The Icom M24 is the first truly compact lightweight floating marine handheld VHF radio to hit the marketplace. This is one of seven Icom handheld radios in the stable.
The radio case is solidly constructed and well sealed against water intrusion. It measures approximately 5-inches high, 2.4-inches wide, and 1.6-inches thick. Overall height including the antenna is 11.5-inches. With the BP-266 1500 mAH lithium-ion battery pack in place the package weighs a mere 8.1-ounces.
The M24 handheld marine VHF radio package ships with the radio, removable antenna, rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, AC charger, belt clip, wrist strap, and owners manual. The AC charger plugs into a jack on the top of the radio that is normally sealed with watertight screw-in cap. A pair of optional AC chargers and a DC charger is also available. An icon on the radio display indicates the supplied AC charger is attached and operating. The radio does not have to be on for the icon to display.
All radio functions are controlled using nine pushbuttons located on the bottom third of the radio front. The middle is taken up with the display screen while the top third is occupied by the speaker. Of course, you will also find the standard side mounted push-to-talk button on this radio.
One button control is available for selecting one of two levels of transmitter power selection, channeling up or down, weather channel selection, quick selection of channel 16 or 9, all scanning options, and channel group selection. A designated pushbutton turns the radio on or off.
To squelch the radio or set the speaker volume is a two-step process. First, youd select either squelch or volume and then you would set the level as desired with the up/down arrow keys.
To adjust or operate some more obscure functions requires dropping into the set menu. Here you will find options for beep tone, power save, screen contrast, automatic backlight, weather alert, and some scan options.
Icom uses channel tagging to optimize scanning. You can either tag or un-tag a channel as desired. An onscreen tag icon lets you know if a channel is tagged or not. Scan modes include priority, Dualwatch, and Tri-watch. In Dualwatch the radio monitors channel 16 and one other channel, in Tri-watch mode 16 and 9 as well as one other channel are scanned. The channel 9 quick select is actually a custom call channel with a default of 9. The user can reset the call channel as desired. The M24 can use all Canadian, International, and US marine VHF channels. It will also receive all NOAA weather channels and weather alerts if desired.
The M24 has a built-in water activated red light that is visible on the bottom, face, and back. This light should make the radio much easier to locate in the event it goes in the water in low light conditions.
After being dunked this radio will clear water out the speaker by emitting a loud tone for nine seconds. Pressing the Scan and Hi/Lo buttons at the same time activates the AquaQuake function.
This radio is waterproof and carries a IPX7 rating meaning it can be submerged to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes without sustaining any damage. This Icom marine handheld VHF radio carries a 3-year warranty.
Performance and Battery Life Testing
I used the supplied lithium-ion battery pack to run the Icom M24 through battery life testing. In my audio system review I rated the audio output clarity good when listening to voice traffic on a weather channel. Maximum audio measured was 89 dBA.
I rated the M24 display screen good, with a diagonal measurement of 1.4-inches it is about average size for a marine handheld VHF radio. The screen has various icons and uses large segmented numbers to display the selected channel, and adjacent letter marks alpha channels as appropriate. The channel group icon is on the lower left of the screen while volume and squelch level bars display in the lower right side. Top row icons are visible for transmitting, busy, tag channel, call channel, battery charging, and battery level. Scan mode icons are on the upper right.
Transmitter power output is shown onscreen as Low or no message for high. Battery level meter has three segments shows a filled battery shaped icon when full. As the battery charge drops the battery icon empties too.
This Icom handheld VHF passed both the drop and submersion tests with no issues. The M24 did very well in our battery life test by lasting for 12 hours. At that point it would no longer transmit at full power but still worked on low power.