Tech Editor Fox Morgan put the DSC equipped Standard Horizon HX890 handheld VHF marine radio through a comprehensive hands-on test - here's how it performed

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Standard Horizon HX890 handheld VHF marine radio


  • Large easy to read screen, Fully waterproof, High capacity battery with rapid charger, DSC and GPS functionality


  • higher price than a basic model, bulkier/heavier than a basic model


Standard Horizon HX890 handheld VHF marine radio review

Best handheld VHF marine radio: - standard horizon HX890 handheld VHF

Standard Horizon HX890E VHF handheld marine radio

Best joint overall handheld VHF marine radio


The Standard Horizon HX890 handheld VHF is a feature-rich, top spec handheld marine radio, with impressive functionality. It features a large screen, which is easy to read but also points to the array of functions available.

The handheld radio floats with a highly visible strobe light activated when in the water and is fully waterproof with an IPX8 rating, which is the highest waterproofing of any of the VHF handheld radios I tested.

The HX890 has a built-in GPS receiver, something you will not find in other models offering less functionality, and is DSC-capable – so you can send a digital message to other DSC-capable receivers, including your GPS coordinates. If you send a distress message, it will automatically activate alarms on all DSC-capable receivers nearby within signal range.

I particularly like the dedicated volume buttons and the squelch is easy to find, falling naturally under the finger next to the push to transmit (PTT) button.

Overall the Standard Horizon HX890 handheld VHF is well laid out and easy to operate. The menu is easy to navigate and the Emergency distress button is easy to locate on the rear and can be activated single handed.

I got 27 hours from this on standby monitoring VTS ch12 in a busy Southampton shipping port and the clarity of the speaker even when turned up to max, though not the loudest in our test group, was excellent.

It comes with an additional battery tray too which can use 5 x AAA standard disposable or rechargeable batteries, in addition to the sets’ main rechargeable battery, so it’s possible to include this in your grab bag inventory for emergency use.

• Battery life: 27 hours on standby monitoring VTS ch12
• Waterproofing: IPX8
• Floating: Yes
• Weight: 310g
• DSC: Yes – Class D
• GPS: Yes


If you’re looking for more handheld VHF marine radios read more in our buyers guide: Best handheld VHF marine radio: 11 feature-rich options for your boat

If you want to know more about handheld VHF marine radios, I’ve written a handy guide to answer some of the most commonly asked questions: what to look for in the best handheld VHF marine radios