Yes, it is a hot topic. I noticed an banner in the rotation for this web page. Everyone should know that those are handled by an automatic engine and does not reflect an endorsement by us. We have our reservations about the Baofeng radios after doing some testing on them. They have become very popular due to their low cost, but there is a draw back. A very high percentage of them are failing spectral purity tests. Many new hams are not aware of what this is, don’t think it is important, or don’t think that the vendors would sell a defective, non-compliant radio. In our test, we had a radio that was putting out about 1.5 watts at about 300MHz. We attempted to repair it, but the problems was coming directly out of the main chip. The spurious output problem means it may be interfering with other services.
There is the concern about beginners being able to afford a radio, and the Baofengs are cheap, but there is a long tradition among hams of following best practice. A Baofeng could certainly be used as a kicker radio since they are cheap, don’t be surprised if they break though since the construction is not very good. The big thing that is very unfair to a new ham is that it can’t be assumed that the radio is working correctly out of the box. The first thing that needs to be done is to put it on a spectrum analyzer to see if it is legal to use. That is a piece of equipment that is expensive, and unlikely for a new ham to have access to.
In the event you want to experiment with one of these radios, it should be kept in mind that it is the responsibility of an amateur radio operator to make sure their equipment is in working order. If you are at an event with us, ask, and we can help you check if your radio is working correctly.
We have one of these radios which we were testing. We tried to give it a fair chance, but in the end had to take it off the air since it was emitting a considerable amount of power out of band and could interfere with other services. We have also seen several of them fail at events.