I will throw in a good word for Kenwood. Both my volunteer and career departments are Kenwood equipped, and we have no problems.
I can attest to the durability of the TK-272. I had one dropped in a fire and come out looking rough. Still worked though. After about $150, some soldering to the speaker mic jack and a little replacement of parts, it lookes and operates like new.
As far as the radio pocket thing goes, get a strap and speaker mic. You will never look back.
The x70 series (270, 272, etc) are also NOT radios we should be using for interior fire attacks. Its asking for trouble.
I've used TK270/272 for years without issue.
I am always open to hearing anothers opinion and views, but in this case I have a very long history that doesn't seem to support your opinion.
I can't speak to operator error, abuse or even improper training issues, since I haven't encountered that kind of trouble.
But as I say: To each his own...
Any radio with a two prong speaker/mic connection is out of the question for harsh environment / firefighter use. They are way too easy to damage or accidentally disconnect and they are openings for dirt and water to get in.
Also, the channel knob is not very glove friendly. Also, any radio with a continuous rotary channel knob is out as well. I require stops at 1 and 16 for safety and dexterity purposes. The 70 series utilizes a continuous rotary for some versions.
I love the radio. I have a 272G with a front display and continuous rotary channel knob of my own (among many others in my small personal fleet of radios). I love it. But I refuse to use it for firefighting.
Perhaps it is just a matter of preference. Our guys are assigned a channel which they lock. As far as the two prongs, if they use a mic/headset, they use radios from the trucks that are already set up for that purpose. Those radios have the retainer to cover the plug.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Kenwood x70 series have worked out well in many departments. They are a great radio at a great cost. They're marketed as a "cheap alternative" to public safety grade radios. The PS grade items receive more stringent testing, and are held (at least internally) to a tighter standard during manufacturing and evaluation.
With that said, they were not designed for use in an IDLH environment. The side connector, as outlined above, is an example of that. Also mentioned above, is the non-stopping rotary knob. The "lock" feature of they keypad is great until it get's hit while in your pocket and unlocks itself. Trust me, it can do it. You may not have seen it , but they do it. Do you really believe that you'll be able to listen for the one priority channel bonk when the defecation hit's the oscillation?
For your "average" call, do you really need more than 16 channels? I'd be willing to bet that for the day-to-day stuff, you could choose 16 channels that you use the most, and have the rest fall into a second, third, or equivalent bank outside of that. You can have the same channel in each bank, so having to switch around looking for "Dispatch" becomes a non-issue. Scan-lists across multiple banks are possible, as well as "talk back" on that channel, depending on the individual hardware you're using.
The physical channel guard gives you the ability when TSHTF to crank the knob one way or the other, and know you're going to end up on one specific channel and you'll know exactly what it is. If you're channel lock has came off, who knows where you will be. We all know that seeing the display in a smokey environment is pretty much a non-option.
For those looking at "intrinsically safe" needs, the x70 series doesn't fit the bill. Granted, IS rated radios are overkill for 99.99% of the agencies out there, but yet they purchase them anyways.
The two-prong jacks like to break, I'm doing a few of them a week. Granted, proper care of the radio takes care of this.
I handle around a two thousand portable radios a year. I've got around twenty five thousand that are in circulation in various forms of public safety, and private industry. I've got an additional ten thousand or so mobiles in the field right now across various platforms. This industry isn't something I take lightly when it comes to the safety of my brother's on the line.
It would be negligent on my part to push the x70 series as firefighters radios, when their intent was never to be used as such. Yes, marketing and budget constraints have pushed them into firefighter's hands, but I don't agree with it.
They may work for you, but on "my" side of the game, it's not a risk I'm willing to accept for my customer unless they're 100% sure that they don't want a public-safety radio. They may work, but it's not recommended by us, or the manufacturer. Any vender who pushes the 272 as a "firefighter" radio, needs a swift ***-rearranging...
Well there is nothing like a swift kick in the teeth to get your attention.
I'm not going to debate what you have said or your opinion of the 270/272s.
What I will state again is, the issues that you talk about are simply not indicative of what I have seen. I know of many departments that have used these radios without these issues. We do see them break at times but that is usually due to being dropped on its bottom at the battery retainer, which is an easy fix, if you have in-house techs.
I will not dispute that there are better radios as you suggest, but the associated cost prohibit many cash-strapped depts from going that direction.
I've been around radios and communications for about 40 years, but I would not claim to be an expert, despite my technical experience. To my knowledge Kenwood has never claimed those radios should not be used for Fire, LE, or EMS. But we'll go with your version if you wish to insist.
And I, like you take the safety of my crews personally. Even though you say you are not trying to promote or endorse any model or manufacturer, you seem to be suggesting that what many use is junk and not worthy of consideration... and that makes me wonder why.
As you know... communications is an expensive proposition. Many departments are just now in a position to solve those issues. Refarming, 700 and 800 mhz isn't helping the situation. Alot of smaller departments are getting squeezed on two sides by equipment and license requirements, and manufacturers who are pushing for new this and that.
This topic began with a simple question about a particular radio. It is obvious that the department doesn't have the funding to buy much, and the firefighters have to go the extra distance to acquire tools and equipment for themselves.
It is easy to slam and attack these underfunded departments when they cannot accomplish most if any of the mandates, standards or requirements. The easy answer seems to be, close them down because they will never be good enough. The hard reality is there are alot of people that depend on whatever fire protection they can afford. And it is a far sight better than not having anything. At least they are trying. So when they buy any radio, it is still better than not having anything. I just don't see a purpose telling someone that they need to spend alot more money when the discussed radio will do the job. It might not be the best, but neither are their trucks, equipment or virtually anything else. But at least they are there and trying.
I appreciate your position based upon your technical expertise that you would not sell that radio to firefighters. You evidently have set a very high standard and will not compromise your ethics by selling something you do not think should be used in a particular way. I commend you for that.
But it is a fact, there is all kinds of equipment that is used for firefighting that was never intended for that purpose. Some just work with what they have. They don't try to save the entire world, just a very small part of it.
Neither he nor I are saying they are junk. We're saying there are far better products to do the job. I love the x70 series radios, just not for interior firefighting. There is no slamming or attacking going on here. This is simply laying out information that we know because communication happens to be a line of work or experience. If you want everyone to just blindly agree and not post useful information, why even come here?
The channel stops at 1 & 16 is a huge thing for me. A softkey lock is not acceptable in my opinion. I programmed all our radios such that 1 & 16 are the same. If you go down and are in trouble, you know no matter what channel you were on or what happened to the radio, you bang the knob either way to the stops and your golden. You can also count the clicks to get to channel without looking at it. These are huge important factors in a radio to me.
The 2-prong accessory connector blows, whether you have had problems with them yet or not. I will not give my blessing to life safety device with such a huge point of failure.
I wasn't seeking everyone's agreement. It's not about me or what I think.
I was trying to render an opinion based upon what the OP asked.
But I hear ya brother, and I do appreciate your opinion and experience.
I'm not bashing the equipment, just putting my take on it out there. If you look back at the top of my post, you'll see that I have no issues with the x70's, except for their use in the fire service...
I'll put it out there as to who I represent on the sales side, because it may clear up what seems like an anti-Kenwood bias.
The majority of our sales come from Kenwood and ICom radios. I'd say about 6 to 7 times out of 10, we're not selling Motorola. Yes, we do sell Motorola, as well as EF Johnson, Vertex, and a few other smaller brands that have (newer) offerings that will peak in coming years in the public safety market.
We also do work with multiple console and alerting interfaces - Zetron, Orbacom, Avtec, amongst others. We're doing work for manufacturers' lines that we don't carry.
My communications experience comes from a wide array of areas. I've done system consultation and initial designs, site and propagation studies, 'beta testing' of radios for multiple manufacturers, spent time as a bench-tech doing repairs on everything from speaker mics to 1000 watt broadcast radio stations.
All I'm trying to do is give some honest advice as someone who does this as a profession, five days a week. I've been on the job, crawled down hallways with some of the best guys I know, and had radios that work like crap. It sucks, we've all experienced it. If I'm ****ing in your Wheaties (or Cheerios, although those things scare me, where'd the middle go? ) , then I appologize. I'm only trying to put additional information on the table.
Any dealer worth his weight in gold, will bend over backwards to find a suitable public-safety grade radio wether new or refurbished, to meet budget requirements within reason. If they're looking at the 2170, then they're starting down the right direction. While I can't sell them the radios due to territory restrictions, I can give them the information that their dealer wouldn't want them to know. I'll openly give them what deals are offered right now at the dealer level, to give them a better position to get public safety equipment from their dealer at a reasonable (IE: Not hundreds of dollars of markup) price. If that dealer won't do it, I'll use my internal resources to find them a local dealer that will.
Firefighter safety is one of our top goals. We don't want our equipment to be the failing point. We've had many deals with departments in a pinch, and we self finance them with zero interest. We give them great terms, and many options when it comes to their safety. Your radio dealers should be doing this for you. If they aren't, they're not doing their job.
Quick edit to add, just to clarify the "refurbish" comment above - anything we sell that's refurbished is completely bench checked and aligned if necessary, receives a warranty covering parts/labor outside of willful negligence or blatant disregard, and brand new accessories. Many times we can do this for about half the cost of the same model brand new. I'm selling completely refurbished Kenwood x70's in VHF and UHF for around 255$, with a 3 month warranty, new battery, charger, and the choice of either a speaker mic or leather case with belt clip. Refurbishing also includes recasing the radio, new seals, knobs when appropriate, new antenna, as well as programming.
I appreciate your comments and I have no issue with what you say.
I completely understand what you are trying to present and it has validity and is important.
All I am trying to suggest is there are many times that cost is the driving factor, and given a choice between something or nothing, well...
I gave my opinion of the radio, manufacturer, etc. I haven't had the issues you indicate, but perhaps we have dodged them.
Res343cue & nmfire: This is an important issue, perhaps one of the most important.
Those of us that try to set some kind of standard or provide some guidance to people who listen to us or derive knowledge from us, do benefit from these public discussions.
What you offer has as much value as anything that I offer, and in some ways, you make some points that I do not attempt to visit. The cost factor will drive some of the guys in their decisions. For those where cost is not the primary consideration, they will seek superior equipment.
These are facts.
There is middle ground out there. That is why some depts must buy somebody's used equipment and trucks. That does not make it wrong, and I don't think you believe that either. Depts have to do what they must do to make it work. And I think we all realize that as well.
Lets agree to let this issue stand as we have debated. We have presented opinions, and they will be read for what they are.
Now I am going to add this:
I personally appreciate the things that you both brought to light here.
From what you state and the way you present it, I will state for the record that you raise the bar for many other radio dealers. That is very rare and the ethics that you present should be commended. You have earned my respect and all I can offer you is my hope that you shall continue to 'carry on'. I believe you will.
Edit Added: We are all on the same side here. Despite our experiences and opinions, we should not ever forget who we are, or why we do this. And we should always try to find the things that make us more the same, than different.
does any one know where i can find kenwood radios that arnt $400 im looking for TK-2170/TK-3170 or TK-2212/TK-3212 . Or something small and has an LCD Backlight
The 2170 I bought was 387.
I want to enter a side tone on the transmit side of the ptt. I have tk2180
I have used Kenwood portables and mobiles and I think they are great!! My former Department was the first to "go out on a limb" and break the age old tradition of using the "M" radios and moved to Kenwood. Since then, the entire county has moved to Kenwood and most just rave about them. Primarily cost vs quality. Very HIGH quality for a very reasonable price.