This is a very important topic as there are quite a few radios available so you need to find one that not only suits you in terms of operation but also in terms of programming.
DMR is a commercial system and the commercial manufacturers only produced mono band radios. Now we have several varieties of dual band handheld and mobile radios with or without the GPS function coming out from China.
Dual band radios are fairly new – they all have pros and cons. The Miklor site (by John Miklor K3NXU) provides some radio reviews and other information which are worth reading – http://www.miklor.com/COM/Review_DMR_Radios.php
There are also many Facebook Groups dedicated to various manufacturers and radios from where you can get a lot of information and support.
Also to note that TYT and Retevis are the same radios – different badge with the MD-2017 being one exception where the radio case/antenna is different to the Retevis version RT82. Moonraker also sell a HT-500D which is a rebranded RT82.
Baofeng released a DMR radio (DM-5R) which did not conform to the dual slot (TDMA) requirements and therefore was unsuitable for repeater use.
Prices of radios vary a lot especially between the commercial and Chinese manufacturers. Based on UK vendors, handhelds start from around £120 to around £500 (however I have just seen a Hytera for pre-order that will cost around £1500). Mobiles are more limited and cost £280. However you can get second hand handhelds on eBay and Facebook sites from nearer £50. Some people also buy direct from China which can take a while to arrive.
Also to note that some vendors sell radios that are pre-programmed and will provide support which will benefit those with limited knowledge of the mode and programming (unless you have support from other users).
A few things to take into consideration when buying a radio:
- Contacts – both talk groups and users – for talk grouops, you need 35 for Phoenix, 18 for Brandmeister UK and 1003 for all Brandmeister. For the users, the current worldwide database has around 91000 but not everyone wants them all – a few thousand are needed for UK ID’s starting with 234 and 235.
- Channels – 78 to cover 2m/70cm simplex (both FM and DMR), 1 per analogue repeater, 2 per repeater on a DMR Cluster, 33 per Phoenix repeater and a minimum of 2 per Brandmeister repeater. If the radio has manual talk group dial than only 2 are required per DMR repeater.
- Zones – number of channels per zone as this depends on how you layout your radio – this varies from 16 to 250 with the average 64.