Yaesu FT2DR

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by OE3JJS, Jul 4, 2015.

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  1. OE3JJS

    OE3JJS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I thought I'd post an updated version of my FT2-DR/DE review:

    The hardware feels very sturdy. The FT2D is slightly higher, but a bit slimmer than its predecessor. There's a new volume dial on the top which is very welcome. The second is of course the touchscreen, which sounds amazing at first glance. However you'll quickly come to realize that the screen is way too small to press anything but the biggest buttons when on the go, and worse, the display isn't too amazing. The contrast is even worse than that of the ID-5100, which is saying something. Seriously, when you get the device the first thing you'll try to do is to up the contrast, but no, that only makes everything go darker. The optimum viewing angle is about - 45 degrees, i.e. you have to look upwards from below to get the optimal contrast. The message LED is now on the top, which is actually sensible considering this thing usually clips on your belt. Reception is good, the speaker is definitely adequately loud if needed. The signal reports I got were very positive. The battery clip has been changed, it's more sturdy than on the FT1D.

    If you're coming from the FT1D like I do, then I have some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is, this is very much like the FT1D. The bad news is, this is very much like the FT1D ;)
    Seriously, what Yaesu did here is take the firmware of the FT1D and modify it a little for use with a touchscreen. Individual buttons have been replaced with touchscreen buttons, most of the time on the very same positions. Text entry is a huge disappointment - there has been zero progress in terms of usability. You dial letters like on a 10 year old phone, just like on the FT1D.

    Another thing, if you're moving up from the FT1D, you'd think you can just save your channel memories on the microSD card, and then put it into the FT2D and load up your stored memories, right? Nope. Nada. The FT2D just won't load anything from the FT1D without you messing around with the SD card. So having a save from my FT1 I decided to play around a bit, and I actually managed to flash a complete NAND "backup" of the FT1 on the FT2 by copying the backup file between directories on the SD card. Guess what happened: My memories have been successfully restored, however now the menu items are exactly as on the FT1, with some options changed and/or missing. Also, the volume and VFO knob are now switched around, i.e. the top knob controls the volume while the ring below changes frequencies and moves between menu items.
    The radio version screen shows v1.0 for everything but the DSP, which is now at version v0.0 (!!)
    Whatever you do, make sure the radio writes a backup file before you attempt any of this. And if you find yourself in this situation, do a factory reset by holding the BACK, DISP and BAND buttons while powering on. This will make the FT2 behave like an FT2 again.

    Copying the MEMORY-CH backups would probably work, but I haven't tested this.

    I got this radio because I wanted a better user interface, but frankly, so far it disappoints. It's a perfectly good HT in its own right, but if you think that tasks such as APRS message sending have become any easier or more logical, I have to disappoint you. Just about the only improvements are a context sensitive button that appears on some menus and lets you perform additional tasks, for example you can enable/disable auto beacon sending or get into the APRS message sending menu from the station list screen that way. I was so hopeful that sending APRS msgs would finally become a viable task to perform on a HT, but no, it feels like 1999 all over again. Text entry is a real pain, both because of the dialing entry system, the small size of the touch buttons, and many annoying software usability issues. For example, you know how pressing a different button during text entry moves you to the next character right? Well it does so here as well, except if you're switching to numbers. Then the number will overwrite your current letter instead of using the next character.

    Operating the channel memory is just as cumbersome as before: You save the frequency first using a non-obvious long button press, then you dive into a 3-level menu to change the memory name. But oh, remember how naming your memory slots was useless on the FT1D because it only displays them in single channel mode? Guess what, it's the exact same as on the FT2D. They didn't improve a thing about this. Worse, some menus have apparently not been converted to touch control yet, and they require you to move a cursor with the frequency dial, and select values with the "Display" button (which is the new Enter button btw.) - I'm sorry, it just feels like an afterthought.

    Alright, rant mode off. I'm sorry if I make this HT sound bad. It looks alright to me, it has a bigger 2200mAh battery despite it having the same size as the standard battery in the FT1D. I like the fact that it's slimmer and the volume dial is really good to have. Oh and another good thing, it fits into the CD-41 desk charge cradle. If you're okay with the FT1D you'll likely be ok with the new model. In direct comparison, the downsides are higher price, a display that's less easy to read despite bigger numbers, and since it's a touchscreen you now have to lock the device anytime you put it on your belt, unlike the FT1D which I never really locked because nothing ever managed to press the buttons by accident.

    I'm afraid I can't give this one a glowing review. It doesn't usher in a new era in HTs, and I honestly don't think it's worth the price of admission. The moment one of the manufacturers figures out that it might be time for an android-powered HT that has a modern UI, allows apps, and isn't just an android phone with a 2m/70cm transceiver connected via a serial connection like on those Runbo walkie talkie phones, the moment this happens nobody will look at this anymore. But those are my opinions, yours may vary of course.

    I like the build quality of this radio, but the software is just embarassing.


    Some pics:

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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2015
    KM6LYW, PA3KC and PD3ADN like this.
  2. KU7PDX

    KU7PDX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Great review with some helpful tips, thank you!
     
  3. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Subscriber QRZ Page

    Now I don't feel so bad about having an "OLD" FT1DR!
    Sounds like I have the right one!
     
  4. K4VLF

    K4VLF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    JJS - great review. But I sure am confused. I thought this was one of the blessed HT's, you know, one of the GOOD ONES - that is perfect out-of-the-box.

    Guess I will have to keep saving my shekels for a GOOD ONE ...
     
  5. OE3JJS

    OE3JJS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Well I sold my FT1D and kept the FT2D, but I stand by my opinion that this is not an essential upgrade. Yaesu could improve a lot of the UI issues via software upgrades but I have the distinct feeling that they're not like ICOM ;)
     
  6. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi, thanks for an honest and straight review.
     
  7. KA2ZEY

    KA2ZEY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm baffled as to why they would bother with a giant touch screen and yet no way to easily text type a message for APRS!!
     
    AD5KO likes this.
  8. PD3ADN

    PD3ADN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have the FT-2D now for a few days.
    But i am largely disappointed as the GPS is still terrible (As VX-8GR user, identical case as the FT-1D) !
    Bought it in the expectations that the GPS would be to today standards !
    But on the contrary, I am now for 2 days waiting on a satellite lock !!
    When i take my ICOM it has lock within a minute, but that one is lacking APRS :( !
    Now also placed an 32GB SD-Card maybe it will help but so far no difference... still blinking and no data on the display.

    Ooh when i placed the card and turned it on the radio froze on startup screen... tried to turn it off... but it did not at first then it turned off after 20 secs or more... when I turned it back on, it came with the SD card image on the display.
    Format the card and got an 'completed'.

    As it has 2 days ago shortly some data on the display, i have reset all memory with the 3 keys turning on and re-entered the data but also no difference... still blinking... nothing filled in on the display.

    Display is nice. Entry is much easier now. Can program an channel in seconds and with the ARS (Auto Repeater Set) is an repeater entered in no-time. Also making chances to the setup is easy but i presume you must not have to thick fingers otherwise you activate another function instead :)

    Noticed that the Antenna is about 2 cm shorter then the VX-8GR which worked perfectly, I wonder why?
    Have the feeling it works less good but it can also be the receiver that's less ? (rem. More fade on repeater RX)

    Finally the modulation is less loud !!! I have it set mic vol. to 9 but still they ask to speak louder !
    With the VX-8GR i never had modulation complains, I am using the same ear/mic !!!!

    ooh Josef and indeed my version number also include 0.0 :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  9. NC5P

    NC5P Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have the FTM-400DR but don't think I'll be getting a portable Fusion radio. Repeaters dying and such, T/R relays burning up, GPS receiver cutting in and out, general quality issues, etc. aren't helping the situation. Yaesu has some quality issues they really need to address in addition to software deficiencies. I really do like the Fusion mode per say but I also like the other digital modes. Hopefully Kenwood will come out with a multi-digital format radio for the amateur market like their commercial NX-5000 series that does NXDN and P25 right now (not vaporware like Connect Systems) in the same radio. They can do those (trunking as well) so surely they can do DMR, Fusion, and D-Star in a ham market version.
     
  10. PD3ADN

    PD3ADN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Update:
    Okay have a whole day GPS signals from satellites now !
    Just went for an evening test walk...
    During the walk, when i was climbing a hill to the highest dune spot in my town overlooking the sea and cities, I lost the GPS !
    Even on the highest top i had no signals at all !
    After a few times turning off and on, I sometimes had 1 small open (white) vertical bar signal and then dropped away.
    Or it went away when i switched back to freq. display and back to GPS display, showing full empty signal window.
    Its was displaying several small circle spots in the left circle, from earlier i presume.
    Last signal was from 2015-08-10 19:31:31, 6 km/h 116° alt -210 m .
    Waited there for over an half hour on the top, then went walking back. Switch off and on twice without any result.
    On my way back I decided also to switch it off for approx. 120 secs. Then turned on and some signals re-appeared !
    And shortly after the first signal was send out: 2015-08-10 20:18:23 4 km/h 167° alt -15 m
    Is the GPS software crashing ? Is the GPS decoder failing?
    Very odd but mostly extremely disappointing !
     

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