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a couple of months ago

Lowrance Link 8 Fixed Mount VHF Radio Review

Lowrance Link 8 VHF marine radio review
Lowrance Link 8 VHF marine radio review

The Lowrance Link-8 VHF Radio is a High-res Flush Mountable Class D Fixed-Mount VHF Radio built with a Dual Channel AIS receiver and NMEA 2000 Connectivity. It has a total of 25 watts of transmission power, a full-waterproof design, and an easy-to-use interface. Considered a top contender for its high-resolution display among VHF radios,  the Lowrance Link-8 boasts a  large screen and an overall item weight of 6 pounds.

Reliable and complete with all the best safety features, the Lowrance Link-8 VHF is a must-have VHF radio for boaters. Because of its rugged, waterproof design, and reasonable price this marine radio is a great communication tool for mariners on the water regularly.

Main Features

The Lowrance Link-8 comes with some great features that make it one of the highest-quality entry-level VHF marine radios out there. Here are some of its main features:

  • Waterproof - The Lowrance Link-8 has a waterproof rating of JIS-7 (immersion-resistant) which means water cannot enter the unit when its submerged. It’s also well constructued and able to withstand everyday use in harsh ocean conditions. 
  • High-Resolution Dot-Matrix Display- No more squinting or finding a good light in order to read the display. The Link 8 comes with its own high-quality LCD with 128x256 resolution. You can easily see your current position and also read and receive messages conveniently. A handy feature for emergency situations.
  • Dual Channel, AIS receiver, and AIS plotting functionality - this enables you to send AIS target information like your ship name, sign, distance, and bearing to your chartplotter. 
  • 25 W / 1 W transmission power - allows you to change transmission power from 25 watts to 1 watt.
  • User-Friendly Interface - Link-8 is designed with a very easy to use interface that allows you to set controls, change menu, and scan through channels quickly. 
  • High-Quality Mic with built-in speaker and easy-grip rubber overmolding - Clear quality audio that isolates background noise and enables you to receive and send high-quality audio messages.  
  • Log Distress Calls - It can save up to 10 distress calls and 20 individual DSC calls which is very useful for search and rescue operations.
  • The Lowrance also includes a hailer horn output listen back feature and a dedicated MOB button.
  • Track Your Buddy Technology - allows you to connect your VHF device with DSC position polling with your chartplotter to show location of up to 3 friendly vessels on your chart. 
  • 2-Year warranty and includes an LVR880 Suncover and a VHF Radio Mic Clip.

What Does it Mean when a Device is NMEA 0183 & 2000 compatible?

For boat owners with no background or knowledge about marine electronics, the NMEA standards can be confusing. For starters, every time you buy electronic equipment, you must first check the functionality of each piece. While some pieces can work in a stand-alone fashion, others need to be equipped with a network connection in order to be used with other on board devices like chartplotters etc.

NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 are today’s communication language for marine electronics. NMEA 2000 supersedes NMEA 0183 and is currently the protocol used when creating new electronics. Also, NMEA 0183 is near being phased out due to the rise of equipment with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, when your device has both, it makes the device even more versatile, compatible and able to connect to almost all existing marine networks.

Comparing The Lowrance Link 8 With The Simrad RS35:

Let’s compare The Simrad RS35 to the Lowrance Link-8. The Simrad RS35 is one of the premium VHF marine radios today and like the Lowrance Link 8 it also features its own integrated AIS receiver. This is a unique feature that’s very valuable for marine radios today. Today, the successful GX2200 is the leading marine radio with this feature. 

simrad rs35 VHF radio

The Link-8 and Simrad RS35 are both AIS receiving. However, unlike the Lowrance Link, the Simrad RS35 allows connection to wireless handsets making radio calling available from anywhere on board. This is very useful when you’re in a larger vessel and have several crew members on-board. The Simrad also looks better compared to Link-8 in our opinion. Cheaper than the Simrad RS35, the Link 8 is a great option for a VHF radio with an integrated AIS receiver if you have no need for a wireless handset and looks are not important to you.

Standard Horizon GX2200 VS Lowrance Link 8

Next, let’s compare the Standard Horizon GX2200 and the Lowrance Link 8. The GX2200 is a VHF marine radio complete with an Integrated 66 Channel GPS receiver and AIS receivers, overall, it has better connectivity than the Lowrance Link 8. When it comes to the interface, the Link 8 is arguably more user-friendly and easy-to-setup compared to the GX2200. If you’re looking for a cheaper and cleaner designer, the Lowrance link outshines the Standard Horizon GX2200 in our opinion. 

Standard horizon GX2200 with Ais and GPS

Final Thoughts:

The Lowrance Link-8 is a must-have VHF marine radio for people looking for cheaper and simpler alternatives to the Standard GX2200 and Simrad RS35. With full coverage of USA, Australian, New Zealand, & International Channels, it offers great reliability during emergency situations. Despite lacking in other connectivity and wireless features, the Lowrance Link-8 is complete with all the important basic functions for a reliable and rugged marine radio that you can use regularly. For an entry-level radio, the Link-8 has all the necessary features making it the perfect choice for the cost conscious  sailor. 

ICOM M605 Review – New Premium Class VHF Marine Radio

ICOM M605 review
ICOM M605 review

ICOM M605 is the new flagship VHF fixed mount radio in the Icom line up. This is a fully featured high end radio that allows a lot of flexibility connecting additional devices. You will find a powerful commercial grade class D DSC receiver (more about it later), integrated GNSS receiver (GPS, Glonass and SBAS), beautiful 4.3" color LCD display with night mode, built in AIS, 30W 2-way Hailer with Horn function, NMEA 2000 backward compatible with NMEA 0183 and ability to connect up to three controllers! As I said, this radio has pretty much every feature you may wish for. Let's review some of those features. You can see our top three picks for fixed mount marine radios here.

4.3" Color LCD Display - First in its class!

ICOM M605 is the first VHF fixed mount radio with a color LCD. DOT matrix displays are nice, but after you look at this 4.3" display with wide viewing angles, it will be hard for you to go back to other radios, they will feel outdated. ICOM included NIGHT MODE for operation at night which changes background to dark background and displays text and icons in dark red. This color LCD can finally display nice graphics, making navigation through menu more intuitive.

Icom m605 color display

Connect up to 3 Controller Devices

If you have a larger boat, you may want to have additional controllers that can control ALL functions on ICOM m605 VHF radio. ICOM M605 can be connected to 3 external controllers. You can use RC-M600 (works ups to 50m away) with its beautiful display or connect a more portable HM-195 handheld controller (works up to 18.3m away). Put one on flybridge and another in office corner or sleeping area, and you will always have communication by you. Intercom function is included so you can use it to talk between external controllers and the main unit.

ICOM RC-M600

ICOM HM-195 - check on AMAZON.com

Integrated AIS receiver

As we previously covered in our ICOM M506 review, AIS is a must have when you navigate through heavy traffic areas. The AIS plotter screen will display nearby vessels, and you could also choose a target on this display and call them directly using DSC without having to enter MMSI code (requires AIS transponder).

Integrated GNSS Receiver

ICOM M605 has the latest GNSS receiver which works with included UX-241 antenna. You no longer have to get an external GPS device to fully take advantage of AIS and DSC functions.

Some of the additional features include:

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    4.3" Color LCD​​​
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    25W or 1W of output power
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    Class D DSC receiver 
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    Hailer with 30W power
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    Horn and Foghorn
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    Weather channel with weather alerts
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    Dual Watch/Tri-watch
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    Adjustable backlight
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    AquaQuake water draining
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    Intercom function
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    Voice auto recorder - last 120 seconds
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    Active noise cancelling
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    IPX8
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    274 (W) × 114 (H) × 121.5 (D) mm

But what do actual users say about this radio? Are they actually happy with their purchase? Let’s find out the pros, cons and what reviewers are saying about this radio. Below are the most common pros and cons that people have stated in their reviews on Amazon.

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    Great screen
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    Excellent audio quality
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    Compact
  • minus
    Expensive, yet nobody else makes such a beautiful display

Standard Horizon GX2200 Vhf Radio Review

Standard Horizon GX2200 vhf two way marine radio

First launched in 2014, Matrix GX2200 is a fixed-mount VHF radio filled with useful features and an intuitive layout to help insure a safe and secure boating experience. It is one of the first-ever VHF radios to include receivers both for AIS and GPS. The Standard Horizon Matrix Series GX2200 is designed for use in USA, International, and Canadian regions. Its basic features include position sharing, waypoint navigation, DSC calling, and AIS and AIS SART target. The GX2200 has a switchable RF output power of 1-25 watts and can be used with 11-16 VDC. It’s also capable of entering and saving up to a hundred waypoints - all navigable using the device’s navigation compass display. The GX2200 is an all-in-one device complete with all the basic features and practical design. It is created with a 66-channel integrated GPS antenna integrated into its front panel and a built-in duplexer that enables the device to just have one antenna for AIS and VHF. It’s convenient, compact, and perfect for daily use.

Standard Horizon Matrix Fixed Mount VHF w/AIS & GPS - Class D DSC - 30W - Black

Main Features

Easy to Use and Comes in a Compact Size ​​- When looking for a great marine radio, the first thing you have to consider is the size of the device and if it’s easy to control and operate. The Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200 is the appropriate size for a fixed VHF radio. It can fit anywhere easily - perfect when you have a smaller boat and don’t have much room to mount your radio.

ClearVoice noise canceling microphone and speaker​​​​ ​​- Wind elements that can interrupt transmission will be reduced with Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200’s ClearVoice tech feature. It will result in better communication and faster search and rescue operations.

Collision and Avoidance Alarms - Shows your ship’s position and alerts all AIS ships approaching too close to your location. A great life saving tool that helps ships avoid disastrous collisions.

30-Watt Waterproof Speaker - The Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200 boasts of its powerful and durable handy mic and speaker that can survive up to 30 minutes being submerged in the water. The mic is also fixed with channel switches and for a direct Channel 16 switch.

Class D DSC - The Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200 is equipped with a Class D DSC transmitter which enables ships to communicate easily using their MMSI. With this feature, you can contact other registered MMSI vessels within your range.

Integrated 66 Channel WAAS GPS antenna - features a 66 channel WAAS GPS antenna fixed in the front panel of the fixed radio for easy DSC and AIS functioning.

AIS (Automatic Identification System) - Technology that allows the ship to have access to static and dynamic data of other ships in its range.

standard horizon gx2200 display

30 Watt Audio Amplifier - The device includes a programmed listen back feature and fog signal generator so that you can hear your last selected channel despite environmental disturbances.

Integrated GPS Feature - This allows the device to save up to a hundred waypoints making navigating easier and quicker.

NOAA Weather Alert - Helps you prepare during the worst weather conditions. Standard Horizon’s NOAA weather alert keeps you informed whenever a weather warning is issued.

Multi-Channel Monitoring (Dual Watch) - Monitor multiple channels at the same time. With this feature, you have access to emergency channels 9 and 16 as often as you need.

RAM3 Seconds Station Control - The Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200 allows you to remotely control another VHF device at a second station. This also allows communication between two radios. Perfect for contacting your cruising or fishing buddies out in the sea.

RAM3 is available to purchase from Amazon.


Other Features:

  • 80dB Commercial grade receiver
  • GPS Compass Display
  • AIS/AIS SART target Display
  • Navigation information (SOG, COG, Time, LAT/LON)
  • Programmable Scan
  • Priority Scan
  • High and Low Voltage Warning
  • E20 (Easy-To-Operate) system
  • 4800/38400 NMEA baud rate selection
  • Waterproof, Submersible IPX7 (3.3 feet for 30 minutes!)
  •  Die-cast chassis
  •  Quick channel select button
  • User-changeable channel names
  • Local/Distance attenuator
  • Voice Scrambler (optional)
  • Programmable CPA and TCPA collision avoidance alarms

Specifications:

  • Dimensions : 7 1/8"W x 3 3/16"H x 6 5/16"D
  • Display Type: Backlit Alphanumeric LCD
  • Mic Controls: 16/9 key, channel switching
  • Weather Alert: Yes
  • Microphone Controls
  • Transmit Power: 25/1 Watt
  • Amperage 0.5 Amps (Standby)
  • 5 Amps (Transmit)
  • NMEA 0183 Input: GGA, GGL, RMC, GLL, GSA, GSV
  • NMEA 0183 Output: DSC, VDM, and DSE
  • Colors: Black or White
  • Warranty: Three years

Included with Purchase:

  • GX2200 Transceiver
  • DSC Warning Sticker
  • Flush Mount Template
  • Mounting Bracket
  • Power Cord
  • Owner’s Manual

Closing Thoughts and Suggestions:

A marine radio should have all the basic features to enable easy and reliable communication on open waters. The Standard Horizon GX2200 is complete with all the basic features and extra functionalities for a secure fishing or boating trip. No matter if you’re a recreational boater, fisherman, or sailor, we highly recommend this fixed mount marine radio to help ensure your boating trips are safer.

ICOM IC-M506 Review – Fixed Mount VHF Radio with NMEA 2000 and AIS

Icom IC-M506 Marine radio
Icom IC-M506 Marine radio

 Just like the Standard Horizon GX2200, this is a full featured VHF two way marine radio with integrated AIS receiver and NMEA 2000 connectivity. Large 3.4" LCD display is great for viewing AIS vessel traffic information, GPS and radio menus. The radio has the NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 network connectivity. Voice communications are top notch with the help of active noise cancelling and you also have the ability to record last 2 minutes of incoming communications.

ICOM M506 has received the NMEA Best VHF Marine Radio Product Award 3 years in a row 2014-2016. You can find our top 3 fixed mount radios here.

Let's Look At The Major Reasons To Get This Radio vs One Of It's Cheaper Alternatives.

Integrated AIS Receiver

First, let's ask the question - what is AIS? AIS is an Automatic Identification System used on boats and ships that transmits position, speed and navigational status via VHF transmitter. It helps to navigate through heavy traffic areas and shows traffic information on the display.

There are 3 display options when you use AIS receiver: Plotter display, Target list and Danger list. Use Plotter display to visually see nearby vessels; Target list shows number of targets and target information (range and bearing); Danger list displays potentially dangerous targets (MMSI - code or name of vessel, CPA - closest point of approach and TCPS - time getting to CPA). 

icon m506 AIS function

25W Two-Way Hailer

ICOM M506 can be connected to an external hailer horn. What does it do? It allows you to talk to people on deck, bridge or even shore if you are not too far away and listen back via the hailer speaker. Built in 25W amplifier is pretty powerful and produces nice clear audio. Some people find this a very useful function, especially if you have a larger boat with closed cabin etc.

ICOM M506 also has built in HORN with four automatic function: UNDERWAY, STOP, SAIL and TOW. 

ICOM M506 vs STANDARD HORIZON GX2200

Icom IC-M506 Marine radio
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    25W and 1W RF output power
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    AIS
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    NMEA 2000
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    25W Hailer
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    Horn
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    NO GPS (only external)
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    Class D DSC (meets ITU-R M493-13)
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    15W audio output
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    Last Call Function
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    AquaQuake
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    IPX8
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    W7" x H4.5" x D4.5"
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    25W and 1W RF output power
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    AIS
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    NMEA 0183
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    30W Hailer
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    Horn
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    66 Channel GPS
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    Class D DSC (meets ITU-R M493-13)
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    4.5W audio output
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    Last Call Function (NOT AVAILABLE)
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    AquaQuake (NOT AVAILABLE)
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    IPX7
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    W7.1" x H3.1" x D6.3"

Some of the features include:

  • Integrated AIS Receiver with Plotter, Target list and Danger list.
  • NMEA 2000 Connectivity plug-and-play plus NMEA 0183 GPS data conversion
  • Last Call Voice Recording 
  • Active Noise Cancelling
  • 25 Watt Two-Way Hailer
  • Built-in Horn (4 horn patters)
  • Built-in DSC with Class D receiver
  • IPX8 Submersible (up to 60 minutes underwater, 1m)
  • 15Watt audio output
  • Weather channels with alerts
  • AquaQuake water draining
  • 3 year waterproof factory warranty

But what do actual users say about this radio? Are they actually happy with their purchase? Let’s find out the pros, cons and what reviewers are saying about this radio. Below are the most common pros and cons that people have stated in their reviews on Amazon.

  • 5 out of 5 Stars
  • Total Customer reviews
  • 100% of Customers Rated the Radio 5 Stars
  • Large Easy to Read Display
  • AIS functionality 
  • User friendly menu
 
  • GPS support only over NMEA 0183 interface