As some of you know I am a fan of the MotoTRBO radios. I have a Motorola XPR 6550 which is a very nice TRBO DMR radio, but they are expensive and Motorola has horrible policies like they charge an arm and leg for the programming software and features that the radios already support support out of the box in hardware like AES-256 encryption are expensive options you have to pay to unlock if you want to use that feature. So while Motorola Radios are EXCELLENT in quality you definitely pay for it in the pocketbook.
Anyway that doesn't stop DMR from being an excellent standard, and now finally a sub $200 Chinese radio has come along that is DMR TRBO compatible.
First a quick Disclaimer. DMR is the radio standard, but with-in DMR there is MotoTRBO (Called TRBO on forward) and Hytera (not Tytera which is a chinese company trying to sound like Hytera). Hytera DMR radios will not talk to MotoTRBO radios and vice-versa. In the U.S. virtually 100% of DMR radios go by the TRBO standard so if you buy a DMR radio it is important that you buy a TRBO compatible radio.
So for under $170 shipped you can have a TRBO radio and programming cable shipped to your house, Really that's under 1/4 the price of an XPR with software and programming cable from Motorola
The Tytera MD-380, Like the Motorola XPR is a single band radio. so you have to select VHF or UHF, sorry no dual band TRBO here
I went with UHF because all the TRBO repeaters in my AO are UHF, so the decision was kind of a no brainer, I would have prefered VHF, but oh well.
My first impressions are: It's obvious the XPR is a nicer radio, but the TYT MD-380 isn't bad. It has a solid feel to it. There are a few minor corners that were cut. For example the MD-380 channel selector knob has markings in all black making it impossible to read
, also the waterproofing on the battery on the Motorola had a nice smooth finish to make a seal, the MD-380 does not. This leads me to believe the waterproof rating on the Motorola must be better.
Also the Belt Clip is a Huge disappointment on the MD-380, I doubt it will last a month. The Motorola has a nice big, beefy belt clip, the MD-380's belt clip is just silly.
Audio wise both sound great, it's TRBO after all, but the Motorola does sound better ...... this also was expected.
I had no trouble accessing the TRBO repeater with the MD-380 once I got it Programmed for local...... Which is different than programming the XPR with the Motorola CPS I'm use to, so it took me a few minutes to figure out where to put the Color Codes, and other settings, but once set-up, Bam! I'm talking to to friends in Cali while I'm in Texas
Texting works as well if not better than the XPR-6550. the MD-380 has a better screen for Texting. but the XPR screen is always on. Kind of like a digital watch, backlight only comes on if necessary but the digital display is always on and readable with enough ambient light. The MD-380 is like a cell phone screen. It turns off after 5, 10, or 15 seconds...... and you have to guess what channel you're on since you cant see the screen or the channel knob............. well it's a $140 radio, it's a $140 radio, it's a $140 radio
You get two antennas with the MD-380, the Antenna in the pictures is the shorter of the two and similar in length to the short UHF Motorola Antenna. Where I'm at it works fine, If I needed better range I'd switch over to the longer antenna.
I still haven't figured out how to access the GPS data on the MD-380, but I read that there is a firmware update that I need to apply so that my solve the GPS thing.
I'm getting the MD-380 programmed up for work tonight and I will replace my EDC XPR-6550 with the MD-380 to see how it holds up. This will be a test for the MAG as we are looking for a less expensive way to get TRBO radios. If the MD-380 can hold up at work for more than a few months I'll be impressed (I tend to drop my XPR-6550 all the time)
I'll keep you guys informed on how well the MD-380 holds up to daily use on the job but so far I'm quite impressed considering the radio is only $140, TRBO compatibility is a big deal @ $140