Icom launches a new handy

Icom ID-51

Icom has demonstrated a prototype of its latest dual-band handheld transceiver – the ID-51A. (The European version will be the ID-51E.)

Covering 2m and 70cm, the ID-51 can also receive FM broadcasts and AM short wave radio. It supports D-Star (of course) as well as FM mode, and boasts a large 128×104 pixels display, the largest yet seen on an amateur radio handheld rig.

Like its smaller sibling the UHF-only ID-31, the ID-51A/E has a built-in GPS which can be used for track logging to a micro-SD card. The storage card can also be used to record incoming and outgoing voice traffic. Very useful – not!

Disappointingly though not unexpectedly, this new Icom does not support APRS, though it presumably supports D-Star’s rather lame version, D-PRS.

The ID-51 is being billed as the most technically advanced handheld, though it looks like you will be paying a lot for features – like the GPS and short wave receiver – for which most hams will have little use. I doubt that the large display – never mind the GPS – will do much to extend battery life, though Icom will offer an extended battery pack (at the usual inflated Icom prices no doubt.) However it is nice to see a manufacturer breaking the mould for HT user interfaces which have changed little for the last 20 years.

Julian Moss, G4ILO, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, England. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “Icom launches a new handy”

  • Mark AI4ho:

    Julian, I agree, this new Icom will be one that will have a niche, but for most of us day to day hams, this will “not” be something that will become near and dear to our hearts. I like the large display, something that has been needed for a long time. If Icom would make a plain jane version, no D-star, no am/fm receive, but add in APRS and a GPS..now that might be something that would interest me..note I said might. All too often when they manufacture these new HT’s or any rig really, the prices are so inflated that here in the US, I will typically wait a year or more before taking the plunge on any new rig. My last handi was the Baofeng UV-3R..nice little handi for the price. But..I digress, where does this all end? I know that with advancing technologies, newer, faster devices will come down the line, but with regard to handi talkies..eill it ever come to a point of diminishing returns? What next..a handi that also doubles as a smart phone..now you can talk to your buddies on 520 simplex, play angry birds..AND surf the internet;-} On this side of the pond I like to get my extra batteries for my HT’s at batteriesamerica.com thanks always for your input, hope you are doing well.

  • Dean KD4TWJ:

    And it appears that there is no keypad. So much for using it for VoIP on analog, or anything else that needs DTMF. What a useless piece of junk. AI4HO is correct, dump the D-Star and make the GPS usable with APRS.

    Recently I was looking for a portable radio to replace my FT-60R, which I will probably give to a possible new HAM in the family. There are NO appealing dual band portable radios on the market right now. The FT-60R is not bad, but it needs to be slightly larger, with an eight character display, larger recessed buttons on the keypad, and a better mic jack. If Yaesu were to put in an option slot for a digital card, such as Trbo or P25, then that would really be icing on the cake.

    What many of us really want / need, is a dual band amateur version of a commercial radio, other than the cheap crappy little Chinese units floating around out there. Give us the option of digital with cards for Trbo, P25, or NXDN and that is a fancy as we need to get. Obviously the digital support would need to be in the firmware, but all of the major manufacturers have already done that for their commercial gear, so it is not as if they need to create that wheel.

  • Fred Bernquist AE2DX:

    I am sure the new rig will have a 89 page E-zzzzzzzz to understand manuel for its operation just like all the other rigs come with. Lets see press up and #3 to get to menue 1 oops wrong button now what do I do.LOL

  • Damian M0SFX:

    I have owned HT’s from the very early yaesu’s to the latest offerings VX7/VX8 aprs gps mic, both fully loaded with everything the Lot, Icom 92 DSTAR Offerings, the Sat HT’S so on and so forth I have sold them all and still come back to the Kenwood THF7 with ssb receiver.

    As a radio, it takes a little mastery, but once you have it gives you both V/UHF and if that is quiet you can tune down on to the HF bands and with a roll-up antenna Sony AN-71 will be extremely surprised by the results.

    The HT designers need to have a rethink along the lines of what Mobile phone R&D engineers are doing, after all what is Mobile Phone, digital duplexer on 900/1800/2300 mhz. Dot Matrix Screens in this day and age, if a mobile phone came out with that now it would be laughed off the market, I’m aware of battrey constraints and pricing, but these new dstar offerings are not cheap. Regards. Damian

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