In a world with so many VHF choices, two features on the Lowrance LVR-880 are especially noteworthy. One, it can receive stereo FM stations, even cut in with DSC calls, purportedly a first for a fixed VHF. Two, it uses NMEA 2000 to input GPS information and output DSC call data. This is especially valuable, as Lowrance recently went to standard plugs on the back of all its N2K devices as well as throughout its LowranceNet cabling system. Thus interfacing an LVR-880 with any NMEA 2000 plotter/GPS network should be super simple. Note that NMEA 0183 i/o is also supported, and pairing the 880 with certain LowranceNet plotters enables Buddy Tracking of up to three friends at once. Also note, however, that this radio is built to the SC 101 DSC standard, which means that it does not have a separate, dedicated DSC receiver and can miss such calls when in use. For that reason the LVR-880—$190 with hailer, advanced weather warnings, waypoint navigation, and more—might best be used as an affordable, feature-rich backup VHF with which you can also listen to the news or a ballgame on your bridge.
This article originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.