Features February 2009 Issue

Field and Bench Tests Determine the Best Full-Feature VHF Radio for About $175

Mid-priced VHF Radios Offer Top-notch Features.

Practical Sailor tested 10 new mid-priced marine VHF radios. All VHFs tested are waterproof, can be interfaced with a GPS, and have Digital Select Calling (DSC) capability. The marine radios were run through a series of tests including VHF transmitter power output, frequency accuracy and frequency stability, and receiver sensitivity to determine which was the best marine radio in the group. The display on each radio was rated based on the size and readability of the information, the quality of the information displayed, and the backlighting. The test radios had a lot to offer in the way of extras with everything from hailers to remote microphone capabilities and voice recorders. Ratings were based on overall performance and features. The VHF radios tested in this price category were the Cobra F75, Cobra F80, West Marine VHF550 (made by Uniden), West Marine VHF650 (made by Uniden), Raymarine 49, Raymarine 55, Standard Horizon Quest X GX1500S, Standard Horizon Matrix GX3000S, Icom M304, and Uniden UM425.

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