I just got my May 2010 issue of QST and saw the ad on the inside front cover for Icom's new IC-V80 and IC-T70A handheld transceivers. With the IC-T70A it looks like Icom has finally come up with a worthy competitor to Yaesu's FT-60R.
It matches the basic functionality of the FT-60R quite nicely, but a couple of key advantages include:1) An optional Li-Ion battery, while the FT-60R's still stuck with Ni-MH,
2) IP-54 (dust protected, splashing water OK) and MIL-STD 810 protection, while the FT-60R doesn't have an IP rating (Yaesu calls the case construction "water resistant"),
Most importantly, the BP-263 battery case holds six AA batteries and allows the transceiver to transmit at full 5W power. This is an important capability for emergency communications folks, since we have to assume that we aren't going to be able to recharge batteries for extended periods of time. So, we like to see handhelds that can transmit a full 5W signal while running on AA batteries. The recent trend in handhelds, though, has been to make them very small and not worry about full power transmitting while on AA battery power. Yaesu's FT-60R has been the only handheld, dual band transceiver to accomplish this feat until now.
The IC-T70A still uses an SMA antenna connector, just like the FT-60R. I wish they would have used a BNC since it's more rugged, better performing, and there's plenty of room on top of the transceiver for it. According to the specs it burns through battery at about twice the rate of the FT-60R on receive, and about 50% faster on transmit, but Icom claims 10 hours of battery life with the Ni-MH and 13.5 hours with the Li-Ion battery. (Yaesu doesn't provide any battery life claims, but I typically get about six hours of use with my Ni-MH pack.) The IC-T70A is about one-half ounce heavier than the FT-60R with the Ni-MH battery, but it'd be lighter with the Li-Ion battery.
The IC-T70A is currently selling at Ham Radio Outlet for $225, while the FT-60R sells for only $185.
For about $40 more you get a transceiver that's a little more rugged, and that can use a Li-Ion battery for day-to-day use. Of course, the Li-Ion battery (and extra charger) bumps the price up $63 and $69, respectively. That's a lot of money; I might be tempted to stick with the Ni-MH battery until it dies, then upgrade to Li-Ion. (It sure would be nice if you could just buy the IC-T70A with a Li-Ion instead of the stock Ni-MH.) I certainly won't be selling my FT-60R to replace it with an IC-T70A, but it's great that Icom is competing with Yaesu in this area of the market, as competition always improves things.