Icom IC-446S Review

Radio supplied by Crystal Radio Systems Ltd

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Black One

Specifications:

8 Channels (38 CTCSS), 3 x AA batteries, Water Resistant, Smart Ring and 10 Call Rings, Backlit LCD, Fold Away Antenna, Squelch Defeat (Monitor), Auto Power Off, Key Lock, ATS (Automatic Transponder System), Low Battery Indicator.

Price: 89

 

Yellow One !

First Impressions

The Icom IC-446S is a small, well built radio with a fold away antenna. It has a good solid feel about it and a build quality that you'd expect from one of the worlds most successful radio manufacturers. One press of the power button and you are greeted with a display which is a good size and very easy to see, showing the channel and CTCSS (If selected) along with a radio icon showing operational status (RX/TX/Standby). Volume is adjusted using the traditional rotary control on the top and can be set to exactly the required level.

On the front we find UP, DOWN, MODE and POWER buttons. The PTT button is on the left hand side.

Channel, CTCSS and other functions are changed using the UP and DOWN buttons in conjunction with the MODE selector button.

Features

Manual Channel Scan: The channel scan is operated by simply pressing and holding the UP or DOWN button. The radio scans once through the 8 channels.

CTCSS: 38 sub codes to help avoid interference from other users.

Monitor: The monitor feature is selected by pressing and holding the MODE button. The squelch is opened so even the weakest of signals can be heard. The monitor feature is disabled by pressing and holding the MODE button again.

Time Out Timer: When activated the radio will stop transmitting after a continuous period of 3 minutes, thus saving battery power and preventing accidental transmissions such as when the radio is in your pocket.

Key Lock: When activated all keys other than the Press To Talk are disabled on the radio. 

Call Ring/Smart Ring: You can select one of ten call rings. The smart ring feature will confirm that another user has received your signal even if they are away from their radio.

ATS (Automatic Transponder System): The transceiver sends a "searching signal" every 60 seconds. Other Icom units automatically respond if they are in range. A status indicator is shown on the LCD display and a warning bleep is emitted when the other unit moves in or out of range (Similar to the Smart Ring but no audible call is sent). 

Auto Power Off: The radio can be set to turn itself off after a period of inactivity of 2 hours, thus saving battery power.

Water Resistant: This radio should be able to cope with all weather conditions.

Battery Life

Alkaline: Approx. 28 hours

NiCd: Approx 10 hours (Better with NiMh)

Assuming TX:RX:Stand by = 1:1:8

Accessories

A range of accessories is available for this radio including: Drop in charger, Battery packs, Extension speaker/microphone etc.

Performance Test

Contact was made on channel 8 with a group of lads using various radios approximately 3 miles from my location. All users reported excellent audio from the IC-446S. Most were situated in their houses or walking around the streets of their town but one of the lads was situated at the top of a small pit heap. He commented that I sounded like I was standing right next to him. In his location contact would never be a problem so I decided to compare the RX and TX with that of my Goodman's Tracker and my Telcom TE200. Contact was made using all 3 radios but the IC-446S produced by far the best audio on both RX and TX.

Another point to note is that the received signal on the IC-446S suffered from less "Flutter" and "Hiss" than on the other radios, particularly when communicating with users who were on the move between houses etc. In other words the IC-446S appears to be far more sensitive than the cheaper, less professional radios - Something that I would expect from Icom having used their products in the past.

The ability to open the squelch (Monitor button) also helped a great deal when talking to users who were located in heavily built up areas. This feature also remains selected until you decide to close the squelch yourself (Very handy, as some radios close the squelch automatically after a short time or when the next button is pressed on the set).

Several other contacts were made with local users who all reported excellent audio from the IC-446S and I have no doubt that this radio will perform well during any long distance attempts from a suitably high location (Something I hope to try out soon).

Conclusion

The IC-446S is a well made radio that should perform well under any conditions. It has all the main features that you'd expect from a PMR446 radio and a receiver sensitivity that is going to be hard to beat. The audio from the internal speaker is very good indeed.

I found the radio very easy to use with the most common features accessible with a single button. The less used features are accessed by using a combination of two buttons at the same time.

The fold away antenna is very useful when you carry your radio around in your pocket, as I do regularly.

On a purely personal note I must say that an automatic channel scan would have been nice but take it from me the lack of this feature no way detracts from the quality and performance of this radio.

Overall the IC-446S is a radio that gives excellent results and won't cost the earth !

Recommended for: The solid construction and ease of use means that this radio would suit all types of user - Business (Office, Building Site, Schools, Factories,  etc) and also for family/casual use. 

Many thanks to Gary and all at Crystal Radio Systems Ltd who can supply this radio and many others, along with a full range of accessories. 

Crystal Radio Systems Ltd.

17-21 High Street, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B61 8AJ

Tel: 01527 872777     Fax: 01527 874758

www.twoway-radio.co.uk

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