Alinco DJ-MD5 Dual Band DMR Radio Review

Alinco DJ-MD5

The Alinco DJ-MD5 is a dual-band (2m/70cm) DMR radio with probably the nicest color LCD screen I have seen on a handheld radio for less than $300.

You don’t hear a lot about Alinco when looking at amateur radio gear although they make a range of handheld, mobile, and even a few desktop radios. While I have to admit I do not have a lot of experience with their equipment, what I have had has been positive. The Alinco DJ-MD5 is no exception.

Opening the box worried me a bit. I am not getting any younger and although I do not wear glasses normally, the buttons on the keypad were tiny and honestly, a tad hard to read sometimes. In good light, after some caffeine in the morning, I can usually make out the lettering. Then again, once you get used to what is where on the Alinco DJ-MD5 you don’t need to be able to read them.

From the minute I picked the Alinco DJ-MD5 up I knew this was not meant to compete with the cheap Chinese radios. It feels like a solid brick in your hand. Everything on it feels like quality. The buttons are firm and solid, the knobs rotate smooth and have just the right amount of resistance. The screen is, well, freeking amazing! It is vibrant and detailed, very easy to read.

The attention to detail on the Alinco DJ-MD5 is nice too. A great example is the rounded belt clip with beveled edged which makes it a nice feeling in your hand. Baofeng’s for example usually don’t get in the way, but they don’t fit into your hand well. I should also mention that the belt clip feels strong and stable with just the right amount of tension in the spring with a great little hook at the bottom to keep it from sliding off whatever you have it secured to.

Another nice detail of the Alinco DJ-MD5 is the shield on the right side top protecting the volume knob so that when something like your shirt, a car seat, or seat-belt slides against it, it does not change the volume level, neat!

The audio was my next concern as you can not see a regular speaker grill. I was pleasantly surprised as the Alinco DJ-MD5 has very good audio for something as small and compact as it is.

Programming the Alinco DJ-MD5 is pretty straight forward, for a DMR radio of course. The fact that it uses a standard micro USB (not included) is nice. The Alinco DJ-MD5 programming software is downloadable and like the radio is very straight forward and robust. It feels faster and slicker than many others such as the software for TYT radios. I think the Alinco DJ-MD5 software is a little nicer than CHIRP but not by any significant measurement. I was able to make my own Alinco DJ-MD5 codeplug very easily.

Battery life with the Alinco DJ-MD5’s 1700mah included battery is very good, better than I expected with this nice of a screen and this much power.

It was not long before the radio had me looking for Alinco DJ-MD5 accessories online such as a second battery pack because I knew this radio would be one I would carry often. In fact, if I haven’t made it clear enough already, this is my favorite DMR radio, bar none. The fit, finish, in-hand feel, glorious screen, performance, and ease of use all add up to a radio I don’t want to put down. Heck, I even catch myself carrying it as a second radio when I need a primary radio that does Fusion or D-STAR, how pathetic is that?

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Photos

Alinco DJ-MD5 Test Results:

Screen readability Excellent
In-hand feel Excellent
Included antenna Very Good
Construction quality Excellent
Belt clip Very Good
Programmability Good
Transmit audio CLICK TO LISTEN
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) 3.5 watts / 2.3 watts
Size 278 * 59 * 51 mm
Actual weight 9.4 oz
Alinco DJ-MD5 manual CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Programming software CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Alinco DJ-MD5 Overall score
Alinco DJ-MD5 VNA chart
Alinco DJ-MD5 VNA Antenna Test – Click to enlarge
Alinco DJ-MD5 SRD spectrum analysis – Click to enlarge
If you are interested, click here for an article on how I test radios.

 

FEATURES:
  • AMBE+2 vocoder for clear digital audio
  • DMR Tier I and Tier II
  • 1.77 inch TFT color LCD
  • GPS Built-in
  • VFO/MR Switch
  • Output power selectable (5W/2.5W/1W/0.2W)
  • 4000 channel memory
  • SMS (Digital mode)
  • Communication recording (Digital mode)
  • Individual/Group/All call (Digital mode)
  • CTCSS/DCS/DTMF/2Tone/5Tone encode and decode (Analog mode)
  • Selectable battery-save
  • 1700mAh Li-ion battery
PROS:
CONS:
  • Good in-hand feel
  • Excellent color screen
  • Nice programming software
  • Standard micro USB cable for programming
  • Good power output
  • Includes drop-in charger
  • Great output audio quality
  • Keypad buttons small

Conclusions

If I could only own one dual-band DMR radio, this Alinco DJ-MD5 would be the one. The extra money you spend on this compared to other comparable radios is justified with a better screen, more channels, better audio all around, USB programming cable, and better programming software.
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I hope you enjoyed my Alinco DJ-MD5 review!

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