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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Icom ID-51A Help

Reviews Summary for Icom ID-51A
Icom ID-51A Reviews: 24 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $629.95
Description: Dstar VHF/UHF Handheld tranceiver
Product is in production.
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HB9TNW Rating: 3/5 Aug 4, 2014 00:17 Send this review to a friend
Not really excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The first impressions are that ICOM designed a nice radio, easy to use. In the details I am missing the ICOM quality. For example the desktop-charger BC-202 generate HF-interference! I think we have enough noise on HF and now ICOM build also such bad devices. Incredible.
Another Problem is that you can have a noise during the external power-operation. In the ICOM manual you find: "ID-51A/E’s charging circuit may generate certain spurious signals; the S-meter appears, or noise may be heard. When you operate the transceiver while charging, and if you cannot receive signals correctly, set “Charging (Power ON)” in the MENU screen to OFF."
In my opinion
the positive points are:
easy to use;
a good display;
a good manual;
programming Software.

the negative points are:
no possibilty to use DTMF on keypad;
audio-quality in the digital-mode;
HF-Noise created from the power-charger.
K0JEG Rating: 4/5 Jul 2, 2014 21:28 Send this review to a friend
So Close, yet not even  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is my first Dstar radio, but I've had several HT's over the years. I generally agree with most of what's been written, but I also think there were a lot of poor design decisions made.

The positives:
Very good receiver. Nice size if you have big hands. Speaker-mic connection maintains water resistance. Easy to use, and easy to program with supplied software or RT systems (with the cloning cable or USB). Screen display is sharp and legible. Long name field means plenty of characters for repeater names. "DR" mode with local repeater DB is very handy (although sometimes a little bit optimistic). Recorder function, I use it to record a west coast net that's past my bedtime and will use it for satellite work. It only records when the squelch is open so you can save a lot of time too.

The negatives:
Broadcast bands, and maybe weather band are a waste. Imagine if that expense and circuit board space went toward a Bluetooth chip (like the ID-5100 option) so that you could use it with off the shelf headsets and your smartphone camera (like the ID-5100)?

Repeater DB should include FM repeaters too. This is a premium product in the age of the $30 Baofeng, and Icom had better realize what they're up against. Having the entire 2M/70CM ARRL repeater directory in your HT would be an excellent selling point.

USB on the radio. No excuse for this one. I thought Kenwood settled this one with the USB port on the TH-d72 back in 2010. Heck, even Icom's HF rigs have USB interfaces! And why is their $75 USB-data cable incompatible with Windows 8.1 and OS-X? For $75 you'd better be able to get someone to write some drivers!
Stock battery life is terrible. I got less than 5 hours out of it when out hiking just monitoring a local DV and FM repeater. The 1880mA battery is a necessity, unless you plan on just keeping it in the car or house.
N4SJW Rating: 5/5 May 17, 2014 19:32 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: months
I'm in to my third month and this is an excellent HT. You buy it because you want to work DSTAR otherwise the price doesn't justify the purchase. If $ if important to you get an FT60 or equivalent. Living in Denver metro area we have several DSTAR repeaters and this HT works well with all of them. (a note to the fellow below, if you can't hit the DSTAR repeater but can hit other analog repeaters, maybe it's the repeater and not your ID51).

Likes: dual VFOs you can easily toggle to a mono VFO; big beefy belt clip; fits well in my hand, just abt the right size; customizable audio TX/RX.

Dislikes: you really need to get the programming software for this radio; audio note, I initially had the base boost on TX and RX but was getting reports of "muddy" audio. I change audio settings off the base boost (normal) and added treble boost and put mike gain to 4 and that is getting excellent audio reports (YMMV). Battery life, with the GPS working the stock battery doesn't last long so I got the bigger batter and that works well for several hours.

Wish it had: easier way to bring up and unlink reflectors. Dual DSTAR RX like the 5100.

Yes it's around $500 but if you want best of breed DSTAR HT, this is a good choice. It's waterproof and an easy carry radio for all around use.
WA7KGX Rating: 2/5 Apr 22, 2014 09:47 Send this review to a friend
Oops  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
At ten times the cost of a Baofeng, I expected several times the practical utility. Not in this radio.

The main feature of this radio is D-STAR. Unfortunately there don't seem to be any fully functional D-STAR repeaters in the Portland Oregon area. Using an external antenna I can get a response to a D-STAR repeater about 12 miles away. I can hit a co-located FM repeater with a Baofeng and a short stubby.

The evolution of digital modes seems to be moving awat from the somewhat low performance but overly costly proprietary D-STAR codec.

The advertising for the ID-51 mentions the ability to locate nearby repeaters using the built-in GPS. Unfortunately, this only covers D-STAR repeaters, not FM repeaters. If you are close enough to a working D-STAR repeater chances are your smartphone can get service. This unexpected limitation in a major feature killed the deal for me. I returned the ID-51a and learned a $90 lesson.

KT4EP Rating: 5/5 Mar 21, 2014 09:01 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've had mine 48 hours and love it. My last HT was an ICOM IC-24AT @ $420 in 1992. The ID-51 is light years ahead for just $100 more. I bought the RT Systems programming for the rig, a nice little hand microphone, fast charger, and already see the need for the higher capacity battery. Local UHF D-STAR repeater here (Memphis) is excellent and I have absolutely no problem accessing it in D-STAR mode with a half watt. The repeater is about 6 miles away. The audio is just fine. The radio is sturdy and solid feeling. Broadcast AM/FM, GPS, analog 2 meter and 440, NOAA weather with alert, voice recording, QSO recording, uses a micro SD card, I could go on and on. Like my venture into psk-31 two years ago after 15 years off the air, the ICOM ID 51 is renewing my ham radio enthusiasm.
KG7GNI Rating: 4/5 Mar 9, 2014 18:54 Send this review to a friend
great Radio, Difficult To Use  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have both this and the Kenwood T6A. I primarily use the 51A because it's reception is so much better. I really miss wide band receive, though, and setting this radio for D-Star is so complex I still haven 't figured it out. I've gotten on D-Star repeaters in Portland, but, here, in Southern Oregon, I am forced to use a DV-Dongle, the 70cm version, that I simply cannot make work. The instructions for both products are terrible. For all of that, the radio is so well made, the GPS and memories are sensational, the controls well laid out, that it would recommend it to anyone. Typical top notch Icom quality with typical a Icom poorly written, often incomprehensible, user manuals. With this being such a common praise and complaint about their products, I would think a Icom might invest a tiny bit of money into hiring an American technical writer for their amateur radio products. With that major defect handled, this would get 5 stars.
Mike, KG7GNI
VE2DC Rating: 5/5 Feb 12, 2014 10:27 Send this review to a friend
Sounds fine  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
OK, this is preliminary. I have only played with one that my friend has bought as I helped him get started with D-Star. I have however talked to him many times on D-Star and Analog. It sounds fine...D-Star sounds like D-Star... OK given its first generation AMBE chip... it doesn't sound as good as Motorola MOTOTRBO, for example. But that's the mode, not the radio. It sounds as good as any D-Star radio I've worked. On analog, it sounds great. We are using D-Star and Free-Star repeaters locally and it decodes flawlessly. I think I'll get one for myself ;-)
KC0KW Rating: 5/5 Jan 24, 2014 12:34 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Portable Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
This unit is small, conformable in your hand and easy to use, It works great. The "D" star feature makes it a keeper. Perfect for a home or car anywhere radio. I use mine on the boat. It is great for using into a "D" star hot spot. This is a very well made radio with excellent performance. It also has a lot of features. But unlike some other brands that offer features with less radio performance. This it is a great radio first that happens to have extra features.
WB8NUT Rating: 5/5 Dec 14, 2013 07:25 Send this review to a friend
Great D-Star/FM Handheld  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This radio is so simple to set-up on D-Star, even a cave man can do it.

Seriously, the only thing a ham really needs to do to get on DStar is program in their own call. Other than that, everything is pre-programmed for you. Does not get any easier than that folks.

The built in GPS is great and the DPRS capability of most D-Star repeaters is seamless at getting your position into the APRS network.

I have never had an issue using it with any of the D-Star repeaters here locally or when I travel. I also have used it on FM with excellent results.

The 51A also has dual receive so you can listen to both a D-Star and FM repeater at the same time.

This generation of D-Star radio is the easiest to use on D-Star as well as FM.

Some lament on having a keypad, but there is hardly the need for a keypad now. It is easy to direct entry of a frequency using the existing controls on the radio. Don't miss the keypad at all.

If you are interested in a great D-Star/FM dual-band handheld, this is the one to buy.
M0JFK Rating: 5/5 Nov 28, 2013 03:19 Send this review to a friend
Review ID-51E  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
What a great radio. A little bit menu intensive for the operator and confusing if your just starting out in the hobby but the more advanced licensed user will soon get to grips with this radio and the operations of it.

I have read most of the other reviews on here and I think sometimes people can be a little bit to critical of the radio for what I think are trivial reasons.

I for one think the quality of the receive audio on the standard analog and digital mode is perfect and you can even set the base, treble, tone in one of the menus to suit your ear so whats the problem?

The transmit audio was a little muffled on the first batch of these radios because the radio was designed to be waterproof so the little microphone near the output speaker had a plastic waterproof membrane over it that you had to remove on the first generation models. Not the case now with the new batch of radios now marketed.

I cant fault the radio the buttons are all sweet and positive to operate and they have a nice firm feel to them and they don't feel like they are about to fall off if you push or turn them a little to hard like they do on some of it's competitors radios from the like of Yaesu and Kenwood.

Sorry but the radio is so good I cant find any faults with it other than on the European (E)model of this radio the auto repeat function for the repeaters is not enabled and is not even an option either...sad.

The radio is just a tad expensive but the quality of the radio is reflected in that price for sure.

Go buy one you will not regret it I promise you and don't take to heart most of the negatives on this radio in previous reviews because sometimes I think people just feel they have to be very critical of the radio just for the sake of the review and quite often it is just down to user setup for example the complaint of bad receive? Just go in the menu and set it up to your liking, quite easy really.

First generation radio with muffled audio on TX? just remove the membrane or fit a external lapel microphone and this makes the radio even a more of a joy to use.

Marks out of ten? I give it eleven that's how good it is. Or am I just easily pleased?

7 3 from Peter (M0JFK)
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