The Standard Horizon HX400 is a fully submersible commercial grade marine VHF handheld radio with a built-in voice scrambler and Land Mobile Radio (LMR) band capabilities.
The HX400 package includes the radio, AC charger, DC charger cable, drop-in charge cradle, FNB-115LI battery pack housing an 2400 mAH lithium-ion battery, belt clip, removable antenna, hand strap, and owner’s manual.
The drop-in charger cradle will hold the radio or the battery alone and fully charge a depleted battery pack in 3 hours using either the AC adapter or DC power cord. The charger displays a red light to indicate charging and green for a fully charged battery.
Other Standard Horizon HX400 features include a noise canceling microphone, programmable channel names, low battery indicator, and the ability to use 40 programmable LMR channels.
The HX400 is constructed on a die-cast metal chassis protected by a polycarbonate outer shell. With the battery pack in place the unit measures 2.3-inches wide, 5.2-inches tall, and 1.6-inches deep. Overall height with the antenna in place is 11.2-inches. Sans belt clip the HX400 weighs in at 11.9 ounces.
Standard Horizon HX400 functionality is controlled using eight front panel pushbuttons and a rotary volume/on/off knob located on top of the case. You will also find an optional microphone/headset jack on top between the antenna and volume control. The push-to-talk switch is side-mounted.
One button control is available for transmitter power selection of 1- or 5-watts, up or down channel changing, weather channel selection, a preset channel change, quick selection of channel 16 or 9, and some scanning options. Switching between channel groups is accomplished by holding the 16/9 and pressing the CLR key to change group.
Squelch is set by pressing the SQL key and then adjusting as desired using the up/down arrows. Numbers displayed onscreen tell you where the squelch is set, it can be set to one of ten levels. Pressing and holding the SQL key lets you go to zero squelch which might allow you to hear a weak incoming voice signal. When you release the button the radio returns to the previous squelch setting.
This Standard Horizon handheld will allow the user to select up to 10 channel presets. You can arrange them in order as desired, and then select them for use with the PRESET key and the up/down arrows.
A built-in voice scrambler will let you have a private conversation on an open VHF channel with another party as long as they are also equipped with a voice scrambler. This radio is compatible with other Standard Horizon handheld and fixed mount VHF radio voice scramblers.
A set menu gives the user control of beep sound level, various screen backlight control including the brightness, several scan settings, weather alert, custom channel names, scrambler, and the noise cancel setting of the microphone.
Scan modes include Dual watch, Tri-watch, programmable, or priority. Going into the set menu allows you to choose memory or priority. You can set the HX400 to scan from two up to and including and all channels. In memory mode it scans in numerical order and in priority is scans between the priority channel and each set channel. The HX400 can use all US, Canadian, and International channels as well as receive 10 NOAA weather channels and weather alerts.
The HX400 features a keypad lock to prevent inadvertent channel changing or unintended changes to other settings. With the lock enabled all buttons except the PTT, SQL, and the lock key are disabled.
A transmitter timer limits the time of a single continuous transmission to 5 minutes. You will hear an audible warning a few seconds before the transmitter times out. Once this happens the radio automatically disable the PTT key for 10 seconds.
This Standard Horizon marine radio can also be programmed to transmit and receive voice communications on up to 40 LMR channels. To use this capability requires dealer setup.
This radio is waterproof and carries an IPX8 rating meaning it can be submerged to a depth of 1.5 meters for 30 minutes without sustaining any damage. It carries a 3-year warranty on the radio with a 12-month warranty on the battery.
Performance and Battery Life Testing
For my review I used the supplied lithium-ion battery pack to power the radio. An optional alkaline battery tray, model FBA-42, holds 6 AA batteries and can be used as an alternative power source.
With a measured 92 dBA during our audio output test I rated the overall audio performance good.
The Standard Horizon HX400 display screen has a diagonal measurement of 1.7-inches making it is fairly large for a marine handheld VHF radio. It uses segmented numbers, icons, and a 6-character message line to provide information to the user. The channel number is shown in fairly numbers with alpha shown alongside when appropriate.
Onscreen icons indicate transmitter power output, busy, channel preset, key lock, voice scrambler, priority channel, and channel group. Battery level is on the lower left and shows a filled battery shaped icon when full. As the battery charge drops the battery icon empties too.
It passed both the drop and submersion tests too with no glitches. We ran the battery life test on the HX400 for 16 hours and the battery level indicator was still showing a full charge. This radio has outstanding battery life even under our tough test conditions.
The Standard Horizon HX400 demonstrated good overall performance during our review. If you need a top notch radio with a built-in voice scrambler this radio is for you. However, you should keep in mind this radio does not float.