Mailport: January 2014
I would like to encourage Practical Sailor to expand its assessments to include the practical information sailors should look for when shopping for marine gear—not just test results substantiating product performance.
For example, your test of marinized stereos (PS, April 2013) focused on your usual bench test evaluation criteria and provided valid and absolutely correct information regarding the products. The report also focused on “splash proof” but completely missed the most practical feature. None of the products evaluated offer a sun cover, and I assure you that after a year or two, their information-packed, back-lit displays will no longer be visible at all due to extended exposure to direct sunlight in the cockpit.
I learned the hard way. I have an excellent Poly-Planar stereo whose display is not legible day or night, and I also have a Standard Horizon VHF whose cord over the wires from the microphone to the radio was so severely deteriorated by the sun that the unit had to be replaced. When I replaced the VHF, I purchased a Ray 49, which has a sun cover. Today, I am not aware of any VHF radio manufacturer that offers a protective sun cover for its radio.
Severna Park, Md.
You bring up a good point. While none of the stereos we tested come standard with sun covers, some brands offer the covers as optional accessories. For instance, Fusion—maker of our Editor’s Choice stereo pick, the MS-RA200SD—markets a flush-mount marine cover that has a tinted, UV-stabilized poly-carbonate front panel and a water-resistant seal. Poly-Planar and Sony also offer similar sun/water covers. Chances are, if an electronics manufacturer markets a marine stereo, they also offer a cover for it as an optional purchase.
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