Handheld Electronics

VHF handhelds from Icom, Standard Horizon, and West Marine faced a series of bench tests using a Ramsey service monitor.

Feature-loaded VHFs with GPS

VHF handhelds offer portability, DSC calling, and distress alerting.

The big advantage of handheld VHF radios as compared to their fixed-mount brethren has always been portability. It’s portability that allows them to serve as the primary radio on smaller boats (a dinghy for example), as an emergency backup (or secondary working unit) to a fixed unit, or even as a way to summon help during an unexpected swim. While reduced range (due to their shorter antenna height and lower transmit power) have been acceptable tradeoffs for portability, modern handheld VHF radios continue to keep pace with the many other features provided by fixed-mount VHFs.

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Functions and Features

After charging the test units for 24 hours, testers ran each radio through a series of bench tests—including...