"floating" is a great feature in a handheld VHF…
We recently reviewed the the Icom m34 handheld VHF radio and loved it. If you spend most of your time on smaller boats, this is a must have. If you spend most of your time on larger boats, this is also a great handheld VHF radio to have as a back up, on deck or ashore.
I have had quite a few handheld VHF radios over the years and the two features that I value the most are 1) it's waterproof (between spray and wet bags, these things can take a beating) and 2) it floats (sure beats sinking!). I have lost handheld VHF radios to corrosion because they couldn't handle getting wet, and I have had one sink which is just no fun. It takes only one drop to really appreciate this feature. The fact that it floats is what attracted me to try the Icom m34 handheld VHF. If you drop the Icom m34 overboard, it will actually float back up to the surface. It does so bottom up, but who cares, you get it back. All you'll need to do us give it a few shakes to get the water out of the speaker and it's loud and clear. To do this, Icom constructed the M34 of durable, hi-strength polymers rather than an aluminum case like it's other models. The Icom m34 handheld VHF radio also compares well with other handhelds in terms of features, power and battery life. It transmits at 5 watts (with lower power selectable) this should provide several miles of transmission. Lower wattage if fine for hailing the launch in the harbor and uses less battery. The Icom m34 had a Lithium Ion battery that provides power up to 10 hours. It's a light weight battery that holds a decent charge. This combination makes the M34 handheld VHF nice to hold, it doesn't feel heavy or boxy. There are handhelds that will give you more power, like the Icom m72 which gives you 6 watts and 20 hours of battery life, but they don't float! There are a few other things that stand out about the Icom m34 in our review. It has a large LCD screen that is easy to read and large buttons that are easy to use with one hand or a glove. There is a pre-set feature that let's you jump right to your most frequently used channels. This is a nice convenience that makes a difference if you are using your boat in traffic (or with kids on board). Finally, the sound on this handheld VHF is excellent, we found it to me loud and clear even after it was in the water. If we had to point out some draw backs, they would be that the Icom m34 is a bit taller than other handheld VHF radios and this prevents it from easily into some pockets. However, the belt clip that's included should help with this. Also, the Icom m34 doesn't have Digital Selective Calling (DSC), this would be great but at least for now is typically found in more expensive radios (although some in this price range do have DSC). Depending upon where and how you boat, DSC may or may not be as important as the fact that it floats. Marine Product Reviews found the Icom m34 handheld VHF radio to have a great feature set and we believe will lead the way for many other floating handheld VHF radios in the future (we hope!). The price is also nice, at roughly $149, it's very much in line with other handhelds. Between the fact that it floats and has a great 3 year warranty, you can be virtually assured that you'll have this radio for many years.
Icom m34 Floating Handheld VHF Features:
- Slim and ergonomic design
- Weighs only 10.6oz.
- 10-hour Lithium-Ion battery life
- IPx7 waterproof
- Includes AC adapter, smart battery charger, Lithium-Ion battery pack and belt clip
- Dimensions: 5 9/16" L x 2 7/16" W x 1 1/16"
- Three-year (3) waterproof warranty