Brand: Standard Horizon
Radio Type: VHF Floating Marine Transceiver
Weight: 10.8 oz
Case size: 2.44” x 5.57” x 1.61”
Ham & Noise Radio: 40 dB typical
AF Output: 700 mW @ 16 Ω for 10% THD (@7.4 V)
Transmit Power: 6-Watt two way
Features: Floating, Submersible, 1.7” display, Thermometer Sensor, NOAA Weather Channels
MSRP: $175.99 (in 2010)
I purchase the Standard Horizon HX751 VHF radio in August of 2010 for the primary use of open-water crossings and extended ocean travel in the case of an emergency. After hearing several favorable reviews of the HX751, I purchased the Standard Horizon due to its acclaimed reliability and dependability on the water. Disappointment was soon to await (skip to Third Year section).
First Year: First Glance
Duration of Use (approx. One Month)
One of the key features which initially attracted me to purchasing the Standard Horizon HX751 was its ability to float and stand upright in the water in the instance of accidentally dropping it in the water. As a sea kayaker, it is great to have a VHF radio that will not sink to the bottom of the ocean like a rock and one that will remain visible in the water.
After purchasing the HX751 in August 2010, I used it through the remainder of the season (through September) in both fresh water and salt water conditions. I found that the functionality of the radio was great and its features were easy to use on the water. Its large, illuminated buttons make it easy to change settings and adjust the squelch and volume if needed.
The HX751 transmission power is very favorable- with the ability to reach crafts and stations up to 10 miles away. This gave me peace of mind on the water, having a stronger feeling of reassurance in the instance of an emergency situation or need for extraction.
I tested all of the features upon first purchasing the device and overall I was very satisfied with its overall quality, easy-of-use, and functionality. Although, one feature I was never able to use was the temperature feature. In theory, the HX751 is designed to read the water temperature when submerged until its thermo sensor was covered. Although the manual specified that the device may take several minutes to register- of the multiple times I tested this feature, the HX751 never displayed the temperature. This was disappointing as the thermo sensor is advertised as a key feature.
Second Year: Great Year
Duration of Use (approx. 3 months)
I continued to use the HX751 into the 2011 kayaking season, bringing it along several trips through the summer months. The radio performed well throughout the season, and while I did not have to deploy its use on the water- I found security in knowing I had the extra insurance just in case.
Third Year: Death of the HX751
Duration of Use (approx. One hour)
I did not use the HX751 until July of the following year when I went on a group trip through the Boston Harbor Islands. While I went kayaking several times prior that season, all of the trips were minor and did not require accompanying a VHF radio.
On the trip in Boston Harbor, I had my radio ready for action- on and scanning in the case of any small craft warnings. After about an hour on the water, the HX751 began to fade which I found odd considering I had just fully charged it the night prior. The LCD began to fade along with the volume which are all signs of typical battery drain. I did not think much of it, I was just glad that I did not have to use the device because I was the only member with a VHF radio and in this case, mine had failed on me.
After recharging the battery, the device failed to power on. I wrote the fade-away and die-off as a dead battery and decommissioned the HX751 for the remainder of the season. Battery replacements are not inexpensive for Standard Horizon products (batteries for handhelds can run in the $50 range), so I did not run out to replace mine that season.
2013 and beyond
Duration of Use (Not used)
I did not use the HX751 throughout the 2013 season and it was primarily stowed away inside as I did not go on any trips where another group member did not have a VHF radio on hand. Towards the end of 2013, I decided I would purchase the removable battery tray for the HX751 since it was a less expensive investment. The battery tray allows for the use of replaceable AAA batteries instead of a rechargeable Li-Ion. Upon using five brand new AAA-batteries, the HX751 still did not power on. I moved to the conclusion that the issue was not the battery, but in fact the handset was the culprit.
I called Standard Horizon’s customer service line and explained my scenario- the customer service representative was very kind and respectful but notified me that the radio was out of warranty, and would not be covered under repairs and replacement without a service fee. To my dismay, I was very disappointed with Standard Horizon’s procedure and stance behind their product since they guarantee that “Standard Horizon is committed to ensuring your enjoyment of this high performance transceiver, which should provide you with many years of satisfying communications even in the harshest of environments. Standard Horizon technical support personnel stands behind every product sold…”
I would like to suggest several amendments to this statement: First, when they state “many years” they actually mean four and a half MONTHS of seasonal use… Second, when they state “harshest conditions” they actually mean light coastal kayaking with minimal contact with the water… Third, when they state “stands behind every product” they mean only on our terms and conditions.
**Granted, I did take longer than I should have to report the radio failure. In retrospect, I should have reported the radio failure in the beginning of the 2012 season when it first died but my own assumptions that a nearly $200 VHF radio would virtually breakdown under minimal conditions lead me to believe it was not a call for alert**