If you do not have a lot of knowledge of DMR and programming then I suggest you purchase your equipment from a reputable dealer that provides the radio(s) with updated code plugs and an after sales service to assist with updates and queries.
Please do not think I’m pushing Motorola equipment
I currently only have Motorola radios and thus know more about them than other makes
Now to get that all important first DMR radio! The choice may be based on finances, ease of use, ease of programming or any other reason. There are pros and cons to all radios of which some are down to the way the radio is manufactured or designed and others based on the user as we all have our opinions on features.
The best way to choose in our opinion is to try out a radio – see it’s functionality – check the CPS. Check what repeaters are in your area and what you may use. UHF repeaters are the most common – there are around 70 DMR repeaters in the UK for amateur use of which around 2 are VHF.
Also will you use a handheld at home instead of a mobile/base unit? Some manufacturers have an “elite” model such as the Motorola SL4000 – it’s digital only – Tx output max 2w – looks like a mobile phone so very discreet (except the price tag). Hytera also have an “elite” model however it works on both analogue and digital but also low power.
If you plan to use your hand held at home or mobile instead of purchasing a mobile unit, then please ensure that you can connect an external antenna. The Motorola DP4xxx range to not allow for external antenna’s to be connected. The same with some “elite” models such as the SL4000.
Some radios come with programming cables and software (CPS) in the box (or a webpage to download the software from). Check if these are included with the models you are looking at more especially the CPS. Most manufacturers provide a CPS free of charge – you just have to download it. Motorola is one of those that doesn’t. However taking a personal opinion, for the ease of programming numerous models of radio – the Motorola CPS is much more user friendly to use from my experience (having used the Connect Systems and reviewed one of the Hytera CPS).
And as I pointed out at the start, if you are not up to date with DMR and how to maintain a code plug then buy from a local vendor that offers updates and after sales service. Too many people are purchasing the cheapest models from China and then think they can get a code plug. Many users that do their own code plugs create them for their use so the content may not suite you. Now I personally do not agree with selling of code plugs however if one wants to save money on a radio, then you may end up having to pay someone to do a code plug tailored for your requirements. Some Repeater Keepers do post code plugs on their websites however these will be generic or based on their region. Rather spend a little more, get to know the mode, the CPS and understand Code Plugs before shopping around.