Design - 9.8/10
Features - 9.3/10
Range and Sound Clarity - 9.5/10
Price - 9/10
Starting off, one of the things that you can say about the SainSonic RST599 is that it is like an upgraded BaoFeng BF-F8HP. This radio takes up what is an excellent radio, and builds on it even more. The transmission is as good as the BF-F8HP. The biggest selling point of this device it has an IP66 rating. The build quality is very sturdy as well, leaving me with no complaints about cut corners.
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The battery fits in tightly and locks into place securely inside the walkie talkie with an all-around O-ring. This uses the same cable as the Baofeng UV5R and others. The connector is of the same style that Kenwood normally ships. It has a 2-pin connector cable. If you have used any such cables before, you will definitely be accustomed to them. Most SMA female antennas will work with this walkie talkie.
The construction of the buttons on this walkie talkie is very similar to the ones used by Kenwood. It almost seems like they source buttons from the same manufacturer. I like them, they aren’t the most clicky buttons I have used but they have good travel and the response is pretty good as well.
The radio has a lock-out feature, which can be used to lock the radio after a certain duration. There is a remote-kill switch too, which may come in handy if the need be. There are multiple screen background choices, and you can select the color that you prefer. You get a choice of seven colors to choose from. It is an LCD display.It displays the date and time when switched on, which sure is handy for a person like me who never remembers the date and time. One of the issues with the BaoFeng’s is that the charging dock never explicitly told me how much charge my batteries needed. The RST599 dock shows a red light when the device is charging, and a green one to indicate that the device is fully charged. One of the biggest advantages here is that there is one more slot in the charging dock, so you can charge two batteries simultaneously. This is immensely helpful if you are planning on a long trip.
The radio was shipped from china and the software for the computer was written in Chinese and I had to change it to English. This is not very difficult to do these days. You can just point your phone on top of the Chinese menu and it live-converts the menu for you. It is really nifty and seeing it in action is futuristic.
If you have read my review on the BaoFeng BF-F8HP, you already know that I am a big fan of the ranges on these things. Regardless, I have tried using these from inside my home to talk through repeater 25 miles away. It worked flawlessly as well. As with every range test on this planet, your mileage may vary depending on the kind of terrain that you try these out on. Urban areas will see fairly okay results, while rural areas should definitely do better on the range front.
Long pressing the # key will disable dual-watch and fill the screen with the single chosen frequency.
More often than not, I have to go outdoors for various purposes. You have to admit that you will be spoilt by these radios. The great thing about SainSonic’s RST599 is that you can just keep on using that even when it’s raining outside. The device is rated at IP66 which means that the thing is completely protected from dust, oil, and other non-corrosive materials. You can even have powerful jets of water attacking this thing and it will be fine.
The Water Proof Banner
What’s amazing is that I have used these while I was jumping in and out of a swimming pool, regularly diving in too. The thing chugged along as if nothing even happened. Once you go waterproof, there is no going back here.
Note on FCC Licencing for the RST599
To use the RST599, you need to remember that you still need a license from the FCC to operate radios that put out 5 watts or more power. First, it can be used on low power in FRS mode or (Family Radio Service) which does not require an FCC (Federal Communications Commission) license. However, if you choose to use it in GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) mode, you are required to obtain an FCC license at a cost of $65.00. You will be an illegal GMRS operator if you use this device without having the license. I already own a license, and thus did not need to take into account the cost associated with obtaining a license. Depending on your usage scenario, you may or may not opt to get a license from the FCC.
As far as the battery goes, the battery on the RST599 is rated at 2000 mAh, and it lasts me around 6-8 hours. However sometimes it lasts a lot lesser, and the performance is a bit iffy. The stock antenna is where they seem to have cut corners, it performs okay, but if you use an aftermarket one, you can see the performance difference easily. There is no DC power jack if you want to plug it in directly. You have to carry the dock around for this.
There have been problems with the initial batches of these radios, and this has given these a really bad name. However, SainSonic is a very reputed manufacturer in China, and they claim that they have fixed the QA issues that plagued their radios. I have not yet faced issues with my unit so I’d agree with them here on that point.
Before I end my review on the RST599, there is one thing to note here. The programming process on this walkie talkie is slightly different from the way you do it on most other radios. The change is nice, and I feel that it’s easy enough to do, but you may not like it. I have used this while hiking during rainy weather, and I have to say that I have nothing but good words about this product. I am very impressed by the features and build quality of this device.