The Icom M602 has a large front panel footprint that measures 8.6 inches wide by 4.3 inches high. A full alphanumeric keypad makes for easy data entry.
The large display screen on the M602 has 7 levels of backlighting, both transmit and receive icons, designated areas for position and time display, alpha channel display, and channel comment directly below the large channel number. We rated it excellent.
The M602 upheld Icom tradition and performed superbly. In our transmitter review, we found the Icom M602 power output stable over the entire temperature and voltage ranges tested. Frequency stability was rated excellent as well. We rated receiver sensitivity good while selectivity is as good as any radio we’ve seen with a specification of greater than 80 dB. Audio output was excellent too with sound pressure levels higher than any other VHF radio we’ve tested.
One-button controls are limited to selecting transmitter power level, toggling between weather and voice channels, and making a quick 16 channel selection. Combining two pushbuttons lets the user select between US, International, or Canadian channels. Volume, squelch, and channel selection are controlled with knobs. Other radio features are controlled via a function key and the alphanumeric keypad.
For example, hitting the F key followed by the 1 key turns on Dual scan, F then 2 is Tri-Watch, and F then 3 is screen backlighting. Once a function like backlighting is selected it can be adjusted up or down by turning the channel selector knob. The remaining keys control tag scan operation and channel selection, receiver local/distant setting, hailer, automatic fog signals, optional intercom, and optional voice scrambler. The M602 is capable of coupling to 2 remote microphones. Current time and position are normally displayed onscreen when GPS data is input to the radio.
Digital Selective Calling
The M602 has a long list of DSC calling abilities including distress, individual, all ships, group, position request, position send, geograpical, polling, and polling request. The M602 can store up to 100 individual or group MMSI numbers with a maximum of 10 character names. As many as 20 incoming distress and 20 other incoming messages can also be stored. A nature of distress tag, selected from a list of 11 items, can be added to a DSC call.
Odds and Ends
Like other Icom radios we’ve tested, the Icom M602 can scan several channels at once via normal or priority scanning. Normal looks at each channel in order while priority checks channel 16 between other channels. Tag scanning is also available on the M602.
We tested the hailer on the Icom M602 and found it performed well, with more than adequate volume. Automatic fog signals can be set to sound for: Power vessel underway, vessel underway but not making way, sailing vessel underway (this one can also be used for several other vessel conditions), and vessel under tow. Foghorn tone is adjustable from 200 to 850 Hz.
The M602 is one of the most expensive radios we’ve reviewed, we found it priced around $500 on the web. It carries a 3-year warranty. In our opinion, this radio is a buy. It offers outstanding performance and a long list of user-friendly features.