Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:46PM - Comments: (0)
Cobra has been coming out with some interesting radio products at fairly affordable prices. We’ve tested several of their products in recent years, and although they didn’t always come out on top, they’ve been very competitively priced. Their $100 submersible HH325, Practical Sailor’s top pick in our test of budget-priced submersible VHFs and fixed mount radios, has held up well in long-term testing. Another Cobra handheld, priced at about $150, compared closely with the higher-end portable VHFs.
The new waterproof MR HH475 FLT adds a new feature that allows you to connect to your cell phone via Bluetooth. I’m always a little wary when makers start adding on “convenience” features to what is essentially an important safety item, and this product is no exception. From a functional standpoint, the concept of channeling my cell phone into a waterproof handheld VHF is appealing. I can now put my cell phone down below where it won’t get destroyed, which is nice. However, a few limitations need to be pointed out.
Note that connecting Cobra’s new handheld, the MR HH475 FLT BT, via Bluetooth to your cell phone does not give the handheld full cell phone functionality. (A fixed unit, the Cobra MR300 BT does this). Also, when using the Cobra HH475, you can’t just punch in any number, but you can redial the last number called. At this price range, about $180, that’s a nice add-on. I’d probably punch in the number for the point of contact listed on my float plan before setting out.
A key issue that needs to be worked out, however, is that the radio does not allow a distress call to break through while you are connected via Bluetooth to your cell phone. Typically, this would not be an issue, since a handheld usually supplements a fixed VHF, which would still be monitoring Channel 16 traffic. The HH475 does allow weather safety alerts to break through a cell phone call.
Hopefully, Cobra will make this distress calling limitation clearer in their marketing materials. Look for an upcoming test of this product by subscribing to Practical Sailor magazine.