5 Nov 2011

Elecraft KX3 or FT817 successor?

For some time now we've been expecting the successor to the FT817 to appear on the market as the current offering is now over 10 years old, with just a minor update in this period. Sunspots are rising fast now and I'd expect Yaesu-Vertex to release this within 6 months or miss a big window of opportunity.  The potential sales volumes are very large indeed as a large part of the amateur community owns an FT817 and would aspire to upgrade.

One wonders how Yaesu-Vertex is viewing the Elecraft KX3 and whether any changes to their new product will be made as a result of the KX3 pre-release data. The KX3 does look impressive but its form factor may not appeal to many. It also looks very "square" and Elecrafty! Although it can be used handheld, I understand you have to plug in a local microphone for example - a bit clunky for true handheld portable use, although you need an external mic with the FT817.

It is widely assumed that an FT817 successor will have a Li-Ion battery pack (2hr charge), built-in wide range auto ATU, good DSP features and possibly 70MHz coverage. The form factor is unlikely to be very much different from the current model, but with more inside.

Does anyone have any inside knowledge of Yaesu's release plans? If they don't get a move on the KX3 will steal the show. The KX3 is due to be released at the end of 2011 and order placement is starting very soon.


Richard said...

I never cared for the KX-1 "look". I always thought the FT-817 was/is great. I only sold mine because of the small display and my aging eyesight. I would like to see that rig revised to an all CW/self-contained digital mode QRP rig with larger display and no phone or UHF/VHF coverage. Maybe 10 watts out and a larger box, not a back-pack radio but ok for shack and field-day.

I wouldn't bet on any revision to the 817 in the near future.

Mark K6hX said...

I had a chance to talk to the gents at Elecraft during the Pacificon conference here in California, and I was really impressed. While I understand why some people might not like the form factor, there is a method in their apparent madness, and little of it is designed without some purpose. I think that compared to any other radio in the sub $1000 range, it is just awesome, and I'll likely order one when they become available.

K3NG said...

The form factor of the KX3 is my biggest problem with it. It's like they took the grill off of a Rolls Royce (the K3) and made it a car. A form factor like an 817 would have made more sense. The KX3 looks nice in the shack but seems too fragile for backpacking.