FTM-400 vs. ID-5100 – A couple of months side by side

After finally getting some time to use the FTM-400 along side the ID-5100, I thought it was time to contrast the two. I believe that (after looking around and doing some research) these are probably the best mobiles on the market at the moment – the offer digital capabilities – the open standard of D-Star vs. the proprietary System Fusion, APRS/DPRS respectively, on top of just being solid sounding FM rigs that would make any everyday user happy. There are a few points that I would like to put down for each rig however, as they both do have their quirks that make each one something that different people may want to consider.

Pros – Yaesu FTM-400

  • Color TFT display makes reading in the sunlight much, and is easier on the eyes at night
  • Menus are probably the most straightforward of a Yaesu radio I’ve ever used
  • Full APRS Functionality
  • Relatively simple navigation in DX mode
  • YSF Compatible
  • Sturdy built
  • Decent Microphone Controls
  • Temperature Swings do not seem to affect the display

I’m actually hard pressed to find what I would deem a con about this radio. While I said that the Menus are the most straightforward of a Yaesu I’ve ever used, while that is a compliment to the relative simplicity of the rig, there are a few quirks that I’m not too crazy about – remembering that tone control is in “signaling” and not a separate tone control menu. Again, this isn’t a big deal, it’s just an odd thing to remember, but I’m sure anyone can get the hang of this eventually.

To draw a comparison of this radio to the Icom ID-5100, I actually think that overall the FTM-400 is a just a better radio. The ID-5100 offers D-Star which is a much more capable, narrower bandwidth mode that offers much more flexibility in your radio options. The menu simplicity, near repeater functionality, etc. make the functions of the ID-5100 far superior to that of the FTM-400. With that said though, the display, and the overall build quality of the FTM-400 is what pushes it ahead.

Pros – Icom ID-5100

  • Black and White display is less distracting while driving
  • Simplicity of menu navigation – almost the exact same going from an IC-7100, to an ID-5100, to an ID-51A, or an ID-31A. I would liken Icom’s line to the Apple of Ham Radio, when you pick up any other iPhone, you’re going to have an almost exact same experience between devices, the same goes for the Icom line of D-Star ready radios.
  • D-Star ready
  • DPRS – while not the same as APRS in the slightest when it comes to the beaconing and messaging features, if you’re an exclusive, or predominantly D-Star user, this is a very nice feature

However I have a few cons with the ID-5100:

  • Display difficult to read in sunlight – full brightness helps, but still just difficult compared to most mobiles
  • Display now displays grid marks after having been left in the car through a WNY Winter (while admittedly I did not receive the FMT-400, and we’ll have to see what another winter does to it)
  • Speaker is quiet on digital – this is more of a comment on the mode though, as DMR and Fusion do not seem to have the same Audio Level issues

All in all they’re both great radios for a similar price point, the ID-5100 is a bit cheaper, however they’re within $75-100 of each other depending on rebates and sales you may catch. If you want something D-Star ready, trust me, you can live with the shortcomings of the display, because the rest of the radio capabilities far out match that of the FTM-400, however if D-Star isn’t the top of your priorities when looking, and you really just want a quality radio with a small form factor that will give you many options to nicely mount in your car, the FTM-400 is the way to go.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.