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Author Topic:   VHF Handheld with Bluetooth
Ridge Runner posted 02-16-2014 09:33 PM ET (US)   Profile for Ridge Runner   Send Email to Ridge Runner  
Having Bluetooth in a handheld VHF radio that connects to your cellular telephone so it could be kept safe sound and you just use the waterproof handheld VHF is a pretty good idea. I am not a big fan of Cobra electronics. At a selling Price of about $150 their radio features:

--Bluetooth® Wireless Technology - Keep your cell phone safe and dry by pairing it to the radio.
--Rewind-Say-Again® - Replay missed VHF calls.
--Floating - Never lose your radio. The floating design and orange core make retrieval easy if dropped overboard.
--Noise-Cancelling Microphone - Blocks background noise for clearer conversations.
--6 Watt VHF - Select between 1, 3 and 6 watts for short and long range communication.

The PDF spec sheet:

jwestwood posted 02-17-2014 10:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for jwestwood  Send Email to jwestwood     
That looks like a great idea particularly for those who don't do a lot of off shore boating. Is this unique or are there other manufacturers with similar products? Would like to get Jim's opinion of the viability of this radio.
jimh posted 02-17-2014 02:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Twice as many batteries to go dead.
jimh posted 02-17-2014 02:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I do not make many cellular telephone calls from my boat while underway. Part of the reason for that is due to the areas I am operating the boat. Often there is very poor cellular coverage. A cellular telephone is a radio transceiver, and if it is stowed away below deck, it is not going to get very good coverage, much worse coverage than if you were holding it in your hand and standing on deck.

Another problem with making a cellular telephone call while underway is the ambient noise on a boat. When cruising along at planing speed there is usually too much wind noise and engine noise to permit good communication using a cellular telephone.

If I have to come to a slow speed or stop, and if I have marginal coverage with my cellular telephone stowed below, I am not sure that there is any great advantage to being able to use my VHF Marine Band handheld radio as a very expensive Bluetooth handset.

Also, how are you going to set up a cellular telephone call from the VHF Marine Band radio? Is this radio automatically going to pair with the cellular telephone so the radio can take over call origination? I have my doubts about that.

As for the Rewind audio replay feature, I am a little skeptical about that, too. If we are communicating, and I missed part of your transmission, I would just ask you to repeat. If I stopped, rewound the audio, and replayed it, you (or whomever I am communicating with) would probably wonder what happened to me, and why I was not responding.

The Rewind feature might be handy if I just missed part of the MAFOR code for weather forecasting and did not want to wait ten minutes for it to repeat. Or maybe if I happened to hear some distress call and missed something. But for normal communication I do not see it having too much application. But, since you can have it and not use it, there is no harm in having it.

jimh posted 02-17-2014 02:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The aspects of a handheld VHF Marine Band radio that would appeal to me are:

--really solid receiver with excellent sensitivity, very high tolerance of strong signals and intermodulation, and plenty of receiver audio output without distortion;

--excellent transmitter power and voice modulation

--good battery life, drop-in charger, and emergency battery pack with AA-cells;

--resistance to damage from being dropped and good water resistance;

--ability to be run on external power and external antenna in a pinch.

After those qualities, the rest are mainly bells and whistles.

By the way, I do have a hand-held radio. It covers six bands:

--VHF Marine Band FM TX and RX

--VHF Aircraft Band AM RX-only

--VHF NOAA Weather Radio FM RX-only

--VHF Family Radio Service (FRS) FM TX and RX

--FM Broadcast Band RX-only

--AM Broadcast Band RX-only

It has a drop-in charger cradle, and AC and DC power cords. It does not have a GPS, has no DSC. But it is a fun radio to bring along, not only on boat trips but on other adventures, too,

Ridge Runner posted 02-17-2014 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ridge Runner  Send Email to Ridge Runner     
Seems like the main mode of dialing is via voice:

Using Voice Dial
This feature allows you to use your voice to dial a contact
from the contact list on your mobile phone.

Voice dialing is an advanced function and may not be
supported by all phones. Cobra suggests you set it up
and become familiar with it on your mobile phone
before you attempt using it in conjunction with the
radio or another Bluetooth device.

To Initiate a Voice Dial Call:
1. Press and release the Bluetooth button to enter the
Bluetooth Standby mode.
2. Press and release the Bluetooth button twice (2x)
from Bluetooth Standby mode. This will initiate the
voice dial feature on the connected mobile phone.
3. You will hear a beep or audio command from the phone.
Press and hold the PTT (Push to Talk) button and
speak the name into the radio.
4. The mobile phone will begin to dial the contact
it “recognizes.” The call will be completed through
the speaker and microphone of the radio. The matrix
will display DIALING and IN CALL as the call
is completed.
5. Hang up by pressing the Bluetooth button when
you complete your call.

jwestwood posted 02-18-2014 11:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for jwestwood  Send Email to jwestwood     
Second thought, what is the point and or advantage over hand-held VHF? Some redundancies--what was I thinking!!

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