ICOM ID-880H Dual Band Transceiver with D-STAR
Product Reviews Reviewed by Gary Pearce, KN4AQ
QST Contributing Author
Price and features will make the ICOM ID-880H a popular VHF/UHF dual band mobile radio with D-STAR digital and analog FM capability built in.
The ID-880H is a one band at a time dual band mobile, with up to 50 W output on both 2 meters and 70 cm in analog FM and D-STAR digital modes. The receiver covers a big slug of VHF and UHF (118 to 174 MHz and 230 to 550 MHz), but manages to miss the 222 MHz ham band. UHF coverage adds 800 to 999 MHz with the cell phone frequencies deleted.
Physically the ID-880H is fairly small. It’s a little wider than the ’800H, accommodating a wider display and a sixth button below the display. A new D-STAR data jack was added to the rear.
The front panel snaps off to become a small control head. An 11 foot separation cable is included for the head, but the microphone plugs into the radio body, not the head, and the mic extension is optional. A CAT-5 Ethernet cable and a double female RJ-45 adapter work fine to extend the mic.
The only step backward in layout is that the labels indicating the primary function of the six buttons below the display are no longer on the backlit buttons. They are now printed on the panel just above the buttons, but the unlit print is small and hard to read in my shack. At night in a mobile they disappear completely, so memorize them. The secondary (push and hold) functions of the buttons are clearly displayed as on-screen menu items. The secondary functions, and their labels, change as you navigate through options and menus.
The display was one of the ID-800H’s biggest selling points — and one of its serious limitations. Users liked the big, bright characters that are easy to see in any light and at any angle (it does fade from below). But it could show only six characters. The ID-880H’s display is wider, though a touch shorter, and it shows eight characters. The last two on the right are shrunk a bit to make room for some top row icons. It’s a bit more cluttered with that new menu row along the bottom. The main characters are a little smaller than the ’800H’s, but they’re still plenty big.