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Icom ID-51A Plus2 Review

Having a reliable transceiver is a must for outdoors lovers and ham radio enthusiasts. While there are budget transceivers out there with basic features, more advanced radios are worth the investment due to the features they bring to the table. Icom, for one, is a well-loved brand of amateur radio enthusiasts – and for all the good reasons, too. In this article, we’re taking a look at the Icom ID-51A Plus2 VHF/UHF Portable Transceiver to see if it’s the one you need. 

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Overview

The Icom ID-51A Plus2 is a handheld amateur radio that’s one of the upgraded versions of the Icom ID-51A. Prior to this, the ID-51A is an improvement on the ID-31A. The ID-51A Plus2 is robust with functions you’ll find extremely useful for your transmitting and listening needs. Equipped with D-Star functionality, you can easily connect with your fellow hams all over the world. Furthermore, the built-in GPS, dual watch, phone integration, and expandable memory makes the Icom ID-51A Plus2 an advanced transceiver that meets and exceeds expectations. 

Let’s find out more in this Icom ID-51A Plus2 review.

What’s in the Box

  • Icom ID-51A Plus2 handheld transceiver
  • Antenna
  • BP-271 1150 mAh Lithium-ion battery
  • CS-51 Programming Software CD
  • Wall charger
  • Belt clip
  • Hand strap

Features

Design

If you’re tired of the standard black color that most handheld transceivers come in, the Icom ID-51A Plus2 will satisfy your need for color. You can get it in blue, green, gray, red, and of course, black. It feels comfortable in the hand and it’s clear that it’s made of high-quality materials. The ID-51A Plus2 sports a large 128×104 dot-matrix display. Although it’s not colored like the Kenwood TH-D74A, I find the details well-organized throughout operation. It’s also not overcrowded with info, so it’s very easy on the eyes. Don’t worry, the screen is backlit and visible in low-light conditions.

Frequencies

On the Icom ID-51A Plus2, you can listen to two bands. The A Band has a frequency range of 136-174MHz and 380-479MHz, while the B band covers 108-174MHz and 380-479MHz. Additionally, this transceiver has an AM/FM receiver. You can enjoy broadcasts of AM stations, FM stations, weather channels, aviation, and more. If you’re on the road or outdoors most of the time, you’ll find the NOAA alerts useful for staying updated on weather conditions. With the frequencies covered by the device, you’ll have an extensive array of options for listening and transmitting.

Built-in GPS

GPS actually opens up a lot of functions for handheld transceivers. Aside from showing you your location and altitude, you can use GPS to search for analog FM repeaters and DV repeaters near you. You can also send your real-time GPS position to another radio whenever you need to. Furthermore, the ID-51A Plus2 can store your GPS positions at different intervals in the micro SD card. With that, you have an accurate GPS log you can check if you need to track your locations.

D-Star Functionality

D-Star stands for Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio. Basically, the role of D-Star is that it allows you to send messages and calls to other hams all over the world through the internet. Yes, you can transmit globally with superb and uncompromised voice quality. D-Star reflectors have most repeaters connected to them, so communication over great distances is no problem. It has the upper hand over the Kenwood TD-74A in this aspect. The Icom transceiver has the ability to connect to both D-Star and FM repeaters, whereas the Kenwood device connects only to D-Star ones.

With D-Star functionality, this model provides you with more versatility and accessibility. While budget ham radios like the BaoFeng UV-5RA have communication limits, the ID-51A Plus2 can handle global transmissions effortlessly. 

Dual Watch

The device allows you to watch two amateur radio bands. You can monitor VHF/VHF, UHF/UHF, and VHF/UHF bands. As such, you have more flexibility when operating this transceiver. 

RS-MS1A Android App

Smartphone integration – what a great idea for transceivers! Once you have your RS-MS1A app, use the included OPC-2350LU cable to connect your Icom ID-51A Plus2 to your Android device. You can then proceed with multiple operations including sending and receiving pictures and messages, locating repeater sites on a map app, setting DR functions, viewing a detailed repeater list, and more.  With RS-MS1A, you are offered more versatility with operations.

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Terminal and Access Point Mode

As previously mentioned in this Icom ID-51A Plus2 review, you can make D-Star transmissions even if there is no D-Star repeater in your area. Terminal mode allows you to send voice or data to a destination repeater by using a PC or Android device that’s connected to the internet. On the other hand, Access Point mode uses the Icom ID-51A Plus2 as an access point (hence the name) for another D-Star radio when your transceiver is connected to the internet. Once again, Icom has proven that it can provide ease to its consumers.

Micro SD Compatible

Aside from the internal memory, you can opt to insert a micro SD of up to 32 GB in the radio. With the extra storage, you can collect voice recordings, log information, DV auto reply messages, GPS log, RX history log, and more. Firmware updates can also be stored in the micro SD. 

Waterproof

Another strong suit of the ID-51A Plus2 is its IPX7 rating. It can survive water submersion of up to 1 meter in depth for 30 minutes. If you’re a power user who’s always in unpredictable conditions, you won’t have to worry about this transceiver breaking on you.

PROS:

  • D-Star compatibility
  • Micro SD
  • Built-in GPS
  • PC and Android device integration
  • Waterproof

CONS:

  • Short battery life
  • Not beginner-friendly

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Icom ID-51A Plus2 Review Conclusion

Overall, the Icom ID-51A Plus2 is an versatile transceiver that advanced users will love. It provides D-Star compatibility, excellent performance, GPS function, Android and PC integration, and more. If you’re looking for a modern transceiver you can rely on, this will not disappoint.

William

This article is written by William Johnson, the founder of RRD. William is passionate about radar detectors. His interest in reviewing and testing radar detectors from different brands started nearly 10 years ago, when his own radar detector then (a cheap and brand-less detector he bought online) failed to detect and radar gun nearby.
William

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Icom ID-51A Plus2 Review
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