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Icom IC-M73 Plus with 'rewind' & more in VHF

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 30, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Icom_M73_screen.jpg

Icom is just about to release a new version of its IC-M72 pro-level handheld VHF and it includes a feature that really caught my eye (and ear). As suggested by the audio tape and REC(ord) icons on the screen above, the M73 Plus model will have a 60 second recording function so you can "rewind" a call you didn't quite understand the first time. If you only half listen to your radio, or a possibly important call is broken, this can be very handy. Meanwhile Cobra is updating its VHF handheld that has a similar feature, Standard Horizon is offering a sharp-looking pair of low-end handhelds, and Icom is also adding a basic black box fixed radio...

The Icom M73 Plus also has a new user interface which you can see in part below and which I hope to put my fingers on at the Miami show in two weeks. The "F" stands for Function, I'm told, and apparently one function is the ability to change to call recording feature from automatic to manual if, say, you don't want something important to be overwritten by the next minute of calls that break squelch. The M73 also has active noise cancellation which may be the same or even better than what I've found impressive on an M36. By the way, Icom recently put up an interesting video about its noise cancelling technology. Detail on the M73 and M73 Plus are not up at Icom yet, probably because FCC approval is still pending, but you can find some at some (trying-to-jump-the-gun) online retai lers like Petra...

Icom_M73_keyboard_and_hand_shot.jpg

I think I first tried a call recording feature on a Cobra F80 in 2007, and in 2009 a Cobra guy came to Maine to demonstrate a HH475 handheld that not only has "Rewind-Say-Again" but can also serve as a Bluetooth "headset" so your phone can be stowed in safe place on the boat. I'm not sure how the new Cobra HH500 differs from the existing HH475 but it seems to be less expensive at about $150, and that's probably about half of what the Icom M73 Plus will sell for... 

Cobra_MR_HH500.jpg

But in terms of sheer value, I suspect it's hard to beat a "twin pack" of relatively new Standard Horizon HX100 handhelds, which I see at Defender for $135. They can only transmit at 2.5 Watts maximum -- as opposed to the 6 Watts the other handhelds can manage -- but that should do the job around marinas and harbors, and the HX100 does float like the others...

Standard_Horizon_HX100.jpg

Finally, Icom America will also soon offer a US version of the IC-M400BB, a Class D 25 Watt black box VHF whose entire front end is a single CommandMicIV. National sales manager David Mclain told me that there seems to be more interest in black box radios as some boaters try to make room on their helms for MFDs with bigger screens. He also said that he's getting frequent requests for radios with an NMEA 2000 interface and that "Icom will address that issue" (soon hopefully).

Icom_IC-M400BB.jpg

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