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Lookin' for a new HANDHELD VHF

2951 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  hellosailor
I've had an iCom M34 handheld VHF since March of 2007. Initially, I was initially very happy with the unit, as it could scan, prioritize, and give me NOAA weather reports. At the time, the iCom reputation as a manufacturer was stellar.

I also liked that it floats (although never tested this). I learned AFTER I purchased the unit, that it floats upside down. With a black case, the chance of finding the unit should it go overboard is virtually 0, so I put some red SOLAS tape on the bottom, and believe that this would help. Why don't they make floating handhelds in Neon Yellow?

The unit failed in 2012, with the symptom that the squelch was always off (open channel), and thus scanning wouldn't work. iCom fixed it under warranty (I believe they said there was a recall on them) at the time.

Well, the unit started to do the same thing again last year, and I've been living with it. In addition, when I plug it in the charging cradle, the LED flashes orange indicating a problem. One would think that because I registered the unit, and because I sent it in for service and they returned it to me, that it would be in their database if there is a recall...

The bottom line is that I don't trust the radio anymore, and am disappointed with iCom for not notifying ME when there was an issue. I am therefore open to other manufacturers (Standard Horizon comes to mind).

Would any one in the forum care to share the VHF that they would buy, and why? I'll go digging into my Practical Sailor archives in the meantime...

Thanks in advance!:)
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SH HX 851 is still being clearanced in favor of the newer model, which has a different display and menus. : Standard Horizon HX851 6W Floating Handheld VHF Radio with Glow in the Dark : Frs Gmrs Two Way Radios : Electronics

or Standard Horizon HX851 Handheld VHF Radio with GPS even better at $125.00, half the normal price.

It isn't a perfect radio but it got great reviews and apparently has a dedicated second DSC "radio" in it for quieter scanning.

It comes with an alkaline battery tray, which is sort of a cruel joke since that might give you five minutes of transmit time on flea-power setting. Better to buy a second lithium battery.

And like most new "waterproof" designs, you have to recharge it in a cradle--there's no socket for a charging plug in the radio.

Still, it is SH, has an "overboard" LED, and at that price? Probably still a steal.
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That WM radio is cheaper, but it has no DSC (required now by some racing rules) no GPS, and best of all?

It will cost you $50 for any warranty service, even in the first 30 days.

Versus a free 3-year warranty from SH (which is not unique).

But it is of course, $40 cheaper up front. Or $10 more expensive, if you need a warranty claim. Either way, it still lacks DSC and GPS, before you compare anything except price.
If you had a LiOn battery in your radio, those are especially prone to dying and being irreparable if they are allowed to drop below some number, typical 2 volts per cell. The device they are in may actually consume some power even when it is off, so they really need to be checked every 3(?) months until you are certain how the device and battery are holding up.

I don't find a battery capacity rating for the HX851, can't say how it compares to the new radio. But my AAA tray is certainly going to get a standard power cord attached to it.
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