The key features of the LINK-9 are:
- digital selective calling to Class-D specifications
- integral global navigation satellite system receiver
- integral automatic identification system receiver
- NMEA-0183 and NMEA-2000 interface ports
- removable microphone with front and rear panel connectors
The LINK-9 contains its own internal GNSS receiver with internal antenna, which will provide good reception when the radio is mounted in the clear on an open boat. For flush mounting the radio or for use with obstructed sky view, the internal receiver can also be connected to an external model GPS-500 antenna via a SMA connector on the rear panel. The GPS-500 antenna is an existing product and has an MSRP of $139. Compare at
The radio can also get position data from an external position receiver by using NMEA-0183 or NMEA-2000 connections to the other device.
The internal GNSS receiver is described by Lowrance as a "GPS", which may perhaps indicate the device can only work with one of the several global navigation satellite systems available, the U.S. Air Force's NavStar Global Positioning System. The Lowrance literature is unclear about the details of the GNSS receiver. Considering at present there are three major global navigation satellite systems available to the public, GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO, to provide a receiver that can only work with the GPS constellation will be a limitation compared to modern position-finding devices.
The LINK-9 also contains an automatic identification system (AIS) dual-channel receiver. The AIS receiver shares the main radio antenna whenever the radio is not transmitting. The description of the receiver as "dual-channel" is not particularly clear. The better AIS devices contain two AIS receivers, one for each of the two AIS frequencies, and are able to monitor both frequencies simultaneously. Again, the Lowrance literature is unclear about the details of the AIS receiver, and if it simply switches one receiver between two channels or has two separate receivers.
To integrate the radio with other vessel electronics both the older NMEA-0183 serial data interface and the NMEA-2000 network interface are provided. Having NMEA-2000 makes integration with other devices such as a chart plotter much simpler. Lowrance has had a long history of providing NMEA-2000 interfaces on their products, so problems with the NMEA-2000 aspect of this radio are not anticipated. Having NMEA-0183 ensures good compatibility with other devices.
The hand microphone and cord can be connected to the radio on the front or rear panel. An extension cord is available as an accessory to extend the microphone cord, as may be needed in a flush-mount installation. In addition, the hand-held microphone is unusual in having six buttons. In addition to the four common buttons for push-to-talk, channel selector, power level selector, and jump-to-channel-16-or-9, the LINK-9 also has two buttons on the microphone to control speaker volume.
The design of the radio housing is said to have been styled to match other Lowrance chart plotter devices in their product line. A removable bezel permits the flush-mount fasteners to be concealed.
The display appears to be a white back-lighted display. The display does not appear to implement soft key designators for the user interface.
The radio also has a hailer function and can use the remote loudspeaker as a microphone for listen-back or intercom function.
Volume and squelch controls have separate and dedicated knobs, but the two are concentric.
The larger knob on the front panel upper left appears to the a channel selector knob with a second function as a push-button for the ENTER function. I suspect this knob will also be part of the user interface and allow scrolling among the menu choices presented on the display. The button marked "X" will likely provide an escape or cancel function for the user interface.
Lowrance has not yet published an electronic copy of the user manual for the LINK-9, so details about the radio are limited. The limited information available has come from their website:
The actual selling price of the LINK-9 will likely be lower than the $499 suggested retail price. The now obsolete LINK-8 had an MSRP of $375; that radio did not provide an integral GNSS receiver.