Kenwood TH-F6A Hand-held Tri-band Transceiver

 

This unit is my first experience with Kenwood products and I must say I am very much impressed at how much is packed into this tiny HT. Out of the box, the TH-F6A is solidly assembled and feels very comfortable in the hand.

 

Performance on the 2m/220/70cm bands is excellent, especially when one considers the less-than-ideal rubber duck antenna. I think the inclusion of the 220 band over 6M (6M in an HT seems useless to me) makes this HT much more desirable over the VX-5r. Although, if you have 6M repeaters close to you, make your selection accordingly.

 

The battery life is fantastic, especially when you are running low power. The multiple power out settings really conserve battery life. I can hit most of the repeaters I frequent with low (L) power and it seems like I can operate regularly for a 3-4 days before charging is required. No other HT I have ever owned has even come close (HTX202, HTX404, ADI AT-600HP). I also really like the selectable single/dual-band receive feature. This really comes in handy when you are in QSO and the second band starts barking (just turn the offending VFO off).

 

In dual-receive mode, it's great to monitor your favorite local ham frequency while simultaneously scanning your local public safety freqs. The built-in AM bar antenna comes in handy for local AM broadcast reception, although it doesn't do much for HF monitoring (not that I thought it would). Interfaced with my G5RV and with the attenuator feature enabled, HF reception is actually pretty decent (all-mode receive is another great feature of this HT), although I don't think I will be abandoning my IC-706MKII for this purpose any time soon.

 

The transmitted audio is really nice considering the size of the microphone element. The received audio seems thinner than the VX-5r, but it is acceptable, again considering the size of the unit. The thin audio is definitely a function of the small speaker as interfacing an external speaker gives very full audio.

 

To wrap it all up, I absolutely love this rig! I have never used a multiple band HT as much as I've used this one since getting it in December, 2001. It's rare when a day goes by that I don't turn it on for some purpose. If you like the features and can afford the price, you will not be disappointed in this well-designed HT. One of the best to hit the market in a long time. Kenwood certainly has a winner here! Good job, Kenwood.

 


In fairness, here is a list of possible caveats:

 

      Buttons on the front panel are small and closely spaced. Fat fingered hams beware (or have a pencil handy-hi hi).

 

      Battery doesn't support drop-in charger. Minor in my opinion, but important to some.

 

      Supplied rubber duck antenna doesn't seem to perform as well on the 220 band as it does on 2m and 70cm. The Nil-Jon Super-M more than makes up for this when operating mobile on all bands.

 

      Received audio slightly thinner than the VX-5r, although broadcast FM seems cleaner and less overdriven.

 

Aftermarket Essentials

 

Nil-Jon Super-M Mobile Antenna

 

If you are considering this radio for use in a mobile environment (or if you think you might want to use it mobile on occasion), I highly recommend the Nil-Jon Super-M tri-band antenna. This low-profile, highly efficient antenna really allows the TH-F6A to shine when used mobile. Performance on all three bands is awesome and really allows you to make full use of the radio's 5W.

 

The Super-M is also a highly regarded mobile scanner antenna so you can make full use of the wideband scanning features built into the TH-F6A. I occasionally have to use my Wife's vehicle (which has no radio equipment) and the Super-M on a magnet mount really fits the bill. Getting the TH-F6A's 5W outside of the vehicle really makes a difference! If you plan to use the TH-F6A in your vehicle, this is the best aftermarket item in my opinion. I use it, and I LOVE IT!

 

 

73 to all from W8CWE