Kenwood TH-D74A Review Updated 2020

KENWOOD has already earned popularity and reputation with the TH-D72A handheld APRS amateur radio transceiver and now even further with the Kenwood TH-D74A. There are lots of ham radio brands and models that fit somewhere in between nothing and something, but none really hit the mark like this Kenwood amateur radio. If you are looking for a solid advanced user’s experience then this Kenwood TH-D74A review is for you.

The Kenwood TH-D74A is an amazing type of radio with tons of advanced features, unlike other handheld radios.

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  • Durable build, made of high-quality materials
  • Simple operation in DR (D-STAR repeater) mode
  • Built-in APRS allows real-time two-way data exchange
  • High-performance DSP voice processing
  • Tough weatherproofing meeting IEC 529 IP-54/ 55 standards
  • Voice Recording (Files size up to microSD memory capacity)
  • Built-in GPS and Bluetooth support

Main Features of Kenwood TH-D74A

Kenwood ham radio is packed with convenient features and the advantage of a digital transceiver. The radio is compatible with D-STAR, the amateur radio communications network that has voice mode and data mode. Both local and international communications are possible through diverse operations including simplex communications, single repeater relay communications, and inter-repeater gateway communications.

It is compatible with the APRS communication protocol, which allows real-time two-way data transmission by using packet communications. This Kenwood radio provides enjoyment of communications that make use of a variety of features, including sharing of local and GPS positional information and message exchange.

The Kenwood TH-D74A features a color transflective TFT display that offers excellent visibility in day or night. It is user friendly and has easily understandable pop up screens. It has an external Decode function (PC Decode 12kHz IF Output, BW: 15 kHz), a Command / Control Protocol, a CSV for data Import/Export, (Digital Repeater List, Call sign, Memory Channel). In addition, it has Four TX Power selections (5/2/0.5/0.05 W) and also tough Weatherproofing IP54/55 standards.

The built-in GPS enables use of external decoding software Bluetooth (SPP, HSP) and has an auto clock setting. It is compliant with Micro USB (Serial, Mass Storage Class and USB Audio).

Kenwood TH-D74A has a wide-band and multi-mode dual frequency reception with VxV, UxU, and VxU function with high performance DSP-based audio processing & voice recording. It has a setting through the digital function menu, a DV fast data mode and is equipped with IF filter for comfortable reception.

Kenwood TH-D74A mini-manual is an ideal short-form guide for setting-up and operating all the capabilities of this packed hand held transceiver. It has complete instructions for all modes of operation, including Multimode operation, IF filters, DSP equalizer, Scanning, Echo Link, APRS, D-STAR, GPS, Wireless Remote Control, TNC / KISS mode Packet, Bluetooth, microSD card backup and voice recording operations.

The mini-manual operating guide is smaller, faster and easier to use than the factory instruction manual. It is laminated for durability and water resistance, fits in a map pocket and is small enough to be kept with the radio. It is an essential operating accessory.

The Kenwood TH-D74A comes with different accessories:

  • SMC-32 Speaker Microphone, SMC-34 Remote Control Speaker Microphone and KMC-45D Speaker Microphone.
  • Earbud In-line PTT Headset.
  • Rapid Charger and DC Cable & Power Supply
  • Filtered Cigarette Lighter Cord.
  • Battery Case (6AAA Alkaline Batteries)*Recommended for Low/Economic Low power mode.
  • KNB-75L Li-ion Battery Pack (7.4V/ 1,800mAh) and KNB-74L Li-ion Battery Pack (7.4V/ 1,100mAh)
  • Battery life is great eventhough one needs to deactivate some of the advanced features such as the GPS and APRS stuff when not in use. For heavy GPS and APRS users, it’s advisable to buy a couple extra batteries for field use. The supplied charger will not run the radio and charge the battery simultaneously.
  • The color display is large and easy to read. Everything displays very clearly, even in lighting conditions which are less than ideal. The LCD is rather visible without the backlight on.
  • It has ARS compatibility on the 220 MHz band unlike other HAM radios and this enables all kinds of great functionality such as sharing GPS data.
  • It works well both indoors and outdoors.
  • Its software is clean and easy to use to get the bulk of the programming and configurations done.
  • It is also weatherproofed with a rating of IP54/55 and is manufactured from high excellent quality materials.
  • Kenwood TH-D74A has the D-STAR feature which enables you to send a text message, check somebody’s call sign, get online, and more.
  • The Kenwood TH-D74A is more expensive than some other models of handheld ham radios on the market but considering its features, it’s a good value.
  • It is a little heavy and bulky than the average handheld radio.
  • The manufacturer/factory manual is not very clearly written and the information has some gaps which makes this radio a better option for intermediate and advanced users than beginners.
  • Its rubber duck antenna has mediocre transmit performance. A better alternative is swapping out the duck antenna for something like the Diamond SRH320A 144/220/440 MHz Tri-Band Handheld SMA Antenna and also change the Ant. Connector (menu 104, iirc) to external rather than the BAR setting.

Final Thoughts

The Kenwood TH-D74A maybe pricey than other models of handheld ham radios on the market, but for that extra price, you are getting a radio with advanced features not found in any other radio. To match the features offered in the Kenwood 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 DSTAR feature. Finally, a digital recorder plus data and audio cables to connect them all. This radio is ready to control the exciting developments in radio communications. Hope this Kenwood TH-D74A review has helped you make a decision on buying this advanced ham radio

Kenwood TH-D74A Review Video

Paul Dudley