Sorry, the radio still has desert all over it.
The transceiver itself is the (in)famous Baofeng UV5R-A. A lot of the complaints people have about the menus being poorly laid out are frankly true. With that said, when I talk into the radio people hear me and are able to understand what I said. I am also able to understand them. I programmed the repeaters in my area into it with CHIRP, bypassing the obnoxious menu.
One common (and in my experience valid) complaint about the Baofengs is the shit-tacular antenna they come with. I picked up a knockoff of a Nagoya antenna from eBay for about $5 a while back (they don't seem to be available any longer). After doing this, I was able to pick up a lot more traffic than I could previously.
For just walking around, this is really all that you need. However, if you want to use your radio in a vehicle this won't quite do it.
This gear allowed me to communicate with other people a few miles away. It is true that I had some issues while crossing the Cascades (line of sight stuff), I wouldn't be surprised if people with nicer radios had similar problems. At the end of the day, the Baofeng gives you a lot to work with for very little money. I would like to get something nicer at some point, but this will do for the time being.