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Many people say that they wont get interested in certain digital voice modes for the following reasons:
The good news is that item 2 and 3 on that list are a reality today. Item 1 is coming along in the area with details covered in an upcoming article about current area DMR and other digital voice mode repeaters.
This review is focused on entry level DMR radios with a goal to compare them along with some details I like and dislike between them.
This review covers the following radios pictured, left to right.
I would like to cover Yaesu Fusion and Icom D-Star hand held radios, but there are currently no current radio available sold under $200, unless I include the brand new Yaesu FT-70DR which is priced at $199.99 at the time of this article at most resellers. Icom only has one HT, The ID-51A using its GFSK based D-Star mode and is priced at over $400. Kenwood offers the super fancy (My birthday is in December) TH-D74A which now does D-Star, but is almost $600 but also has the 220 MHz band.
I do want to mention that Alinco has reduced the price of its UHF DMR radio since last year by $70, the DR-MD40 is now $199.99, but for a mono band radio, I did not include that review at this time.
Here is a size comparison of some of the most popular radios today used by DMR enthusiasts that are considered "ham grade" and not commercial Vertex, Hytera, Motorola and others. I have also not included the USA designed, overseas manufactured Connect Systems (CSI) or Bridgecom radios that provide DMR as that is for another article at a later date.
Be warned, all radios in this review are "Made in China" but only the Radiooditty radio is not made by a 100% Chinese owned company to the best of my knowledge.
Country of origin should not matter in our global economy, but I do want to point out that at the price points listed in the chart below, the Chinese vendors are producing a very capable modern radio. This may help push European, North American and other Asian countries such as Japan put out a f-f-f-fantastic DMR product with this open standard digital voice mode in the future.
Now, that all being said, lets get it on!
Look for the radio that says "Tytera" on the front of it. Find it? Great!
Tytera and TYT are the same company. There just so happens to be a commercial company named "Hytera" that thought the name sounded too much the same, so Tytera changed much of its marketing. Should you see a "Tytera" radio branded for sale on the used market, I would pass on it just because its a few years old and there have been some improvements to it since. Also, why would you want to have to buy a new battery for an old radio when you can get the new "TYT" branded one for under $100 today.
With me so far?
Beyond the TYT/Tytera name change, there was also a new vocoder developed for the "TYT" and some late model "Tytera" radios. What this means is that the audio quality seems to be just a bit better, but there is a little quirk on some of the new radios on receive audio. "Some" of them, NOT ALL wont let you turn the volume down 100% whereas the older Tytera MD-380 does. Not a big deal, as the almost off volume is actually helpful. Just want to mention this for those looking at used radios. I consistently still use the older Tytera MD-380 (UHF) while traveling just for this reason and have avoided the MD-390 radios all together, hence why I do not have any pictured or covered in this review. The MD-390 came out after the MD-380 as you may guess, but I feel while its almost the same radio just in a different case, its not the same radio, quality wise.
That all being said, lets get to feature comparison and reviews...