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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: 34 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $629.95
Description: Dstar VHF/UHF Handheld tranceiver
Product is in production.
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KV9O Rating: 4/5 Jan 21, 2016 20:35 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I love my ID-51A. Comming from an IC-91AD I can see many improvements in D-Dstar functionality. While trivial, it does seem like they cheapened a few things. The charger is made in china and seems cheap, The 91AD feels like a tougher radio. The belt clip on the 51 a is clip on plastic vs the 92AD's metal belt clip. While I do miss the numeric keys, I like the larger display. (Dont worry, you can still program DTMF memories). Despite this I feel this is one of Icom's best radios yet and a pleasure to use.
AD4Y Rating: 4/5 Jan 11, 2016 04:45 Send this review to a friend
Great D-star beginners radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
A friend got me this for Christmas and i love this radio, for beginners like me in d-star is great. it works great, great audio and features. the only thing is FRS frequencies and other frequencies you can't program it in unless you mod the unit.

but everything is is great, many accessories which you can find the oem ones cheaper too. offers lots of help too.
KB7TQD Rating: 4/5 Nov 3, 2015 15:30 Send this review to a friend
Icom Goodness With Caveats  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Icom has made a very fine radio in the ID-51A. Performance is great, audio is superb, usability is... what you'd expect out of a non-DTMF keypad radio. Menu-based radios are here to stay, so might as well get used to them. The usability isn't bad, though.

I love the dual receive and D* performance. VHF is great, also. I can attest that it's waterproof, as I've used it many times in the rain for hours at a time with various volunteer groups.

I *hate* the "battery" that they include. I put quotes on "battery" because the capacity is next to worthless. As other reviewers have said, you WILL be getting a high capacity battery at some point. Personally, I suggest you get a knock-off on eBay and save $60+. How Icom can charge such exorbitant prices on accessories... I digress.

I'm not thrilled with the form factor. With the stock battery, it feels great. Put on a high cap one and it feels like an actual brick. I, personally miss the ability to add battery capacity by making your radio longer. Making it thicker just feels... wrong. A certain cheap Chinese manufacturer sure got it right on this point. (*cough*Baofeng*cough*)

The belt clip is an atrocity. Due to the length and extra width at the top, it's fallen off what it's clipped to (belt, pocket, molle loops, etc) many, many times. The (very nice) upgraded antenna they send out with the radio is completely ruined because the belt clip has dropped the radio on its antenna so many times. Do not trust it.

So, those are my gripes. But, I still feel like it's still a solid 4-star radio. If it broke, I'd probably get another despite dwindling D* activity in Utah. It just ticks a lot of the checkboxes. But it's not perfect. If you find the perfect radio, let me know.
KR4OP Rating: 4/5 Aug 30, 2015 20:23 Send this review to a friend
Great HT  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought the ID-51A+ and I must say I'm very impressed! The audio is superb and the radio and controls feel very solid. The only thing I'm put off with is the stock battery. Make no mistake, If you get one you will be getting the extended life battery. Just monitoring a 3hr DSTAR net, ran the battery down from full charge. Other than the battery, it's a great radio and the experience of using it on DSTAR is amazing...73's
KE8BSR Rating: 5/5 Jul 31, 2015 09:11 Send this review to a friend
Excellent D-STAR Platform  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've had this H/T for about a month, and still learning it - or more exactly - learning about D-STAR.

For a regular VHF/UHF rig, it is very nice. Built like a little brick, charges very quickly, GPS allows you to locate the nearest FM repeater (Anniversary or Plus model, anyway), and the micro SD card allows me to store 50 separate repeater directories - one for each state, again, with the GPS telling me the closest one.

Where this rig really shines is in it's D-STAR capability. Now first, I'm new to D-STAR so I can't appreciate this "new way" verses the "old way" setup and configuration process, but it appears that the ID-51A's setup process is nearly fool-proof. The downside is that - independent of ICOM's manuals - you *need* to *understand* what D-STAR is and what it attempts to accomplish. Google and YouTube is your friend. The ICOM manuals (both the paper one and the 400 page advanced manual that comes on the enclosed CD) step you through setting up the D-STAR fields. But again, unless you *know* D-STAR, you won't know *why* you are configuring the fields. The ICOM manuals cover the 'why' only very lightly. Again, research!

If nothing else, you NEED NEED NEED to register with your local D-STAR repeater. Bascially, you get on the web, go to the local D-STAR repeater site, put in your call sign and email address, create a password, and wait for the sys admin to email you back and say "You're in"... THEN you need to log in, update a few fields, then you are REALLY in... :)

Now you can actually *use* D-STAR in it's intended design.

But like I said in the beginning, I'm still learning, and so far, I've found nothing in the ID-51A that is limiting regarding D-STAR for my intended application use.
VK5FMSB Rating: 5/5 May 24, 2015 08:29 Send this review to a friend
A true dream to use even for the new ham  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have a problem with being a ham. That problem is that I want to buy every new thing I see. In Australia we are limited in ham radio shops where we can walk into and see the items IRL.

This month is the 12 month anniversary of receiving my ham ticket. To-date I've amassed a number of Icom transceivers. My first HT was the Yaesu FT1DR and I found its menu system confusing.

I was in the market for another ht that was easier to use for Ecomm work I do. I just happened to be in the region of a ham radio shop and decided to have a look at the Icom ID-51A anniversary edition. I'd already have read reviews of this radio.


Small size in weight and dimensions
High power
Easy to program
Easy menus
Excellent audio on both tx&rx
Affordable accessories
Water proof/resistant
Different colour options
You can actually name your channels fully due to the great number of available scrolls if really long.
Scanning features and options
GPS is a bonus even if I employ on limited basis.
Well built. Ruggedly built
User interface is really good
You only need to read the manual a couple of times and put the manual away. The manual will rarely be used

As a priority I purchased the higher capacity battery as I do a lot of Ecomm work and needed a more reliable source of power. No problems with that choice.
Also purchased was an OEM pouch/case. It's very well crafted and provides protection from scratches but not so much from high impact shocks.
An OEM external mic was purchased. Works fine but the audio is tinny but it's no worse than a Yaesu. I guess I was a little let down given the audio straight from the ht speaker itself was very clear with quality sound.

Lastly...I've been able to access repeaters easier with the Icom ID-51A than the Yaesu. Next I'm going to diversify my units as I want the ability to use echoink and WIRES in my radios.
KK4TBJ Rating: 5/5 Apr 28, 2015 16:11 Send this review to a friend
Anniversay edition; with or without DSTAR, it's good  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This HT is head and shoulders above any HT I have used to date, digital or analog. While it was remarkably easy to program a few frequencies in, I used the RT software to populate with all that I wanted to use and it worked flawlessly.
Reception has been very good using both the standard-included antenna and the long antenna supplied with the Anniversary edition: FM and the air band are outstanding, AM is fairly deaf.
I have a few external antenna projects I am working on and remain confident that the radio's capabilities will be more fully realized(D-Star will be used with the external due to my fringe location).
Even if I chose to not use D-Star, this radio remains more satisfying(and it performs better) than the highly featured and capable VX-7R and/or bargain priced but solid basic Baofeng HT's I've owned.
I have a blue one but that matters far less than the great value that the radio was at the discounted price of $399.
One thing I've experienced; ordered the cable for the android device hook up and it's not readily available at the I cancelled it and hopefully pick it up just down the road and maybe at a price lower than $70+.
Some of the things I really like aside from what I have already mentioned: can actually name your channels fully due to the great number of available scrolls if really long.
2.Scanning features and options
3.Audio is strong.
4.GPS is a bonus even if I employ on limited basis.
5. well built.
6. user interface is really good, and, though complicated, you can figure it out by button presses and patience, even if not using the manual.

I am probably missing something, but that more or less sums up my opinion of this ICOM HT. It's the kind of radio that makes you want to use it frequently. I don't think I'd ever invest in a D-Star mobile but I can live with the cost of this HT for all it does.
KB9MNM Rating: 5/5 Apr 3, 2015 13:24 Send this review to a friend
Love this HT!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is my first dabble into D-Star. I bought this radio to replace old HTs anyway, and thought I would give it a try. The programming is easy once you figure out the .icf file stuff. The audio quality is very nice, and if you've never heard DV before, my kids say it sounds like a 'Mr Speak and Spell." The radio feels solid in my hand and is very comfortable. Not too thrilled about the belt clip though. I carry this radio with me almost all the time and cant wait to get a hotspot set up so I can do more D-Star work!
WX4GPS Rating: 3/5 Mar 6, 2015 07:30 Send this review to a friend
Still no 5 star radio even after releasing PLUS model  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned the original ID-51A, and wished they would have implemented FM analog repeater searching. Well they did the unexpected, they released a PLUS model, I guess the memory structure of the original did not allow it to be a firmware update. So I upgraded to the Plus, and wish I had not. I am not gaining much and this feature that I was excited to get was poorly implemented. You have 500 regular FM repeater and simplex, and 700 D-Star memories that you access in DR mode. So what I was expecting to happen in the new model, is you would be able to assign lat/long to the 500 regular memory channels and using the quick button in memory mode, have an option to Show nearest, and display the closest repeaters or memory channels to you.

Well what I learned the hard way, is they only implemented this in the DR mode (or what is labeled in the brochure as your D-Star Memories. So now you have to use up your memories for D-Star for FM repeaters. So now you can't store as many D-Star machines. Seemed to be a poorly designed implementation and they lead me to believe now you can search your regular bank. At this point I doubt they can fix it via firmware again, and it is what it is. At this point Im not sure why they even now offer a DR mode and regular bank of memories. They should have made it all one and used it as you seen fit if everything was to be searchable as implied. I do hope other manufactures that offer radios with GPS will implement this better. I think every memory bank should be able to be assigned a lat long, if you leave it blank, then its not part of the search (like simplex, etc).

Other then that the radio has a nice interface and works as described. has a decent feature set. Oh and one mor quibble is you can use the quick button to turn on the tone, but you have to go elsewhere to pick what tone it is... I think that wasn't thought out that well either. Now that I can see them fixing in a firmware, however were on the 3rd generation of the radio (original,anniversary,plus) and nothing like that has changed.

I know we all perceive how things should be done, I tend to home people agree with my two complaints, it almost seemed like a no brainer to do these things this way, and they didn't.
KK9H Rating: 5/5 Oct 20, 2014 09:27 Send this review to a friend
Vast improvement in D-Star use  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have been active in D-Star since 2007 when our club put a D-Star repeater on the air in Chicago. My first D-Star HT was an IC-91AD which I liked very much. Since I am one of those who likes to upgrade along with technology, I recently replaced it with the ID-51A. I do admit that having a good familiarity with how D-Star works did shorten my learning curve with this radio and it truly highlighted the significant improvement in how much the ID-51A simplifies D-Star operation. That is the #1 reason for buying this HT. The "DR" mode is tremendous. If you travel, finding and actually beginning to use the nearest D-Star repeater is a snap! My radio also has a database of regular FM repeaters in it so my travel comment applies to that mode too. Very handy! The stock battery seems to have a nice lifespan to it and the HT is slim enough to fit into a shirt pocket which makes it very easy to take with you. Both transmit and receive audio sound very good in both D-Star and FM modes. I think there is a significant improvement in D-Star audio over the IC-91AD. It took a little while to get used to the logic of navigating the menus, but once you do get used to it, finding things becomes easy and straightforward. This is a nicely made HT. Everything fits together well, the buttons have a nice feel to them and the display is bright and easy to read. I do not share the expressed shortcomings of some previous reviewers, but that may be because I bought this radio to use primarily as a D-Star radio and to keep handy in my briefcase.
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