The Quansheng TG-UV2 is a fairly straightforward 5 watt, dual band 2m/70cm handheld radio of Chinese origin. It's a fairly direct competitor to the other popular Chinese radios like the Wouxun KG-UVD1. With a street price of approximately $85 USD shipped, it's one of the cheapest dual band handhelds available anywhere. The feature set is pretty complete, and for the price it's really tough to beat. Read on for my full impression of this HT.
I purchased mine from 409shop, an outlet that offers many foreign radios and accessories. For a shipment from Asia, it arrived more quickly than I'm used to, taking only 10 days or so. Though it was sparsely packed (retail box was wrapped in shipping paper, not double packed), I would recommend this seller, I've purchased several items now and all were shipped promptly with good communication.
Physical and UI
The front of the radio holds a 16-button keypad and nice green-backlit dual frequency display, along with the speaker and mic grille. Up top is a volume knob and SMA-M antenna connector, with an LED 'jack light' tucked in for good measure. Along the left side of the radio there's the standard PTT and monitor keys and a button to toggle the jack light. The 2000mAh, 7.2V Li-Ion battery slides on the back under the belt clip and provides two terminals on the back of the radio to mate with the cradle charger.
Everything about this radio feels solid; there's no flex at all in the chassis and it's already lived through a few harsh drops without a scratch or hiccup. The battery fits well, and its holding mechanism is also well designed and keeps the battery and radio together tightly as a single unit; there's a nice positive clip at the bottom that snaps onto the battery and holds it tight.While the front buttons are quite tiny and can be awkward to manipulate (and they make an ugly noise), especially one-handed, they seem to be proper tact switches and not a cheap membrane setup. All in all I'm very impressed with the build quality. I would've liked to have seen an external DC input to charge (or even just power) the radio from an external source.
Some cheap accessories were thrown in the box as well: a lanyard, very chintzy one-ear PTT headset, upright cradle charger, and a manual - which you will certainly need - thankfully it is in both English and Chinese. Despite the high quality of the radio, all of these items are cheaply made - but work fine. The charger and batteries are designed such that the cradle charger can be used to charge the battery alone, or while attached to the radio. Enough EMI is generated by the charger though that the radio performance really suffers if it's turned on while charging.
Without a rotary encoder or room for many function buttons, designing a good user interface is a challenge, and one that the designers of the TG-UV2 haven't done a fantastic job of. I wouldn't call it difficult; once you learn how the radio works it's actually pretty straightforward, but there's too much guesswork and/or memorization in using some of the more obscure functions - you'll need to have the manual in front of you for a while to get comfortable with it - and as someone that's generally comfortable just picking up technology and using it, take that seriously. That said, once you've got the radio all programmed up, the things you're going to need to change regularly are right up front and easy to get at. Unfortunately without a rotary encoder, browsing through your channels is cumbersome, you're going to want to get used to entering channel numbers directly.
The dual displays are there to facilitate cross-band operation and dual watch modes. While the upper 'main' display is alphanumeric and can be configured to show channel names (painstakingly entered with the up and down buttons!), the lower display is numeric only and will show CH-xxx rather than your configured name if you have it set to show the names on that VFO setting. Each 'display' is pretty much independently configurable and they can be quickly toggled between or set up for cross receive/transmit - as far as I can tell every setting the radio has, including display settings, is independent for each, so you can have one in memory mode and one in VFO mode or pretty much anything else you want. Unfortunately, dual-watch mode locks the keypad, so you're stuck with the channels and settings you had on the display when you enabled it.
My biggest UI gripes are that the repeater offset (usually 600KHz or 5MHz) setting is the same for both 2m and 70cm, so it's easy to forget you were using a 70cm repeater and when back on 2m, transmit out of band and that there's (apparently) no way to copy a memory back to VFO mode; if you want to edit the settings of your saved memory you need to re-enter them all from scratch.
Features and Performance
This is a pretty basic transceiver, but it includes most of the functionality you're likely to want - even if not always as conveniently as I would like. It's got 199 memory channels that store all the relevant radio settings (including output power, repeater offset, CTCSS tones (which it can scan for, at least on simplex), FM deviation, and maybe frequency too). Each memory can be given a 6-character alphanumeric name. It claims 5W output on 2m and 4W on 70cm, with a pretty respectable receiver specification. Vox is also there, though I haven't tried it.There's even a broadcast FM receiver included. One thing that may bother some hams is that the radio is completely frequency unlocked - it doesn't stop you from transmitting anywhere the radio can tune to. So be careful - the tuning range is pretty wide: 136-174MHz plus 400-470MHz, you can easily get yourself in trouble. One glaring omission for amateur radio use is a DTMF keypad - the front buttons don't generate tones, they're for UI only!
As far as performance, I don't have the equipment to test it scientifically, but subjectively I've been very impressed. Even deep in the city the radio stays quiet with the squelch on the lowest setting and scanning. On high power mode, I can quite easily reach well-sited repeaters that are more than 75km away - from inside the car with the stock antenna. Being a handheld it can't work miracles, I still have trouble hitting some of the closer repeaters that aren't 1000m up a mountain, but that's to be expected. Battery life is similarly impressive. I haven't had an opportunity to do a true runtime test, but the radio can easily last 24 hours scanning, and I think I've only had it down to 2 out of 3 bars once, charging it every couple of days. I'd feel pretty confident going on a several day trip and using it occasionally without bringing the charger.
Scanning is a little slow by mobile radio standards, but reasonable (say about 5 channels/s), it is however very consistent, likely due to the good intermod rejection from this set. While my other handhelds often stall without coming out of squelch, the TG-UV2 just keeps on going at a steady pace before landing on a signal. What I dislike about scanning with this radio is that it only has one mode - pause for a few seconds when a carrier is detected. I'd like to have a couple other scan modes, but it's usable enough - just tap PTT (don't worry it doesn't actually transmit) to cancel scanning.
Audio quality, both send and receive, is good and there's plenty of volume available if you're in a noisy environment. One little niggle with the sound is that it doesn't seem to be possible to disable the keypad beeps - and they don't respond to volume control. When using the earphone, the beep is much too loud and I find it quite painful to manipulate the controls with it on.
This is a great buy. In my opinion you can't do any better for the money (mostly because there isn't even anything else available this cheap!). It's got almost all the features a ham is likely to want, and some others besides, excellent performance, and it's well built. I do have a couple gripes about the way the unit works, but they're incredibly minor given the intense value of this radio, and they're just that - gripes - the actual performance of the radio is great. Does it stack up to an ICOM IC-T70A or Yaesu FT-70R, the western makers' bottom range HTs? It may not be as polished a product, but in every measurable way, I think yes, it does. Go buy one.