Wouxun KG-UV8D: Hands-on review

Wouxun KG-UV8D

I had the opportunity this afternoon to be one of the very first people to go hands-on with the new dual-band Wouxun KG-UV8D HT courtesy of Danny at BuyTwoWayRadios.com. What’s the verdict? I’m impressed!

VHF/VHF dual receive — for the win! This is a great feature and, at least for me, one of the most compelling reasons to upgrade to this radio. It mixes the audio from the two frequencies so you won’t miss anything. Great feature for EmComm, especially. I personally don’t have a great need for cross-band repeat, but that’s just icing on the cake.

The text on the color screen is so much easier to read than on previous Wouxuns. There’s about twice the screen real estate and it makes the radio much more usable. Although I didn’t get a chance to play with every feature of the KG-UV8D, I can honestly say that this radio seems to be much easier to program from the keypad. I think that larger screen helps a lot. For the first time, I feel that I could field program one of these without the manual. Trust me, that’s saying something!

KG-UV8D Screen

The radio seems slightly narrower and thinner than previous versions. This is a definite step up and it improves the ergonomics of the radio. The PTT button is large and segmented in a way that makes it hard to mistake it for a function button as with the KG-UV3D. The programmable buttons under the PTT are also cool. You can program it to activate the FM radio or to start scanning, for example. Very easy to customize.

The battery is different which is a little disappointing for those of us who have a collection of older Wouxun batteries, but I like the changes they’ve made to the way it slides on and off the chassis.

The rubber ducky antenna they include is OK, but for me a Smiley 270A would replace it in short order. And speaking of antennas, why can’t Wouxun figure out if they want to use SMA-male or SMA-female on these radios? I think we can all agree that they should just standardize on one or the other. This radio has a SMA-female connector while my KG-UV3D is SMA-male.

I’ve fallen in love with this little radio and I’ve only had it a few hours. When they begin shipping in a couple weeks, I will definitely be ordering one. While there aren’t really any must-have new features (except dual-receive), the radio just feels much more refined than other radios I’ve used that are anywhere near this price point.

Whether you’re a brand new ham looking for your first rig or you’ve been at this game for decades, you can’t go wrong with this $139 radio.

Update 4/28/2014:
If you click through to BuyTwoWayRadios.com, you will notice that the final price of this radio is now $159. If you order this radio, don’t forget to use the coupon code 139UV8D to get the original $139 price! Not sure how long this coupon code will remain active. Your mileage may vary.

Matt Thomas, W1MST, is the managing editor of AmateurRadio.com. Contact him at editor@amateurradio.com.

23 Responses to “Wouxun KG-UV8D: Hands-on review”

  • William KF5WNY:

    What’s the frequency range on this model? Is it like the Baofeng frequencies?

  • The version I received tuned from 135-175 and 400-480 MHz. It also tuned the FM broadcast band from 76-108 MHz.

  • kc9lox:

    Any FCC I.D’s? Also I’ve also seen conflicting reports, does it have 2.5 khz step for narrow band?

  • The chassis of my demo unit bears the FCC ID WVTWOUXUN07.

    I can confirm that it offers only these choices in the step menu: 5K, 6.25K, 10K, 12.5K, 25K, 50K, and 100K.

    Specs say 2.5KHz is “optional” but the feature is not present on my demo unit. I did receive this clarification:

    “This will not be available initially, but there will be an additional version available in the future supporting it. No definite timetable yet on the new version, but tentatively 2-3 months.”

  • kc9lox:

    Thank you for the clarification on this. Allot of folks that have or looking into ordering have this same question and looking for a answer for 2.5 step. For some reason the dealer had Part 90 on the website and now that has been removed, so we all are looking for a answer. Thanks again.

  • Jyoti VU3BGI:

    so this HT is like or similar to famous Icom W32A ? cross band receive suitable for working satellite.

  • Jason K6DGN:

    Well I just ordered one of these and waiting for it to show up in the mail. Seems like they didn’t manage to hit the $139 price tag, but at around $160 it still seemed like a really good deal for something with a nice display, thats easy to field program, dual receive, and even cross band repeat. Something you don’t see on a lot of HT’s.

    Curious if you had a chance to run the battery down a few times. Curious of your thoughts on over all battery life, stand-by time and such.

    Write-ups on this new radio are rare so thanks for posting it. This will join my HT fleet of a Yaesu FT1D, UV-5RA & my adorably tiny USB chargeable TYT TH-UV3R. I should probably sell a few radios.

    Thanks again for posting.

    – DGN

  • KK7TJ:

    I just got one of these. The two buttons that are show as green above are actually black on the unit I received. This is not especially troublesome, just something that people may want to know if the button color is important to them. I agree with most of this review. I especially like the display and the solid feel. I tried the cross-band repeat and dual receive functions and found them to be well considered and appointed. You can mute audio in dual receive mode based on Main RX, TX, RX&TX, or nothing!

    For cons, I observed the following:
    Both RX and TX audio are a significant step backwards from prior Wouxun models. This is unfortunate, as that was in my mind the most compelling reason to go with the Wouxun radios. The RX audio on this new radio sounds very thin and seems like it is blasting even at low settings. The TX audio seems to mirror a similar flavor, the audio transmitted sounds thin and even a bit processed (not in a good way).

    I do like the radio. But it is not what it could have been.

  • KK7TJ:

    In the interest of fairness, I felt I should follow-up my comments above with additional findings. I had commented that I was disappointed with the audio performance of this radio as compared with prior models. After playing with the radio more I learned that the radio came from the factory with the wide/narrow setting set to narrow. That definitely affected the audio performance. Setting it to wide significantly improved the RX audio performance, and reports of TX audio have been good. Alas, the RX performance is still not as good as the excellent audio performance of prior models (not as loud/clear), but it is on par with most other radios available, and I would not warn someone away from this radio based on this.

  • John K3NXU:

    The UV8D is now covered at the Miklor.com website http://www.miklor.com/UV8D
    There’s a complete review at: http://www.miklor.com/COM/Review_UV8D.php

    Standard and Special purpose software can also be found there.

  • John K3NXU:

    It also appears that MTC extended their $20 Coupon Code until the end of May.
    Entering KGUV8D at checkout brings the price down to $139.

  • Dave K6DEV:

    I just got one of these. I’m still playing around with it, but seem to like it so far. Definitely an upgrade over the TYT TH-UVF8D that I’ve been using.

    A couple of notes:

    I noticed that once you cannot edit the Offset Frequency (menu 23) or Frequency Shift Direction (menu 24) of a channel stored in memory. If you are programming in a repeater from the VFO, it’s easy to change it in the VFO and recopy it to memory. But if you programmed it in via programming software, you either have to go back to the computer to make the change, or write down the settings, and re-input into the VFO and save it again. Everything else seems to be editable. It’s an annoyance more than a problem.

    Also, the review on Miklor says that “Radios manufactured after 5-15-2014 (V1.02) include the 2.5kHz step.” This does not appear to be the case. My radio is running V1.02 and was manufactured on 5-21-14, but lacks the 2.5K step.

    Using the software provided on the Miklor site, I was able to fully open up the radio to 134 – 175 and 400-520. It originally came as 136 – 174 / 400 – 480.

  • Jeremy N9JTW:

    Just wanted to give everyone a heads up that I just ordered the UV8D (with the free upgraded 26oomAh battery) from buytwowayradios.com and was still able to use the “139UV8D” coupon to bring the price of the radio down to $139. Getting back in to the hobby and almost pulled the trigger on a Baofeng UV-82, but the features on this UV8D were just too good to pass up. Just hope Chirp provides support for this radio soon.

  • Francisco Ayala WQQV844:

    I don’t know if you could help me with a minor problem I purchased the KG-UV8D dual band radio at first I had some trouble setting up the frequencies but figured it out after playing with the unit I manage to pair it with my other radios that I have the GXT5000 and the Cobra MR HH425LI VP & the Vertex EVX 539 and the LXT600VP3 Midland all unit receive the transmission but when I try to transmit to the KG-UV8D radio I don’t any sound it shows that it receiving I’m I doing something wrong these the KG-UV8D needs to have a headset connected to hear the transmission ?

  • Larry Puza WB9BVB:

    Very nice dual-band radio and does cross-band like my Icom ic-w32a Read the reviews and bought one at AES in Milwaukee. Took awhile to program but after a few times was easy.Only thing haven’t fiquired out how to only have tone on transmit only. I would say that the radio is a good buy for the money.

  • Matt W1MST:

    Hi Larry,

    Looking at the manual, page 26 talks about transmitting CTCSS. It’s menu 16 and the setting is called “T-CTC” or “TX-CTC.” As long as you set that to the correct tone and set the “R-CTC” (or “RX-CTC”) to open squelch, you should be transmitting the PL tone while allowing the radio to receive all traffic on the frequency.

    Matt

  • Clifford KK6QMS:

    I am most concerned with the intermod and selectivity performance. My UV-5R is atrocious with intermod esp on 70cm. If anyone can comment who also has UV-5R for comparison that would be great.

    I will do some tests and report back. I ordered a great package deal from MTC:
    http://www.mtcradio.com/version-5-wouxun-kg-uv8d-cross-band-repeat-ht-package-deal/

  • Rick-Testing 5/9:

    Love the radio, got it for an early BD present (beginning of May), and the only irritating is when using RT’s programming software you have to manually turn off the VOICE prompt after loading. Question: Can the ‘gramming USB cable be used to capture the audio output into the computer? Any ideas would be helpful.

  • kk6oes Dennis N:

    I have spent hrs on trying to find out how to change the FM music channels. I have gotten a couple answers, but none work.The last one sounded good too. It was press the very bottom left side button then the PTT for one second, and the up.down arrows work, or the knob. Nope !!( I was just trying it other wise I love this Radio. I just got my ticket June of 2014 my Elmer sold this one to me 1/2 and the fixings, but we ?? can’t figure the FM !!) I’ll check back !!

  • Jay K8VCE:

    I have a UV5R and am very satisfied. The only problem is the programming cable doesn’t make proper contact in the radio. I need to hold it tightly in position while uploading or downloading. I have tried several tricks I found online and even bought a new cable but nothing solves the problem. That being said it does everything else I need it to do. How can anyone complain when the price is so low as compared to other models. I see they also have a bigger 50 watt model now. I hope that it works as well and allows hams on a restrictive budjet to join the fun and ARES communications on VHF and UHF.

  • Ray KA1AAA:

    Here is the FM radio recieve sequence:
    select FM with the bottom side button
    then hit *SCAN button until it finds your favorite Rock station. 🙂
    It will hold that station in memory.
    Hit the bottom side button to disengage.

    FM stations will mute when RCV breaks squelch on A/B bands.

    Done deal.

  • Wayne ONeil KK6GCI:

    on my wouxun kg-uv8d everytime i push the PTT button only a high pitch squelch comes out came anyone help me with this.

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