Kenwood TH-D74A Review

There are 752,659 licenses for broadcasting in the United States. Many of these licenses belong to people who have been using ham radio for years.

Ham radio has been a popular form of communication since it came into existence in the late 1800s. Experienced HAM radio operators will appreciate all features that the Kenwood TH-D74A has to offer.

We outline all of the many features that are included in this Kenwood TH-D74A Review.

The Features

This radio provides an output of 5 watts on the amateur FM bands of 144, 220, and 440. There are 1,000 memory channels.

APRS

There is built-in APRS or Automatic Packet Reporting System. This enables digital communication of GPS coordinates, weather updates, and text messages.

Other Modes

There is built-in QSY functionality. KISS mode TNC is also included.

Users can select an IF output mode and built-in IF receiving filter. Finally, there is a DV fast data mode.

Sound Quality

Kenwood has included their proprietary sound technology. There is also high-performance DSP voice processing.

Display

The display is a large full-color screen. Easy to understand pop up screens indicate modes and functions.

The individual feature displays for information are large. Everything is well organized so the many features don't become cluttered and confusing.

GPS

There is built-in GPS tracking and broadcasting. Few handheld radios on the market have this feature.

DSTAR Radio

DSTAR radio allows for voice and data modes over the amateur radio communications network. Users can communicate both locally and internationally.

This communication is possible through simplex, single repeater relay, and inter-repeater gateway. DSTAR is only found on one other radio offered by Kenwood.

Micro USB and SD

The micro USB lets users use external decoding software for Bluetooth. The Micro SD card allows for mass storage of audio recordings and GPS coordinates.

Audio Recordings

Users have the ability to make audio recordings. This is capable through micro SD card compatibility.

Battery

The radio is run by a Lithium battery pack. It's promised to last eight to ten hours.

Waterproof

The Kenwood TH-D74A has a waterproof rating of IP54/55. This means the radio is resistant to low-pressure water jets from any direction.

Available Accessories

Three optional microphones are available to buy. There is also a headset for those who want hands free operation.

For charging options, a rapid charger, DC cable, and cigarette lighter are all options user can buy. A DC power supply is also available.

Finally, there are three different battery pack options. The first is a replacement for the battery supplied, the second is another battery pack.

The third option is a battery case for six AAA batteries. This option works well with economic lower power mode.

The Good

It's easy to see that one of the best qualities about this radio is the many features. Additionally, users will enjoy using the beautiful display to operate the features. Kenwood delivers the features promised with a long-lasting battery and sturdy design.

Beautiful Display

The display has the potential for becoming cluttered with the many features. This is not the care though.

The full-color display is easy to read with large numbers. Whether it is dark or bright out, the screen is readable.

Sturdy

The solid construction makes this radio perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. The high-quality construction and materials contribute to the weatherproof rating.

Battery Life

The battery life will last as long as promised. The caveat is that some of the more advanced features need disabling for longer battery life. This would include features like GPS tracking.

Features Galore

The ARS compatibility makes this radio stand out. Not many HAM radios are compatible with the 220MHx band. This feature lets users share their GPS data.

DSTAR is rare among HAM radios. This feature allows for text messaging, checking call signs, online access, and a lot more.

Delivered as Promised

While not a feature in itself, an admirable quality is that Kenwood delivers what they promised. Users can expect to have all features perform as expected.

Radios Needed to Match the Features

To match the features offered in the TH-D74A a buyer would have to buy three separate radios. First, they would need the Kenwood TH-F6a for the all mode HF receiver and 144, 220, and 440.

The Kenwood TH-D72 to gain the APRS functionality. The ICOM ID 51 for the DTAR feature. Finally, a digital recorder plus data and audio cables to connect them all.

The Bad

While the TH-D74A has a lot to boast about, there are some drawbacks. This mainly includes the price and learning to operate the many features.

The Price

The Kenwood is a larger investment than other radios considered to be comparable. experienced users may consider the price worth it the number of features packed in.

The Manual is Lacking

Like so many other radio manuals, the Kenwood's is lacking. The directions that are there are not clear.

Some of the steps are completely missing. This leaves the user to figure out many features on their own.

Steep Learning Curve

This is not the amateur radio for a novice or beginner. There is a steep learning curve with the number of features.

Learning is more difficult by the lacking manual. Some of the features are not intuitive, only an experienced user would figure out.

Kenwood TH-D74A Verdict

The Kenwood TH-D74A may cost more, but the features included more than make-up for it. Experienced users will be able to learn how to operate them all with a smart amount of effort.

The price and learning curve are a deterrent for novice and beginner users. The user manual won't be much help in learning how to operate the radio.

Features like the DSTAR and ARS are not commonly found on other radios. These and GPS tracking are all uniques features found on the TH-D74A.

If the TH-D74A is more advanced than what you are looking for, check out these other great HAM radios.

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