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Icom M36 Review

The Icom M36 is the second floating marine handheld VHF from this well-respected communications company. It features 6-watts of power, a lithium ion battery pack, and clear voice boost.

Voice Boost is an exclusive feature that offers a large increase in audio volume with a single button press. This radio also features AquaQuake which uses a burst of low frequency sound to clear water from the speaker following a submersion.

icom m36 handheld marine vhf radio

Icom M36

The M36 comes from the factory with an automatic AC charger, belt clip, and hand strap. The accompanying charger requires approximately 10 hours to fully charge the 980 mAH lithium ion battery pack and will shutoff automatically after a 14 hour charge.

The cradle will show an orange light to indicate charging and green light when charging is complete.

The Icom M36 case measures 2.5 inches wide by 5.8 inches tall and is 1.9 inches deep. It weighs in at only 9.7 ounces.

Radio Controls

System functionality is controlled by 10 front panel pushbuttons. The push-to-talk switch is side-mounted. Most of the pushbuttons operate both a primary and secondary function.

One button control is available for transmitter power selection, channel changing, weather channel selection, quick selection of channel 16 or 9, favorite channel selection, clear voice boost, and some scanning options.

Scanning

The scan mode is selected using the set menu. You can choose either priority or normal. The TAG key is used to identify channels you wish to scan. Priority scan looks at each tagged channel in order after a look at the priority channel 16. Normal mode scans each channel in sequential order.

The M36 is also capable of dual watch and Tri-watch scanning as well. The M36 can use all U.S., International, and Canadian marine VHF channels and NOAA weather channels.

Display Screen

I rated the M36 display screen only fair. In my opinion, the display is a bit small, plus the night lighting was uneven—brighter on the right side of the screen than the left.

Segmented numbers are used to display the selected channel, when appropriate the alpha character is displayed alongside the channel number.

There is no onscreen indication when transmitter power is set to high but an L icon is displayed when low power is selected.

Battery level is in the top right hand corner of the screen and shows a filled battery shaped icon when fully charged—as the battery level drops the icon empties too. The M36 also has onscreen level meters for audio volume and squelch.

I can’t wait for someone to come out with a handheld marine VHF radio that floats, is submersible, and has knobs to control volume and squelch.

Performance

Overall transceiver performance of the M36 was very good. It earned a good ratings for transmitter frequency stability and excellent ratings for transmitter power stability and receiver sensitivity. With a measured 88 dBA during our audio output test and a good audio quality rating I am rating overall audio performance as good.

Battery Life, Drop, and Dunk Testing

I’ve tested a bunch of Icom radios over the years and one thing I commonly find is that Icom transmitters use less power than any others to produce the same output. I think that fact contributed significantly to the outstanding battery life exhibited by the M36.

Buy this Icom handheld marine VHF radio here.

It lasted 15 hours in our battery life test, that’s almost twice as much battery life as the manufacturer’s claim. It passed both the drop and submersion tests too with no glitches. Of course, this radio floats so to do the submersion test we had to hold it under the water.

Final Thoughts

This radio is waterproof and carries a JIS7 rating. This means it can be submerged to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes without sustaining any water intrusion damage. The M36 carries a 3-year warranty on the radio and 12-month warranty on the battery pack.

A well-built radio with good transceiver performance and outstanding battery life.