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Icom IC-T70A Review

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Moleculo, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    The new Icom IC-T70A has become widely available, so I picked one up to evaluate.

    The IC-T70A is a no-frills, 2M/440 HT that is Icom's obvious attempt at competing with the Yaesu FT-60. The IC-T70A is priced at $220, while the FT-60 is $195. While there are many similarities between the two radios, there are also a few differences. Some of the similarities are: Both radios come with 7.2V/1400mAh batteries. Both are fairly rugged and simple to use. Both only allow operation on one band at a time. Here are some of the differences: The FT-60R has 1000 memories available; the IC-T70A has 302. The FT-60R has wide-band FM reception; the IC-T70A does not. The Icom is water and dust resistant (MIL-STD 810 and IP54 rated); the Yaesu is not. The IC-T70A has internal VOX; the FT-60R does not.

    Here are a few pics that show the size and dimensions of the radio:

    Front:
    [​IMG]

    Side:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the radio next to a Yaesu VX-8r for size comparison:

    [​IMG]

    Width of both radios shown. Note, the VX-8r has the extended battery installed:

    [​IMG]

    Note the large battery:

    [​IMG]

    The battery power in this radio seems to last forever. As a test, I gave the radio a full charge, and then decided to see how long it would last just monitoring before dieing. It has been monitoring my local police dispatch for 36 hours and it has not died yet. Keep in mind, that I have not used the radio during this period to transmit, and I've kept the volume at a comfortable listening level. I intend to keep it on, doing the same thing to see how long it will last. Whatever Icom is doing to conserve battery power while receiving is working well.

    Icom boasts 7200mW of receive volume. I can attest to the fact that this is quite a bit of volume from a small radio. You definitely don't have a hard time hearing this radio from your hip!

    Here is a close-up picture of the display and keypad of the radio:



    [​IMG]

    The first test I always do with any new HT is attempt to figure out the basic, necessary radio functions without reading the manual. I try to figure out how to change bands, activate duplex/tone/repeater settings, and switch between VFO and Memory mode. I also usually try to enter the Set menu and see how many options I can figure out. I do this as a barometer of how easy the radio is to use. I can honestly say that the basics of this radio are incredibly easy to figure out, especially if you've used any HT prior to this one. I also figured out about half of the Set menu functions before looking at the manual.

    You can see from this picture that the radio uses standard mic and speaker jacks, which is always good if you like wiring your own connections to save a few bucks:

    [​IMG]

    And lastly, here is a pic of the supplied belt clip which snaps onto the battery:

    [​IMG]

    It is strong and substantive, and you won't find it slipping off of your belt.

    Next I'll cover some of the basic functions and later I'll go over the extended transmit/receive mod. Stay tuned...
     
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  2. kd7jym

    kd7jym Member

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    seems like a nice solid radio. the belt clip is similar to the one on the vx-150, which I have always liked. I wish the vx8r had a similar one.

    this will sound lame, but I find the aesthetics a bit disappointing. it doesn't need to look good in order to work well, but I think a little sprucing up of the looks would help to convey a sense of commitment to innovation. imho, I think yaesu takes this more seriously than the others.

    would anyone actually use even 300 memories, let alone 1000?

    I have only about 30 in use on any of my HTs and even then I can't make out what some of them are sometimes :)
     
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  3. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    I agree that this isn't the prettiest radio on the market today.

    One of the nice features of the radio is that it can be charged by 10-16 volts DC, so you can homebrew your own DC charger from a battery or cigarette lighter. Another nice features include the capability to organize memories into memory banks. You can't name the banks; they are labeled A through Z. Programming the radio is very simple: After setting your frequency, tone, etc., you just hold the S.MW button for 1 second, release it then turn the dial to the desired memory location and hold the S.MW button again for 1 second. You can also set a call channel memory for each band the radio uses.

    One of the first changes you'll want to make to the default settings is to turn on the Auto Repeater function. When I first got the radio, I didn't think it even supported this functionality because it is turned off by default. There are two different "Set" modes: You enable the Auto Repeater function by using the Set mode that is activated by holding down Set while turning the power on. The procedure is simple and the instructions are in the manual.

    I discovered the reason for my 36 hour monitor time: The radio has a "Power Save" feature, where you can adjust the radio of power save time to standby time. The manual isn't very clear on what the different settings mean, but the default is an "Auto" mode. I tried turning this completely off to see how long the radio will last while actively monitoring the entire time it's on.

    The scanning features of the rig work very well, and it seems to scan very fast. You can scan the full band, scan saved memories, scan a memory bank or multiple banks linked together, scan just memories in a particular band, scan a duplex (input and output of a repeater) set of frequencies, and even program band scan edges.

    I used the radio again tonight on 2 meters and received very nice audio reports. So far, everyone who has heard the TX audio of this HT has been very pleased with it.
     
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  4. Luke_C

    Luke_C KD0GBK

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    This one looks good, Mol. Keep it coming.

    So it doesn't receive FM broadcast at all? Is there a AA batt pack for it?
     
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  5. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes there is an AA battery pack for it, as well as an extended battery option. There is also a rapid charger option. Nope, it doesn't receive FM broadcast, at all. It's strictly VHF/UHF/WX.
     
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  6. Sztoy

    Sztoy Member

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    IC-T70E

    Hello from DL. Anyone a idear to open the version "E" RX an TX ?
    I think my Germany Icomdealer has not the Band Range Information
    to switch from Type E to A ?
    Thx for Info.
     
    #6
  7. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    I'll have the info up soon on how to convert the A version - you can cross reference that against your E version and report back.

    I used the radio again quite a bit the other night. It's just a real solid, basic performer. So far I haven't experienced any intermod problems, or really any problems, at all. There isn't a whole lot that can go wrong with a radio that is this simplistic.

    I did notice that after talking continuously for over an hour that the radio got REALLY hot, which is fairly normal for HT's. However, during one really long key, it got so hot that the PTT button was almost too hot to keep depressed! I was using the radio on high power at the time, so I know that had a lot to do with it. Again, this is nothing to be really concerned about, but I was a little surprised that it got that hot, especially because a larger hand held radio should disperse the heat a little better than a smaller hand held radio.
     
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  8. n9zas

    n9zas Member

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    Does the T70 have a low power setting? That might keep it from getting so hot. It looks a lot like some commercial icom portables we have at work.
    n9zas
     
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  9. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes it does have two lower power settings, which definitely will help with the heat.
     
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  10. KingCobra_CDX882

    KingCobra_CDX882 W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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    It seems like it is a decent HT..
    It also seems it is basically a T90a simply redone a bit..

    Yes ??
     
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  11. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    It's Similar, but there are a few key differences:
    • The T90a is quite a bit smaller
    • The T90a has 6 meters; the T70A does not
    • The T90a has wide band receive; the T70A does not
    • The T70A has a much bigger battery and much longer life from what have seen so far.
    • My T90a had horrible intermod problems in the big city; I have yet to experience that with the T70a
    • The T70A has a much bigger speaker, but it's also butt ugly. :laugh:
    If I notice any other major differences, I'll make sure and report back.
     
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  12. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    #12
  13. ranger56528

    ranger56528 Member

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    Well I have a T70A on the way..
    Thanks Moleculo for all your imput on this handheld rig....Being I am new to ham radio this looks like it will suit me fine for the price....Oh and I will wait a year before I open it up and remove anything heeheehee...
     
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  14. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Cool, When you get it, let us know what YOU think about it :)
     
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  15. ranger56528

    ranger56528 Member

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    It came today and right now I have it on the charger,will take it to work with me tomorrow and start checking it out...It is a bit heavier then I thought it would be but it also fits my hand nice.......
     
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: icom ic-t70

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