Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States on August 11, 2015
I am writing a review about this line of Standard Horizon radios, not specifically this version. I own two Standard Horizon radios of this lineage, the HX270s and the HX280s. I looked here because I had considered buying the HX290.
I have been personally using handheld marine VHF radios since 2000, Before that, while in engineering school, I worked at a marine electronics 'store' installing and repairing marine electronics. My first personal handheld VHF was an iCom. Despite supposedly being water resistant It quickly succumbed to salt water ingress. I purchased the HX270s to replace it. I really like this radio. It is small, easy to carry, the battery lasts forever, and it's rugged - a die-cast metal chassis, I think. I bought an HX280s to have a second handheld. I like this one less, mostly because it is tough to put it into the charging stand! The HX270s just drops in, easily - I can reach through the companionway and jam it into the stand without thinking about it. The '280 has these fins and slots and is a pain to insert, always requires fiddling. It sucks. Also, while slimmer, it's taller. I much prefer the '270.
The main point here is on service and support. These radios are water resistant (nothing is water proof!). I use underwater photography equipment, and have a good diver's watch, so I know that the water resistant characteristics of equipment require service. My watch gets serviced and tested: new stem and other seals. My cameras get serviced and tested: new O-rings, etc. These radios? There are no parts available, not even the battery O-ring. There is no way to service these to maintain the water resistance. They will eventually fail. It will likely be beyond the three year all-inclusive warranty period, and at that point you can take advantage of a lifetime, flat rate repair service. The rate for teh HX270s is $65 plus return shipping cost.
This past weekend I saw some salt crystals on my HX270s, so as per usual I hit it with a few shots of Salt-X, a wonderful product used by many including the Navy Seals to help remove salt from equipment, then a fresh water rinse - no high pressure, just a flow of fresh water. This time, for the first time, there was evidence of water ingress, in the form of condensation on the inside of the display port.
I toyed with the idea of disassembly, but there is no information available online for the procedure. I'm currently trying to dry it out by putting it right in front of a dehumidifier with the batter pack removed. The condensation is gone, but the LCD display segments are not all going off all the way, so a squelch level of "1" looks like "81." If after one more day it is not cured I will figure out how to disassemble it. I think it's the two Philips (or JIS) screws inside the battery cavity, plus the nuts on the antenna and volume control.
I called Standard Horizon service. I got a tech. He told me condensation is normal. I disagree. He told me there's no support for end users regarding disassembly or parts, like seals - O-rings, etc. The clerk I spoke with before I got the tech, who told me the flat rate price, said "if it can be repaired." The tech confirmed this. They might determine it's unrepairable, and you are stuck paying for return, or "abandoning the radio" (his words).
So, here's the conclusion: these radios are disposable. They are not serviceable, there are no service parts available to consumers, such as O-rings and seals, or water resistant speakers, and S-H will not service them, only repair them. Consider this before you buy one of the expensive ones, that you might be throwing it away in 4 or 5 years because you are unable to service it to maintain it's water resistant integrity.
I think it's a shame and poor customer support that S-H doesn't provide a regular service, maintenance service, or parts (and tools) for consumers to do it themselves.
I will not purchase another because of this. I am open minded; if S-H support gets back to me and says they will supply parts and a service manuals to end users, and will provide a regular maintenance service at a reasonable cost, I will take advantage of both and change my review rating to reflect this.
The first pic shows my two S-H radios, the HX270s on the left, the HX280s on the right. The second pic shows the HX270s displaying "81" instead of "01," probably because of water ingress.