26 November 2021

All I Want For Christmas...

Turkey Day is over. Let the Christmas shopping stupidity begin.

All I want under the tree this year is a new HF rig. Low current draw. 20 - 50 watts output. Portable. Digital ready. USB connectivity. Built-in tuner and battery. IPX5 or better rating. I don't give a toot about DSTAR/C4FM or any of that non-proprietary proprietary junk. And I don't give a toot about VHF or UHF.

  • Icom? No
  • Yaesu? No
  • Kenwood. Kenwood? Kenwood, are you still alive?
  • Elecraft? No
  • Xiegu? No
  • Lab599? No
  • CommRadio? No
There are some candidates from the above manufacturer list that get part way there. 

  • Icom IC-705
  • Yaesu FT-891
  • Elecraft KX2
  • Xeigu G90
  • Lab599 TX500
  • CommRadio CTX10
But as you can tell from this chart, only one radio gets a weighted score better than 70% (5 out of 7), and most are at or below the 50% mark.

I gave a weighted score (+1 point) to the 20 - 50 watt output and the IPX5 rating categories, because adding these capabilities are either the most expensive upgrade (an external amp for more power) or impossible to achieve in the after-market (turning a non-IPX rated radio into an IPX rated one).

In this analysis, the surprising winner is the Xeigu G90. There's a lot of second place finishers, but I'd have to say the Yaesu FT-891 is the top number two, if only because it can easily go up to 100 watts of output if needed.

However, there's just too many open holes in the table. Some of them are perplexingly silly. Why NOT incorporate a built-in digital sound card interface in a modern radio? Or CAT control? Others are understandable from a technology or marketing perspective (internal battery power, internal tuner). Oddly, the two companies best able to bring added capability to new products - Icom and Yaesu - can often be the least willing to do it, for market reasons. For example, if you ask Yaesu, "Hey, why not add a sound card interface and a tuner to the FT-891?" they'd say "We already did - it's called the FT-991A". Manufacturers don't like having products with overlapping capabilities in their lineups, and I get that, but what I'm looking for is different enough that there's plenty of daylight in both manufacturer's current lineups.

So in this Season of Giving, how about it Icom & Yaesu - give me what I want. Do this for me and I promise I won't bug you again. Until next Christmas.

W8BYH out

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