Icom M605 VHF Radio

The M605 offers an easily readable display and superb audio quality.

Today’s microprocessors enable the downsizing of marine electronics, but elements like screens and touch pads prove easier to use when they’re big. That’s the philosophy behind Icom’s new feature-packed M602 Class D DSC marine VHF transceiver.

This M605 features one of the largest (and the only color) display on a VHF. A 4.3-inch color TFT LCD provides ­nearly a 180-degree viewing angle with high-resolution characters. A night-mode screen offers easy viewing in the dark. This radio received the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s Product of Excellence award in the marine VHF category at the 2017 NMEA Show.

With an IPX8 waterproof rating, the M605 includes a GPS receiver and is also available with an integrated AIS receiver. NMEA 2000 compatibility lets you output the M605’s AIS data to a third-party chart plotter.

We had a chance to sea-test the M605 AIS model on a recent trip to Santa ­Catalina Island off the coast of Southern ­California and enjoyed the audio clarity and volume provided by the large internal waterproof speaker. AIS targets were easy to track on the oversize display. The keypad and on-screen soft keys offered a user interface that was a cinch to learn.

A feature called Last Call Recording automatically recalls the last two minutes of an incoming call for playback to confirm voice information. A 30-watt loud hailer and automatic foghorn are also built into the M605. Add an optional horn speaker to utilize these functions.

This VHF measures 10.8 inches wide by 4.8 inches deep by 4.5 inches tall, making it one the larger models on the market today, thus best suited for boats with plenty of space for electronics. On cabin boats, you can mount the M605 in an area below and connect Icom's optional remote CommandMic at up to three other stations ($929.95 with AIS, thegpsstore.com).