Manager - NA4M
Manager Notes

Reviews For: Icom ID-5100A

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

eMail Subscription

Registered users are allowed to subscribe to specific review topics and receive eMail notifications when new reviews are posted.
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
N5DTC Rating: 2015-05-30
Install The Latest Firmware Update Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I agree with many of the comments, but it really is a great radio. I complained to Icom and they gave me a mounting bracket. The best option for mounting on the desk is the Nifty Stand. It works perfect. If you install the latest firmware updates the fan issue will go away. It also includes more display brightness controls. It is expensive, but it truly is a great radio to operate. Little need for the expansive manual. It is good that they offer the large manual so that most all subjects are covered. I recommend the radio.
WZ4K Rating: 2015-03-29
Embarrasingly bad on the most basic of features Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
The display is the worst I've seen in a modern radio. Worse, for what we all paid for the 5100 - it's an insult. Don't even get me started on the lack of a head unit mounting solution... or the fan! The radio itself, a 3 of 5.

Folks, The display IS your interface with this radio. As such - it should be a 5 outta 5. It's a 1 of 5 primarily based upon the poor rendering of the characters which should be black, not grey, against a murky, grey background.

In comparison, my Yaesu FT-7900r, costing about 50% of the ID-5100, has a crystal-clear display with jet-black characters. The FT-7900r can be viewed at virtually every reasonable viewing angle. Amazing! How did Yaesu do it for half the price of the 5100? No, I am not comparing radio features - I am comparing the displays. My Yaesu FTM-350? Same story - an outstanding, readable display that can be set to many different colors. Even the alerts can be set to a unique color. Again, I am not comparing radio features....I just happen to have these 2 Yaesu radios to compare with the ID-5100 display.

Prologue: I wouldn't dare show the ID-5100 to a potential Ham as an example of what amateur radio has to offer and what our radios can do - they would never get past the horrible display. If you're a Tech and this is your foray into long-distance comms via D-STAR - do yourself a favor and upgrade to General and get on HF. I've found D-STAR to be a complete bust for me - with, perhaps, the exception of emergency comms - not compelling enough for me to put up with this high-priced piece of junk.

Earlier 3-star review posted by WZ4K on 2015-01-25

One star for the fan and one star for the display.

The fan is ridiculous. In a car you'de never notice it under your seat but as a base unit ... terrible. The display has very poor contrast - it lacks the sharpness and clarity of other much less expensive radios like my Yaesu FT-7900. The viewing angle is limited, especially in the vertical plane. That and the lack of an ambient light sensor just sucks in the car. Performance is OK but does not justify its price. I'm very sorry I purchased this radio. At the basic level, you get the human interface elements right - then you add features, this Icom seems to have tried this in reverse - let's add advanced features and then engineer the interface on our coffee break.
AE7G Rating: 2015-03-20
Advanced radio Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I have had some time to get used to this radio and it has become my favorite vhf/uhf rig.

The main advantage is that it is really easy to use, which is a major plus when you use it while driving. Big screen, easy to see numbers, extremely easy to figure out what to push or tap when you want to do something.

The built in GPS and the ability to automatically spot and configure for local repeaters is a huge advantage, especially when traveling. The feature itself works well, the problem is that most of the downloadable repeater lists are woefully weak on analog FM repeaters. There is probably a good downloadable list out there, I just have not found it yet.

There is an issue with the screen brightness when used in a vehicle. While mounted above the dashboard, the screen is barely bright enough for use in bright sun. For night driving the screen is way too bright and needs to be manually dimmed or turned off for safety. I think this could be cured in firmware and I hope ICOM does something about this in a firmware update.

The GPS unit is built into the head, so the best location for the head is with an unimpeded view of the sky such as on top of the dash. The GPS itself works well and finds location quickly.

There are many complaints here about the cost of accessories, including mounts and extension cables. If you mount the main unit in the trunk you will need to purchase extension cables for the microphone and control head.

While ICOM accessories are high priced, you do not need to use their accessories. You can use standard modular six pin wires and connectors for the control head extension and standard CAT 5 cabling extenders for the microphone. Mounting brackets can be easily and cheaply made, or simply use adhesive backing foam or tape.

I did have initial problems with receiver sensitivity after a month of ownership. I initially thought it was a defective unit, but the factory told me I had fried the front end of the receiver with excess RF. I have since traced the problem to a defective antenna mount, so I think they are correct. The radio was repaired at a reasonable price and has been working fine ever since.

850MIKE Rating: 2015-01-03
Oh but it DOES perform DSTAR cross-band repeat! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I wanted to focus my review on aspects not already covered extensively.

First, as the title notes, one can indeed use this radio to cross-band DV RF. It's slightly non-intuitive in that both bands need be set to FM, but so long as there is a DSTAR radio on each end and the 5100 is the "dumb" translator go-between, it works, and works well! I find that it's not fast enough to pass link commands in the UR callsign field to my DVAP, but unlink worked. It works just fine for accessing and carrying on a QSO using my ID-51 on the local DSTAR repeater. Remember, you must be set to FM on both cross band repeat bands, and don't forget if using with a repeater, you need to ensure the offset is applied so that the cross band transmission comes out on the repeater input. It is necessary to use caution as you are essentially operating a riskier scenario without PL/DPL and any signal detected (interference too) could key up the radio. A heavy duty cycle can also potentially run your car battery down over a period of time, if using it mobile.

Second, the first radio I received was a lemon. Its control head had a degenerative nonresponsiveness issue. No big deal as the nice folks at Main Trading Company got me a replacement very quickly. This issue is not unheard of as I saw another post about the same problem right out of the box.

Third, the brightness adjust has be done manually for day/night conditions. Oh how I wish it had an ambient brightness sensor!

The second/third items above are why the radio has earned 4 stars instead of five,

Fourthly, I find the GPS sensitivity adequate even with the radio being down lower on the dash than most. It is attached to in-dash mount adjacent the good-times radio in the car, thus it is not directly below the windshield on top of the dash, where satellite view is more optimal. I have had no problems acquiring lock and maintaining it on ,any satellites,

As you may have guessed, I do really like this radio!

K7CB Rating: 2014-12-16
Great Radio With Great Features Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
First off, I rated this radio a 4 simply because of Icom's brilliant decision to NOT include mounting hardware for a mobile radio. Enough said on there since that horse has been beaten pretty thoroughly.

With the mounting hardware issue out of the way, so far I am very impressed with this radio. I especially like the larger display. With this radio, you can program a memory with a city that has a long name such as Albuquerque or Colorado Springs without having to abbreviate. If the name is too long for it to fit on the display, the name will scroll across once. Along with the larger display, the touch capability is a great feature - allowing Icom to cut down on the number of buttons while still maintaining good functionality without the need to dig into menus for certain settings.

The receiver, so far, has been great. I'm on the board of the Cheyenne Mountain Repeater Group here in Colorado and we have a D-Star repeater on Raton Pass. I can actually open and receive this repeater - located approximately 150 miles from my QTH. Granted, I'm on a hill and the signal isn't strong, but it breaks the squelch and I can easily copy anything said through it. Whether the receiver is better than the 2820 or 880 requires further testing.

The DR function allowing you to bring up a list of D-Star repeaters from the programmed database or based on your GPS location is a great feature. Through the use of the touch screen, setting the radio up for a particular D-Star repeater is much easier than it was on the 2820. You can even program analog FM repeaters into the database and the 5100 will list any repeaters that are near you.

No radio is perfect and the 5100 is no exception. Besides the lack of mounting hardware, I've found the GPS receiver to be a bit slow. Even with the control head mounted on top of my dashboard in full view of several overhead satellites, my Kenwood in-dash navigation system locates and locks on to overhead satellites much faster than the 5100. Not a major issue since I'm not using the 5100 for navigation. Another minor thing - I would have preferred that Icom NOT put the GPS antenna in the control head. I would have preferred it was external like the 2820. To get a good signal from the satellites requires that you put the control head in a location where it can "see" the birds. Mounting the control head in a storage bin under the dash will affect GPS reception.

Aside from the minor issues noted, the 5100 is perhaps the finest VHF/UHF radio I've ever owned.
KG5DZR Rating: 2014-12-09
Simply Amazing Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
The Icom ID-5100A has been my first VHF/UHF base/mobile radio since I got into ham radio, and I could not have made a better choice. Touch screen enabled, the Icom ID-5100A allows any user to easily set up, and operate the radio with stunning ease everyday. It has much information built in which means almost no programming, just put in your reaper frequency and go is almost all you have to do.

DSTAR is also amazing and fun to use. I have had no problems with this mode, and have talked to the world.

All I can say about this radio, is 5++++++++++
K6ZA Rating: 2014-11-23
The Next Step Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I had a D710 in the car for 2 years with he G4 GPS map display. It was excellent for my need. The ID-5100 is a leap above for ease of use and intuitive functionality. That said, my experience with the ID-5100 had a rocky start. The unit arrived in perfect condition and worked for two days. I then bought the RT systems and ARRL travel database software to create my ideal import file. As soon as I uploaded the compatible file, the touch display failed to be consistently responsive. It was bizarre to imagine the upload caused the display failure, but no action fixed the issue. Kudos go to Gigaparts (great people) who recognized the failure and replaced the radio with a new one without question. The radio went back to Icom. Their note was Icom was going to review how they package the display for shipment. I have programmed the new radio manually being gun shy to repeat the file upload. I suspect it was just a lemon radio.. but the upload and then immediate failure was just too much of a coincidence. RT systems indicated that they never heard of the issue. I feel it is important that this be presented to the radio buying public.
N8UMW Rating: 2014-11-02
Good Radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have owned this rig for a couple months now and am very pleased with it's ease of use. The performance is very good as well, both transmit and receive. While I have to agree with some about the lack of any mounting brackets, I would not let this deter you from owning one. It is a performer. I do however have one issue with this rig that I've seen on some other Icom rigs. The volume knobs are sloppy. They shouldn't be loose on a brand new radio. The squelch and encoder knobs are firm, why can't the volume knobs be? There should be nothing cheap feeling on a radio of this price and otherwise excellent quality.
WK3P Rating: 2014-09-08
Great Radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I can’t believe the people complaining about no mount. I bent a piece of aluminum drilled two holes and was done. They could of put a different screw size. The Pan Head Machine Screw 2.6mm were a challenge to find. I just went to Ebay.
The radio was so easy to work I had trouble at first looking for a way to make it harder.
Dstar has a learning curve but isn’t that what the hobby’s about?
I love the radio
WD1V Rating: 2014-09-04
Best Dual Band Digital Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Just 2 weeks into owning. I am often hearing on the air
other 5100A owners saying this is their favorite radio - ever!
Its in my top 5 and still trending up.

* XMIT and RCVR audio - stunning - Analog and D-Star
* Touch Display and smooth, intuitive UI
* Sensitive and Tight Receiver
* GPS miles and direction to station listening
* Built in Repeater Directory with Local Auto Load to Mem
* 1000 Memories
* SD Card QSO Recording
* Crossband Repeat Function Included

I also purchased RT Systems software and cable for programming memories and an Icom external speaker.
Vehicle is a Jeep so nice to have the speaker aimed at me and the radio secure under the driver's seat. Also bought 7' CAT-5 cable for easy mic extension.

Also of note is the high degree of courtesy and quality of QSOs on D-Star. There are several regional and international nets that are so well run. The phenomenal reflectors and end user controlled linking of repeaters is 21st century preparedness. Semper Fi brothers and sisters.