My DMR radio collection y has grown by adding two Hytera radios; one is the flagship PD-785G and the second one is the small PD-365.
I was very reticent about chinese radios but the recently increase in the number of users of Hytera on MARC-DMR network made me raise the elbow and I promised myself that I will not miss the chance to test one.
We’ll review the first one for the start.
Look and feel
PD-785G is a little smaller than the direct competitor, Motorola DP-4801 and look more like a Tetra terminal than like a conventional radio.
With the central mounted antenna, the radio looks somehow unfamiliar and Hytera pretend that this design help improve the RF performance. Well, I read somewhere that the antenna is not so good but after a week of testing I admit that is not better than a longer antenna but at it’s dimensions is not worst than the 9 cm one from Motorola.
On the front pannel we have a big colour LCD and above it is a little hole for the microphone. First reaction of a fellor ham was to put the radio to the ear as the microphone looks pretty like the earphone of a mobile phone.
Right under the screen are the menu keys and a big directional key, only for up and down (at DP-4801, there are also Left-Right on the same key). Under that, we have the numeric keypad.
What is particular to this model is that the speaker is UNDER the numeric keyboard; a long slit is between the menu and numeric keys and there is the speaker.
The PTT has a nice orange gasket around and feel a little fragile. The two programmable butons feel ferm and cannot be pressed by accident; they need some determination to have them pushed.
In the CPS you can program them with a lot of functions, one for quick press and one for long press but I found that the combination is available only for certain functions not for any of them and once programmed, there are some bugs that make that button not functional. Maybe is just a firmware problem but tend to be annoying!
Under the buttons is a little plastic plate which identify the model. Mine is a “G” one, with GPS.
On the right side of the Hytera PD-785G we find an accessory connector. This one is half of the Motorola’s and the cover is hinged so, goodby loosing it! Of course, if you are determined, you can break the hinge and throw away the cover!
There are some sort of grip helpers on the side of the radios but despite the look, they are made by the same plastic as the whole case and not of rubber as one may expect from the look.
On the top of the radio we have the two knobs, VOL/ON-OFF and the Channel selector. The channel selector is an interesting thing; it has 16 positions. This might look a little obsolete but I do find it usefull especially when the radio is on the belt. You can find the channel with a glimpse at the channel knob.
Also on the top, just near the channel selector is an orange button for emergencies. This one can be programmed as the other ones, with the same observations…
In the right side, near the Vol/On-Off is the status LED; a little protuberance make it visible even if you look to the radio directly from the front side.
The antenna is between the knobs, as I said before, givind an unusual look to the radio.
The antenna connector is a reverse SMA. The reverse SMA connector is a nice touch and permit us, the hams, to put a better antenna or even to connect a mobile antenna to this radio for a better coverage.
The battery attach not by sliding and there is no gap between the battery and the radio! Once attached, there is no jolt or lost motion between them (shame Motorola!).
The belt clip is attached to the radio and not to the battery. On the radio is a metal plate and the belt clips attached with two M4 screws in the old way. I like this, it’s very solid!
The stock battery is a 7.4V/2000mAh and the battery life is better than the Motorola’s. With the stock battery at a moderate use, on analog channels and digital channels, the radio can be used for two days with no problems. With an optional 2800MAh battery I used it for about 3 and a half days.
I will not enter in the subtilities of programming the radio, this is a little complicate and depends on what do you want to do with the radio so I will emphasize some of the bugs or the features of the radio.
Bug: The audio amplifier is not balanced and is powered on receiving. This express with a loud “bop” even at low volumes when the radio start to receive traffic. Motorola has a balanced AF amplifier…
Feature: When rotate the knob or press any key (but not the Menu key or the numeric keys), only the LCD fire up. The backlight of the numeric keys stays off. This can save some battery!
Bug: The radio cannot scan digital and analog channels at the same time. You can scan channels on the same kind only. Motorola can scan combined lists.
Feature: When receiving, the radio starts the LCD backlight. Very usefull to see what’s happening on the digital channels.
On the traffic, the radio is sensitive and the quality of audio is very good on both analog and digital. I see no differences on digital when compared with Motorola with the latest firmware (2.4.x).
The audio reports on modulation were good and, during the tests I found that the scrambler is higly compatible with Motorola’s. Understandable because is a simple inversion…
The radio is not a bad one but is not “The radio”. Some bugs can be solved via firmware upgrade but others are “hardware defined” and need redesign. The GPS has a nice feature by wich the user can send as a short message the position.
The missing Bluetooth can be a shortage as I programm my DP-4801 via Bluetooth (the Motorola programming cable is too expensive!) but the Hytera cable is affordable at a half of the Motorola’s price so the absence of BT is not a real problem for me.
If the price is a key component in the buying decision, the Hytera PD-785G can be the best choice as the price/quality is unbeatable.
It is compatible with the MARC-DMR network except the short messages but the latest firmware updates for Motorola radios and repeaters which let the user choose between Motorola proprietary and DMR standard open the door for full compatibility between Hytera and Motorola networks.
The quality of the hardware is much better than other Chinese radios and i expect to be better and better after Hytera bought Rhode & Schwartz Professional Mobile Radio division!
The policy to sell radios for hams at a low price is a good impulse for us to explore the future of the telecommunications.
I will not trade the DP-4801 for a Hytera PD-785G but I certainly use this radio day by day!
73 de Adrian YO3HJV