23 November 2018

Backlit Buttons

I'm a huge fan of the IC-7300, and I unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone that asks me my opinion. I've been running mine for almost a year now and I'm convinced that it is the best HF radio in its market segment. Icom hit it out of the ballpark with this one.

If the IC-7300 has a serious shortcoming (not a flaw - just something big that Icom left out), it is the lack of backlit function buttons. I've brought this issue up on a number of forums. Some folks have said that my gripe about the buttons is overblown. I don't think so, particularly if you operate in a low-light environment.

I enjoy working in my shack with the lights out. I believe it helps me focus on the task at hand, and it's a bit more relaxing. Plus, every light is a potential source of RFI. Turn off the lights, lessen the potential RFI. Here's a shot of my IC-7300 (lower) and my FT-991A (upper) taken in my shack with the lights out. There is a bit of ambient light in the room, but this is pretty close to what I see (minus the computer monitor) when working under low-light conditions.

Yaesu FT-991A (upper), Icom IC-7300 (lower)

Some have commented that backlit buttons on the 7300 are unnecessary because everything important is done from the touchscreen. This is only about 80% true. There are still important functions (like switching between memory & VFO mode, activating a tuning cycle, locking or unlocking the VFO, stepping through memory channels, turning on and off noise reduction & blanking, etc) that are executed via unlit buttons.

Frankly, the the slightly less well performing FT-991A is easier to work with under low light conditions.

Is this a deal breaker when it comes to the IC-7300? No, of course not. The IC-7300 is a better radio on HF than the FT-991A. The IC-7300 also has a much better display (far better resolution & contrast). And of course the SDR-based signal processing in the IC-7300 is a good bit better - and has more upgrade potential - than the conventional triple-conversion signal processing of the FT-991A.

But for just a couple more bucks per unit Icom could have easily included a backlit front panel. Sheesh...

W8BYH out

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