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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Icom IC-T81A/E Help

Reviews Summary for Icom IC-T81A/E
Icom IC-T81A/E Reviews: 52 Average rating: 3.7/5 MSRP: $290
Description: Quad band handheld transiever
Product is in production.
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You can write your own review of the Icom IC-T81A/E.

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KO0KY Rating: 3/5 Sep 17, 2007 08:42 Send this review to a friend
An OK radio, but needs some work  Time owned: more than 12 months
First off, due to some wierd circumstances, I got this radio for free, so the value-for-the-money factor is high for me. It was literally a discarded piece of equipment where I worked, along with a PCR-1000, which were both given to me. At that price, I can live with a few problems.

The main problem I have is the multi-control. I'm 6'4" and have the clumsy hands to match. To be fair, I have that problem with all handheld radios made nowadays, as smaller is the trend. Hitting the 'sweet spot' in the center of the control is really hard for me.

Secondly, the original battery is too weak. I got the Batteries America 1400+ mah upgrade, and I am very pleased. Like one reviewer above said, who buys a handy to rag chew?

One problem I have, which is probably not the fault of the radio design, is the center conductor of the charger input broke off. This was before I got it, and it happened in a shop floor environment being used by non hams, so I don't blame Icom for that one. However, I had to get a drop in charger. With the larger battery, the drop in charger doesn't work, so I have to take the battery pack off and drop it in with a rigged up spacer. This is every time I charge!

The multiple bands are great, but I live in the sticks where only 2M is available, and we're getting a 440 repeater soon. The ability to listen to an FM station as the mood hits is great as well.

Knowing what I know now, I would probably not buy this rig as an original purchase. However, it seems to be rugged, I have it now, and I couldn't beat the price, so I'm sticking with it for the duration.
K8APS Rating: 3/5 May 14, 2006 08:27 Send this review to a friend
Some great features...  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had my T81 for almost four years and then sold it. Overall I liked the radio a lot. It had plenty of alphanumeric memories and operation I found to be easy. I really liked the little rig. However, the battery issues kept me from using it all the time.

The batteries were a pain. They would loose their charge fairly quickly and the radio would shut off and there would be no warning. Also, the clip holding the battery to the radio could break, rendering the battery useless unless you had some method to hold the battery onto the radio (either tape or the radio soft case could hold it together).

Other than the battery issues, I'd have given this radio a rating of 5!
KE3HO Rating: 3/5 Sep 9, 2005 07:51 Send this review to a friend
Just OK  Time owned: more than 12 months
This radio has some good points. It is tough. Sound quality is good for an HT both on TX and RX.

The antenna leaves a lot to be desired. Performance is pretty poor, even for an HT antenna.

The 5-way "joystick" type control is terrible. You push left, right, up, or down to move through settings, then press in the center to select the item. The problem is, it is almost impossible to press in the center. 9 out of 10 times one of the other contacts makes first and you are moved off of the setting that you were trying to select. I eventually gave up and bought the computer software and cable to program it with my PC.

In spite of its good points, the bad was just too much for me. After owning it for more than two years, I sold it and went back to using my HTX-202 and HTX-404. That says something right there.
KB2TES Rating: 3/5 Feb 12, 2005 16:32 Send this review to a friend
Decent but quirky  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Purchased used on ebay in new condition. Water resistance is worthwhile feature on this unit. Wonderfully small package for such a feature-rich HT, only slightly larger than a standard pager. Found the multi-function switch to be a bit of a challenge initially but I got used to it. Had no real issues with battery life using the BP-200 battery pack. Found the radio easy to program from the keypad without using the manual much. Was dissappointed with the activity on 6m & 23cm in the NYC-LI area but this is not a fault of the radio. Audio quality seemed good, rubber duck seemed adequate. Physical design seems robust although recently I have to have the AC adapter plugged in to be able to turn the unit on. The charge circuit between the battery and the radio seems open, and I'm not drawing any power from the battery. I intend to repair this problem and would appreciate any insights into this. Radio seems easy to disassemble, repair should be easy. I could use a schematic & parts list.
I like the radio especially with its wideband receive. WB receive compensates for the lack of activity on 6 & 23 here on Long Island.
AB2SA Rating: 3/5 Jan 24, 2005 23:34 Send this review to a friend
Good  Time owned: more than 12 months
This wasn't the first HT I've owned, but it's the first one I've had problems with. The multifunction joystick button seems like a good idea, and I can get it to work in any direction, but you have to push it in just right to enter something. I eventually got so tired of repeatedly trying to press it in just right without pushing it the wrong way, that I modified the radio so the decimal point is now my enter button. I can still enter frequencies directly without the decimal point, so the only thing I gave up is not being able to use the star key for repeater phone patches (transmitting DTMF E), but since I don't use phone patches I don't miss it. Other than the multifunction key the radio is good, with enough power to easily reach several area repeaters, and I especially like the fact that it's a quad band HT, which is rare.
N5VWN Rating: 3/5 Nov 22, 2004 22:42 Send this review to a friend
rugged rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is a good radio. I didn't have a real issue with the joystick. I guess I should have listen to it in the hamfest first. My problem is hearing the audio in a noisy environment. It don't have that loud robust audio of my old radioshack htx-202. My next radio WILL have good rx and tx audio.
I dropped this radio several times on the black top over the past two years and fell on it full force with my hip. Scraped the surface off the buttons. Still works. I got past the battery issues with an aftermarket back up and also a battery case for double A's that last for days of talking. I got around the audio weakness with a cheap clip-on speaker/mic from MFJ. I got around the weak antenna with aftermarkets, (diamond sma24 is awsome!) That works well, but I'm afraid that I used it so much that now the speaker jack or something is stuck and the built in speaker no longer works.. So I'm out rig hunting again. I'll keep this rig around the work place for a back-up in case I forget my future rig at home. I really liked having 4 bands. But a solid 144/440 rig with great audio is priority now. I've heard folks on 6meters and there is a 1.2gig repeater around here but I've not had any luck accessing it even though the t-81 found it's tone easily enough. I LOVE this radio's small size. Would I buy it again? Probably not, mostly because I didn't know what I wanted then and tried to get it all in one radio. Now I know what I'm after. I know I only gave it a 3 (good) rating. It's a good radio. With all the money I spent on batteries and speaker/mic and antennas though, I should have just gotten the kenwood f6 or yeasu vx7r.
VE3QAC Rating: 5/5 May 19, 2004 09:23 Send this review to a friend
GOOD MULTIBAND HANDHELD  Time owned: more than 12 months
Very good radio for multiband operations. The 1.2 GHz is really useful. Basically a simple radio to operate and very durable.
KG6TNU Rating: 0/5 Jan 30, 2004 20:49 Send this review to a friend
Junk  Time owned: more than 12 months
Yes it's good because it does all the bands but save your money, I would rather have a portable for every band than this thing. The multi-switch is a night-mare. I wouldent wish this radio on anybody. The only reason people like it is because it does all the bands, and it's durable but it has to be durable because you get so stressed out with the radio you feel like throwing it across the room. So if you have high blood presure and at risk of a heart attack don't put yourself at risk by buying this so called radio, it's a death wish.
KG6KUB Rating: 4/5 Oct 5, 2003 17:35 Send this review to a friend
6m,2m,70cm,23cm+fm brdcst.& am aviation, wow!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had my ict81a for almost 2 years. I like to work fm sat. with it even though it does not have crossband capabilities. I just use the multi switch and change from xtr. to rec. manually-- works just fine. I think the multi switch is very versatile and economic in that the radio would have to be made bigger to accomodate more switches. Occasionally the switch will "misfire" when I select the center position. It does have a large power drain but I use a "pocket power" with a shoulder strap. I replaced the original ant. with a Diamond SRH999 quad band 18" whip. The 23cm and 6m bands are the weak points of this ht. However, I like to go hilltopping and this radio performs very well on these two bands in that environment. I am going to experiment with a roll-up j-pole for 6m on this radio to see how much of an improvement it obtains. One feature I really don't like is the small and stiff ptt button. I use a speaker mic to overcome this.

M5ACM Rating: 1/5 Jul 30, 2003 14:43 Send this review to a friend
Most annoying radio EVER  Time owned: more than 12 months
The 4 way switch on this radio is a complete nightmare. I hate it so much I had to buy a VX5.
I only use the T81 for 23cms. Whatever possessed Icom to make a radio with a switch like this is beyond my comprehension, and the testers must be retarded. I wrote to Icom about this, but they didnt reply. It does make a good paperweight though. My advice, DONT BUY IT.
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