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STANDARD HORIZON HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built-In GPS

Model # 11029907Mfg # HX851

$249.99

Customer Reviews
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Product Description

In a serious emergency, this is the radio you want to have in your ditch bag

The advanced HX851 floating handheld VHF/GPS includes a 12-channel GPS receiver allowing you to transmit a DSC distress message, report your position or send calls with your coordinates, perfect for everyday use or adding to your ditch bag. The workhorse HX851 includes 6W of transmit power, a die-cast chassis that’s ergonomically shaped with rubberized armor for a non-slip grip. A luminescent glow-in-the-dark gasket helps you find your radio at night.

GPS capabilities include waypoint entering (store up to 200 waypoints), navigation to a waypoint, DSC (Digital Selective Calling) functions including: Position Request and Position Report and navigation to a DSC position.

Full dot-matrix display with channel names, Radio/Position, Radio/SOG/COG, waypoint navigation and compass displays. Volume & Squelch indication on display, NMEA 0183 output on cradle, water-activated SOS strobe light, preset key with 10 channel storage, NOAA Weather with alert and a submersible speaker microphone jack for connecting optional accessories. 12V and 110V chargers included.

  • Material: Polycarbonate housing, die-cast chassis
  • Controls: 10-button keypad
  • Scanning Modes: Programmable scan, programmable priority scan, dual watch
  • Weather Alert: Yes
  • Transmit Power: 6/5/2.5/1 Watt
  • Receiver Performance: Sensitivity: 0.25µV; Rejection: 70dB
  • Battery Type: Li-ion 1380mAh
  • Battery Life: 10 hours +
  • Waterproof Rating: Floating, rated IPX7 submersible
  • Dimensions: 2-1/2"W x 5-5/8"H x 1-13/16"D
  • Display Type: Dot-matrix LCD
  • Screen Size: 1.6"W x 0.9"H
  • Weight: 11.5oz.
  • Included Equipment: AC/DC chargers, charging cradle, antenna, belt clip
  • DSC: Digital Selective Calling including; Distress, All Ship Urgency and Safety, Group, Individual, Position request and Position report calls.
  • GPS Receiver: 12-channel, time to fix: Cold start 50 sec.
  • NMEA Output: NMEA 0183 output on cradle
  • Waypoints: Waypoint entry (200 waypoints), Navigate to waypoint, Navigate to DSC Position Request call
  • Warranty: Three-year waterproof; $65 flat rate

Specs

HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built-In GPS

Battery Life 7 Hours
Battery Type Li-Ion
Dimensions 2.5"W x 5.66"H x 1.81"D
Display Type Backlit Segmented LCD
Features Can use standard AAA
Glow-in-the-dark
Stores waypoints
NMEA 0183 cradle output
Emergency strobe light
Floating Floating
GPS/DSC GPS DSC
Material Polycarbonate
Multiband Not Multiband
Scanning Modes Programmable Scan
Priority Scan
Dual Watch
Transmit Power 1/2.5/5/6W
Warranty 3 Years Waterproof
Waterproof Mfgr. Rated IPX-7
Weather Alert Yes - NOAA Weather alert

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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
Standard HorizonHX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS
 
4.3

(based on 47 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (25)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (16)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (3)

91%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Clear signal (38)
  • Good audio (38)
  • Rugged (36)
  • Lightweight (31)
  • Easy to use (29)

Cons

  • Complicated controls (8)
  • Difficult to program (8)
  • Short range (6)
  • Drains battery (3)

Best Uses

  • Boating / sailing (42)
  • Emergencies (21)
  • Hunting (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Casual/ recreational (33), Avid adventurer (11)
    • Primary use:
    • Personal (43)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Best single piece of electronics

This is a long review because this radio has a LOT of features.

Summary:
The HX851 is an update to the HX850s and is a great handheld VHF radio that boaters...Read complete review

This is a long review because this radio has a LOT of features.

Summary:
The HX851 is an update to the HX850s and is a great handheld VHF radio that boaters operating in open waters should have. If you only operate on inland lakes, then this VHF has a lot of bells & whistles that you don't need, but it's still good at being a basic VHF, and if you take that rare trip on open waters, then it would sure be comforting to have the DSC MAYDAY service. It is the only floating VHF with DSC and GPS that I could find in the summer of 2010. The price is comparable to higher-end handheld VHF radios, and with all the features packed in, it is well worth it.

Positives:
+ Floating
+ Rugged
+ Lightweight
+ DSC with MAYDAY signaling
+ GPS with navigation to waypoints and DSC calls
+ Comes with most of the accessories you need (charging base, antenna, 12VDC and 120VAC chargers)
+ Provides novices with an easy-to-use MAYDAY hailer that requires very little training
+ Could be used as a MOB locator/personal beacon if you secure it to yourself (fall overboard, and send your exact GPS location to your crew or the USCG)
+ Built-in LED is bright enough to use as a flashlight
+ Very loud, able to be heard over a running boat motor and high winds
+ Automatically triggers the bright, flashing LED when dropped in the water (helps you find it and someone it might be attached to)

Negatives:
- Somewhat large (the size is obviously necessary to make this unit buoyant)
- Battery life is short, around 10 hrs
- No accurate indication of remaining battery life or warning of power-off (as a potentially life-saving device, it should provide at least 60 minutes of audible and visual warning before it dies)
- GPS is very difficult to use as a navigation aid (it works OK to navigate to a DSC call, and locks on very quickly)

Negatives of MMSI+DSC:
- MMSI and VHF license is $160 from FCC, (a free MMSI is available from BoatUS, but this number is for US waters only, if you register with the FCC, Canada Coast Guard can also receive your MAYDAY call - most important for boaters operating offshore in the Great Lakes)
- DSC MAYDAY function is disabled until you enter an MMSI number
- As of the date of this review (summer 2010), DSC MAYDAY services are not installed by the USCG in the Great Lakes, but all commercial vessels must be able to send/receive MMSI MAYDAY, so you _should_ be safe making the call. USCG should have the DSC MAYDAY system installed by 2011.
- USCG's Rescue 21 system theoretically doesn't need DSC or MMSI to locate a VHF call. Rescue 21 should be able to locate a caller based on triangulation. I prefer to have the USCG get my LAT/LON from my MAYDAY call, and they'll see a description of my boat in their database, but you don't NEED the MMSI for the USCG to find you.

Details:
I like this radio a lot. I use it as my primary communications device on my sailboat in the Great Lakes. I also have a high-quality fixed VHF with an antenna 55ft above the water, and this handheld seems to pick up every call the fixed station does, and everyone hears me just as well over the handheld as they do over the fixed station. It has great sound quality and volume, in fact much better than my built-in VHF. Except for battery life, the negatives are not related so directly to the radio, but more to the DSC service in general. I have dropped this radio in the lake, left it on the boat in the sun for a week, and dropped it onto concrete, and it shows no damage or lessened functioning.

The battery life is OK for the typical boating day, but if you head out for all-day or night voyages, it better be charged up fully. I would not complain about the battery life nearly as much if it gave me some decent amount of warning that the battery was nearing depletion, either through an audio beep or an accurate battery level indicator. I have never seen the battery level indicator on the display, even though there is one, so it must come on shortly before the thing is dead. If you buy this radio, and you plan to use it offshore, get the separate AA battery tray for inserting when your LI-ION battery dies unexpectedly. I would really like a DC-in port so that I could just keep it plugged into the 12V accessory outlet on my boat, instead, it must be on the base to charge. If it charges while turned on, then it does so VERY slowly, and it takes about 12hrs to charge even when turned off. The power system on this unit is definitely the greatest negative, but that being said, it does work for about 10hrs on a charge, is rechargeable, and extra batteries and AA battery adapters are available. If you turned off the GPS it would probably work MUCH longer, but that really defeats the purpose of the whole MAYDAY function.

The GPS is missing many features that would be easy to add. One sorely lacking feature is a MOB/Waypoint button. Since it's a handheld, I have it attached to me or very near me all the time. That would make a MOB button very handy and would also greatly simplify entering any waypoint. Entering waypoints is very 20th century, having to use the up/down buttons to select a number or character (the manual lists EIGHTEEN steps to enter a waypoint!). The GPS has a decent navigation aid with a compass-like bearing indicator, but other than that, it is just frustrating to use. Adding a full 10-key alpha/numeric pad would also be very helpful. I'd also like to see the GPS time with seconds on the display so that I can refer to it for race starts (it shows just hours and minutes). The difference between this radio and the HX850s appears to only be the ability to enter a waypoint and navigate to GPS waypoints (of course the difficulty in actually entering a waypoint effectively makes this radio no different than the HX850s).

The MAYDAY button does NOT work until you enter an MMSI number. While this is good for the USCG, I wonder how critical that is to the system as a whole. Who cares if you know the call sign of a MAYDAY call? If someone is in trouble, you should go to their aid, even if they didn't register their radio. The GPS gives the DSC system a LAT/LON, so who cares WHO is calling, since you can see where they are calling from.

This is a GREAT radio for the average fisherman or sport boater that might head a couple of miles off shore. It's a FANTASTIC radio for an offshore boater as backup, for general everyday use in addition to your fixed station, for taking with you on your dinghy or kayak, and for backup to your primary GPS. For under three bills this radio gives you a TON of features in a quality package. I give this radio 4 stars because it really does deliver the features, and is generally well engineered and manufactured, but I have to subtract a star for the clunky GPS interface and battery life. The least they should do in a revised model is add a MOB/waypoint key. If you only buy one piece of electronics for your boat, this should be it.

Tip: When you register the MMSI, register as a mobile unit with a separate number. That way, you can take the radio with you on your buddy's boat, and you still have all the safety features without fixing the number to a specific boat.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

They would not honour the warranty

Standard Horizon would not honour the warranty. The radio leaked and took in water but they would not correspond with me directly. Eventually the excellent staff at Westmarine managed to get a response,...Read complete review

Standard Horizon would not honour the warranty. The radio leaked and took in water but they would not correspond with me directly. Eventually the excellent staff at Westmarine managed to get a response, but it dead ended when I tried to take it up directly again. Dead radio - inside warranty period. Very poor.

Reviewed by 47 customers

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Displaying reviews 1-10

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2.0

Battery Life

By Marquesa

from Oriental NC

About Me Professional/Guide

Pros

  • Clear Signal
  • Easy To Use
  • Good Audio
  • Rugged

Cons

  • Battery Is Only Good For
  • Battery Life

Best Uses

  • Boating

Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

I got this to replace an old Icom but the battery dies in a day and when you are cruising and reach for the radio only to find it dead it limits the usefulness. Especially when I have shut the VHF off between bridges and locks.

  • Primary use:
  • Personal
 
5.0

buy one

By dhc2

from victoria bc

About Me Avid Adventurer

Pros

  • Clear Signal
  • Good Audio
  • Rugged

Cons

  • Complicated Controls

Best Uses

    Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

    this is the right radio for any kayaker.. with a few bonus features not seen in more expensive models I really wish the on/off volume control was a knob on top instead of buttons on the console. For those of us using this from kayaks in big seas.. you want to be able to turn it off/on and control the volume without having to take it out of your vnf pocket..

    • Primary use:
    • Personal

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Great back up

    By recreational boater

    from Chesapeake Bay

    About Me Casual/ Recreational

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Easy To Use
    • Good Audio
    • Lightweight
    • Rugged

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Boating
      • Emergencies

      Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

      I use as a backup on my cabin cruiser and when I am not on the flybridge,where my boat's vhf radio is located.
      This portable radio is lightweight, easy to use and works well here on the Chesapeake.

      • Primary use:
      • Personal

      (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      I would buy this product again

      By Jimmy Buffet

      from Tennessee

      About Me Casual/ Recreational

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Clear Signal
      • Easy To Use
      • Good Audio
      • Lightweight

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Boating

        Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

        I bought this radio for our PWC for use on Lake Norris in Tennessee. Cell phone service is very spotty there so if you were to break down this is your only way to communicate or call for help. It will transmit your location so BoatUS can find you in an emergency.

        • Primary use:
        • Personal

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Hard to Beat

        By Simple Sailor

        from Oklahoma

        About Me Casual/ Recreational

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Automatic Strobe
        • Clear Signal
        • Floats
        • Good Audio
        • GPS
        • Lightweight
        • Rugged
        • Waterproof

        Cons

        • Complicated Controls

        Best Uses

        • Boating
        • Emergencies

        Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

        This is a wonderful radio. It's a little difficult to operate, but with all the capabilities in such a small package, what do you expect? Just take the time to study the manual and you'll love it.

        • Primary use:
        • Personal

        (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Nice radio

        By Mrjdk

        from Great Lakes

        About Me Casual/ Recreational

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Clear Signal
        • Good Audio
        • Lightweight

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Boating

          Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

          I use this as a secondary radio to the mounted VHF on the boat. Great for communicating to someone who has gone ashore. 6 watts out max with 3 power settings. Floats so you shouldn't loose it overboard. A little larger in size then the compact radios, so wont' just slip into a pocket. At first didn't like the 'plastic' feel to it but have gotten use to that. While not really an issue my biggest 'dislike' is the volume and squelch. I like knobs for those two controls rather then having to select the button wanted, then push the up/down arrows, then push the selection button again. But that aside I would but it again without question.

          • Primary use:
          • Personal

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          The description says it ALL!!!

          By Great Lakes

          from Cleveland, Ohio

          About Me Casual/ Recreational

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Clear Signal
          • Easy To Use
          • Good Audio
          • Rugged

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Boating

            Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

            The description said it was THE device you need in a boating emergency. It is awesome and it does everything I need it to do. I am sailing from Chicago to Cleveland and this device is going to be a huge help.

            • Primary use:
            • Personal
             
            5.0

            Great all in one VHF!

            By Another happy boater

            from Yardley, PA

            About Me Casual/ Recreational

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Clear Signal
            • Easy To Use
            • Good Audio
            • Lightweight
            • Rugged

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Boating

              Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

              The radio has many features in one. The price point was fair. I liked it so much, I bought one for a friend.

              • Primary use:
              • Personal
               
              4.0

              Great VHS handheld radio

              By Vanderboat

              from Charleston, SC

              About Me Casual/ Recreational

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Clear Signal
              • Easy To Use
              • Good Audio
              • Rugged

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Boating

                Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

                Lots of features if you need them, and easy to use without engaging all of the features if you don't.

                • Primary use:
                • Personal

                (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Really like!

                By Rich L

                from La Paz, BCS, Mexico

                About Me Avid Adventurer

                Verified Reviewer

                Pros

                • Clear Signal
                • Good Audio
                • Lightweight
                • Rugged
                • The Features Are Fabulous

                Cons

                • Difficult To Program

                Best Uses

                • Boating

                Comments about HX851 Floating Handheld VHF with Built In GPS:

                This radio has everything! I really like almost everything about it. After having it a year, the battery seems to have much less of a charge capacity than I would have hoped. It lasts about 20 hours with maybe 10 5-second transmissions, though many receives. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations. The DSC feature is complicated and hard to program because Standard Horizon chose to keep the control panel buttons to a minimum (10). Everything is a compromise. Once you get the hang of it, Dual Watch, etc., is easy enough. I have a few handhelds, so it's hard on my memory trying to keep all the radio controls straight. Still, this is the best handheld on the market. 6 watts of power is the most I'd want to put next to my head...

                • Primary use:
                • Personal

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