The radio itself is high quality. The quality of the build is excellent and this is a very durable radio. In the past few weeks, I have had it, it has taken some hard falls. Looking at the radio now, you would not have known. There are no scratches, marks, or blemishes of any kind and it looks just like how I took it out of the box. I have opted to leave the screen protector on as all it did was give me some peace of mind but I have no doubt that the screen would do just fine even without it. In your hands and on your belt it is bigger than most radios. I personally do not mind at all, I even prefer a beefier radio, and the large size has not interfered with anything yet. The HD1 is very similar in looks to many Motorola radios, so sometimes I have had people point to it and ask if I was in law enforcement or the fire department. The only dislike is that the screen is hard to read in bright daylight, the backlight is too dim to see clearly in bright conditions. Something nice to add though is the IP67 rating. I have experienced heavy rains with the radio and it has held up just fine. I am extremely pleased with the physical quality of the radio.
The interface is Okay. But a beauty of upgradable firmware is that it can change. Currently, I am using version 1.48-GPS and this is my review of that version. The HD1 was made for amateur radio operators. I’m sure you have heard it before, but what it means to me is that it is easily programmed directly from the menu options. You can do almost everything including naming a new channel (something on other radios that require a computer) only using the keypad. That is only after you learn how to use the menus. This is where I would like to see some improvements. On the menu options, you either use the MENU key, up and down arrows, EXIT key, the keypad, the top knob, or even the scan key. This is confusing because there is no consistency between the options. Here’s what I mean; when trying to set a CTCSS code you find the menu named C-CDC. In the option, it says off. The first thing you would think to do is use the arrow keys to change it, but they don’t work. After some experimentation, you find you need to press the scan button to change it between CTCSS, DCS, etc. Then you can use arrow keys. If you go into contacts you can only select between contacts with the top knob. I just think that the interface is not as intuitive as it could be. There is a learning curve that comes with this radio. I would like to see in future updates something easier to use for new users. Otherwise, it works great and I am pleased to report that I have not had any major problems with it. (The only one minor issue, that has only happened once, was that I had channel channeled and it said it transmitted on B channel, the next time I keyed up it was fine, that’s all I meant by Major problems)
For this next section, it will be different for everybody. Regarding this topic do not rely only on my review. How well it works, for my case it is different than most. I live in the middle of the rocky mountains in Colorado. My repeater is 10 miles away, however, to reach it a signal has to do some serious diffraction. For me, using the stock antenna was not an option, so I upgraded to a 17-inch whip and It works just fine. The stock antenna still works, however, the on-air reports say that the noise level is high (background white noise) but I am still readable most of the time. With the whip on high power, the reported low noise level from my house and good clarity. On the note of output power, specs say 10w on VHF 8w on UHF but I cannot say for certain what exactly the radio puts out. I will have access to equipment soon to measure power and when I get results I will post them here. All I know is that I do have a stronger signal compared to my old 5-watt handheld. When I am in a city with a DMR repeater, digital works just as well as any DMR radio I have tried. The HD1 does just fine with tier I & II DMR use. Not exceptional but not bad either. No complaints there. When receiving, the speaker is at a good volume. I would not call it loud, but the volume is high enough to work well and be heard clearly from a distance.
Bottom line is: this is a nice radio. I would say the cost at right around $200 is justifiable. You really are getting a quality radio. If new to Retevis, don’t be fooled that just because they are a Chinese radio manufacturer that they are bad. But Retevis has done an excellent job on this one. This will be my favorite radio because of the quality. The Ailunce HD1 is a high-quality radio and I am very pleased.
I was sent this for review but my opinions are my own. This is a great radio and I’m saying that not because I was asked to, but because it is.
This article’s Ailunce HD1 review is written by Rowen Warren, he became a licensed amateur radio operator (general class) recently, and he is just 14 years old.