This is a detailed Baofeng BF-F8HP review, this model is just one of several walkie talkies trying to stand apart from a crowded market.
BaoFeng seemed determined to attract eyeballs to this compact radio by packing a lot of features into it while at the same time keeping the price as low as possible to remain competitive.
The BF-F8HP is supposed to be an upgrade on the UV-5R. This implies it should at least have more transmitting power based on a new chipset and a better all-around performance. This chipset is the latest N5R-40 firmware that is available on just a few models from Baofeng.
Let’s take a look at the features and see if the unit is worth the trouble.
Specifications and Features of BaoFeng BF-F8HP
Weight: 10.1 oz
Battery: 2000mAH, Li-ion, 7.4v
Antenna: High gain dual band 7″
Operation mode: Simple or semi-duplex
Modulation mode: 16k F3E / 11K F3E
Transmitter output power: 1W/5W/8W
Channel capacity: 128
Channel Spacing: 25 KHz (wideband), 12.5 KHz (narrowband)
Frequency: 136 – 174MHz, 400 – 520MHz (TX/RX) 68 – 108MHz (For FM only)
What’s in the new upgrade?
Though this is not a comparison between the BF-F8HPand the UV-5R, it is worth finding out if the upgrade added significantly new features to make the BF-F8HP a totally new gadget in both performance and design.
After all, what is the point of getting the new model if it isn’t better than its predecessor?
- The first noticeable difference is the switch on the Rx side of the radio. It is more sensitive and switches on faster in the BF-F8HP. In the previous model, users tend to miss up to a half second of each transmission.
This time lag might seem insignificant, but for transmissions consisting of just single words, you are likely to miss everything. The new model, however, picks up everything immediately.
- It seems BaoFeng were determined to improve the user experience with a menu that is more responsive. It is now possible to scroll through items on the menu very quickly when the up/down button is pressed.
Previously, there was a delay of about 100ms.
- The squelch settings are now better. You would notice a significant difference in threshold levels. In the older model, that difference was hard to notice even between levels 1 and 9.
Many users were left with the distinct impression that in the UV-5R, the squelch setting wasn’t very effective.
More improved features include:
- Making it tri-power (1, 4, and 8 watt)
- The latest chipset
- The DTMF keypad issue is now resolved
- It is now compatible with all UV5R battery options and accessories
- It has a new newer style, better stock antenna
- It is now CHIRP-compatible
BF-F8HP Review: Features and Performance
The manual – The manual you get out of the box is a 76-page affair in both Chinese and English. As usual, English is the usual dodgy grammar you get in most Chinese made products. However, with a bit of patience, you would understand what it is trying to say especially if you’ve been around walkie talkies before.
Programming the unit/software – Before you start using the device, you’d have to download the CHIRP software by connecting it to a computer. The original software is easy to follow.
However, the developers of CHIRP ensured the BaoFeng BF-F8HP is one of the radios supported in the latest daily build. This build supports menu changes
For better results, it is advisable that you buy an original BaoFeng programming cable and not some cheap knockoff. Many of the issues related to software problem come from using low-quality cables to program it.
Also, getting a good quality cable ensures you don’t have to use up more time downloading compatible drivers to your PC instead of using the radio to communicate with others.
Initializing the radio involves downloading the downloading data from the radio to your computer before proceeding to program it.
Many users might find this stage daunting. But it is quite easy if you read the manual carefully. And if you know how the software works, you’d get the hang of it pretty fast.
One unique thing about this walkie talkie during the programming process is the number of steps needed when trying to save to the memory. In other devices, it requires just a single step to do it while it requires two steps to achieve that with this radio.
It could be a good thing though as it stops you from accidentally transmitting out of band.
BaoFeng BF-F8HP’s transmitter comes with 3 adjustable power level settings: you could transmit at 1 watt (low power), 4 watts (medium power), or 8 watts (high power) levels if you need better range.
The adjustable power helps to conserve battery power when it becomes necessary or you could stick to the highest power if you want the radio to operate at full capacity. Obviously, the battery time would take a hit at the highest power.
By all standards, the receiver’s performance scores high marks. The selectivity is a bit disappointing though. But this is only noticeable in areas with high RF activity; in cities for instance. Out in the open (when you are camping or hiking, for instance), the filtering issue doesn’t come into play.
Other Notable features
FM radio – The walkie talkie allows you to listen to FM radio for entertainment while you are on the road. Obviously, this feature would become redundant if you are too far away from the nearest station.
2-Chanel Tracking – It is possible to track and listen to two channels simultaneously to get as much information as possible.
VOX – The unit comes with a mic/earpiece so you could operate with voice commands leaving your hands free to deal with other tasks.
Customizable LCD – The display’s color can be changed to your preferred choice.
- Great price for a handheld 2-way radio with so many features
- The simplex mode is easy to understand
- Great sound quality
- Good transmitting power and decent reception
- Battery life is awesome
- Squelch settings work
- High output power for better range
- Transmit and monitor on all GMRS, FRS, Marine and Business bands
- Could do with a better manual
- Memory scanning is slow
- Repeater and duplex usage is erratic
Here is an Unboxing And Brief Video Walk-Through
This review of the BaoFeng BF-F8HP started out by comparing it with its predecessor the BaoFeng UV-5R and asking if this was just a marketing ploy. It is clear though that this new model is actually an upgrade on the previous version with several new features added including a more responsive menu and CHIRP compatibility.
If you are looking for a walkie talkie to communicate with loved ones during a crisis when cell phone reception is down or when you are out on a trip (camping, hiking, mountaineering, skiing, etc), the BF-F8HP is just the gadget you want. This BaoFeng BF-F8HP review written by a radio enthusiast should provide an adequate guide in helping you decide on whether you should buy the radio or not.
However, you’d have to program it using a laptop before it becomes fully functional. That is not difficult with the manual to guide you and if you get the correct programming cable. Once you are done programming it, making use of its several awesome features is quite easy.
- Upgrades from our Previous Generation UV-5R: Twice the Output Power (8 watts up from 4 watts output), New Hardened Durable Radio Shell, 30% Larger Battery, V-85 High Gain Antenna (Twice the Antenna Performance), USA Support + In-depth User Guide Included; A PC03 FTDI Programming Cable is Recommended for Easier PC Programming
- High / Med / Low Power Settings (8W, 4W, 1W); Frequency Range: VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). UHF: 400-520 MHz(Rx/Tx); Broad (Wide) / Narrowband (Narrow) Selectable
- The BF-F8HP was designed in the USA and because not everyone is a radio-expert we really wanted to focus on providing an easier user experience! That starts with the new in-depth manual that guides you through the capabilities and customization of the BF-F8HP. On top of that the BF-F8HP also includes exclusive concierge customer help and warranty support. This concierge service is only available on select BaoFeng models such as the BF-F8HP, UV-82HP, and UV-5X3