Notices
Marine Electronics Forum

VHF, $500 one needed vs a $200 one?

Old 09-14-2020, 03:36 PM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Central W Coast of FL
Posts: 128
Likes: 0
Received 73 Likes on 31 Posts
Default VHF, $500 one needed vs a $200 one?

On a VHF, I know its preferable to have one that is AIS compatible. However, when researching VHFs I see ones that are described as having the same wattage and AIS capabilities, but have huge differences in price. What makes a higher dollar VHF better than a lower dollar one that claims to have the same wattage and AIS capabilities? Im all about buying a quality product that will suit my needs, but getting confused as to what the differences are. As far as I know, a VHF is line of sight, so if you have connected them to the same antennae with the same placement on the boat and the same wattage, theoretically, they will both transmit the same distance. I want a good quality VHF that will do what it is supposed to do and work the way I expect it to, but any guidance over why one would be better than another (assuming same wattage and AIS capabilities) would be welcome. I understand one having controls on the microphone and the other not would make a difference, but were assuming same/similar features for the comparison.
Old 09-14-2020, 04:35 PM
  #2  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location:
Posts: 1,045
Received 294 Likes on 199 Posts
Default

I personally feel AIS capability is not really helpful. Features you want at minimum are DSC with internal GPS (versus having to wire it to an external GPS). That said, the performance between a cheap and an expensive VHF is minimal to nonexistent. They are all a max of 25 watts, and the antenna quality and height will impact transmit distance more than the brand or model of your radio.

So what do expensive radios provide? You pay for higher build quality with a top brand like Icom or Standard Horizon, and you pay for additional features. Multi channel watch, better audio speakers, large lcd screens, hailer capability, AIS receive, and (rarely) AIS transmit are some of the many features expensive radios may offer.

If what you will use the radio for is basic communication, and reaching the Coast Guard in an emergency, then a $200 GPS enabled VHF is all you need.
Likes:
Old 09-14-2020, 05:05 PM
  #3  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Brigantine, NJ
Posts: 2,651
Received 144 Likes on 109 Posts
Default

Agree with 71. Another difference, especially with. AIS capability is interfacing, either 0183 or N2K. For me, a few extra dollars for N2K is worth it.
Likes:
Old 09-14-2020, 06:27 PM
  #4  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Myers Beach, FL, USA
Posts: 3,287
Received 438 Likes on 282 Posts
Default

One big difference between radios, and usually related to price, is the internal speaker size, power to it, and its sound. You may buy a less costly radio and the wonder why it sounds so tinny, or distorted if you turn it up enough to hear it. Then you need to buy an external speaker and find a place for it.

Oh, but you’ll only be using the radio when you want to call someone? Well, you are not required to have that radio onboard, but if you do it should be powered on and set to, or at least dual monitoring, Ch 16. That is the only way you can be a good, responsible boater, ready to hear someone else calling for assistance, or rescuing.

Old 09-14-2020, 06:33 PM
  #5  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 975
Received 731 Likes on 361 Posts
Default

Hailers, automatic fog horn, built in GPS, AIS receive, remote capability, multiple scanning options, etc.

All radios have DSC capability. It's pointless to buy a VHF without a built in GPS when they're so inexpensive. AIS is great if you're in an area with lots of commercial traffic, especially when connected to a plotter.
Old 09-14-2020, 08:03 PM
  #6  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Mt Pleasant, SC
Posts: 433
Received 153 Likes on 102 Posts
Default

Vesper Marine now offers a $1,500 VHF. It still does 25 watts.
Likes:
Old 09-14-2020, 10:05 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: DMV
Posts: 815
Received 544 Likes on 231 Posts
Default

Originally Posted by kgearhart View Post
Vesper Marine now offers a $1,500 VHF. It still does 25 watts.
lol I paid less than that for a garmin vhf and a raymarine ais 700. What are they smoking?
Old 09-15-2020, 05:02 AM
  #8  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 975
Received 731 Likes on 361 Posts
Default

Originally Posted by kgearhart View Post
Vesper Marine now offers a $1,500 VHF. It still does 25 watts.
Simrad RS 40-B with built in AIS transmitter is only $1,100. What does this magic Vespar do?
Old 09-15-2020, 07:05 AM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Puerto Rico
Posts: 361
Received 52 Likes on 43 Posts
Default

Originally Posted by RickC137 View Post
Simrad RS 40-B with built in AIS transmitter is only $1,100. What does this magic Vespar do?
The builder got two bowls of rice and a day off every other year. And the supervisor got a new whip with solid gold plated cat o'nine tails
Likes:
Old 09-15-2020, 07:28 AM
  #10  
Senior MemberCaptains Club MemberPLEDGER
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: SC
Posts: 13,986
Received 9,095 Likes on 4,892 Posts
Default

I definitely get the argument to have built in GPS....but I would not forego hooking it to your plotter if you plotter is capable of displaying DSC info. Much easier to navigate to an on screen notification than to punch it in and then navigate to it. The wiring is silly easy, so no compelling reason to forego hooking it up.
Old 09-15-2020, 07:31 AM
  #11  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Galveston
Posts: 734
Received 122 Likes on 69 Posts
Default

Originally Posted by RickC137 View Post
AIS is great if you're in an area with lots of commercial traffic, especially when connected to a plotter.

this, once its tied into your plotter/radar and you have a big, clear visual of whats around you is priceless.
Old 09-15-2020, 07:37 AM
  #12  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Southeast Michigan
Posts: 2,740
Likes: 0
Received 196 Likes on 159 Posts
Default

Originally Posted by autobaun70 View Post
...I would not forego [sic] hooking [the DSC radio output] to your plotter if you[r] plotter is capable of displaying DSC info.
I think you mean you would not forgo or abandon the idea of connecting the radio output to a chart plotter. And I agree.

Most plotters will usually show the location of a ship position that was sent from another ship by a DSC transmission to the DSC radio, usually in an ALL SHIP message like a DISTRESS ALERT or in a ROUTINE message sent to one ship in a POSITION REPORT. The plotter might also be able to show data about the DSC target vessel in a tabular presentation. If the plotter cannot do that, it isn't much of a plotter these days.

Last edited by jhebert; 09-15-2020 at 08:25 AM.
Old 09-15-2020, 07:49 AM
  #13  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Southeast Michigan
Posts: 2,740
Likes: 0
Received 196 Likes on 159 Posts
Default

Regarding radio features as a function of radio cost:

Radios for VHF Marine Band service being sold in the USA will all meet the FCC requirements for power and digital selective calling features. The typical recreational boat radio will only be qualified to DSC CLASS-D. You could get a CLASS-A DSC radio, but those are generally only used on large commercial ships. And they are expensive.

Also, most of the CLASS-D radios actually include more features than required for CLASS-D radios. One feature often added is support for POSITION POLING. Position Poling is not a required feature, but it is usually supported by most CLASS-D radios.

More expensive radios usually are physically larger, have larger LCD displays, larger knobs, more knobs, and in some cases very nice color displays. But functionally they are not particularly better than the $200 radios, except in some instance in their RECEIVER. The best radios tend to have better receivers with ability to avoid overload from strong signals and ability to receive weak signals in the presence of strong signals nearby on other other frequencies or even other bands.

More expensive radios include non-radio features like PA speakers, intercoms, fog signals, and so on.

As mentioned, radios with NMEA-2000 interface tend to cost more, usually about $100 more. That is often worthwhile as it make interconnection to other devices much simpler for more boaters not familiar with the intricacies of NMEA-0183 interface connections.

In terms of improving a boat's ability to communicate effectively by radio, once you get a radio you should spend more money on the antenna than spending more money for more radio features. A better antenna will improve your radio performance more than a fancier radio.

Last edited by jhebert; 09-15-2020 at 08:27 AM.
Likes:
Old 09-16-2020, 02:54 AM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 294
Received 107 Likes on 75 Posts
Default

To me the greatest difference is in the quality of the sound. Another feature I prefer in the more expensive radios are dedicated knobs for channel, squelch and volume as opposed to up/down buttons. I've owned both inexpensive west marine (uniden) radios and entry level standard horizon but my current radio is the Icom 506 which is by far the best sounding and easiest to use radio I have ever owned, highly recommended. I cannot fathom buying a radio without AIS and having it connected to a plotter.
Old 09-17-2020, 06:08 PM
  #15  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Newburyport, MA
Posts: 2,008
Received 201 Likes on 123 Posts
Default

If you don't need AIS, which in my opinion is not all that useful in most areas, I really think that the Standard Horizon 1850G for $186 (less $30 mail-in rebate) is really, really, really hard to beat. It comes with DSC, Built-in GPS and NMEA2000, all for under 200 clams.

If you need/want AIS (receive only), and a bunch of other features, which you may or may not need, such as dual speakers, hailer capability, voice scrambler, etc, etc take a look at the Standard Horizon GX2400 for $358. I just bought one and I was pleasantly surprised that it was made in Japan to boot.

Last edited by Devil_Inside; 09-17-2020 at 06:39 PM.
Likes:
Old 09-19-2020, 08:02 PM
  #16  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 20
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default

I would agree on the Standard 2400. I have had radios in all brands and while all were adequate the Standard 2200 I run now has hands down been the best radio that I have ran. I believe the difference between it and the current 2400 is that the 2400 has NEMA 2000 connectivity as well as the 0183. The AIS connected to the plotter is certainly a great capability to have. I really did not give it much consideration until having it. Nothing wrong with knowing what and where commercial vessels are at sea ( even nearshore ).

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.