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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Comparison of entry level DMR Radios (2017 Edition)

Many people say that they wont get interested in certain digital voice modes for the following reasons:
  1. There needs to be repeaters in the area to use first.
  2. There needs to be a dual band HT available.
  3. There needs to be a lower price point to experiment with digital voice modes.
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.
  • Radiooddity GD-77 VHF/UHF
  • TYT MD-2017 VHF
  • TYT MD-380G (UHF)
  • Tytera MD-380 (UHF)
  • TYT MD-380G (VHF)
  • TYT MD-380 (VHF)
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  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.

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