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Reviews For: ICOM IC-W32A

Category: Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held

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Review Summary For : ICOM IC-W32A
Reviews: 113MSRP: 260.00
2 Meter/440 MHz Dual Bander Handheld
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
N1OIE Rating: 2016-12-31
Loved it! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Kicking myself for selling this HT. Was my first radio in mid 90s, and I loved it. I then decided I was done with Ham (bored on VHF) so I sold it ... I saw no need to keep a bunch of electronic stuff around. Now that I'm back into ham, I really wish I had this radio. Got a Yaseu FT-250r as my replacement, and while I like that radio , it can stand up to the ole W32A. she really was a kick butt first HT.
WB0KWJ Rating: 2016-12-31
Dual band full duplex useful Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
The now-discontinued Icom W32A is a good, but not great VHF/UHF handheld transceiver. It is found at hamfests and on eBay priced between about $70 and $150. Its defining feature is probably its two separate radio systems, permitting (almost) full duplex operation (as long the radios are on different bands). This feature makes it useful to satellite operators, although a limited frequency range on UHF makes a modification necessary for some satellites. Separate tuning knobs and volume controls makes tuning the separate radios easy.

Early models could be frequency-extended via an undocumented key combination on start-up. Later models require a hardware modification involving the removal of circuit-board-mounted SMT diodes. Another undocumented feature is cross-band repeat, also accessed with a key combination. This feature is mostly likely undocumented because the W32A is not rated for the full duty-cycle operation a repeater would entail. Perhaps equally important, the W32A does not provide for repeater ID, making it illegal for two-way crossband repeat use in the United States (and anywhere else that requires the transmitter to identify itself). Given everything W32A has in it already, providing a CW id capability would not have been too much to add, at least for those who might use it as a repeater on a light-duty basis.

Audio is good on both transmit and receive. The built-in speaker can be made quite loud, but do not expect Kenwood quality output. Programming via computer is possible via a variety of programs. The metal-cased unit is heavy compared to plastic-case HTs. The rubber keys on the full-DTMF keyboard are extended beyond the case, creating a potential rub-off issue. The standard battery cases are NiCad or NiMH, meaning just hours or less of typical operation. Higher capacity batteries are now available to extend use time, as is a AA case. The battery case is easily changed. The supplied antenna is good quality, but short, limiting range. Some users report receiver overload issues. The supplied steel belt clip will bend. The display is small, busy, and low contrast. Programming the radio using the keypad is, sadly, like programming most other amateur radio equipment: complex and non-inuitive.

In all, this is a good radio, especially for specialized uses such as with satellites. If full duplex is not needed, however, many other newer ones are equal or better, at lower cost.
N0XMZ Rating: 2016-10-18
I can't believe Icom discontinued it Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I just got this radio last week and in my 20+ years of being a ham, this is the best HT I've owned. My only regret is not buying it a long time ago. I scored this one on eBay for $72 and it was in pristine condition. I'm going to buy at least another as a backup since Icom isn't making them anymore.

It's operation is very similar to the T7H, which I've used for the past 10+ years, so this radio was easy to learn how to use.
KC4YLV Rating: 2016-10-13
Rock solid Time Owned: more than 12 months.
What a great, feature-filled HT. Picked mine up about a year ago and have been using it at least weekly. Rebuilt the dead stock pack with 4 NIMH cells and bought a Nicad pack alongside. Always have juice.

Great transmit and receive quality. I will note that it won't go below 440 MHz TX without a mod, so if you want to use it for satellites (which its particularly well suited for), you gotta hack it. Not taking a point off though.

Pro tip: CHIRP will program this! Connect a standard TTL serial or Icom CI-V line to the ring of the 1/8" speaker jack, and program away. SUPER nice for setting all the alpha tags!

I'll never sell it and i'll probably buy the next good one I see at a hamfest for a backup.
NA5XX Rating: 2015-06-13
The best in my book Time Owned: more than 12 months.
How good are these radios. Excellent. I just returned from a swap meet. While there, I bought my 3rd one. My son also has one, so that is a total of 4 in the family. In my opinion, these were the best true dual band HT made. I was sorry to see them discontinued. If you find one get it. Well priced if you find it $150 or less.
KD7DDG Rating: 2015-05-20
Finally died...after 17 years Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought this radio new in 1998. It's now 2015...and it finally stopped working (receives fine, won't Xmit at all, even using the DC wall wart).

Loved the ease of use with this, the dual VFO. It's sad nobody seems to be making a radio of this caliber and feature set.
WD3T Rating: 2014-05-22
Great little radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Owned one , then bought another one wide receive coverage , good cross band repeat excellent all-around HT
KD3NE Rating: 2013-11-18
Excellent Long Living Product Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Have had this since the day I bought it brand new, so long ago I forget actually how far back it was. Definitely over 10 years.

I have been looking for new updated HT but cannot find one that fits me like the W32A does.

Mathematically speaking this HT cost me about $20 +/- a year to own to date.

I have had Yaesu HT's ( VX-7R ) and the did not last as long as the W32.

We are on our third VX-7R in the same time we have owned the W32A.

REMOVED_KD5ZEN Rating: 2013-05-11
Solid handheld transceiver Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've owned this transceiver for over 10 years and it still operates just as it did brand new!

Earlier 5-star review posted by REMOVED_KD5ZEN on 2004-03-31

First off, for all those bashing the VX-5R and think it's cute to call it a mugger deterent: The VX-5R is THREE times the radio this monster is. So that would make my VX-7R about FIVE.

More than half the bulk of this radio is its battery size. Speaking of the battery, don't charge it with the wall charger. That's a good way to kill the little cinder block. Don't buy a MAHA battery pack, either; they melt. You pretty much need a drop in rapid charger for it to be useful in a tick.

Now, aside from that.. 5 by 5! Awesome radio! I never, in the few months that I owned one, had ANY problems with intermod. Neither has my father, who also owns one of these. It felt ALLOT more solid than the T90 that I purchased later on (which might I add a week and a half after owning blew the 2 meter final). It's a sure win. You can't really go wrong with this radio as it does EVERYTHING in it's capabilities and does it well. Not half baked like some radios I have seen.

However, if you are going to be comparing this little beast with other radios, at least compare apples to apples and leave the VX-5R and VX-7R alone. One criteria I ALWAYS use in rating a radio: User error is NEVER the radios' fault. If the keys are too small, that's your loss. If the menu is too 'hard' that's your own problem. Those are very subjective OPINIONS. However, as for the keys being too 'small' or 'bigger.' The keys on the W32A are SMALLER than the keys on the VX-7R. Hmm...

To sum it up, though: Nice radio; good bang for the buck; sure win!
BASSMAN12350 Rating: 2013-04-25
Excellent Purchase for a Used Dual Bander Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I just purchased this transceiver used via e-Bay for $250.00. This included a desktop charger and brand new, in the box HM-75A remote microphone, and the radio was in 9/10 condition. I have been the proud owner of an IC-W31A for nearly 20 years and have loved the durability of that radio, as well as its features, ease of operation, and full cross-band operational capabilities. The only negatives I can say about the W-31A are its relatively weak audio output (200 mw at 8 ohms and 10% THD into a 1" diam. speaker) and the fact that it only has 100 memories total (43 for each band plus call channels, and scan edge memories). The W-32A takes care of these issues with a better speaker (still 200 mw audio output though) and 100 memories for each band plus the call channels and scan edges. It also receives the weather channels and aircraft "com" band. The build quality is as that of the W-31A, but when they superseded the W-31A with the W-32A, Icom completely redesigned the keypad and the radio's programming/instruction set. As a result, prior W-31A owners are behind the learning curve with this radio. That being said, if one wants a truly feature-laden, cross-band capable dual band radio which does everything it is supposed to do well, and they don't need APRS, Packet, DSP, or GPS capabilities, this radio is worth considering. Accessories, other than replacement batteries for it are pretty much non-existent, so look for one in good condition which includes the desired accessories. Icom is still supporting this transceiver at this writing, but probably will not for much longer.