The Standard Horizon HX280S is an inexpensive entry level handheld that was recently introduced by Standard Horizon. The unit features a tough polycarbonate case that measures 2.3 inches wide by 5.3 inches tall and 1.2 inches deep.
The HX280S ships with an automatic AC charger that requires just seven hours to fully charge the 1650 mAH lithium-ion battery pack. The AC charger indicator light shows red while charging and change to green when the battery has fully charged. A DC charger cord and belt clip is included too.
All functions of the HX280S are controlled with nine front-mounted pushbuttons. A twist knob on top of the case turns the radio on or off and adjusts the audio volume. The push-to-talk switch is side-mounted.
One button control is available for transmitter power selection, channel changing, weather channel selection, a preset channel change, quick selection of channel 16 or 9, and some scanning options.
Scan modes include dual watch, memory, or priority. When using scan the HX280S can be set to monitor from 2 to all the channels. In memory mode it scans in numerical order and in priority is scans between the priority channel and each set channel.
Going into the set menu allows you to choose memory or priority. The HX280S can use all Canadian, International, and US marine VHF channels and NOAA weather channels. The preset key is used to store and quickly recall up to ten of your favorite channels. Each successive press of the preset key switches to the next favorite channel.
I rated the display screen on the HX280S good. It uses large segmented numbers to annunciate the selected channel and does display the alpha designation on the appropriate channels.
A single sliding scale on the left of the screen shows the current squelch level. The battery level icon appears on the top right part of the screen and empties as the battery is depleted.
The amount of transmitter power output selected is shown onscreen with an H for high power (5-watts) and an L for low power (1-watt). When transmitting, an onscreen TX icon appears, a BUSY icon shows when the unit is receiving a signal. The WX icon indicates a weather channel selection has been made.
Transceiver performance of the HX280S was top shelf. It earned excellent ratings for transmitter power stability, transmitter frequency stability, and receiver sensitivity. The receiver is rated for 70dB of channel separation. Audio performance was good. During our output test we measured 88 dBA.
Battery Life, Drop, and Dunk Testing
The HX280S turned in an excellent performance in our battery life test by lasting 15+ hours. It passed both the drop and submersion tests with no glitches.
This radio is waterproof and carries an IPX7 rating. This means it can be submerged to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes without sustaining any damage. It carries a 3-year warranty on the radio with a 12-month warranty on the battery.
The Standard Horizon HX280S is inexpensive yet performed superbly in all of our testing. I’d rate this radio a best buy for any boater.