17 Dec 2012

Ten-Tec Argonaut VI - at $995 FAR too much

Ten-Tec has now got the new low power HF transceiver, the 10W Argonaut VI listed on its website with details about its specification and how to place an order. It looks a neat, clean, simple radio and I believe it is not much bigger than the FT817.

Not having ever used Ten-Tec rigs and knowing that many people very much like Ten-Tec products, I cannot comment on how good this new radio is likely to be. However, I do feel qualified to comment on the price.

$995 for the basic radio (I guess around £995 here in the UK?) sounds far too much. I'm not sure this includes a microphone. The KX3 is a similar price yet covers ALL the HF bands and 6m as standard, with an optional 2m module, auto-ATU, battery charger and internal battery pack.  It has a more comprehensive features set and, probably, a higher dynamic range (i.e. better) RX.

The Argonaut VI does not cover 5MHz, 24MHz or 50MHz, even as options. There is no provision for an internal auto-ATU.

In my view, these omissions are unacceptable in a new HF QRP rig. The 12 year old FT817 covers ALL HF bands, and 6m,2m and 70cms with ALL modes yet is considerably less expensive. OK I expect the Ten-Tec has a better RX than the FT817, but to be honest I am pretty happy with the FT817 which hears most things and manages to hold its own from 136kHz (with a preamp) to 432MHz pretty well on RX.

To say I am disappointed with the Argonaut is an under-statement. Why, oh why, didn't they get this onto the market at a highly competitive $695 instead?


Paul PC4T said...

I thought it was reasonable, but now, after your posting I am convinced that I was wrong. 73 Paul

Steve Wigg said...

Ten-Tec have missed a golden opportunity to steal the show. Although I believe the Argonaut V1 will still be successful in its own market, the FT-817 is still at the top of the tree for performance and value for money!
73 Steve

Dick said...

I think, that is t-h-i-n-k, I will be getting the Argonaut this Spring. However, in the cold light of reason,I must seriously reflect over the issues you have stated. I am satisfied with my 817 but do have an itch for one last top-of-the-line QRP tcvr and the KX3 is not necessarily it.

Jeff Davis, KE9V said...

TenTec has stated (and restated) that the Argo VI was never meant to be a competitor to the KX3. The only things these have in common is their price ($995US) and the fact that both are QRP transceivers.

The KX3 was built to be a trail radio, the Argo VI is not.

In fact, the idea for the Argo VI began as a small rig that would cover only the most popular QRP bands - and that grew into the design that we see today at the insistence of those who had input. It's original design was not intended to be all-band.

TenTec basically lifted the design of the Eagle and then shrunk into a smaller, more affordable package. That it won't meet the desires of those who have been praying for an FT-817ND replacement for the last decade should really surprise no one.

I've been fortunate to have used the new Argo VI and a KX3. The KX3 is an amazing bit of technology but I like the sound of CW much better from the Argo. Simple as that.

It's too early to say if the Argo VI will find market success. I guess we would first have to define what that means. But I bought one this morning and have heard since that the first production run sold out in the first five hours today. No clue if that is relevant or not as we don't know how many that was.

Still, I'd say it's a good start.

73, Jeff KE9V

Roger G3XBM said...

Thanks for the inputs everyone. I am sure the new Argonaut VI will be a very capable radio, and I can (maybe) accept fewer bands, but the radio has to be EXCEPTIONAL to sell at $995.

Roger G3XBM said...

Now I've just re-read the specs and see that it doesn't even have a general coverage RX! Surely this cannot be true?

OK I am sure Ten-Tec has a loyal band of followers who love their products, but at this price and lacking SO many features we take for granted now, I cannot see them winning many new customers.

Roger G3XBM said...

Also, AM mode is only "optional" and there is no FM mode. And you have to pay another $39 for a simple mic. No thanks.

Anonymous said...

I knew this would happen. Ham gear has gotten so outrageously high in price. Icom introduced the nickle-and-dime you to death "accessory" path, then Elecraft picked up on that and added plain old greed by charging astronomical prices for just the bare-bones radios themselves. I was hoping SDR would put an end to this nonsense. But no... Have you looked at the outrageous prices of the Flex Radio and even HPSDR hardware lately?

Dick said...

For those who have the eyes and steady hands for kit construction (I don't!), there are still some nice QRP packages out there. I have a OHR100A 20 meter QRP rig (bought used) which is quiet, full QSK, and stable after a decent interval. We don't have to spend a thousand bucks/euros/sterling to operate.

Steve Wigg said...

Don't worry I am sure the Chinese are watching the HF radio market big time. Then all manufactures will quake in their boots.

73 Steve

Anonymous said...

Price is a bit higher than I would have liked but it is exactly correct with what Ten-Tec promised. The receiver specs seem to be pretty good and I think it will surely have a much better receiver than the 817 (IMO). The 817 is hard to beat for broad flexibility but it is too small for easy shack work in my book and not as intuitive in operation.

I am hoping the receiver is great in the 539 and that it is pretty easy to use with good audio and a nice big knob with a good feel.

I don't miss the general coverage receiver a bit if it compromises the quality of the receiver on the ham bands where it matters. I guess I could outhear my transmitter power (and probably my skills for that matter)

I would get the KX3 before the 539 when it comes to camping etc but for nights in the shack this 539 sounds more satisfying as it is designed.


Ray KC1MR said...

Argo -- Super Het -- 90 db 3RD IMD @
KX3 -- Direct Conversion -- therefore
65 db 3RD IMD @ ONE HZ -- (Sherwood) -- not so good on close in CW .
I'll take a Down Conversion Superhet any day.
The League mentioned re; 60 Meters "
use it or lose it "and modes of operation were expanded -- I feel
60 Meters will go the way of the dodo bird . When I listen I'm not
hearing anything on that band.
At 1/2 the price of an EAGLE the Argo is a fantastic buy

Ray KC1MR said...

Argo -- Down Conversion Superhet -- 90db 3RD order IMD @ 1000hz (Sherwood)

KX3 -- Direct Conversion -- therefore
only 65 db 3RD order IMD @ 1000 hz (Sherwood)-- not so good fer close in CW.
At 1/2 the price and with similar ck
performance as the EAGLE ;it is a great buy

As fer 60 meters I don't think it will around fer very much longer --
the ARRL had a article titled " use
it or lose it ,fer a reason.

Gordon said...

Came across your article while viewing a used one for £595 from one of the big dealers. Hmm. No 12m and having the headphone socket on the back are big problems for me. I use 12m a lot when conditions are good. My GM callsign has some rarity value on that band which is equivalent to an extra S point. The radio does look good though. I had an Argosy and it worked really well for what it was, but when you can get a TS450D for £499 its hard to pay extra for the Ten Tec at the moment.