Fox Morgan runs the Icom M94DE VHF Marine Radio through its paces in this hands on test and review

Product Overview

Overall rating:


  • DSC/GPS, Great easy to read screen, Built in AIS


  • Masses of functions result in a shorter battery life, Noticeably heavier than lower specified models, doesn't come with 12v cable as standard.


Icom M94DE VHF Marine Radio review


Best handheld VHF marine radio:


First ever handheld VHF with built in AIS

The Icom M94DE VHF Marine Radio is the flagship model from Icom and is chock-full of features – two of those key features are its DSC and AIS functions. It is the first handheld VHF radio to offer AIS functionality too so this is a rare beast indeed at the moment.

The VHF is buoyant and when it detects water, it automatically flashes the screen light on and off. As the unit floats naturally on its back, the screen is easy to see and the flashing mode is easily visible.

Due to the many functions the Icom M94DE comes loaded with, it’s not a radio for technophobes. This will take a while to familiarise yourself with and to learn to navigate the multiple menus with speed and intuitive ease. The Ais function was very easy to access though and switching between alternative screens was pretty quick and slick once we knew which way to navigate with the buttons.

The Icom M94DE VHF Marine Radio features a waterproof rating of IPX7 (1 meter for 30 mins) and it offers a battery life on standby of 16 hours (charging in 3 hours). Also of note is the sizeable screen, making it easier to read than some smaller offerings, even with more information displayed.

This powerful high functioning unit lends itself to being a main unit on an open sports boat or to those who frequently find themselves in high traffic areas with commercial vessels. It is certainly a cost effective way of adding such a useful function as AIS to your boat or taking it onboard another nont AIS equipped boat if you are a professional skipper or someone who hops around various boats on a daily or weekly basis.

We’d like to see the unit come with 12v charging cable though rather than having to buy this as an optional extra.

• Battery life: 16 hours (on standby monitoring busy VTS channel)
• Waterproofing: IPX7
• Floating: Yes
• Weight: 367g
• DSC: Yes
• GPS: Yes
• AIS: yes

Buy Icom M94DE from Amazon UK

Buy Icom M94D from Amazon USA

Buy Icom M94DE from Gael Force Marine

If you’re looking for a handheld VHF radio then read about more of them over on our other article : Best handheld VHF marine radio: 11 feature-rich options for your boat