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Reviews For: Kenwood TM-D700A

Category: Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held)

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TM-D700A
Reviews: 95MSRP: 780 USD
Kenwood remote head data radio for VHF/UHF
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
W0NXN Rating: 2003-03-16
Excellent but expensive dual bander. Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Kenwood TM-D700A

This radio has so many different features that the potential buyer should read all available reviews to get a complete picture. I have not used the APRS or packet features and will not deal with them here. This review is primarily for those who want to listen to a great many radio services and wish to take advantage of the D700’s extended receive features and its scanning abilities in addition to general vhf/uhf f.m. amateur operation. The author has been a licensed amateur since 1954 (general class) and has been active on v.h.f. since 1970, and he participates in county Emergency Management activities in N.E. Kansas (part of Tornado Alley).

I have been using the D-700 for about 6 months now. I needed a radio with broad coverage, ability to scan and monitor more than one frequency simultaneously and both CTCSS and DCS. DCS is not (yet) widely used on the ham bands, but my county emergency services all use it. These criteria, taken together, tended to reduce the choices I had when planning a purchase. After reading the reviews of the various possibilities on this web site, I chose the D-700. It turns out to have been a very good choice.

NEGATIVE COMMENTS: Let me get one or two negative comments out of the way quickly and then concentrate on what is positive or idiosyncratic about the radio. (1) It would have been nice if the control head could simply be affixed to the front of the radio. It must be mounted separately however. (2) WARNING: Kenwood states that “…there are no replacement control head units available from Kenwood.” If you lose or damage the control head, it cannot be acquired as a “part”; they apparently expect you to buy a whole new radio. This is a poor policy indeed. (3) The display cover (the window in the control head) is made of plastic that is very easily scratched. Do not wipe it with a dry rag or tissue if there could be grains of sand or dust on it; use something like a small feather duster. I kept a shaving brush with soft bristles in the car to clean my radio displays, but even that brush made small scratches in the display that are visible in bright sunlight.

HAMMING: I have had nothing but good experiences with this radio on the ham bands. Some said that I sounded better direct than I did through the repeater, but that is obviously the fault of the repeater. Many have reported “bassy” audio when operating in cross-band repeat mode. This may be so, but I have discovered that after the novelty wears off, I have little use for that feature. Prospective buyers may wish to check out both regular and repeated audio to make sure they are happy with it. I am.

FREQUENCY COVERAGE: Advertised receive frequency coverage is 118-524 MHz. And 800-1300 MHz. with cellular telephone coverage (870-894 MHz.) deleted. Oddly, 914-934 MHz. is also deleted (perhaps in deference to European cell phone bands?), but this removes a portion of one of the U.S. amateur bands! On band A (118-470 MHz.} either a.m. or f.m. reception may be selected (the D700 transmits f.m. only however). On band B (300-1300 MHz.) only f.m. is available. So, for example, you can listen to aircraft using a.m. on either their 118-151 or their 225-400 MHz. assignments by programming them in band A and setting the modulation to a.m. Kenwood’s software does not permit entry of frequencies between 400 and 410 MHz. There may not be much there to listen to, but it is annoying, since the range is certainly covered by the radio itself. (See additional comments under “software”, below).

There are a number of modifications for this radio on the internet that can be located with a simple search. They include frequency coverage, extended transmit, cross-band repeat (already activated in the US model), parameter-setting (deviation, etc.) and others. Performing them probably voids the warranty however.

SENSITIVITY: I do not have a service monitor, so I cannot measure this scientifically. The D-700 is as sensitive as any vhf/uhf radio I have ever owned however, and I perceive little difficulty in this department. I am mentally comparing it with both ICOM and Yaesu gear that I have owned. Specs are guaranteed on the ham bands only, but sensitivity is excellent in general coverage areas also. The radio is as sensitive on 800 MHz. frequencies using a Larsen NMO-Q dual band amateur antenna (2 meter/70 cm.) as a high-end scanner I use is with a dedicated 800 MHz. antenna.

SELECTIVITY: Again, I cannot measure this scientifically, but once again the D-700 performs as well as any amateur gear I have owned. No radio with this broad a coverage is totally intermod-free, and I do not live in a large city, but regular driving in a town of about 90,000 generates very little intermod even near cellular sites and paging transmitters. My Yaesu FT-3000, now in my wife’s car, experiences more intermod. In urban areas nowadays, however, there is the constant barrage of r.f. from computers and computerized cash registers, gas pumps, etc. in businesses. Unless CTCSS or DCS is engaged on a frequency, interference is common within several hundred feet of these devices. This cannot be helped, and it is a good argument for using tone encoding and decoding on all amateur repeaters (most commercial and public safety services already do).

SCANNING: The D700 permits several kinds of scans and searches. (1) An entire band may be searched (with bands defined as 118-136, 138-174, 200-300, 300-400, 400-470, etc.). (2) The entire set of 200 memories can be scanned. (3) Any single bank of memories (e.g., 1-20, 21-40, etc.) can be scanned. (4) Any one MHz. segment can be searched. (5) Any one of 10 band segments defined by programmable upper and lower limits can be searched. Individual memories can be locked out. The displays in both the A and B (vhf and uhf) segments can be scanned simultaneously, so, in effect, it is like having two radios scanning at once. This would not take long to drive you crazy, but it works just fine.

SOFTWARE: There are two software packages that I know of for programming this radio. Software is reviewed separately on this web site, so I will only mention it briefly here. Kenwood has a free program that can be downloaded from their web site. There is also a shareware program (with a free 30 day trial) called LINK700. They do very similar jobs, BUT, although the Kenwood program blocks entry of any frequency between 400-410 MHz., as noted above, the LINK700 program at least permits such frequencies to be entered manually. The only other way to get complete frequency coverage would be to program the entire radio manually after a hard reset. That would take hours – maybe days.

Slightly rephrased, if you perform a hard reset, you can enter frequencies between 400-410 MHz. If you then try to enter frequencies or other information using Kenwood’s software however, your low-400 entry will be erased. After you have used the Kenwood software, you can no longer enter frequencies between 400-410 manually; they are automatically “rounded off” to 410. If you use the Link700 software however, you CAN enter frequencies like 408 manually. After the free 30 day trial, the Link700 shareware asks for something like about $35 from the user. I have no connection whatsoever with either Kenwood or the Link 700 author.

OTHER PECULIARITIES: The use of the “Band A/Band B” (vhf vs.uhf) segmentation can be a bit annoying and will require a little getting used to. Coverage of the two “bands” overlaps considerably. It is complicated enough that I will not try to cover all aspects of it here. It can all be made to work though, but the manual will be indispensable for awhile.

This is an expensive radio, but it has a great many good features, and if it is what you need (for packet, APRS, scanning/monitoring or other purposes) I predict you will be happy with it.

KB3GVC Rating: 2003-02-01
Great Mobile Radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have owned a Kenwood TM-D700A for about 2 weeks now, and I think it is great. Some hams in my area who were into APRS recommended it to me highly.

Just plug in a NMEA compatable GPS receiver and a little programming will get you on APRS. The detachable face enables you to mount the rig under the seat or in the trunk. If you mount it in the trunk, don't buy the Kenwood extension kit. Just use a standard modular telephone cord to extend the face cable, and use a cat9 computer cable to extend the microphone.

I recommend this rig highly to anyone, especially those who want to get into APRS.

KF6HDJ Rating: 2002-11-10
Definately the best rig I've ever owned!! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I was alittle aprehensive spending so much money for a dual band mobile radio. I have had a TMV-7A in my truck for 3 years, and enjoyed that radio (Even though I had one of the early models and suffered from the vertical line problem). I bought this radio because I discovered IRLP and wanted a dual band radio on my boat (Which I live on). So I bought this radio to put in my car, and do APRS and mobile packet. I allready have a AEA TNC on the boat for WINLINK EMAIL, so I took the 7a out and it will soon reside there. I have allso allways been interested in getting an APRS setup in my truck and felt this was the easies and cheapest way to do this. (the price isnt so bad if you consider what it would cost if you bought a decent dual band mobile and a TNC.) I like the ability to try out 9600bps packet as well.

I have used this radio now for about 24 hours, and I have to tell you how amazed I am at the quality of this product. The audio is excellent, it is noticeably improved from the TMV7a!! The display is awesome! The menu system is much more intuitive then the 7a, I had most of it setup without even looking at the manual! Which is something I still have to do with the 7a!

And having a sepeate port for the GPS is definately a plus. So you dont have to have to switch connections if you are allso using a laptop!

The only drawback is the price. I would not even consider this radio unless you are going to use it for APRS or mobile packet.

AF4KK Rating: 2002-10-02
Wow! Great unit!! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have been using my Kenwood D-700A for about 20 months now and I have nothing but good words to say about it! It's been running 24/7 on APRS for about 18 months and it's always been a reliable radio!
I have my D-700A set up for the local voice repeater on band "A" and APRS on band "B" and it seems to be a great arrangement. While the FM audio isn't the loudest on the reapter, it's more than adequate. A very helpful Cliff at Kenwood's technical support told me how to raise the FM deviation slightly but I haven't made the mod yet since the audio isn't that bad.
I have the Kenwood D-700A mounted in my car and it's cool when I drive around to see the other stations plotted on my GPS.
Is there a feature this radio DOESN'T ahve?!? Oh yes, a color screen. But it's still easy to see and I have my ICOM 2800H if I want color!!
PY2JF Rating: 2002-09-10
If will need to use cross band rpt, forget about this radio Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I bought two Kenwood TM-D700A for replace my old two Kenwood TM-V7A. By the way, V7 is almost a perfect radio for normal operation, I just replace because I can't stand anymore that "cool blue" display. It's terrible indoors and even worst outdoors. Anyway, I used to do cross band repeater function all the time with V7 and tried with this D700, but I can't do anymore. Because everyone complains about my muffled audio in cross band! Both radios has the same bad audio in cross band operation. I browse in the net for a fix and I just find out more complains about it.

I would like to know if anyone have any modification for fix it. If not, I will have to put on sale and maybe abandon Kenwood brand. It's really excellent in every other respect, but audio is a must in ham radio. I'm very regret to spend more than U$1300 to get such audio. The normal operation audio is not good either, sounds tiny and sometimes someone complains, but is usable. The radio actually have great geatures, but this audio is so annoying that drive me crazy. I wrote to Kenwood and the answer was:

Dear Mr. Roberto,

There are no additional modifications at this time to improve the audio for cross band repeat on the TM-D700A.

73 Kenwood

Just it! Translating: We don't care about you

One more problem. Don't fool yourself that this display is better than V7 "Fool Blue". It's the same! It's not a really LCD display, is a kind of technology that has no good contrast. If you wanna see a good black character and put more contrast, all neighbor pixels become dark and looks fuzzy. If you lower constrast you get weak characters constrast. There's no ideal adjust!

Well, I just show the bad side of this radio, if you can live with this two problems, go ahead and buy one. If you intent to use this rig for cross band and think that will get a great display, just forget about it.


N1PFC Rating: 2002-07-13
Good radio except the display Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Never have I seen a radio with so many features built right in.

I plan on using the APRS features as soon as I can afford a GPS that will interface to the radio. Menus are well thought out and I like how the button labels change when you hit the 'F' key instead of just working on dual labels and you have to squint to read them. The menu system is well laid out. I have YET to read the instruction manual on the radio and have managed to figure out everything I've needed to do so far including programming memories and setting the alpha numeric labels on them.

The ONLY drawback to the radio is the display. Having mounted it to my dash, I regret that I did that now. I would have mounted under the dash, but the mounting bracket that is supplied makes it nearly impossible. The display must be mounted in front of, or above the mount. It just plain doesn't work below.

Dealing more directly with the display, it's SUPER temperature sensative. I thought it was just me when I climbed in my car 2 days after installing it and wondered why the display was so light. I played with the contrast and lighting to no avail. my Icom IC 2000, although a MUCH less expensive radio, had a less temperature sensative display. I'd get the thing roasty hot in my car on a sunny day, and the display would always be readable, unlike the D700. Once it cools down a bit it's ok, but in a car with no AC that takes a while.

if it weren't for the display being so temperature sensative, I'd give it a 5. But since a lot of the radio functions through the display, it gets a 3.

Oh! don't buy the kenwood kit to extend the face / MIC. A standard phone code + coupler work for the face, and a CAT 5 patch cord and coupler work for the mic. ($20 later instead of $70)
VA3WJO Rating: 2002-07-13
Needs Improvement Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've had this radio for over a year. No breakdowns so far. The transmit audio is tinny and crossband repeat muffles the audio. Check these out on the radio before you buy one. Tried severals mods on the microphone to give it more frequency range for my voice but no luck so far.

APRS works flawlessly, I use it with a Garmin Emap and I get to display other APRS users on my Emap screen! (great feature!)

TNC works great as well... very easy to get going compared to individual setups.

Programming software free from Kenwood!!!! Great job Kenwood!!! The cable required is nothing special and you can get them at flea markets for 1.00! (another great feature...other radio manufacturers take note! NO special cable to buy or make.

Overall I am happy with this radio... I am disappointed with the output audio being tinny since the basic function of a radio is to take your voice and broadcast it....

For future purchasers compare audio output of any radio BEFORE you buy!

Cheers and good luck to all!

K7RTM Rating: 2002-03-08
Love the rig! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Wonderful radio. The only complaints are the "muffled" audio when cross band repeating and - the fact that it does not do "true" simultaneous reception. It will not do band "A" UHF and band "B" VHF. Also, the channels could be broke up in "banks" and better scanning capabilities added but it's not a scanner so..

It still gets a 5 and I would buy again in a second. Matter of fact, I own two!

I use the unit nearly every day for mobile APRS. It performs flawlessly.

VE2TBC Rating: 2002-01-24
Beware of UHF transmission Quality Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
This radio offers in theory a lot for the money. Large display, remote head, remote head cable, TNC, APRS, free management s/w etc...

Bought one in March 2001, Loved it. Bought a second one in May 2001. Seems fine until I started to use UHF mobile.

People started to tell me I had intermittent interference during transmition on UHF. Some said alternator noise, some said tone and some said a drifting tone for 15 seconds. Actually some people believed the drifting tone was an ambulance following me.

I did some testing putting the UHF band (band B) on simplex and use a Handheld to monitor the transmition. Indeed there is a tone. I have performed around 300 PTTs for 1 second and heard the tone 5 times. Sometimes for one second at the beginning of the TX and once for 10 seconds. So the problem exist but it requires large samples to hear it.

The problem appears from time to time and I cannot find under which conditions it appears. Playing with the DC cable seemed to reproduce the problem at some point. I have trouble shooted the radio and the car installation for 6 months and the problem remains.

Everything changed this week (21 Jan 2001). Another Ham was tranmitting on UHF and the "tone" was heard by my friends. Friends who are used to my "ambulance" ! They asked what radio this guy was using and surprise, it is a D700A !

Therefore this radio has a design problem on UHF. This problem was not reported to Kenwood probably because very few use UHF. Most of us use VHF.

For those who owns D700A, use UHF on band B and configure band A with VHF. Use the UHF band a lot and this problem will show (specially mobile). If it does, please call Kenwood (email is better) to report it.

Without this problem this rig would be rated 6/5 for its design and available free options.

Too bad ...
Regards to all (73), VE2TBC
KP4WG Rating: 2001-11-30
Excellent radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I got this radio a couple of weeks ago. I got it because I wanted a mobile dual bander, plus I liked the idea of being able to connect with my base station and check my email.

This rig is excellent in every aspect. I don't know about the AX compliance but I certainly do not have complaints about the display. It is as good as an LCD display can be, and can always see it clearly. Any limitation to the angle at which you can see it applies to all LCD's.

Good audio, the TNC works great, and the DX Packetcluster monitor on the screen is incredibly useful. I can see how not being able to attach the front panel to the radio might be annoying for base use, but I had it on my base station for a couple of days and didn't have any trouble and found it was actually easier to mount the front panel somewhere visible like the top of my monitor.