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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: 39 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $649$ USD
Description: This Tri-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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KN6SU Rating: 5/5 Jul 25, 2019 20:23 Send this review to a friend
Worth the Cost  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Though the price has come down a bit, it's still costly for an HT. You do get a lot for the $500 price tag. D-STAR, APRS, digital & analog tri-band operation, wide coverage receive ability, excellent color screen, and its logical keypad layout and menu operation are what drew me to this rig. Other good features are the ability to program the radio via microSD card and the fact that the free Kenwood Memory Control Program does work really well for setting up the radio. The radio is heavy and looks boxy rather than sleek, but I like the audio, which I actually think might actually depend on its boxiness. One of the best features is the range of power settings: 5W, 2W, 0.5W, and 50 milliwatts. The 0.05W setting is extremely useful and greatly extends battery life when you use the radio to access a hotspot.

Full-Disclosure disclaimer: I work part-time at HRO (which sells this radio), but the opinions in this review are my own and what I really think about the TH-D74.
K9OBX Rating: 5/5 Jul 4, 2019 02:17 Send this review to a friend
GREAT RIG!!!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is an awesome rig. It has 3 bands + D Star + HF receive in SSB and CW. On top of all this it has air band receive and FM radio. Is there anything it won't do? Definitely worth the money. I have a TH D72A that I LOVE, but this little HT will be going on a few trips in it's place. This is THE hand held to beat.

I would buy another one tomorrow if this one was lost. It's as handy as a pocket on a shirt. GET ONE.
WX2WMU Rating: 4/5 Mar 21, 2019 16:44 Send this review to a friend
Expensive, but Good!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased the D-74 about two years ago and it still performs well. It is still an expensive tr-band HT. I really only use on the 222 MHz band now for I am reluctant to take it in the field due to the flimsy design. The battery life is great especially with the 50 Mw or half-watt setting.

The display is good, a lot of information on such a small color screen. I need my readers to see the icons. There is a lot of user settings and a menu driven setting system, really need the manual for more complex settings.

The audio quality is actually loud and crisp even on analog when outdoors. I do wish the speaker was a little bit bigger. I opted to get a Diamond Tri-Band gain antenna which works very well on distant repeaters. The D-Star is nice, but complex in setting up your local repeater.

I was hoping that a higher capacity battery would be available by now. Though the supplied one will last especially on low power settings. I would suggest this radio to my friends only if they want 222 MHz, APRS, D-Star, and a true dual band receiver.
KD2HPQ Rating: 3/5 Feb 28, 2019 21:53 Send this review to a friend
not fit for purpose  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is my second review. I originally gave this radio a 0/5 because it is impossible to program in multiple repeaters in batch mode (tens to hundreds of repeaters at once) without paying $25 ransom to RT Systems. I sold that rig and, many months later bought a second one, which I traded after owning it for about 3 weeks. But this time I gave the radio a very close look.

The TH-D74 is simply not a radio you want to carry around clipped to your belt. It is BIG, HEAVY, and EXPENSIVE. I've heard of people using this rig as a "home HT" but that's absurd. You can buy a 2m or 2m/70cm all-mode rig for the same price as or less than a TH-D74 and you get more power plus SSB and CW.

Maybe it's because I've had two HTs "misappropriated," maybe it's because I'm a minimalist, maybe it's because I want to be able to throw an HT into a bag and not have to worry that one tiny scratch will cause it to lose half its resale value. But really folks, unless money is no object this is WAY WAY WAY too much radio to be schlepping around. By the time you're done buying accessories you'll be spending $700 at least, maybe even $800.

How many $800 pieces of equipment do you carry around with you daily?

There are many other options that are more rugged, smaller, and one third the price, even for the 12 people in the entire world who are interested in APRS. There are hundreds of new and used HTs that won't send you into depression (or desperation mode on the swap boards) if it gets lost or damaged.

Add sideband and CW, expand the user interface, make it a small desktop or portable, and it's a $700 radio. As it stands it's an overpriced white elephant.

Don't get me wrong. The TH-D74 is the Mazerati of handhelds. The Youtube crowd has orgasms over it. But in reality, for the average ham, it doesn't do much more than a 75 dollar BTech, or one of the many used tri-band HTs you can get for between $75 and $300.

Even some of the advertised features are just so-so. They advertise "near repeater" function but frankly it is not very well thought out. What do I mean? You lock in the GPS satellites and do "near repeater" search but once you get the list and select one, if it is dead you have to go through the process again, and remember which station you selected the first time. There's no way to save the list to refer to later, while you're waiting for your plane at JFK.

If you are like most hams and suffer inordinately frequently from buyer's remorse, I can almost guarantee you will have it one week after purchasing the TH-D74.
VK2NAD Rating: 4/5 Dec 1, 2018 01:09 Send this review to a friend
More than you need, less than you'd expect  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
A very capable radio with lots of features - probably more than you need, like the 220MHz band which is not available in Australia. For the price, which is rather high, I'd expect a bit better from Kenwood in a couple of areas. 1) The plastic screen is too easily scuffed (as in the first day!). For a radio as expensive as an iPhone, use better glass. 2) The memory software is clunky and probably written by Bill Gates in 1975. The RT Systems version ($25) is better. 3) The enclosed "User Guide" is a waste of paper. Download the more detailed documents from Kenwood. 4) The rubber ducky antenna is not a good performer. 5) All that comes with the radio is the battery and charger and a belt clip. 6) The fiddly menu system takes quite a while to comprehend. Fortunately there are Youtube videos available thanks to earlier adopters. All in all, quite a lot of cash for quite a lot of radio, but not without a few annoyances.
KE7MU Rating: 4/5 Nov 9, 2018 23:30 Send this review to a friend
Poor Docs Great Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I finally got the device set up to use a hotspot and ground repeaters. Perhaps they should ship the radio in only one language, and better instructions. I shouldn't have to use YouTube videos to learn how to do things. Very poorly documented. On the other hand this radio does so much, that I think it's not just the most complex, but the most useful radio I have, and I have 14 different handys. Mostly Yeasu, first kenwood. I have no issues other than purchasing a radio that needs an immediate firmware update that is behind two versions. At least they stayed with free software as it's almost impossible to program with out the software. They should should include DMR with the next version of firmware.
This radio is better than the ICOM dstar handhelds.
KQ4KK Rating: 5/5 Oct 12, 2018 21:24 Send this review to a friend
Worth every Dollar  Time owned: more than 12 months
In the age of $30 BAOFENG HTs, this is a great $500 HT. I've had all the Kenwood APRS HTs and mobiles. The original D7 was about $450 new. The replacement, the D72 I bought was on sale for $450 when I bought it. And all they did was analog FM and APRS. Sure both had a 1200/9600 baud TNC built-in. And the D74 added a built-in GPS.
The D74, with a analog TNC, a DSTAR TNC, Color screen, GPS, micro SD card, DSTAR and analog APRS is a real value compared to the previous radios for just under $500.
Kenwood did a good job implementing DSTAR for its first radio. The color screen helps. All of them sound great on the air. I also have a ICOM 51Plus. I like them both. If I lost one, I would not worry if it was the 51Plus.
KD2IYI Rating: 5/5 Oct 12, 2018 19:33 Send this review to a friend
More than you might need, for more than you'd like to spend  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a great $350 radio. Too bad the list price is actually $559 as of this writing. I knew this going in, but I still bought it because, as so often happens with ham equipment, lust overcame reason.

As for functionality, I can only echo what most everyone else says about it; if Victorinox decided to build an HT, this might be the result. If it could do DMR and/or 40m QRP I'd be in heaven. (I won't hold my breath for the latter)

To their great credit, Kenwood designed the user interface so that it is actually easy to use. (I've owned my Yaesu HT for several years and still have to periodically refer to the manual.)

The trouble, as I said up top, is the price. I paid $498 from HRO and was gobsmacked to see that it doesn't come with a drop-in charger. That is simply inexcusable. My Yaesu FT-60 came with one and cost about $350 less. Second, the software to program the rig only works with Windows. If you have a Mac or Linux computer, you're out of luck. (If you're in that camp, the simplest way to program the radio is to fire up the Kenwood software in an emulator, write the settings to the SD card, then pop the card in the radio. Convoluted, but it works.)

I've had mine for a month and, unfortunately, I've already had a battery failure. The clip that attaches the battery to the radio snapped without any stress being placed on it (it most certainly was never dropped). As I was about to unplug the charging cable, I picked up the radio and the battery just fell off - the clip had disintegrated. HRO is replacing it for me, but it's still annoying to be out of commission for a week or so it'll take to get the new battery back.

Speaking of the battery, it'd be nice if it lasted a bit longer when doing anything other than monitoring. If you're scanning, beaconing on APRS or using GPS in any way, the battery takes a big, big hit.

As for D-Star, well, just be sure you have D-Star repeaters in your area or expect to buy a hotspot (another $100 or so).

It's a great radio. Just know what you are and aren't getting beforehand.
W8KDG Rating: 4/5 Sep 30, 2018 15:20 Send this review to a friend
Swiss Army HT.   Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Nice HT. Plenty of great features, although they wet your appetite for even more. D-Star, Triband, APRS, TNC, HF (receive), Bluetooth, SD card, recording, ability to connect to a computing device via Bluetooth (for TNC use), use Bluetooth headphones - its all in there. Manual programming is pretty easy once you do it a couple times. With new devices, I like to go through the manual, front to back, and try out every single feature. After doing so a couple times, everything felt pretty intuitive. It didnít seem overwhelming at all, if anything the appetite was wet wishing it had even more features. Iím not rating it 4/5 due to lack of wishful features, but rather due to battery life. With APRS/GPS enabled, this thing eats batteries for lunch. While I do have a spare battery and a power adapter, this HT really shouldíve came with a higher capacity battery.

Some wishful features for newer models based off the 74:

- A mobile version!

- Ful Duplex (would be great for satellites)

- Not only DStar capability, but also DMR.

Overall, Iím pretty happy with the 74 though. The display is nice and doesnít get washed out too bad in the sunlight. I.e., I can see the display on the 74 better in direct sunlight than I can my iPhone.
WA5WA Rating: 5/5 Aug 12, 2018 22:45 Send this review to a friend
Great Hand held   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am using for Dstar, it is really has a good audio, color screen and easy to operate, definitely recommend to buy (under $499)
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