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ICOM’s IC-7300, r8500, IC-7610 and the currently upcoming IC-9700 are making huge impacts on AROs everywhere. This is no surprise to those of us familiar with SDR technology; older analog methods simply cannot offer the kinds of performance advantages a good SDR design can.

However, one thing these radios from ICOM have in common are some poor design choices; spectrum span choices are crippled compared to a center/demodulator tuning scheme; spectrums and waterfall displays that are insufficiently adjustable; noise blankers in the least useful portion of the signal path; insufficient “knobbiness”, so that the user interface of the radio is a great deal more clumsy than it actually needs to be.

The opportunity for Kenwood and Yaesu is clear: there’s an opening here to step in and knock ICOM off the hill they climbed up on.

Imagine a stand-alone SDR transceiver where:

  • You could conveniently place the spectrum/waterfall anywhere
  • You could adjust the amplitude/level of the waterfall and spectrum separately
  • Where the noise blanker reduced the noise on the display as well as in the audio
  • Where the display was capable of high resolution output to a monitor
  • Where transmit pre-distortion provided very high quality TX
  • Important controls were given their own front panel placement
  • Full mouse/trackball integration was standard
  • Broadband IQ output was available for external use
  • Multiband EQ and compression / limiting for TX audio are provided

These are just some of the obvious places where ICOM’s radios, thus far, have fallen woefully short.

Yaesu? Kenwood? Where art thou?