REVIEW: Yaesu Fusion FT2DR dual-band digital portable radio

Yaesu FT2DR Fusion digital C4FM VA3XPR dual-band
The Yaesu Fusion FT2DR dual-band digital portable radio

The Yaesu FT2DR is the second portable radio to come out as part of Yaesu’s Fusion line of radios and the first to be touch screen enabled. This radio features dual-band VHF and UHF (2 m & 70 cm) operation and dual mode (FM & C4FM) analog and digital operation, a touch screen display, built in Automated Packet Reporting System (APRS) capability, 700 mW of audio output, plus much more. The price for a new FT2DR at the time of this review was $550 USD.

Author’s Rating: 3/5

The Good

The Bad

  • Digital audio clarity

  • Loud audio output

  • Large LCD touch screen display

  • Sturdy construction

  • Water resistant
  • Long charging time

  • Confusing menus & poor user interface

  • Proprietary digital format

  • Speaker audio quality

  • Lack of Bluetooth capability

  • Price
  • The Package

    The Yaesu FT2DR comes standard with the following items out of the box:

    • Dual-band antenna (YHA-72)
    • 7.2 V, 2,200 mAh lithium ion battery pack (SBR-14LI)
    • Battery Charger (SAD-14B)
    • USB cable
    • Belt clip
    • Operating manual
    • Warranty card
    Yaesu Fusion FT2DR box C4FM package VA3XPR dual-band digital
    The Yaesu Fusion FT2DR in the box.

    The Full Review

    The Yaesu FT2DR is the latest portable to hit the market as part of Yaesu’s Fusion series of digital radios. Unlike its predecessor, the FT1DR, the FT2DR features a touch screen LCD display, increased audio output to 700 mW and is only available in the colour black.

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    The most notable new feature of the FT2DR is the touch screen LCD display. This 1.7 in x 1.7 in (4.3 cm x 4.3 cm) display serves as both the visual indicator of the radio, plus it also allows the user to enter information or select options simply by touching the screen. While this could have been a huge innovation for Yaesu radios by allowing full control of the radio via a simple to use, touch interface, sadly this is not the case. Yaesu’s implementation of the touch screen is such that the user will need to use both the touch screen options and the physical buttons & knobs to accomplish any task, making the radio arguably more confusing to use than other Yaesu models. A testament to this is the 170 page user manual that comes with the radio. Accomplishing almost any task with the radio requires the manual’s consultation, as the configuration of most functions is not intuitive at all.

    For those users who are new to digital voice and will be using the radio for this purpose, you will be delighted at the clarity of Yaesu’s Fusion digital format using C4FM. Yaesu allows users to make use of two levels of the digital mode – DN (basic digital) and VW (wide digital). With DN mode, users will get basic digital operation with the audio sounding somewhat compressed, however when operating in VW mode, the audio clarity is outstanding with crisp, clear audio. The downside for Yaesu’s implementation of digital voice is that it uses a proprietary format and as such, is not compatible with other popular digital formats used by hams, including D-STAR, DMR, NXDN and P25.

    Another enhancement of the FT2DR is its increased audio output, which features a whopping 700 mW of speaker audio. This will no doubt help the radio to be heard in noisy environments, however it’s worth noting for anyone that is an audiophile, that the speaker emphasizes the higher audio frequencies, making the audio sound very tinny.

    The FT2DR comes standard with a 7.2 V, 2,200 mAh battery pack, which will allow the radio be used for an extended period of time – especially if the user can make use of the lower TX power settings available in the menu options. The charging time for the battery is nine (9) hours using the supplied charger, however if the user purchases the optional CD-41 charging stand, the charge time is reduced to five (5) hours. Given the excessively long charging times for this radio, users who intended to purchase the FT2DR will want to consider picking up an extra battery.

    Yaesu FT2DR digital dual-band portable radio showing the large touch screen display.
    Yaesu FT2DR dual-band digital portable radio showing the large touch screen display.

    With regard to the other features of the FT2DR, one important one is that the radio is well built and water resistant, conforming to the IPX5 rating for liquid ingress protection. This feature will come in handy for anyone using the radio outside during wet conditions. Also, for anyone looking to use the radio while driving in areas where hands-free operation is required by law, it is important to note that the FT2DR does not support hands free operation via Bluetooth.

    Conclusion

    The FT2DR is a good choice for anyone looking for a full-featured dual-band portable radio that is compatible with Yaesu’s Fusion line of digital radios. While this radio has some innovations, we think that they may not justify the $550 USD price point of this unit. In addition, we feel that Yaesu could improve upon future radios like this one, especially as it relates to the overall user experience. In this day and age when a good user experience for touch screen devices is the norm, such as with smartphones and computers, we think devices like this have room for improvement. All in all, if users can live without the touch screen display and louder audio, they might want to consider a cheaper alternative in the Yaesu FT1DR, which retails for $300 USD.

    Disclosure: Along with the Yaesu Fusion FT2DR, the author also owns a Yaesu Fusion DR-1X repeater, a Yaesu FT-897 HF radio, a Yaesu FT-8900R quad-band mobile and a Yaesu VX-6R dual-band portable.

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    About Don Trynor, VA3XFT

    Don Trynor, VA3XFT
    Don Trynor is a 16-year veteran of the telecommunications industry and a licensed Canadian ham radio operator since 1988. He is passionate about VHF/UHF repeater communications, especially using digital modes and he has owned and operated a number of ham radio repeater installations over the years, including ones in both the provinces of Ontario (VE3/VA3) and New Brunswick (VE9). Currently, he maintains three UHF DMR repeaters - two in Toronto, ON (VA3XPR-1 & VE3YYZ DMR) and one in Niagara Falls, ON (VA3XPR-2), plus one Yaesu System Fusion repeater in Toronto, ON (VA3XPS) that operates in digital-only mode. In addition to ham radio, Don enjoys traveling, hiking, kayaking, biking and astronomy.