights up red when transmitting and green when receiving.

Audio output is easy to hear in a crowded room or on a windy day outdoors. The side cover opens up to reveal a speaker and microphone jack. You also use these jacks to program the radio with the separately purchased USB cable.

The BF-888S sports a long life 1500MAh Li-ion 3.7 Volt battery pack. Audio output is easy to hear in a crowded room or on a windy day outdoors. It even has a built in flashlight!

Don't forget to purchase a USB Programming Cable on Amazon!

Compatible USB Programming Cable for Baofeng Two way Radio UV-5R, BF-888S,BF-F8+ With Driver CD
Compatible USB Programming Cable for Baofeng Two way Radio UV-5R, BF-888S,BF-F8+ With Driver CD

I own this USB cable, I used it to program the channels for both my Baofeng UV-5RA and BF-888S using the CHIRP programming software.

 

The Bad

The user manual that comes with the BF-888S only covers basic operation and not how to program the radio. Luckily there are free Open-Source options such CHIRP which make programming this radio a snap!

Baofeng does not make a transceiver that only covers the more popular 2M band in my area.This is actually what I was looking to purchase. This was not as big disadvantage as I have since I found out that that one of the local repeaters in my area covers both 2M and 70cm bands. When you hit the repeater on 70cm it retransmits on both 70cm and 2m and vice versa for the for the 2m band.



The Good

A pleasant voice announces when you change settings, assisting in sight free operation. The Li-Ion battery life is good. After the initial charge, I have been using the radio on a daily basis for a week (7 days), chatting with others on our local repeater, and have not heard the voice indicate a "low battery" state.

I can easily use the BF-888S to trigger and talk on a repeater that is 10 miles away as the crow flies. The repeater is at a much higher elevation from my house and there is a clear line of sight but I still consider this very impressive at just 4.5 Watts with a rubber ducky antenna! Contacts on the repeater tell me my transmission is "full quieting".

There is no other handheld on the market that boosts the impressive specs of the BF-888S at its price point!

There is a major cult following of amateur radio enthusiasts around the Baofeng BF-888s FM Transceiver and other Baofeng radio products!

The open-source community has developed CHIRP, a free tool that allows you to easily program your Baofeng BF-888S via USB cable from your computer. It also allows you to clone channel settings from one BF-888S and upload to another. In addition, you can save your BF-888S channel settings to a computer file.

There is also a web site dedicated to the Baofeng transceivers that offers enhanced user manuals with corrections and annotations.

There are many YouTube videos covering everything from basic operation to cool modifications that can be done to this little transceiver. There are also more sophisticated topics on YouTube like how to use a pair of BF-888S to create a make-shift repeater!

Baofeng Transceiver Programming using CHIRP, Part 1: Cable Setup

Baofeng Transceiver Programming using CHIRP, Part 2: Programming Basics

Creating a simple repeater using two Baofeng BF-888s

Conslusion

The Baofeng BF-888S is a great UHF FM Transceiver that retails for under $20. You get a lot of features at a price that other manufacturers cannot match!

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