Panbo

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

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 30, 2013
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 retailers 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

Comments

Welcome to the first decade of the Twenty-first Century, Icom! There are still enough of us here for a small celebration.

Posted by: Anonymous at January 31, 2013 11:03 AM | Reply

Anonymous, do you have a specific gripe? If it's that Icom is late to provide NMEA 2000 interfaces on their radios, they are certainly not the only ones. At this point, I think only Garmin, Lowrance, and Simrad offer VHF's with N2K and they're usually premium priced. I wish the situation was different, but so it goes.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Anonymous at January 31, 2013 2:30 PM | Reply

Ben's word "whose entire front end is a single CommandMicIV." are to be read literally, meaning that the IC-M400BB does not support more than one CommandMic. Their IC-M424 model also supports only one CommandMic but this is in addition to the main controls and mic on the face of the unit. So that latter model is a dual station and the M400BB is not.
With Icom and Standard Horizon having nearly identical offerings in this area, I had hoped for one of them to offer at least one of the following:
- a black box model
- a DSC handheld much smaller than the existing model
- NMEA2000 support
So Icom has now moved but the new black box model is not suited for the majority of the applications of such a design and they have redesigned their small top handheld but didn't include DSC. And they are again postponing NMEA2000.
Sorry if I sound negative but all in all, I guess that's not just no step forward but a step backward.

Posted by: Henning at February 1, 2013 8:37 AM | Reply

I wanted a fixed VHF with NMEA2000 and looked at the Lowrance since I have Simrad on board but there was not much support or info.You have to hunt down a cable and termination kit,You can't order a basic NMea2000 cable with the unit.
So I went with an Icom.the only NMEA0183 unit in my system.
Why are the radios so far behind in this?

Posted by: Peter C. at February 1, 2013 11:54 AM | Reply

Which model, Peter? I test the Lowrance fixed VHF that's now being replaced, LV 550 I think, and it definitely has a standard Micro C connector, though plastic.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Peter C. at February 1, 2013 12:51 PM | Reply

Sounds like these radios will definitely be at the Miami Boat Show next week. Icom press release:

http://www.icomamerica.com/en/media_events/news/NewsArticle.aspx?id=201302

Posted by: Ben at February 4, 2013 2:44 PM | Reply

Well, eleven months have gone by since this Panbo post and still Icom and Standard Horizon have not embraced NMEA 2000 in their fixed VHF radio products. I noticed because I'm interested in buying a new VHF for the redesigned navigation station I'm working on. I particularly like the quality of both Icom and Standard Horizon.

What possibly could be their aversion to NMEA 2000? Is there something technical holding them back from moving from 0183 to N2K?

My objective is to get all devices on one network. Have every display work with the same exact data and reduce the clutter of wire, cable and antennas.

Posted by: Richard C at December 22, 2013 8:44 AM | Reply

It has been wicked slow, Richard, but a Panbo reader recently pointed out that Icom UK has announced an M506 fixed VHF model with NMEA 2000, AIS receiver and audio Rewind. See the PS and comments to this entry:

http://www.panbo.com/archives/2013/12/standard_horizon_matrix_aisgps_and_raymarine_ray260_aisn2k_vhf_radios_.html

Posted by: Ben at December 22, 2013 9:09 AM | Reply

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