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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Scanners | ICOM R20 Help


Reviews Summary for ICOM R20
ICOM R20 Reviews: 28 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $500$
Description: 3ghz
Product is in production.
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KC2OYZ Rating: 4/5 Jun 15, 2008 14:25 Send this review to a friend
Fun radio - but WIDE in all respects  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This radio is great fun to use - I really enjoy it. I love having a tough little DC to Daylight box that I can take with me anywhere, and pick up the local baseball game or the HF bands, airports, police calls or satellites and space shuttles with ease. I have the desktop charger and every couple of days I pop it into the charger - it charges in about half an hour, so I have never had any problems with battery life - I don't have the LCD on all the time and it is always in power save mode.

It is packed with features, very well thought out, the pre-programmed bands and frequencies are what they should be, and it is built with quality. The audio quality for voice is the best I have ever heard from any portable radio, or many table tops. It does exactly what it's supposed to do.

The reason I'm not giving it a 5 is because it is a WIDE BAND RECEIVER in more than one way - frequency coverage is wide, but so is bandwidth - intermod can be a serious issue, particularly on the lower bands with an external antenna. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out what band and frequency I'm on - I tune to 900 kHz and I've got three local and one canadian station, tune to 76 MHz and there are two TV stations and an FM broadcast station. You can ease the intermod problems with the attenuator and RFGain control, but a couple of filters would make things a lot easier. The internal ferrite bar antenna for BCB will eliminate a lot of intermod on BCB - it appears to be strongly attenuated - problem is, it also eliminates the signal that you want. Perhaps a good preselector would ease the intermod problems - I haven't tried that, although I am considering it - I will update my review if I do.

Bottom Line: Take the R20 for what it is - a fun, feature packed, take it anywhere scanner that lets you listen to anything and everything - and as you become more familiar with the rig, you will learn how to deal with some of intermod problems. But don't expect it to be a serious DX rig by hooking it up to a good external antenna.
 
COUNTERACT Rating: 5/5 Jun 14, 2008 06:42 Send this review to a friend
No Antenna Or Programming Issues  Time owned: more than 12 months
You have to realize this is a very well designed Portable receiver, Not a full-size desktop receiver. I have found by using a Less than full size antenna for HF, it works Very Well. No need to use the ATT either. I have found programming it to be rather easy, and the easy of key-pad use is excellent. A little expensive, but very well worth the money. Happy listening!
 
W6RFW Rating: 4/5 Apr 17, 2008 07:23 Send this review to a friend
Great receiver, but hard to program  Time owned: more than 12 months
I use the R20 to monitor the American Association of Railroads (AAR) frequencies at 160 to 162 MHz, at home and in the field while train watching. Interference IS a problem on some channels. I bought a good six pole filter that I use at home and in the car. Interference is not much of an issue when I am walking track side with a short antenna. In the car, I use a mag mount cut for the AAR band. At home, I use a discone about 15 feet up.

I use one channel to monitor all 100 AAR frequencies, and the other to monitor the local road frequency. While scanning, I often encounter one or two channels with a key down condition. It is a real pain to program channel skip, and to unprogram it later. And lately, when I do either the radio picks up the VFO setting and substitutes it for the AAR frequency. I don't remember it doing this when I first got it.

In the field, using software to program the radio is not much of an option. So I have to reenter the channel frequency every time I change a channel skip setting. What a pain. Anone have any hints? The manual is pretty useless, as noted by others.
 
WZ1P Rating: 5/5 Apr 8, 2008 05:56 Send this review to a friend
I'm Impressed  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The other R-20 reviews are on the money. I wanted more features in a small portable package so the R-20 made sense. There is a learning curve in regards to the programing of memory banks. The sequence in the manual is a bit complex and must be followed exactly. Once the proceedure is learned the process is quite easy. I also picked up the Icom cloning software and cable that makes programming a snap. The telescoping antenna works well but is somewhat fragile. I replaced it with a Diamond RH951S BNC wideband receiving antenna. At home I use a discone antenna mounted on my tower fed by 100' of Davis BuryFlex RG-8 which does NOT overload the receiver like it did my high-end scanner. The battery life is good but I find that three Sanyo 2700mah AA batteries do the job best. They recharge quickly both at home and in the truck.

I did a lot of research on this receiver before I purchased it. There were no surprises. The price is a bit high but the features make it well worth it. Good job Icom.

Dan, WZ1P

 
KC2QPT Rating: 4/5 Feb 2, 2008 04:04 Send this review to a friend
1 Problem so far  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Hi all, i received my R-20 about two weeks ago. Purchased it new online from National Electronics in Kansas for $459, a good price I understand. Well I loaded about 600 frequencies in the radio and I like it quite a bit.
I have only one problem. I use the radio everyplace and often when listening to several broadcasts the radio "cuts out" for a second or two then comes back on (especially inside). It seems to do this frequently and it is very annoying. When I'm listening to an FM radio talk show and this happens I loose the meaning of the broadcast. No matter which way I reorientate the radio the "cut outs" keep happening. Not sure if I'm doing something wrong or there is some type of control that handles a problem of this nature. Anybody have any ideas?
 
AF4KK Rating: 5/5 Aug 3, 2007 15:46 Send this review to a friend
Wow, you gotta' get one!!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have many Icom products and they ALL excell in some way or another! The Icom R-20 is no exception! It's a hot receiver with many, many bells and whistles! The dual receiver function alone make the radio worth the $$$! If you purchase a R-20, you wil not regret it. The ONLY downfall? There isn't a bandwidth function so things are a bit wide. Aside from that, kudos to Icom!
 
W1BKZ Rating: 5/5 Jan 23, 2007 16:14 Send this review to a friend
GREAT HANDHELD.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The only con is that I am not able to receive SSB/CW above 1 GHz, as is advertised and specified by themanufacturer. If I am wrong here, please set me straight. Not that there is significant SSB activity at 2 GHz, but the specs allude to the fact that I can tune it inj if I can find it.
Otherwise, it is a really versatile, sensitive, and sweet handheld communications receiver.
 
K7WCE Rating: 5/5 May 4, 2006 03:03 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Hands down the best wide range receiver. Excellent coverage on all bands with plenty of tricks for tweeking: RF gain, noise blanker, automatic noise limiter, ATT, AFC.. There's CTCSS and DTCS squelching/search, voice squelch.
Dual band, band scope (2 if you like!) Plenty of memory, great battery life...

So you could buy the IC-R20 and software for less that the AR8200; and to get the 8200 even comparable you'll need to spend another hundred for the propritary software cable, and 70ish pa pop for plug in cards, for tone scan, recording (20 seconds compared to Icom's 4hrs!), etc.... I could go on about construction quality, Icom's dot matrix display.. etc.
 
K0WJH Rating: 4/5 Dec 5, 2005 15:29 Send this review to a friend
Great Receiver  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I love this radio. Receiver is sensitive, audio is excellent and the SSB is clear. I was disappointed to find out I can not receive all of the 800mHz public service frequencies with this unit. Icom mistakenly blocked 868.6125 and others when they blocked for cell phones. Called Icom and they told me they didn't realize the error during manufacturing and that nothing could be done about it now. Hope someone can figure out how to open this unit up, then I'll be a very happy camper.
 
1HENRY300 Rating: 4/5 Jun 23, 2005 22:47 Send this review to a friend
Great performer, but could be more user friendly  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've been using this receiver in public safety for a couple of months now, and overall I'm pleased.

The first impression is excellent... the R20 feels more like a professional radio than most of its counterparts. It lends a feel of quality and durability.

It is clearly engineered with the HAM or shortwave hobbyist in mind in both programming and operation. The display provides large characters for frequency, with much smaller ones for the alpha tag. There is no option to swap the freq and tag size, and the tag is limited to 8 characters, almost as though it was an afterthought. The keypad make public safety-type monitoring functions more complicated than necessary, in favor of changing settings like band and mode.

Programming the R20 is no picnic, and anyone who tries to do it without the manual close at hand is guaranteed a frustrating experience. The programming is step-intensive, and I found the key labelling cryptic and counter-intuitive. It's important to distinguish between a short keypress and a long one, and the manual doesn't always make clear which should be used. Some experimentation will probably be necessary for most users. Unfortunately, the user manual is both inaccurate and incomplete in places.

Do yourself a favor... use a PC, interface cable and Butel's free software (www.butelsoftware.com) for programming. Some digital camera-to-PC cables will do, and are much less expensive than the Icom cable.

Once programmed, I found the receiver's performance excellent in the areas of 42, 155 and 463 MHz. It has plenty of audio volume and clarity, and lots of genuinely cool functions, including the DualWatch feature and internal recorder (which, unlike AOR's, is both included and can record for a useful duration).

The R20 does a fine job, although even routine operations require multiple keypresses. Some demand simultaneous keying, making one-handed operation cumbersome or impossible.

Beware... it is painfully easy to inadvertently overwrite programmed channel information. Users might want to periodically check programmed channels to make sure another frequency, band, mode or some other element hasn't replaced the desired information.

In operation, as in programming, key labels are little help.

I suspect ICOM knows all this... the manual includes a cut-out pocket reference guide. In 25 years of using two-way and receiving radios I've never needed one before, but I'm glad to have it for the R20.

The R20 is not a beginner's scanner, and isn't marketed as one. Even for the experienced user it is more cumbersome to use than necessary. That said, it's a terrific little receiver.

The good: Great performance, lots of useful features and a feeling of quality build. Once you get it figured out you'll probably love it.

The bad: Poor user interface and manual.

The silver lining: Lots of new owners seem to get overwhelmed by the programming procedures, so barely-used R20s seem to be plentiful.

My advice: Download the user manual, and see for yourself if programming and operation procedures make sense to you. If you're patient you'll be rewarded by solid performance and lots of features to please any user.

I look forward to seeing Icom's next handheld offering... if they keep the performance and features, and make it more user friendly they'll have the receiver to beat. Are you listening, Icom?
 
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