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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Kenwood TH-D74A/E Help

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TH-D74A/E
Kenwood TH-D74A/E Reviews: 20 Average rating: 4.2/5 MSRP: $649$ USD
Description: This Dual Band Amateur radio is packed with convenient features and the
advantage of a digital transceiver with D-STAR, APRS support.

Featuring colour transflective TFT display that offers excellent visibility in day
or night. Plus, built-in GPS and Bluetooth support, as well as Micro USB and
microSD/SDHC this radio is ready to harness the exciting developments in radio

Compatible with the APRS communication protocol, which allows real-time two-
way data transmission by using packet communications. This stand-alone
device provides enjoyment of communications that make use of a variety of
features, including sharing of local and GPS positional information and message

Compatible with D-STAR, the amateur radio communications network that has
both voice and data modes. Both local and international communications are
possible through diverse operations including simplex communications, single
repeater relay communications and inter-repeater gateway communications.

Wideband and multimode reception
Built-in IF filter for comfortable reception
IF output mode
High-performance DSP voice processing
Tough weatherproofing meeting IP54/55 standards
Easily understandable pop-up screens
Built-in GPS
Product is in production.
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KK4SHF Rating: 5/5 Dec 6, 2016 17:57 Send this review to a friend
Easy to setup and use many features  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I only have this radio a week, I have a few other Dstar radios to compare with. Using Firmware 1.04
I was impressed with how easy it was to set up.
* Be sure to download the latest manual * The manual in the Box is incomplete. With the GPS repeater scan, I was on the air in minutes. After you turn on the GPS it can find a local Dstar repeater. That was amazing, considering my first experiences with Dstar.
Be sure to get the free software to load in repeaters and DVAP settings. After installing the driver on windows 10 it just fired up no issues. It is a no brainer to use. The audio is clearer that my other HTs, and the color screen is easy to use in any light. I like the way it holds the call signs when in Dstar. Putting in text and numbers is very easy. APRS works, want to spend more time with that feature. I did hear W1AW CW 7.0475 for practice. But I used a mag loop in my living room. It does have a internet Ferrite Bar antenna for SW. FM radio is good. I really like how easy it was to set up scanning groups. * Read the newest manual * Bottom line easy to us. I love it. 73
WS8B Rating: 4/5 Dec 1, 2016 14:20 Send this review to a friend
Swiss Army Knife of Radios  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Using an overused phrase, the TH-D74A is the “Swiss-Army-Knife” of radios. I purchased one from R and L in Ohio a week ago, so my evaluation will be only for my initial impression. I would like to rate the radio a five but the included documentation leaves the operator with a lot of un answered questions. Kenwood has posted a better manual located at:
Having been a ham for over 37 years, I have used many HT’s over my time. I remember fondly the Yaesu FT-207R – big as a brick and as heavy. The D74A is reminiscent of the older, simpler radios in appearance but that’s where the similarity ends. Turn it on and the color display will be impressive. The radio has sub-menus of sub-menus of sub-menus. A helpful multi-scroll key (joy stick) is in the upper center of the radio. This is used to manipulate the multitude of sub-menus.
Operating specifications and main features are covered in other reviews so I will stick to my initial observations. The radio does everything as advertised and more. The only weak feature is the low band reception via the internal antenna. I was not able to receive any stations with it. When I connected to the external antenna, the radio performed just like the big low band rigs. Sounded great.
All the keys, including the transmit switch are plastic. No worry about rubbing off the numbers and letters from rubber keys. The sound is awesome. Nice, loud and crisp. My vintage Kenwood speaker microphone worked like it was made for the radio.
This radio is not for the beginner or the faint of heart. To get the D-Star and APRS up and running took a lot of time. Without “how-to” videos on YouTube, I would have had a lot of trouble. Downloading the programming software helped.
Two important points – 1) make sure you have USB function = mass storage turned on (menu step 981) so that you can read and write to the micro SD card. 2) this is VERY important. Before loading the micro SD card export your radio image to the card, upload and save the image. Make a copy of the image and load your memory details to the image copy. Save it as Image 2 or some other name then load it up to your radio. Doing otherwise will cause some functions to be lost. When you do an upload for the first time, the software will warn you.

I will add that the display is outstanding. Being reflective, it works very well in bright sunlight. I also want to add that programming can be done 4 ways:

Via: direct input, mini USB, Micro SD card and Bluetooth(r). All fully programmed, the radio will search based on the GPS geospatial reference and download D-Star repeaters in the area. It will then upload the repeater parameters complete with frequency, tone, and appropriate D-Star parameters. In other words - no convoluted D-Star programming.

More to follow.

WS8B Rating: 5/5 Nov 30, 2016 10:46 Send this review to a friend
Correction to my comments  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Comments below - I did not mean D-97.....yet to come....I meant TH-D-74.

I will now give it a 5 that will average out with my 4 bringing my rating to 4.5. When I see better doccumentation, I will bring it to a 5.

I will add that the display is outstanding. Being reflective, it works very well in bright sunlight. I also want to add that programming can be done 4 ways:

Via: direct input, mini USB, Micro SD card and BlueTooth(r). All fully programmed, the radio will search based on the GPS geospatial reference and download D-Star repeaters in the area. It will then upload the repeater parameters complete with frequency, tone, and appropiate D-Star parameters. In other words - no convoluted D-Star programming.

More to follow.

EB1DY Rating: 5/5 Oct 28, 2016 08:08 Send this review to a friend
Buen talky y muy completo.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Hola a todos. Hace dos semanas que tengo el TH-D74 y tengo que decir que es un buen aparato. El apartado de APRS es muy completo, dando los datos de las estaciones recibidas con todo detalle en cuatro pantallas distintas. La parte de d-star solo la probé en directo. Funciona bien, pero no fue capaz que trasmitiera los datos del GPS (problema de configuración, supongo). El receptor, como alguno se queja por ahí, es un poco sordo en onda media y la ferrita interna es como si no estuviera...pero quien se compra este talky para escuchar radio nacional?. En HF y conectado a una antena externa recibe bastante bien, pero no llega al receptor del TH-F7. Recepción continua desde 100 khz a 524 Mhz en todos los modos, incluido SSB y CW. DV solo lo recibe de 136 a 174 y de 410 a 470. Muy buen acabado y no pesa mucho. La antena de porra que incluye va bien, y es comparable con las Diamond SR701 o SR519. El icono de carga de batería chifla completamente, no te puedes fiar mucho de el, ya que de repente se pone en rojo y al momento esta a la mitad, me imagino que será cuestión de firmware, del cual ya van por la tercera actualización. El equipo permite grabar todo lo que se escucha y lo que se habla. Con una tarjeta micro sd de 4gb da para unas 30 horas de grabación. También permite grabar la configuración en ella, para poder restaurarla, si por ejemplo le hacemos un reset. La pantalla, se ve estupendamente, incluso a plena luz del sol, aunque no permite cambiar el tamaño de la letra como hace el icom ic-92.

En definitiva un equipo que me gustó mucho, aunque si es verdad un poco caro. 73
KS6PD Rating: 5/5 Oct 24, 2016 21:17 Send this review to a friend
So far loving this  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First off, I'll address the elephant in the room, the price tag on this baby. In reality, i'm not going to complain about it. For a couple hundred more than the ID-51a plus, your getting a third band and APRS/TNC built in. This was the deciding factor(s) for me to fork out the $$. At least in my area, there is a lot of 220 activity, so the third band was worth it.

Prior to picking up this radio, I have never played with Dstar or APRS before. I wanted to get a Dstar radio as we now have a dstar net in our area and a number of my buddies are using dstar. APRS and 220 were an added bonus.

When I play with a radio, I like to see how user friendly it is prior to reading the manual. I went to HRO and started playing with the display model. Fortunately, another Ham who owns one was there in the store and gave me a quick demo. As a non-technical guy (compared to a great number of others in our great hobby) the radio was pretty simple to figure out. I took the plunge and picked one up. Within the hour, I was using our local dstar repeater and on APRS all at the same time.

When it comes to dstar, the radio is quite nice to use. Once the built-in GPS has your location marked, you can easily search for pre-programmed dstar repeaters near you. This will come in extremely handy while traveling.

APRS was a joy to use. Within a few minutes of configuring the APRS settings, I was tracking myself on I am an outdoors guy so this will be great while out hiking and doing other outdoor activities.

A quick comment about the free kenwood programing software. It's not bad, and I was able to program about 500 memories fairly easy. The radio connects to the computer via usb mini and made it a breeze to get it programmed with all of my analog frequencies.

I am quite impressed with this radio. I love the display, ease of use, and the features it offers. I have yet to upgrade from firmware 1.02 to 1.03 as I have read 1.03 is a bit buggy. This radio has def sparked my interest in new (to me) areas of the hobby. There is a yahoo group loaded with a lot of info regarding this info if curious.

Kenwood, if you come out with a dual band 2m/440 mobile version of this, I'll be first in line to buy.
NM6E Rating: 4/5 Oct 17, 2016 21:00 Send this review to a friend
Nice Tri-Band HT.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The last time I had a full featured HT was the Icom W24AT back in college over 20+ years ago and an IC-51A Plus that I sold to get this so my HT experience is very low, let alone zero experience with APRS and D-STAR (even with the IC-51A Plus). It all seemed to complicated a year ago.

Ok, I’ve only had the TH-D74A for a total of 3 days and this is my first “real” dance with D-STAR. I bought an ICOM 51A-Plus 7 months ago and I never once used it on DSTAR because the programing looked complicated and I was to “travel” with it and mainly use the analog modes 2m/440.

Well, I saw a DVAP video on Youtube and I was “hooked” because I live about 36 miles north of Dallas in an HOA so no outdoor antennas here, with very few repeaters. The ease of use and configuration of the TH-D74 and it’s Tri-Band capability is what attracted me.

Having never used the IC-51A in DSTAR mode, I sold it. I bought the TH-D74 and the DVAP 430Mhz Dongle. I must have watched every TH-D74 video on YouTube in 2 days as well as anything DVAP related. It can be overwhelming and I went from never having made a QSO or knowing how to configure D-STAR to working folks with an HT around the world, not to mention my local analog repeaters…

Here are the Pro’s for me, as a beginner into DSTAR:
1. Good size to weight ratio for me.
2. Free programming software with a (not included but easily sourced) USB to mini-USB is what makes this easy to program.
3. Great Audio Quality – works for me, loud and a tunable EQ is nice.
4. The Free MCP-74 software, Firmware Upgrade Software found on the Kenwood web-site saves you money from having to pay for a 3rd party software. (And they work on my MACBOOK Air under VMWARE Fusion with Win 7 Pro and WIN 10 using Bootcamp on a MacMini) Just make sure you use the correct COM Ports/Virtual Ports. I have a MicroHam MicroKeyer and the “self” assigned virtual port the Kenwood software assigned was in conflict so I had to edit the actual comport under Device Manager (overlapped the MicroHam virtual ports) and assign it out of the range of the Micro Ham stuff. Worked like a charm.
5. I downloaded APRS Droid and connected via BlueTooth the THD74 to my Samsung Galaxy Tab E via BlueTooth. – works fine. APRS works great. I guess one could try using a Blue Tooth Head set and use VOX mode on the HT (instead of the PTT)..I have not.
6. Once I figured out what to enter in DV mode (CQCQ, U, L etc) using the DVAP (see Don’s W6GPS YouTube videos for the TH-D74 and his DVAP,_ the end of the video shows memory configurations) it was a snap and you need to get the 8 characters to make it all work nicely when sending commands from the D74 to the DVAP.
7. The color display is really nice and easy to navigate once you understand the numbering schema.
8. Overall, it’ an expensive Tri-Band HT but it is well thought out. if I could make it work, theirs hope for you. There should be more videos with more gotchas to be made aware of. (with some headaches due to bugs, poor documentation, and spending more time on YouTube videos just trying to understand the D-STAR fundamentals) .

If they come out with a mobile version, I would probably get one as well. I like the thing so far and living in the “quiet” North Texas area where there are not many repeaters, this brings the fun to an HT with the aid of those DVAP/DVMEGA Dongles for D-STAR Access Points with an internet connection.

1. DO NOT UPGRADE the firmware if you are on Ver 1.2 and attempt to load Ver 1.3. There is a a BUG when operating in any Digital DV or DR mode, with Ver 1.3 on the Kenwood website. The radio resets/power cycles in Digital modes that is introduced when you enable certain functions, a combination of Battery Save function enabled and GPS Display information. Stay off Ver 1.3 if you want to use Digital modes. A new Firmware upgrade is expected by end of month but there is a workaround noted below provided by Kenwood Support:
a. Set Menu 630 OFF (GPS INFO IN FRAME – must be OFF)
b. Set Menu 920 OFF (BATTERY SAVER Menu – must be OFF)
2. The MCP-74 Memory Control Program is has “quirks” when you program memory channels for Analog repeaters. When you configure the Tone for the repeaters in the drop down menu, the information is all transferred to the radio BUT the “T” for TONE is not enabled when you select the Memory for the repeater you are wanting to using, you need to manually press the #8 button TONE and you will then get the “T” lit up in the display.. You can check which Tone you are transmitting by pressing (F) 8 and it is what you had programmed using the MCP-74 software on your PC.
3. A reviewer complained about poor “AM and Broadcast Band reception” with the rubber duck, it has poor reception, but then theirs plenty of free internet streaming for most any radio station. Weather stations with an outdoor antenna are OK with the D74. Attach a coax to the HT and use your outdoor antenna or use an app on a phone/stream radio. It’s a nice feature but I wouldn’t call it a negative. This is NOT a SW receiver. You may have better luck with strong stations in the FM-Broadcast band but your rubber duck wont be enough, generally speaking.
4. The radio, in my view does consume battery with all the features enabled, Blue Tooth, GPS, APRS, etc. You may want to consider a DC power cable to a power supply and an extra pack. A speaker mic would also be handy if using it on the desk-top.
5. There are no “leather cases” or neoprene cases offered from Kenwood, all you get is a belt clip, no-strap. I suspect it’s a matter of time when 3rd party vendors will show up.
6. As far as I can tell, there is no way to manually program the radio with simple information for like repeater setup. I haven’t figured out a VFO to Memory write sequence.
7. The manual is REALLY BASIC and you wont get much out of it. I was starting to get overwhelmed trying to figure to how to program it by reading the book. The video’s are better on YouTube to get you started as long as your computers can see the COM port connected to your TH-D74A using the software.

Overall, I am happy I bought it but as with being “first” with a new design, it has it’s growing pains with bugs and mediocre documentation such that you need to go to YouTube to see someone do it and follow along. For how I plan on using it, (more than I did the IC-51A Plus) when I travel using the DVAP to a MAC/PC combined with the TH-D74A is a win win. If and when they come out with a combo 2m-220-440 mobile radio, I will get it. It has what the other radios are currently missing, in my view, although I hear the IC51A+ (Plus) is rumored to have similar functionality as a DVAP but you need cables to connect everything. The APRS Droid is done via Blue Tooth to the radio and no cables!

N7MSD Rating: 3/5 Oct 16, 2016 05:28 Send this review to a friend
Needs Work  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Note: This review is of firmware version 1.02. I fully expect some things to be fixed in newer revisions.

I finally got over to HRO here in Phoenix to check out the TH-D74A. I came in very excited and left with a big let-down (and, needless to say, didn't buy it). Let's go down the list of things they can fix (with firmware updates) and those they can't (design flaws).

Things that can't be fixed: the deafness. I saw the video comparing the radio to the TH-F6A and my very last test was doing the comparison myself: it was even worse than the video! Most AM/MF broadcast stations below 1 MHz barely came in, if at all, whereas the F6A was like a standard transistor radio from the 60's or early 70's. No exaggeration. I couldn't test HF because the bands were totally dead. (VHF/UHF seemed to be ok in the ham bands, and I didn't test outside them where the manual states sensitivity is 1/2 to 1/3 of the ham bands.)

What can maybe be fixed: Bluetooth was SEVERELY buggy! I brought with me my Plantronics Backbeat Sense headset, and the D74 connected with Headset Profile (HSP), as the manual states. From here it gets weird: after pairing, connecting involves the radio pretending to receive a phone call as far as the headset it concerned, which you have to answer--after that, it's streaming audio as though you were on a phone call. Hitting the phone key on the headset disconnects it and the only way to re-connect is by resetting the connection to the radio (such as BT off/on). No other control works and there doesn't appear to be any way to do PTT. (Unfortunately they didn't have an ID-5100 that I could pair with to see if this is common with 2-way radios and I didn't ask about the Icom headset with PTT. Kenwood also doesn't make a BT headset accessory for this radio as of this writing.) In any case, I have no idea if a fix in the main firmware can fix this or the BT is totally separate. Note that BT data speed is only 128kbps as well, while USB is 12Mbps (despite being USB2).

Oh, right, its the only HT I know of with a micro-USB connector and you can access the micro-SD card from it like a smart phone--what other HT has this? No special cable needed! You can do this from BT as well, but the speed is a killer for anything besides programming.

Programming software is also free, unlike most manufacturers these days.

Besides these, I had a hard time with the manual, and couldn't figure out how to get DR mode to work. I also couldn't see how DV sounded as the local repeater is on the fritz, though FM from another repeater at the same location was told I sounded "nasally" (though I have a naturally nasally voice). There are mic settings so the D74 may be able to fix this, but I didn't mess with them.

The menu structure, as mentioned by others, if overall far superior to Icom and the screen is gorgeous eye candy, though I would make sure to get some sort of screen protector for that reason. However, I had problems with parts of it, especially indicators showing what was turned on or what. I'm hoping better docs and/or newer firmware can fix this.

Bottom line: this radio gives D-STAR people what Icom refuses to (a full keyboard, color display, and a UI that actually makes sense and can be accessed with a 3 digit number), but has its share of issues to the point that I can't justify the USD$649 price--for now. This radio is also thicker and some people may not like that, but I do because it will stand up: it annoys me to no end that I'm constantly knocking down my ID-51+, even from simple vibration of walking around. The larger size also makes speaker audio FAR superior at lower frequencies. Once the price comes down and with some more firmware updates, there's a decent chance of me buying this radio.

(If you read down this far, I apologize for typos and what-not, I'm typing this at 5:15am from work with lots of interruptions, but I believe I need to get this info out there.)
KF7VWN Rating: 5/5 Oct 13, 2016 05:28 Send this review to a friend
Excellent HT  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Ok, I have had mine for 1 week now and I love it! It is easily my new favorite. Yes, its expensive. I got over that when I saw how well it performs, and you will too hi hi. APRS and DStar setup were both a breeze and I barely even needed to look into the manual, as it was very intuitive. GPS fix is nearly as quick as my smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S6), and also will get a fix inside buildings which my D72 is hit and miss on. The wideband RX is excellent; it will receive all modes, to include SSB and V/UHF AM. I tested it out listening to the ATIS and departure control freqs from a nearby airport and it worked great, though a better antenna might be in order if you like to listen to air bands or HF freqs regularly. I also tested it listening to a few SSB QSO's on 40m and it worked well. I give it an overall 5, because I have yet to find any negatives. My other HT's are: Kenwood TH-D72, Icom ID-31A, Yaesu VX-7R, and a Wouxun (which was the first radio I got when I got my ticket) to name a few.
NA0B Rating: 5/5 Oct 10, 2016 09:40 Send this review to a friend
A modern HT   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a modern radio where all the connections can be implemented in Bluetooth. It was about time!

APRS works very well (as in the TH-D72).
DSTAR was equaly easy to set up. You can download a list of repeaters from the Kenwood site.

I have had it only for a weekend, but I am quite happy I purchased it.
VA2SS Rating: 5/5 Oct 8, 2016 14:06 Send this review to a friend
Great HT from a great company!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just received the TH-D74, since my first sighting back in May at the Hamvention. My first impression are excellent. The audio quality is outstanding. The color display is sharp with a good resolution and let the user having the benefit to have plenty of information on the display.

We are able to hear the difference between an ICOM ID-51 and the TH-D74... the DSP is working properly.

A full featured HT with Bluetooth, SD card, etc.

I highly recommend this HT.

73 de Jeff | VA2SS
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