FT-891: is it that bad?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by WB2WIK, May 22, 2017.

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  1. KF5KCA

    KF5KCA Ham Member QRZ Page


    Yes, the IC-7100....Almost forgot about it. It is actually not too bad from a pricing perspective (now available at $850). Hate is a strong word, but I do HATE the design of the unit. It looks like your grandpa's weather station or bedside clock radio. The oddly shaped head unit will also be irritating when trying to store it compact in a backpack. Thus, I had taken it off my list. Specs are pretty good though and so are reviews. It has IF DSP and receive at <2A is also "OK" for a non QRP receiver. Weight is at 5lbs, which is my top limit for portable but size is good. If there weren't the looks of that darn head unit......;)

    I have considered the FT-857d, but I really do not need VHF/UHF and paying more for a unit that is getting pretty old from a technology perspective makes it less attractive when compared to the FT-891. I doubt that the FT-891 is objectively worse from a transceiver perspective than the FT-857d.

    Thanks for the feedback,

  2. WD4IGX

    WD4IGX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I kinda want an 857D. My friend has a couple and really likes them, but I DO want VHF/UHF. In fact my main motivation is to get an all mode 6/2/440 rig for the shack now, to supplement my FT-990, that I can use mobile later also on HF. And I agree about the shape of the 7100. Plus I really don't like touch screens for small and especially mobile use - fine for a desk radio. Otherwise I'd consider it, as it IS a considerably newer design.

    There are multiple reports of low transmit power with the 7100 as well, though.

    (Don't write to offer me used ones now, folks. I'm not ready to buy.)

    Oh, where are you seeing 7100s for $850? Cheapest I see is $999 at Gigaparts.

    EDIT: Oh, never mind, I see the rebate now.
    AD5HR likes this.
  3. KF5KCA

    KF5KCA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, I really like the FT-857d as well! I just feel the HF portion of the FT-891 is a new and improved design over the FT-857d. Again, for me, if it were between the two, I would opt for the updated FT-891 at a lower price as I do not want VHF/UHF.

    You are correct on the low transmit. I believe especially on SSB there were concerns that the ALC was limiting output power to <75W. However, I have also read that this was addressed with a firmware update. Your touchscreen concern for portable use is also a good one. Being tossed around, I guess EXTRA care would have to be taken to avoid damaging the screen. I am also a little concerned as you seem to be SOL when the touch portion of the screen goes bad and gloves would be out of the question. And, I am in general not a big fan of touch screens, especially, if they are not capacitive.

    I am back to the FT-891 for my requirements of portability, all mode capability, output power and DSP design :)

  4. KF5KCA

    KF5KCA Ham Member QRZ Page

    After looking into this more it seems that you do still need a pretty invasive solder-mod to push the transceiver past 70W. While my needs would be well met with 25W, still not liking this "limitation".

  5. NH6MA

    NH6MA Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use both the IC7100 and FT891 portable.
    I am biased for I also have an IC7300, which is very close in operation to the IC7100.
    That being said, despite it's strange design, I find the 7100 very intuitive to operate. I wish the control head could be attached to the body, but it's a small point.
    I use the same backpack/cooler to transport both. I just wrap the 7100 control head in a rag/towel and load it on top.
    I don't have a problem with the so called low output; basically I don't care. 59 is 59, 25 watts ain't going to break the bank.

    The FT891 is smaller, very compact.
    If you need a tuner, then I would guess both radios would take up about the same space. Just know that the Icom is compatible with an LDG auto tuner, while the ft891 needs the Z100plus, a sort of auto tuner. This was almost a deal breaker on the Yaesu.
    My main problem with the 891 is the menu system.
    I've had it for about a couple of months now and still don't know what I'm doing (I have to be honest and admit that I've been lazy about reading the manual).
    Certain functions are not necessarily buried 'deep,' more like you need to keep track of where you are to find stuff.
    You need to manipulate the screen a few times to adjust the filters, something I have a problem doing on the fly.
    There are like four main screens with various functions, you just have to remember which is for what.
    Most of the adjustments are set and forget for me, so it's not really a problem.
    Sort of.
    Feels to me like the menus were added as an afterthought, very strange.

    I'm better at adjusting the filters on the 7100, but remember I have a 7300 at home.
    I am a button/switch kind of guy, but the touch screen works for me extremely well .
    I feel at ease with the 7100, while the FT891 will make me panic every once in a while.
    Where was that thing? etc.
    Once you get past the weirdness of the 7100, it is very easy to operate.

    I"ve been using the ft891 more than the 7100, mainly because I'm using Dstar at home and I don't need the vhf/uhf portable.
    The 891 is a great radio, but I've been thinking of selling and getting another 7100, even if it is in excess to my needs.
    It's just easier to operate. For me.
    I'll continue with the FT891 and I'm sure I'll eventually figure it all out.
    I went with these radios because I wanted latest generation DSP and both work well in that aspect.

    I think for the price now, $800 for the 7100 and $630 for the FT891, you really can't go wrong.
    KC9BNW likes this.
  6. KF5KCA

    KF5KCA Ham Member QRZ Page


    Thank you very much for the great and detailed feedback. It is nice to hear from someone who can base their opinion on actual real life comparison experiences. I am pretty much set at this point on the FT-891, primarily because I am not interested in UHF/VHF being inside the same unit, prefer the somewhat smaller form factor and lighter weight of the FT-891 and also appreciate that the head-unit can be attached to the body. Besides, you cannot beat the current price of $630 :)


  7. KI4YRF

    KI4YRF Ham Member QRZ Page

    So I'm a new guy to the HF side of life. I've been strictly UHF/VHF for the last 10 or so years. I am looking to move to HF and could use some sage advice as to which radio to go with. I've been reading the forums threads and they only added to my confusion. I was considering the FT-857D since I am outdoors quite often and the portability of the radio appeals to me, also it still has UHF/VHF capabilities. My question I guess is the 857D a good starting HF radio? I do plan on building a base station shack and will look again to the experienced folks out there to help choose a decent base station radio. I'm not brand sensitive although all of my UHF/VHF radios are Yaesu, if Icom is the better radio, I will go that way.

    Please don't beat me up too bad, I'm sure there are literally hundreds of differing opinions out there, I just would like some solid advice.

  8. KI4YRF

    KI4YRF Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK after some internet searches, I've narrowed it down to either the IC-7200 or the FT-991 for my portable unit. Not too concerned about weight since I still need to lug a generator. Are these solid choices?
  9. NH6MA

    NH6MA Subscriber QRZ Page

    New to HF?
    I'd look for something used like a Yaesu FT450AT. Inexpensive and if it doesn't work out for you, probably get your money back.
    This will help you determine what you want in a rig, what's important and what's not.
    Need a tuner? working SSB or CW? need some filters? like pushing buttons or working menus? going digital? etc.

    IMO, the 7200 and FT991 are sort of on different sides of the fence.

    Working portable? What kind of antenna?
    Single band dipole, no need a tuner. If you run a long wire, then a tuner is needed. You need to match your rig to your needs.

    I mention the FT450at mainly because it has most of the newer features of an HF rig, even if it is older tech. I got mine, used for a few months, then sold it for what I got it for. What it did was help me decide how I was going approach HF and what things I thought I needed in a radio. Can you say DSP?
    I think that for HF, what's important is that the radio matches your needs and operating style.

    For portable, I'd look at the above mentioned IC7100, the Yaesu FT891, and the Kenwood TS480. I have the former two, and the latter was high on my short list.
    I considered the FT991a, but decided that 2/70 was superfluous to my needs. To paraphrase a song: no one there I really wanted to talk to. A radio with a waterfall is nice though, but I like spinning the dial too.
    One more word on DSP; they are not all the same. The FT891 and IC7100 are both 32bit, most of the other portables are older tech.

    Hope this helps.
  10. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'd get the FT-991A, if you can afford it, but you might get a deal on a used FT-991 original. There were some early bugs, with those, FYI.

    You really shouldn't pass-up a look at the Kenwood 480SAT. I have never owned one, but everyone says the receive is better than the FT-450D. They are a bit long in the tooth, but it's still one of the best in the price range. Actually, at this price range, DSP usually isn't that great, and you might learn it's better to learn how to adjust RF gain properly. I'd rather have the good receiver of the 480SAT, to be honest (if I were maxing my price under $800), and wanted a new radio.

    I owned an Icom 7200, and I HATED that radio. I have the 7300, and like it.

    I also own an FT-891, and ran another pile-up of 50 stations with it into Europe today, as HL1ZIX. I find it is actually easier on my ears than my IC7300, although the Icom sounds much better, overall (it should -- it costs twice as much as an FT-891). I was giggling, because I got several "nice mic" reports, while using the crappy MH-31b stock mic. It guess it pays to listen to your own signal through another radio, and make adjustments. Setting 2 on the back of the mic, while dropping the lows and boosting mids and highs in the FT-891 seems to do a good job.

    We've had this wild propagation pipeline from Seoul to the EU, for the past week. Several Korean ops staying up late to work EU, now. It's pretty insane! I hit the top of the DX calls on QRZCQ tonight, and that has never happened, before.

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017

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