Friday, June 18, 2010

Icom IC-M88 Handheld Marine VHF Radio

Icom IC-M88 Handheld Marine VHF Radio

Built tough to withstand the punishing marine environment, the Icom IC-M88 handheld VHF radio is a must for safety-minded boaters. The radio is outfitted with a host of valuable features, including an easy-to-read backlit LCD display, an intuitive six-button keypad, and a rugged waterproof housing that's submersible in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. More significantly, the radio works with all 57 U.S., 61 Canadian, and 57 international channels, along with 10 weather channels from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The VHF channels offer an ideal way to communicate with other boaters--whether exchanging information on a great fishing spot or sending out a distress signal--while the NOAA channels notify you when inclement weather is approaching. As a bonus, the radio also offers 22 free channels (from 146 to 174 MHz) reserved for land mobile (commercial) use, making this an ideal unit for marine professionals who also work on the shore (requires FCC license).

The radio's layout is straightforward and easy to use, with a half dozen clearly labeled buttons on the front panel and a volume/power knob along the top. The radio's rugged body, meanwhile, meets military specifications for durability, so you can rough it up at sea or on land without fearing a breakdown. Other design details include 5 watts of output power for reliable communication over long distances, a surprisingly compact chassis that fits easily in the palm of your hand, and a two-step power saver that preserves battery life.

The IC-M88 also offers several scanning modes, including an auto scan function that starts scanning whenever no signal is detected, a traditional scan mode that searches through all the tag channels in sequence, a priority scan mode that does the same but also monitors the distress channel (number 16), and a weather alert option that immediately switches the radio to the appropriate weather channel when a storm warning comes through. Users will also dig the Dual Watch and Tri-Watch functions. The former lets you communicate on a channel of your choice while also keeping an eye on channel 16, while the latter monitors two channels--channel 16 and another channel--while receiving a third channel. The pair of "watch" modes guarantee that you won't miss an important emergency call from a distressed boater while your attention is otherwise engaged.

Additional features include a lithium-ion battery pack that delivers up to 15 hours of talk time per charge, instant access to channels 16 and 9, a key lock function, a four-level battery life indicator, a programmable beep sound, and a self-check function that monitors the internal temperature, connected battery voltage, and water intrusion. Bundled with such accessories as a drop-in charger, swivel belt clip, and hand strap, the IC-M88 radio measures 2.44 by 3.81 by 1.53 inches (W x H x D) and is backed by a three-year warranty.

What's in the Box
IC-M88 radio, lithium-ion battery pack, drop-in charger, AC adapter, swivel belt clip, hand strap, antenna, user's manual.

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