In this video, Danny from Buy Two Way Radios introduces the new smartphone controlled, Bluetooth® enabled VR-N7500 mobile amateur radio from VGC.
Now, VGC is not a very well known brand in the US ham radio market, but they have been around internationally for a while. VGC is an acronym for Vero Global Communication, and you may also find them referred to as Vero Telecom Solutions. We've reviewed one of their products on our YouTube channel before, but until now we've never offered any of their products for sale on our web site at Buy Two Way Radios.
So what caught our attention about the VR-N7500 that made us decide to partner with VGC? For starters, this radio is very unique and innovative.
The combination of a remote display through a smartphone and wireless Bluetooth integration make this a solid choice for anyone looking for a clean, out of site vehicle install. Combine that with a value price. This radio is not perfect, but it's got a lot going for it.
The first thing most people are going to notice about the VR-N7500 is that it's missing a typical display. That's because VGC moved all of the functions that you would normally perform through the radio's display into its smartphone apps, which are available for Android and iOS.
You'll use the app to change channels or add new ones. You can adjust all of the radio settings. There's a FM radio and some type of Morse Code decoder. The main screen of the app is a map that shows your location, and there may be a way to show the location of those you are communicating with. The app even has support for APRS and network channels that take advantage of your smartphone's network connection for Communication.
The app is absolutely core to this radio and is even the way that firmware updates are delivered. Look for more videos from us in the near future going more in depth with these apps.
The Bluetooth® accessory support and integration options are almost as core to this radio as the smartphone app. You don't technically need to use Bluetooth audio with the radio, but eliminating wires makes it a more enjoyable experience.
There are two ways to use Bluetooth audio with the VR-N7500. First is with the optional Bluetooth hand mic. This mic works the same way as the included wired mic, but without the wire. Second, if your car has Bluetooth support built-in, you can have the radio integrate with your vehicle speakers and microphone the way a phone call would. You just need the optional Bluetooth push to talk button accessory so that you have a way to indicate when to transmit. The Bluetooth PTT is battery powered and includes a strap for attaching it to a steering wheel or shifter knob.
The best way to experience this radio is with your smartphone on and accessible, using the Bluetooth hand mic or the car audio with the Bluetooth PTT. This allows you to have the radio connected but stowed out of the way, such as under a seat or even in your trunk.
For core radio features, the VR-N7500 has everything that you'd expect. It's an analog dual band radio supporting the 2 meter and 70 centimeter ham frequency ranges. It offers 50 watts of power on 2 meter and 40 watts on 70 centimeter. It supports a large and undefined number of 16 channel zones.
It is a very solid radio with a fairly thick metal frame. There's no internal speaker - all sound is output through your choice of the included hand mic, your connected smartphone or tablet, or a connected Bluetooth® accessory. The included wired hand mic has a loud speaker and buttons for adjusting the channel or volume. The mic is missing the standard clip attachment that you might be used to, but it's replaced with a strong magnet. That makes it much easier at attach or detach, particularly while driving.
The VGC VR-N7500 includes a mounting bracket, mounting hardware and a power cable. Optional Bluetooth Hand Microphone and Bluetooth Ring Push-to-Talk Button are available separately.
There's a lot to like about this radio, but there are a few things that need to be improved.
First, there isn't a manual. The app has a non-working link to a manual, so it is expected they plan to have one at some point.
This radio has some really advanced functionality, like location tracking, APRS, network channels, cross band repeat from network to analog. It would be nice if some of these things were documented. Also, the Android app is great - it's clear that's the one they've chosen to develop first because it works great and has tons of features. But unfortunately it isn't available in the Google Play app store, so you have to download and install the app manually. That isn't hard, but the app store would be preferred.
The iOS app is available through the app store, but it is more limited and at the moment is missing some of the advanced functions. This is a new product and the hardware seems well done and complete, but features are still being added to the apps and the firmware.
That said, we are impressed with the VR-N7500 and we think that a lot of hams will love it.
The radio is currently available to ship today. Order it through our web site at Buy Two Way Radios.