Some time ago the Inrico ‘network radios’ saw the light, together with similar device by exotic brands. The units look similar to portable or mobile transceivers, but that’s also the end of the similarity. In fact these ‘network radios’ are nothing else than Android based smartphones with an MTK board. A PTT button has been added to give at least the feeling of a mobile or portable transceiver. ‘Transmitting’ works via 3G, 4G or Wifi using applications like ‘Zello’ or ‘TeamSpeak’. But for the licensed radio amateur it’s also possible to run the Android version of the EchoLink application. Obviously this has nothing in common with ‘radio’, although many people in the world have connected radios to this system. This offers the possibility to listen to NYPD or some harbor traffic nearby or far away
Some time ago I’ve found an Inrico TM7 Plus at a second hand website. In a (web-) shopt this devices costs about 200 Euros, but the one I’ve found was far, very far below that price. ‘Mint condition, but the audio sounds horrible’, was the seller’s comment. ‘But with a bluetooth speaker the audio would be okay’, as the man also told me. While thinking this couldn’t be a big deal I’ve bought this Inrico for a real bargain price.
Once it had arrived in the shack I’ve noticed the seller really told the truth: absolutely mint condition but the audio sounded terrible. Distortion even with low volumes pointed to a faulty speaker. So the ‘radio’ was opened straight away. This again confirmed the quality of the device: a plastic box containing three PCBs, a speaker and a lot of air. The quality of the plastics is questionable and the fact the front and back are tight together with parkers looks really sad. Someone who’s used to robust Motorola, Telefunken or Storno gear will burst into tears when confronted with an Inrico!
A fragile flatcable connects the ‘mainboard’ with a PCB containing the sim slots. The front and back of the housing have to be taken apart carefully to avoid damage to this cable. The speaker is hold into place by a plastic frame but the speaker wires are easy to access. So another speaker was connected to the Inrico. As expected: clear audio without distortion!
At the internet I could only find one single webshop offering a suitable replacement part: an oval speaker of 58x36mm. And for the price of 3.50 Euros I immediately bought two. To my surprise these speakers are original Motorola spare parts. The dimensions are identical to the Inrico-speaker, but the Motorola replacement is a bit heavier and feels more solid. Without drilling, sawing or prying the new speaker can be put in place. And even the cable and connector which comes with the new speaker fits perfectly. When putting the plastic frame back it’s important not to over tighten the screws: the plastic is very flimsy.
By replacing the speaker with an original Motorola spare part the Inrico got a high quality upgrade. Probably the speaker became the most solid and reliable part of this ‘network radio’. Because summarizing:
- it’s a hell of a job to handle an Android device via such a small touchscreen;
- this is not a real radio;
- construction and plastics are very flimsy;
- it’s not worth 200 Euros;
- it’s a nice gadget.