I've used about a half dozen different radios as a volunteer fire captain over the years, including Icoms, HYT & Ritron models. This Vertex Standard rises to the top for a couple of key reasons:
- It's waterproof. If you fight fire, you're gonna get wet. Really wet sometimes. So will your radio.
- Up to 16 2-tone sets per channel. For those of us in rural districts with multiple stations, this is huge. The VX-454 has outperformed the other radios hands down in this category. The HYT and Ritron miss the decodes far too often to be reliable. The Icoms did better, but there were always a few that I couldn't get consistently. Plus, Icom has this weird feature called "group decode" that I could never figure out. It would trip too often if only one of the tones was decoded. The Vertex has a tolerance setting which sets a percentage rage +/- on the decodes so even if the tones are modulated (which the always are on narrow band repeaters) it still trips. I rarely miss dispatches now, and I only get the ones I need.
- Multiple scan settings for each group. It's easy to add or lockout channels from the scan group on the fly as well. One of the best features I've found is the dual watch scan. It monitors just the start channel and the priority channel, which is perfect on the fireground. I can hear only the main channel plus the one tac that I'm using.
- Plenty of programmable buttons and easy to grab knobs. This is the first radio I've had that I have more programmable buttons than I need. Each button has a feature for both short and long pushes.
- Small size. It's not as small as my Icom F50V, and the Ritron PT150 was even smaller, but it's small enough to use as a full time pager.
So here's why it's four stars, and not five:
- It could use better alarms for after a dispatch tone is received.
- My Icom and HYT had a vibrate function for when calls came in. I really miss that feature.
- I wish it had a full dot matrix display. It looks like a calculator from 1982.
For the price, this can't be beat. I got the smaller battery, and I have no problems making it through the day on a single charge.