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Reviews For: Icom ID-5100A

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

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Review Summary For : Icom ID-5100A
Reviews: 54MSRP: 899
Innovative 2m/70cm transceiver with touch screen and internal GPS
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
W4BFA Rating: 2018-05-21
Excellent as both a base and a mobile station Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have one of these in my truck and one at my home base station. The base station is connected to a Diamond X-700 antenna on a 24 foot mast, it really reaches out with standard power. I'm tempted to install a 160 watt amp with a preamp which would extend the already impressive range, which is at least 75 miles.
K3MEJ Rating: 2018-02-26
worst mobile ever Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Terrible audio reports even when I upgraded the mic by AB5N. SD card would not load information. Got cross over transmission interference between 2m and 440. Total piece of junk.
G4AON Rating: 2018-01-11
Expensive accessories Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
This is my first venture into D-Star, although I am experienced with other (commercial) digital systems.

In common with other reviewers, I am disappointed that once again Icom do not include essential accessories with the radio. However, I was aware of this and made a plasticard (Perspex) head mount, for home use, to the dimensions provided on the web by M0MTJ.

Other cheap and easy accessories are an RS232 programming cable (2.5 mm stereo jack plug to 9 way “D” plug, easy 10 minute job, again details on the M0MTJ site, and a 6 foot RJ45 Ethernet extension cable for the mic, eBay).

The radio came ready programmed, just needing my callsign entering, and I was QRV.

The radio itself is very easy to program/configure and to use. The supplied software is also easy to use.

The GPS allows the radio to show the nearest repeaters wherever you are.

One irritation is the cooling fan, even on “auto” and low power, it runs most of the time...

Audio quality is excellent on both FM and D-Star.
KT4NR Rating: 2018-01-10
Updated: 1 Year + Review Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The IC-5100 is an excellent rig....even if you never use DSTAR. It is not cheap and it is not perfect.

The single most important feature in this and all newer Icom DStar radios for any ham (DStar user or not): DR MODE

The 5100 has a mode that uses the GPS to help you program your radio. You can scan repeaters near your location that are Analog or Digital. You can program your own preferred channels. It is not a cheap radio but I think too many people overlook the DR Mode's importance in favor of pro/con-DStar.

Using the DR mode: Download the data base from and then edit it using Excel. I have a 5100 with all the W1, W2, W3, some W4, some W8 repeaters in the rig right now. I can drive 12 hours in any direction and have repeaters at the ready. I can update that database with short notice so long as I have a laptop, a wifi connection, and maybe 15 minutes time on the side of the road. You can dictate what percentage of your memories you want the database to occupy. You can specify how much of your database you want analog versus DStar. Further, once you have this installed, you can run the rig in DR mode and it works well. I'd also note I never use a cable or buy external software for the radio. I use the Icom software and an SD Card for everything.

If you want to use DStar you will need to add in your call sign and register. Depending where you are a local club/repeater owner/HRO can help with this.

Also some other likes:

Ability to record a QSO is great. If you ever decide to do, say, satellites, just hit record and you could keep a copy of your efforts.

The awesome touch screen. I HATE most of the radios ICOM has made because of their lousy menu interface. Dear Lord they paid attention and fixed that. The touch screen is easy to use, intuitive and worked at all temperatures (we got down near 0F here recently and the touch screen gave me no issues.) Great work!

Now I have had my 5100A DLX for a year now and here is what I do not like based on what I own and use of the radio:

1) Control Head Color: The color of the control head is the single biggest stupid thing known to man. You can make it work and position for easy reading but who in their right mind thought grey and blue was a good choice? Probably an accountant.

2) Mounting bracket or the lack there of: A $500 radio without a simple piece of bent metal? WTH ICOM!?!?!?

I have tried to rationalize selling this radio to get something else. Frankly, I can't. As someone who loves long drives and going off he beaten path, the radio has too much flexibility. Frankly, the only missing bit is DMR because one area I frequent only has DMR or analog. Even then, it simply is not enough to validate taking this rig out of the car and selling it. This radio has joined my TS480 as radios I will never part with. It's only the 3rd radio in 25 yrs I have put in that category. (The third being my Dad's old TS820s.)
N6RLG Rating: 2017-04-13
Great concept - some dramatically poor design flaws Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
By and large, I like this radio. Easy intuitive menus, touch screen, great Tx/Rx, ability to fine tune the little things.

Would give it 5 stars but for (and these 'but fors' are HUGE):

1. As noted elsewhere, the mic cord is too darn short. This is a nickle piece. Make it a usable length, Icom.

2. The speaker in the radio is hard to hear in the car, even with the windows just barely cracked and the volume cranked all the way up - not much oomph there. I had to buy an external speaker.

3. $89 for a bluetooth board that costs $3/$4 all over the Orient? Seriously? Bluetooth has been a built-in requirement in everything else (phones, tablets, PCs, TVs . . . the list goes on) for close to 10 years now. C'mon Icom. Quit nickle-and-diming customers, especially for a radio of this quality and price.

4. I mount my mobile units up in my line of sight (dashboard, gauge recesses, etc). This display is shockingly bad from a view perspective when so mounted. You're forced to mount the radio down in the depths of the front of your vehicle. Doing that forces you to shift your eyes off the road. When mounted for 'heads up display,', the screen is generally unreadable unless you're using the app on your bluetooth phone mounted where you can see it. Like the whole bluetooth thing, why is the screen not color? Icom probably had to order this display special since every device in the world has been color display for, well, 10 years or more now. Compared to my Yaesu mobile, this display is, no other way to say it, atrocious!

Apart from these little things (ok,the display issue is not little) it's a solid well-built radio that works well. I am glad I own it, but will probably move it inside to my shack.
WC2F Rating: 2016-02-13
Love it Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I just got it from the local hamfest and love thi radio, for me love to learn dstar radio plus touch touch works great. Easy to program Lots of user groups if you get stuck no problem
M0MTJ Rating: 2015-12-20
Effective and Easy To Operate - It's definitely grown on me. Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I am going to update my previous review of the ID-5100 and up its score since the ID-5100 is really growing on me.

While my previous comments stand, the more I use the radio, the more I have come to love the radio and the way it operates. Ergonomics are excellent.

The two receivers are a real boon and the touch screen makes general operating a real whiz.

I still think that Icom should have fitted a better quality / higher contrast screen (not necessarily a colour one), a quieter fan and included some basic mounting accessories in the box.

Having said that, I have been able to make a super desk stand for about £5.00 and a mounting bracket for the car consisting of two mounting plates and Velco for less than £10.00. This makes for very easy, interchangeable operating.

The transmitted audio quality has received consistently good reports whether using the stock Icon hand mic, or my own "home-brew" hands-free electret condenser microphones.

I now use an external loudspeaker both at the home QTH and mobile, and can report that the audio is very clear and of good quality. An improvement on the small internal loudspeaker - which isn't bad in itself.

Reception quality, sensitivity and selectivity is, as expected, very good.

As mentioned previously, those already familiar with D-Star will find everything there - and more I suspect. The D-Star system is a truly outstanding system of digital audio, inter-linked repeaters, Internet gateways and reflectors.

So, foibles aside, the ID-5100 is a very good radio. I recommend that go and have a look at one at your favourite radio dealer and visit Icom's website to find out more.


Earlier 2-star review posted by M0MTJ on 2015-02-21

I wanted a 2m/70cm transceiver with dual receivers so that I can monitor two bands or two frequencies at the same time. Being as I have an Icom IC-7600 which is a phenomenally great HF transceiver in every respect, I considered Icom again for this purchase. I was also keen to add and try the D-Star digital mode.

The obvious choice, therefore, seemed to be an Icom D-Star radio. The latest addition to the range being the ID-5100.

The transceiver is supplied in two parts; the control head and the main body. More of which later. Both parts are quite solid and seem to be well made. The physical knobs have solid feel to them. The touch screen functions also have a positive and precise action.

While I took to the IC-7600 like a proverbial duck to water, I found the ID-5100 rather less intuitive. The learning curve is, to me, very steep.

Using the basic VFO and the dual receivers is fine and dandy, but sorting out memories seems less easy.

For me, the only way to set up the radio with memories and organised repeater lists is to use the Icom CS-5100 software. Fortunately Icom thoughtfully supply this on a CD ROM with the radio.

Unless I have missed something, a shortfall of the CS-5100 software, is that it will not allow information (text data) to be copied to the Memory fields from any other part of the software, eg the repeaters fields or, indeed, from another program such as a spreadsheet, plain text or a web-page. I wanted a few local repeaters in the Memory banks, so rather than a simple copy and paste job - this became a tedious exercise of entering everything manually, field by field. I suppose it's a minor niggle, but a nuisance.

However, once up an running, accessing the memories via the usual V/M function is simple.

The other functions, mostly accessed via the touch screen, work well. For example it is easy to switch between main and sub receivers, between bands, quick frequency changes and tuning step changes.

Although I have not made any measurements or critical comparisons, the receiver performance seems fairly adequate; perhaps not quite as sensitive as my FT-7900 which makes a better job of receiving marginal signals.

On air audio reports have been good on FM and DV.

The D-Star system really is quite complex. It is, of course, described in the documentation.

The radio comes with a printed 'Basic' manual which runs to 90 pages, which make the usual tortuous reading.

The ID-5100 also needs a further 'Full' manual which runs to another 352 tortuous pages. I found YouTube to be a more accessible source of information.

I would imagine that D-Star operation for those users who are already familiar with the system will find it pretty straightforward.

So far, so above average.

As mentioned, the ID-5100 is supplied in two parts; the main body and the separate control head. The head does not fit onto the body in the way that, for example, an IC-706 or an FT-7900 head does.

While a typical U shaped steel mounting bracket is supplied to install the main body, unforgivably, Icom does not supply any kind of bracket to support the control head. Without this the control head will be quite unusable; If using at home as a base station, for example, the control head will just slide around the desk with the display facing up at the ceiling.

This radio is supposed to sell for nearly £600.00 GBP ($900.00 US) and yet Icom are too mean to include a simple, but essential, mounting bracket. Wow.

How much would even a plastic 'get you going' solution cost? A pound or two. Yet nothing is included, and buyers are expected to purchase further expensive, overpriced, accessories.

Of course I knew this before making the purchase, but it is still unforgivable in my opinion. (I home-brewed my own from high impact polystyrene sheet material for £5)

I also knew, before purchase, that the screen was a simple monochrome effort.

However it's only after operating the unit for a while that one realizes what a cheap and shoddy affair this display is. In a world of colourful smartphone touchscreens and competing transceivers from other manufacturers (at more competitive prices) that use clear and informative colour screens, it is at best surprising that Icom have not used a colour screen and, at worst, inexcusable on such an expensive radio.

Worse than that though, is that Icom have used not just a monochrome display - but a really, really poor monochrome display. It can only be described as grey-on-grey. I know that the book and the film '50 shades of grey' has been popular recently, but come on Icom, this display is shockingly awful with poor contrast and poor viewing angles. Even the much older IC-706 and most other competing products have far clearer displays.

And another niggle, which was unknown before purchase: The base unit requires forced air cooling, so there is a familiar cooling fan fitted to the rear.

Initially I simply placed the base unit on top of my desk, with the control head in front of it.

However, the fan runs every time the mic is keyed and is amazingly loud. I tried the fan speed adjustments in the menu, but to no avail. For example, setting the fan speed to 'slow' causes the fan to run continuously. Even on the slow speed the noise is irritating, so it's not practical to leave the ID-5100 on this setting while operating another radio. The persistent noise will be there all the time.

So the fan was changed back to the 'auto' setting and then the only alternative was to try to re-locate the base unit somewhere where the noise would not be quite so intrusive. I tried under the desk, a bit further away from the seating position. Truthfully, installing it the next room is what's really required.

Other oddities:

1) The left hand receiver section has a somewhat harsh audio quality (FM) with lots of high frequency audio response, while the right hand receiver has rather less high frequency audio response and so sounds somewhat 'mellower'. This is odd - and why the difference?

2) The FM squelch knobs are rather peculiar in operation. On most radios the threshold of the squelch on a vacant frequency between noise and silence is quite sharp - i.e. the knob only has to be turned a few degrees (e.g. backwards and forwards between 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock). However in many circumstances, on the ID-5100, the squelch knob must be rotated around to 12 o'clock to achieve squelch, but then to release the squelch (i.e. to hear hiss again) the knob must be positioned back round to 9 o'clock - i.e. it is rather erratic and not as 'sharp' as you would expect - certainly on other radios.

This is a bit of an ergonomic frustration.

To summarize:

Good points:

A reasonable receiver with the benefit of dual receive. Good audio reports on transmit on both FM and DV. Thankfully Icom supply CS-5100 'cloning software' for memory management. D-Star operation is, I am sure, as 'old hands' would want it to be. Operationally the controls, both physical and touch screen, are positive in action.

Bad Points:

Shockingly bad screen quality. Shockingly noisy fan. No control head mounting bracket of any sort supplied. Some other peculiar quirks which probably should not be present on such an expensive radio.

Icom - Pull Your Socks Up. 2.5 out of 5

KM6CQ Rating: 2015-10-01
Adequate Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I had owned this for 3 months when the TX audio failed. I sent it back to Icom and they replaced the choke in the audio line. The color display on the IC-7000 is better. What I don't like is the display does not dim when it gets dark. Because it is so big and bright ,a light sensor should have been designed into this. Icom's work around is timer they pushed out in firmware, well okay that's better than nothing. There have been two firmware upgrades in the 16 months this rig has been on the US market. If it was Elecraft or Flex there would have been to many to count however, I did not expect Icom to be involved with their user base. Overall the the rig works fine in my mobile. It's not a great rig, its not bad. So I give it a middle of the road rating.
M0GNA Rating: 2015-08-12
The way ahead. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Pricey yes,but isn't that the case for most off the shelf Ham stuff.It s my first D-Star radio so its a learning curve for me.The huge touch screen makes for easy navigation of everything.The fan can be a little noisey but you soon get used to it.A desk mount would be a nice inclusion,i use an I-pad stand which works fine.All in all I am more than happy with this one and I look forward to using for many years.
G6GPF Rating: 2015-08-01
Great radio with a great display Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I got this radio having seen it on You-Tube and realised the display was just what I was looking for. Nice and big, with clear mechanical knobs and electronic touch "buttons". As a professional electrical engineer I have been presented with many human-machine interfaces, including on nuclear power plant, and this one is right up my street. So good on ICOM. I also like the short Operating Guide they provide. I have printed a spare one off from the electronic version provided on the CD and laminated it so I have it to hand to remind me which menu item I need to do stuff. Currently, my other VHF/UHF radio is a FT-8900 and comparing analogue voice receivers between the two the 5100 is much better on the weak signals, which is good as I like to listen to the marine band and airband - I hold a private pilots licence and do voluntary emergency support, so knowing whats likely to bite you before the call comes is useful.
Just to be clear my model is the 5100E, but on the stuff I am talking about there is no difference to the 5100A, for the US.