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.

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. This radio 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 you really don’t need to be able to really read them.

From the minute I picked it 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 is really nice too. A great example is the rounded belt clip with beveled edged which makes it really nice feeling in your hand. Baofeng’s for example usually don’t really get in the way, but they obviously don’t really 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 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!

Audio was my next concern as you can not actually see a regular speaker grill. I was pleasantly surprised as it has very good audio for something as small and compact as it is.

Programming the unit is pretty straight forward, for a DMR radio of course. The fact that it uses a standard micro USB (not included) is really nice. 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. Personally I think it is a little nicer than CHIRP but not by any really significant measurement.

Battery life with the 1700mah included battery is very good, better than I expected with this nice of a screen and this much power. Speaking of power, the specs say this is a 5w radio but my tests show 13.1w output at 446.000Mhz and 13.6w at 146.520. This makes it the single most powerful radio on 70cm I have tested so far and the second most powerful at 2m (behind the Baofeng BF-F8HP which is billed as an 8w radio).

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Photos

Test Results:

Screen readability
In-hand feel
Included antenna
Construction quality
Belt clip
Programmability
Frequency accuracy 144.450 @ 145.000
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) 13.6/13.1 watts
Actual weight 9.4oz
Overall score
Alinco DJ-MD5 VNA chart
VNA Antenna Test – 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
  • Great power output
  • Includes drop-in charger
  • Keypad buttons small
  • Stock antenna poor 2m performance

Conclusions

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

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