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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held) | Icom IC-E208 Help


Reviews Summary for Icom IC-E208
Icom IC-E208 Reviews: 3 Average rating: 2.7/5 MSRP: $Typically 239 GBP
Description: Switchable narrow and wide bandwidth European version of the IC-208H.
Selectable backlit colour from amber, green and yellow, detachable controller for mobile installation, 55/50 Watt high output, remote control microphone and dynamic memory scan system.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.icomuk.co.uk/
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G4RRA Rating: 1/5 Oct 31, 2016 12:52 Send this review to a friend
Hopeless  Time owned: more than 12 months
I never did get this pile of rubbish programmed up,if you are getting one for the car make sure its programmed before you leave because you wont want to be doing it on the move.This is without doubt the worst, most un-intuitive software I have ever come across in an Amateur radio transciever.It gets a 1 because its a dual bander,and in my case its quite useful to wedge the door of the shack open, however its not a lot of good for anything else.
 
DO1SJ Rating: 3/5 Jan 15, 2006 04:19 Send this review to a friend
Very nice radio with unneccessary flaws  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have bought this transceiver about five months ago. Since then, I have used it both on a base station vertical antenna and in the car. In both configurations, I was very pleased with the radio's quality.

The receiver is very sensitive, and in a "quiet" environment, one can easily work stations that don’t show up on the internal S-meter. This extraordinary sensitivity drops a little outside the ham bands, of course, but it’s a very good broadband receiver. I have not noticed any problems with the receiver yet, but I did not yet drive through areas with lots of VHF/UHF activity and hence can't comment on intermodulation issues. Unfortunately, the built-in speaker distorts the audio at higher levels, so mobile QSOs are difficult at speeds above 130 km/h (when one should concentrate on driving anyway...). The scanner is rather fast -- fast enough for all practical uses within the ham bands, even after I included 80 SRD/PMR/Freenet channels into the memories.

About the Transmitter: Contrary to some of the comments posted for the US version earlier, I have never gotten bad reports on my TX audio, and I even left the sensivity on "low" and the TX bandwidth setting on "narrow". The transmitter can be keyed fast enough to allow short TXDs on packet radio. A little annoyance, however, is the fan that is a little loud. It would help if it only went on when the final transistors got too hot, but is is switched on on every transmission, no matter how short, and keeps running for about two minutes (but can be configured to run continuously).

I'm lucky enough to have found a dealer who measures each and every rig bought at his shop on high quality test equipment before handing it over, and I was pleased to see that my unit matches the specifications given by ICOM precisely. It even is much more sensitive :-) The transmitted signal is exactly as wide as it should be for the narrow and wide channel spacings, and the power levels match exactly the levels given in the specifications.

However, I agree with those who complained about the poor quality of the controls and of the software. As good as the radio is, the tuning knob and the rotary pulse encoders for volume and squelch feel wobbly because their axes aren't centered firmly. No big problem, but a strange contrast to the sturdy metal casing. The detachable front panel is very nice and small, and the radio comes with a long, flexible cable for it. However, there are no mounting brackets with the same mechanical connection as that on the transceiver -- instead, one has to use velcro tape or something similar, and one always has to loosen a screw that holds the cable connector when removing the front panel from the car. So theft-protection by removing the control head is not exactly made easy...

The software, too, is not very well thought-out. Using the menus is not as intuitive as it might be, and programming memories with adding alphanumerical descriptions is really complicated and involves taking some very unintuitive detours through the menu. Cycling through the scan modes involves using the "Set" and "Band" keys (for moving backwards and forwards, respectively), while cycling through menu entries uses “Set” and “S-MW” keys. Those totally unrelated keys are also used when entering alphanumerical channel names... There is no way to quickly cause the scanner to continue by using the microphone keys only, one has to reach for the main dial or stop and re-start the scanner. Having to change to the "Initial Set"-menu (which requires one to turn the unit on and off) just to alter the TX bandwidth setting is also annoying, just like having to switch through all the bands when changing from 70cm to 2m, but that seems common in today's VHF/UHF transceivers.

For mobile operation, I am restricting myself to the two call channels that can be switched by pressing the big and well-lit "Band" key and the two user-programmable keys on the microphone. The display is large, well-lit and can be read well under direct sunlight as well as at night. The keys‘ labels are too small to read while driving, and the display shows some unneccessary information (the memory channel number) while in VFO mode, but this is not distracting. Additional display indicators, like for offset, power level and so on, are too small to read in the car, however.

All in all, I'm really glad I bought this radio and I've had a lot of fun with it. But in order to give a fair review, I can't help but give it 3 of 5 points because of the weaknesses in the menu system and the mechanical construction.
 
G4AON Rating: 4/5 Mar 17, 2005 00:48 Send this review to a friend
Tedious menus, but good value  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The UK 2 metre bandplan is for 12 KHz channel spacing on the packet and FM voice channels above 144.794 MHz (see "operating" at www.rsgb.org for full details). Most of the FM transceivers currently on the market have a provision for reduced deviation on transmit but very few have receivers with narrow filters to work at 12.5 KHz channel spacing. The IC-E208 not only can switch transmit deviation but can switch receiver filtering as well, the setting for this is slighly confusing as the manual doesn't mention that setting narrow TX to "ON" in the menu automatically switches it when narrow RX is selected.

Some reviewers of the IC-208H complain of weak audio on transmit, the ARRL review of the 208H suggested the factory default setting of the microphone gain may be "low", however my E208 has a default setting of "high" sensitivity and sounds quite good when listening to it on another transceiver in the shack.

One issue I have with this (and many other transceivers to be fair to Icom) is it tries to do too much, pressing the band selection takes you through 127, 144, 230, 375, 433, 500 and 900 MHz. There is no obvious way to switch directly between 144 and 433 MHz, except by tedious programming into the wide choice of 512 memories. If I wanted a scanner, I would buy one!

The transceiver is supplied with a 3.5 metre separation cable (OPC-600R), but without a mounting bracket for the head (optional extra). The separation cable is secured to the head unit with a screw, which doesn't lend itself to be easily removed when leaving your car parked. The head can be quickly removed from the main transceiver, if used without the separation cable, without tools.

Using the transceiver without reference to the manual is easy enough provided you just use the "VFO" and "LOW" (power level button), however most of the manual seems devoted to using the memories and scanning. If you just store a couple of repeaters and calling channels, which is relatively easy and includes CTCSS (TX and RX), power levels, bandwidth, etc. Then scanning can be done by just pressing "up" or "down" on the microphone... The first problem you encounter is what to do if you want to QSY to another frequency! It's not obvious that you need to press the "M/CALL" several times to go to memory mode, then push "S.MW.MW" (whatever that button means) which transfers the memory contents to the VFO. For the most part it's far simpler to stick with using "VFO" as you can manually step up and down the band in your chosen steps.

There is reference to a "Europe-1" version being available which only covers 144-146 and 430-440 MHz (TX and RX), so hopefully someone will soon release details of how to modify the standard version to miss out all the "scanner" band nonsense.

Reviewers of the IC-208H have complained about fan noise being a problem, the noise level from my E208's fan doesn't seem too bad considering the size of the package and the fact it's expected to cool a 55 Watt transmitter. It's no louder than a typical computer cooling fan or one of the modern fan cooled switched mode bench power supplies.
 


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