The ICOM IC M73 EURO is the European variant of the ICOM M73 handheld VHF radio. I use this radio on a daily basis as while I am at work. In this article, I am going to discuss the radio and give you my honest thoughts about it.
What is in the box?
ICOM IC M73EURO: the radio itself.
BP-245H Battery: to fit in the radio.
Antenna: to fit onto the radio.
BC-210 Rapid Charging Station: to store and charge the radio when the battery has been fitted.
AC Adapter: to fit the charging station so that you can charge the radio.
Belt Clip: which screws to the back of the radio so you can attach to a belt or pocket
Hand Strap: to attach to the radio
The unit feels like a premium radio. It certainly feels more solid that a lot of other radios that I have used in my time.
The body is made from a combination of metal and rugged plastic which combine to give it its solid feeling. The metal elements give a feeling of strength to the spine of the radio. Comfort is provided by the rugged plastic which is shaped to hold the buttons and screen while providing grip to the unit as a whole.
The buttons are mostly made of rubber, with the exception of the on/off/volume dial which seems to be made of the same rugged plastic as the rest of the body. Even after a few years of use, the buttons on my radio still give a subtle click when they are pressed.
On the back, the battery is held in place with a solid metal clip. It does require a screwdriver or similar device to release though. This may be good or bad for you depending on what you prefer. For me, I don’t ever need to remove the battery so it is actually a good thing. The extra effort required to release means that you are not tempted to click it in and out repeatedly while fidgeting. It has certainly extended the life of the radio for me.
The antenna is short and flexible. It is not overly flexible though, it does take some effort to bend. It comes separate from the main body, so you just need to screw it on yourself. To me, this is actually an advantage because you can replace it easily if it gets damaged. As with any antenna, it is probably the most likely part to get damaged.
On the back is the clip to fix to your belt or pocket. The clip is built with a strong spring, giving a sense of security when it is attached to your clothing. The only time I have felt insecure is when trying to fix it to a wide metal buckle. Once something is too wide, the latch on the bottom of the clip won’t get any purchase. On and normal clothing, or a belt it does feel completely secure.
In addition to the clip itself, there is a small metal eye to attach the hand strap. I do not actually use the hand strap on my radio, so am unable to comment too much on its effectiveness. I find the radio comfortable and secure enough to hold in my hand. Should I catch the radio on anything, I would rather the radio was pulled out of my hand anyway. I always fear a hand strap will just result in my hand being dragged into whatever has caught the radio.
ICOM claim to have tested the unit submerged in 1.5m of water for 30minutes. I can’t say that I have performed the same test myself. I have used the radio in severe weather before though – on the wing of a ship, in torrential rain. There has been no change in the performance of the radio throughout all the weather that I have thrown its way.
Ease of use is one of the positives of the ICOM IC M73EURO. There are a wealth of options within the instruction manual, but if you are like me you will probably only need a fraction of these.
Turning on is intuitive. You just need to turn the volume selector switch, simultaneously turning on and increasing the volume to the desired level.
Channel selection is done using the push buttons on the front of the unit. There is a dedicated button to go straight to channel 16 should you need that. If you are like me, you will get so used to switching using the selector you will naturally use that rather than the dedicate switch. It is nice to have to ch16 button as an option though.
The PTT button is on the side. Pressing and holding will activate transmit mode. Releasing returns the radio the receive mode. The button is nicely situated to be natural to press while holding the radio. I am right handed, and it is easy to press with my index finger. When held in my left hand, I can use my thumb just as comfortably.
It is easy to switch between the international and USA channels. You only have to push and hold a single button and the radio will switch. My version only has International and USA options, but other versions of the radio do have International, USA, Canada and ATIS channels. Just make sure you buy whichever version you need in your location.
The other most useful function is the lock button. Press and hold and you will disable all buttons except the PTT. This stops accidental channel switching if the radio is in your pocket. A single press of this button adjusts the transmission power, allowing you to switch between high and low power transmission. Reducing the power will extend battery life if long range communication is not required.
Quality of Transmission and Reception
During regular use, transmission and reception using the ICOM IC M73EURO has been great. I always use it on board ships that also have fixed VHF equipment. On many occasions the ICOM IC M73EURO actually out performs the ship’s equipment.
On one occasion I had to call VTS, and the ship’s equipment was not able to get through. I used the ICOM IC M73EURO and was able to report in clearly. On that occasion, I would say the transmission covered 10 miles or so. Saying that, it is important to note that the bridge of a ship is higher than the deck of a yacht. I have always reliably been able to use this handheld VHF for line of sight communication.
You should expect a well fitted and well maintained fixed installation to be able to communicate further away, simply due to the height of the antenna. This would be true of any handheld VHF radio though.
The battery life of my ICOM IC M73EURO has been brilliant. I have it turned on for an average of 6 hours per week while conducting ship movements. With that level of usage I can typically run for a couple of months between charges.
Transmission uses a lot more battery than reception, so if you do transmit regularly you can expect a shorter battery life than I experience. All my transmissions are short, and concise. I would guess that I normally transmit for a few seconds each time, and maybe do 30 such transmissions per week. Some weeks are considerably more if I am directing tug movements as well. Even with this range of use, the radio does last many months between charges for me.
Charging is simple. The ICOM IC M73EURO comes with a rapid charging station. This station can be plugged in in a convenient location either at home or on your boat and then forgotten about. To charge the radio you just need to place it in the charge and it will return to full charge.
Price / Where to Buy
My ICOM IC M73EURO was provided to me as part of my work equipment. I have been so impressed with its performance, I have also purchased one to use on my own boat as well.
At the time that I am writing this review, the ICOM IC M73EURO has an RRP of £240 in the UK. It is available from all good nautical equipment stores, as well as many online retailers.