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


  1. I miss the button lights that my 450-D had. I upgraded to 7300 last week, I have scoured the manual and could not find how to turn them on. Now I know... What about the old version of HRD, (which I have, and don't find the cost of new version agreeable), I used it virtually all the time since I had computer in same seat position. The computer that would do that quietly and have R232 for reliable control is out on location right now. Anyone tried HRD on a 7300

  2. I own a 7300 and I completely agree!
    It's hard to see that this would be an 'oversight' by Icom .. they're too smart to do that, so we can only assume that they left it out to minimise the cost .. which I would have happily paid a bit more for.

    1. Same. I didn't even think unlit buttons existed in modern radios.