The Cobra HH475 is a mid-sized floating marine handheld VHF radio with 6-watts of power output, Bluetooth® wireless capabilities, and a few other unique features.
The black and orange case, made from UV-stable ABS plastic, is solidly constructed and measures approximately 5-inches high, 2.6-inches wide, and 1.5-inches thick. Overall height including the antenna is 12-inches. With the 1000 mAH lithium-ion battery pack install it weighs in at a svelte 9.5 ounces.
The HH475 marine handheld VHF radio package ships with the radio, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, AC and DC chargers, belt clip, wrist strap, AA battery tray, and owners manual.
The AC charger uses a drop-in cradle that will hold the radio or the battery alone and complete a charge cycle in about 5 hours. This charger shows a red light to indicate charging and green for a fully charged battery.
The Cobra HH475 is the first floating marine handheld VHF radio Ive seen with a rotary control. On the HH475 the top mounted knob turns the unit on/off and sets the volume. In my opinion, this is a welcome advance in technology.
A rotary control knob simply works better for certain functions and this is one of them, good on Cobra. An optional external speaker or microphone jack and the antenna also sit on the case top. The antenna on this radio is not removable.
Most other functions are controlled using ten front-mounted pushbuttons. Of course, there is also the standard side mounted push-to-talk button and just below that is the display backlight on/off and key lock button. Having easy backlight on/off switching is another nice feature of this Cobra radio. The key lock function allows the user to lock certain radio settings.
One button control is available for three levels of transmitter power selection, call tone, channeling up or down, weather channel selection, quick selection of channel 16 or 9, and some scanning options.
Six functions are set or switched using the setup menu. Here is where youd access the squelch setting and choose your channel group. You can also turn off/on a number of tones, beeps, and alerts.
Scan modes include numerical, memory, and tri-watch. In the tri-watch mode 16 will always be one of the scanned channels; the other two are user selectable. The HH475 can use all Canadian, International, and US marine VHF channels, and NOAA weather channels.
The Cobra HH475 incorporates Bluetooth technology that will let you pair your cell phone with HH475 and use the radio for calls.
I paired the radio with my iPhone to test this feature. First, you’ll need to do the actual pairing procedure. I followed the simple steps outlined in the radio manual and accomplished everything in less than a minute.
Next, I set the radio to VOX mode and turned on call tone so the radio would sound off for an incoming call. VOX lets you speak without using the PTT switch, a nice feature when using the radio for phone calls. Just keep in mind VOX is basically a hot mike, meaning anything you say will be heard by the party on the other end of the line.
With all this setup, I had a friend make a phone call to my cell. Both the phone and radio rang out. With a press of the Bluetooth button, I answered the radio and could talk to the caller as if I were using my cell phone. Sound quality was good. I moved the radio away from the cell phone and had no trouble maintaining the connection as long as I stayed inside the 30-foot advertised range.
You can also make outgoing calls using the radio, with one caveat. Unless your cell phone has support for voice commands (my early iPhone didn’t) you’ll have to dial the call from your cell phone.
The real upside of the Cobra HH475 Bluetooth feature is that it you to keep your cell in a safe dry place and use the radio to answer any incoming cell phone calls. This could be a real plus for some boaters.
Other Special Features
This radio is capable of sending a call tone to other handheld VHF radios able to receive it. When this radio receives a call tone it can be set to sound an advisory tone.
One very unique feature I’ve only seen on other Cobra radios is Rewind-Say-Again. Basically what this does is record the last 20 seconds of speech received on the selected channel. Pressing the associated button replays the missed call so you can hear it again. I tried it and it worked as stated.
After being dunked this radio will clear water out the speaker by emitting a loud tone for eight seconds. Pressing the 16 and Scan buttons at the same time activates the “Burp” option.
The Cobra HH475 also incorporates Bluetooth technology. The purpose of this would be to pair the radio with your cell phone, then keep your cell in a safe dry place, and use the radio to handle your cell phone calls. The radio will pair with a Bluetooth capable cell phone but not with a headset. I did not test this function.
Performance and Battery Life Testing
I tested the Cobra HH475 using the supplied lithium-ion battery pack. An alkaline battery tray provided with the radio package holds 6-AA batteries and can be used as an alternative power source. Depending the AA batteries used the radio may or may not float.
Sound quality of this radio was good as was audio output which I measured at 89 dBA.
To avoid tying up a channel caused by accidentally keying the push-to-talk switch the radio will stop transmitting after five minutes.
I rated the Cobra HH475 display screen excellent, with a diagonal measurement of 1.75-inches it is quite large for a marine handheld VHF radio. Large block style numbers are used to display the selected channel while a single letter below shows the channel group selected.
Transmitter power output is shown onscreen as Hi, Med, or Lo. Battery level is on the bottom right and shows a filled battery shaped icon when full. As the battery charge drops the battery icon empties too. Signal strength is shown in meter form for both a transmitted or a received signal.
Cobra claims this radio will last about 8 hours on a full charge. In our testing it made it 7 hours. One of the compromises needed to make a radio float is to reduce weight and lowering the battery capacity is one way to accomplish that end. At the end of our test it would still receive but wouldn’t transmit.
This radio is waterproof and carries a IPX7 rating. This means it can be submerged to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes without sustaining any damage. This Cobra marine handheld VHF radio carries a 3-year warranty. It passed both our drop and dunk test without incident.
This radio performed well, has lots of added features, and it floats. I’d rate it a buy.