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Realistic alternative to F6k + maestro
Steve-N5AC Community Manager adminThis is absolutely true, Bill. I tell folks here at Flex that we are in a race. It's a sad, but true fact that the follower has it easier than the leader. In the history of business, the followers are often hungrier because they are not on top and they get to copy the successful aspects of the leaders and bypass the mistakes of the leaders, claiming they are smarter and didn't make the same mistakes. Customers often do not care who blazed the trail, they just want the best perceived value. Frankly, we see part of our challenge is to beat the followers at their own game -- assimilate their popular benefits and bypass their mistakes pointed out in industry.
I do strongly agree with Chris, N6WM, that it's the whole picture and not the device that is important. Customers generally figure this out when they buy a poorly supported competing device, but sometimes do not realize it in advance.4
Steve, so glad you recognise the need for total awareness of these competitive devices and market moved to steel customers eye-candy features. I would hope you have already dissected an MB1 on the bench.
Apple made the naive mistake of restricting customer choice and freedom to use their equipment in the way owners wanted. This impacted customer satisfaction big time. Whilst Apple rested on their profit mountain with complacency whilst the likes of Samsung were busy doing it better, cheaper, lighter, more open O/S etc. etc.. Now Apple sales volume is plummeting. The world gets wise very quickly these days, and those wgo get suckered have long memories.
Simon, I agree its a bit of a wide claim, and possibly not to be taken too seriously.
However, do you actually know who the person saying it is? Justin is a very highly regarded VHF/UHF DXer. He's the owner of Force12 antennas in the USA and Innovatenna in Europe. If justin says its good RF-wise then I know he means it.
Also, the guy owning the MB1 was just replacing an Icom 7800 - which itself is a very high benchmark from an RF performance viewpoint.0
Greg N8GD Member ✭✭A 7800 is rather old technology and not that high on the Sherwood Engineering performance list (30th by my count). The 7851, well, that's another story, but still older superhet/roofing filter technology (but 4th on the list), but still doesn't beat direct capture SDR tech,0
Varistor Member ✭✭From Reuters, just two days ago:
After peaking in 2013, a sharp drop in mobile profits exposed Samsung as slow to adjust to the changing market: its budget devices were overpriced and unappealing and the 2014 version of its Galaxy S flopped.
Full article at http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idU...0
Steve - ahhh well we will have to beg to differ on that! - He's a clever business man for sure - but I've seen enough of his antennas not working to make my own mind up about his sales pitch and I've a few years under my belt after 36 years building VHF-SHF both terrestrial and EME since I was first licenced in 1980 and having built lots of antennas and stations from scratch! The demo shows ZILCH about capability of the radio on VHF other than it can receive a beacon over a few hundred km. Bow if he had demonstrated it rxing something over 700km or off the moon ....
Ditto on the 7800 ... old school and hardly a high performance radio these days
The guys who designed the MB1 are from Russia. They are very friendly to me when I see them every year at Hamradio in Friedrichshafen, Germany. So the company is based in Russia and the product is built and drop shipped from Taiwan. This is what they told me last year. They have some nice ideas in the product.
They are using something like a mini ITX motherboard, which is exactly what we did in the FLEX-5000C back in 2007. We even built a commercial version for Sunair that had a LCD touch screen panel. The motherboards gave us lots of problems so we discontinued the product after a couple of years. Motherboard designs have a 12-18 month life cycle so we were constantly having to re-qualify and re-certify the unit.0
I think it depends on what your doing with your radios.
For me every dB can make a difference on VHF and HF - HF I am not so worried about MDS but filtering and strong signal handling are essential and every dB helps me in pileups when DXing. On VHF even sub dB improvements can make a difference between a cfm QSO or a failure.
I don't miss any of my old gear - the modern Flex 6500 and latest Kuhne transverters etc are at the peak of capability.
But as I said .. depends on what your using your gear for
John-K3MA MemberKevin your using the wrong measuring tool. Its not measured by a microvolt here or a db there. It is a hobby. It is measured by your level of enjoyment. If it does not meet YOUR minimum fun threshold over a period of time you move onto something that does. If that additional microvolt or db gives you the enjoyment your like then it matters.1
Kevin, you are dead on 100% correct. I can say that while we are at the top of the Sherwood list. At this point it is a bunch of bunk to eek out a dB here or there. We are in rare air now above 100 dB of true across the board dynamic range. That means all the numbers are above 100 dB. The lowest number dominates. There are many other factors that matter more now. Those are the ones we are working on. We are a SOFTWARE company. Stay tuned.4
Thanks but no thanks. The sun rig does not interest me.0
After operating other (high end) rigs over a contest weekend, I finish up fatigued do to the receiver's noise level and other characteristics of the receiver. I do not feel this way after a contest weekend with a flex 6k series rig. It is a huge difference for me and have heard others make the same remark.0
Please remember that Skoda had politically imposed restraints lifted, and many of their successful models are rebadged main brand cars (a lot are VWs and Skoda is so dependent on rebadging that they had to leave certain market segments when VW decided to not produce a few models).
So Skoda is actually largely the exact same cup of coffee reheated!
And don't forget that the Peugeot/Citroen group outsells them 3 to 1 Skoda, that Renault does the same 3 to 1 ratio bettering Skoda, that VW outsells Skoda by the same 3 to 1 ratio, that Opel out sells Skoda 3 to 2, that Mercedes outsells Skoda (hugely if done by total value), and so on...
Has Skoda improved itself - yes by rebranding other firms products. Actually Skoda rebrands so much of other folks products that they don't even make the it into the top 30 motor vehicle producers.
So okay, Skoda wasn't quite the analogy to match your intent.
And to be fair I should have actually mentioned that since the year 2000 Skoda has been a wholly owned VW subsidiary - so no wonder most of their cars are VW designs!! They haven't innovated, they were bought out to make already successful products. (BTW I should have put VW vs. Skoda at 2 to 1 but I could not be certain how VW does its accounting).
So on to radios...
There is a certain segment of SDR spend that will go to the MB-1.
Its success arguably betters the SDR breed.
As I've mentioned it doesn't offer the same level of performance, support, future expansion and in some ways is a retrograde step in embedding a consumer level processor. Some things like the co-dependency/interaction of that PC and the radio are kind of brushed over - so we don't know if it is Thick-Pipe or Thin-Pipe.
Still would be fun to play with, but only with either ignoring or accepting a higher risk level.
YYMV of course.
Ken Member ✭✭
I worked as a vice president/general manager in what was considered to be the #1 Fortune 500 electronics high technology company, and our standing motto was, "work hard to obsolete your own product, before your competitor does"0
W9OY Member ✭✭I think the Sun radio from what I read is a poor design. It's kind of a throwback to the F5K design. The issue with that design was using a general purpose computer which is always scanning interrupts etc. The Flex is a dedicated RADIO design so it spends its clicks crunching radio data instead of worrying about UBS ports. I'm sure it works OK but the Flex design makes more engineering sense to me. I don't really want my radio checking my email. As far as skimmers go I have run 4 skimmers on 4 pans which populates several writelog bandmaps with my 6500 when contesting. Made me bleed out my ears.
Yeasu, Kenwood and Icom outsells FRS by thousands to one!
You entirely missed the point about branding. The point is simple: inferior products do often outsell technical supremacy. The buyer has a list of requirement that extend well beyond the spec-sheet. People do buy function and features, eye-candy and UI, pleasure, comfort, longevity - important stuff that make things like the Sherwood list a dull technicality.
For sustainability FRS needs to focus on the mass demands and expectations in Ham radio, not just those technical niche desires of fanboys who like to polish their Ferrari on sunday but don't actually drive it.
When FRS delivers on user pleasure (hopefully in 2.0) to make it a fully rounded and widely accepted design, then they can be assured of a long prosperous future when the average-joe no longer perceive entry barriers.
Barry N1EU Member ✭✭Why are you comparing the MB1 with the 6700 and not the 6500?
The MB1 is single ADC, correct? The MB1 has a narrow market window until Icom releases its higher performance knobbed SDR. For many reasons it's a risky purchase.0
Why are people so paranoid about talk of things other than Flex, mb1, Android, 7300? If we talk 'off topic' about things that interest us perhaps it will have some gravitational pull on FlexRadioSystems strategic planning. If the only people allowed to talk are the idle millionaires, that will be the only feedback FlexRadioSystems will have.1
While I agree there seems to be a protectionist mood here, it does seem strange to go onto a companies web site and say there is an alternative to their product out there. Something I wouldn't do. Perhaps if worded differently may have been better.
( ops that would buy say an F6500 then FRS really need to take a long hard look at the detail that has gone in to the MB1, especially around the user interface which is blissful to use. At the very least they should use this as a hard benchmark because Sun is sure not standing still in the game. )
(I don’t want to have to buy yet another expensive SDR in a years’ time (already on my 5th) so I would really like to see FRS doing it better than the new upstarts by pleasing its customers.)
These comments by Steven do not seem to be just a ,,hey look what other radio is out there,,check it out.
Saying the MB1 is the benchmark for Flex to follow? Umm OK!
Like to see Flex doing it better than upstarts? I think they are...lol
In my opinion...1
Not following you at all - With the volume of manufacturers producing largely another concept of ham equipment (at least in packaging) sell many more units, implying that the FRS appeals to a segment of the larger overall ham market, why does FRS have to appeal to the "average Joe?"
Market segmentation doesn't require it, and high value added producers to carefully defined market segments often have superior returns.
In a clumsy analogy Range Rover doesn't need to appeal to the Ford Escape/Chev Terrain market segment to be successful. It needs to appeal to the Range Rover class (where other $70k+ SUVs compete).
I'd contend that the combined product offering of FRS Flex-6000 series radios, software, accessories and support excels in contrast to other full-package SDRs.
Without an unfettered unlimited access to FRS proprietary, financial and a proper market study it simply isn't possible to intelligently & rationally (vs. emotively which folk like to do) to armchair quarterback FRS business decisions.
Circling back to realistic alternatives to a Flex-6500/6300 with Maestro a person should do their personalized product characteristics matrix and make their personal decisions from that.
The results will vary as one person might put total invested cost as their #1 product differentiation axis, where the next might be putting on air quality as their #1 axis.
YMMV is also a key to understand in an area like the science of studying the subjective field of product marketing.
Again in my estimation the MB-1 offers only an all-in-one packaging and potentially some level of raw cost differential while offing lower performance, and a feature package (my personalized valuative matrix comparison) that at this point in time is not at all compelling.
And at a considerable risk. In many ways the risk of a FRS purchase is no more/less risky than say a Kenwood conventional radio buy, which is a tremendous tribute to the FRS team in establishing themselves. It is unknown what the MB-1 team is truly like, but it would appear much more likely to have the MB-1 orphaned in two-to-five years than a 6000.
All best & 73
I agree, It is sure that Flex is in the up scale of Ham radio. And why not? It is also true that The Chevrolet Cruze, out sells BMW for instants. But BMW is catering to a high end market, smaller than main stream but still very viable. so why buy a BMW over a Cruse? It cost more, it is more refined, looks expensive, And a fine performer.
Keep in mind, that the software for the Flex 6000s is not free to the consumer. Yes it comes with the radio,,but we pay for it in the price tag. I think the cost of the software is much more expensive than any of the hardware, and the software is always in development, that cost as well. They could have sold the 6500 for
$1500 and we buy the software to use the radio for $3500.0
Bill, Tim addressed this a long time ago. For accounting purposes they allocated $200/yr as subscription price for SSDfW for a single version level, 1.x in this case. The thinking at the time was an annual subscription was the approach taken for software. There was sufficient pushback that plan was dropped in favor of 'by release' where v1 was covered in the cost of the radios. As we are approaching v2 we will get changed, should we upgrade beyond 1.x, $200 to live in the v2 world. New purchasers will have their $200 buried in the price of the radio. Clearly this sounds like install will be dependent upon serial number.
I think the problem with Steve's analogy, which may well be spot on, is that it tells everyone, this is an elitist radio. Much like those that lease the most expensive car available or have the most expensive vacation homes in as many countries as possible. It's kind of akin to what economists claim about the middle class and personal debt. The 'rising tide' doesn't lift all boats. It lifts the boats for the uber wealthy and, in an effort to keep up' the others finance their boat's floating with their home's ATM and credit cards. So, if that analogy is accurate, for those that can, buy a flex, for those that can't, either take on debt or buy something you actually can afford (and isn't it quaint that you tried to keep up). I think from a marketing perspective that is a losing strategy. I don't mean to imply FRS is actually saying that but a handful of members are implying it. Maybe, from the 'insider' perspective, that is precisely the thinking, 'all others need not apply'. I would hope not.
As I mentioned elsewhere, my observation of this community over the last 3 or so years is it, very much, is a tiered population sample.
I wonder were the elitist cuts in, $5000 and up? I don't think Flex sees themselves as elitist, some of the members here may think in those terms. But the price is a large factor here. If the Flex is priced over the top for mainstream consumers is it eval? Wrong? the thought that a Flex is simply not in reach for many?
While the 6300 is priced in the mainstream, it really is personal choice at that level.
Like any product, If we can, we do most of the time.0
Bill, did you actually read what I wrote?0
Agreed. FRS will need *new money* regularly. Technical supremacy does not pay the bills. There's a mass market out there that they don't even own a fraction of yet, but they could have a much bigger slice through better software and GUI features. Desirable wins dollars and converts pundits in to loyal customers.
I'd happily pay $200 if v2.0 finally delivers on missing GUI stuff, but the opposite is also true.
I'd guess that with the big overheads and big salaries FRS could not survive long just on software revenue alone; and as SDR hardware has reached a technical peak for some time to come they need more bread and butter money.
Maestro is likely to be shortish-term euphoria that will dwindle. So yes they do need wide-market appeal not just niche marketing ideology. The business world works in currency.
Yes I did Walt,,seems to be a fact of life. As you point out. Sorry I didn't touch on everything you said.0
Can't say i agree Steve, I think the software is first rate, something that has never been done before, and as for features, it really is not missing much,,and much more is coming. And you can bet your last buck all this has been talked about in their board meetings long before we got on to this.0
Market Segment Pricing for the FRS is not bad in terms of cost/benefit as well as in absolute terms.
I've owned truly pricey radios radios like the Hilberling PT-8000A - they are in that rarefied pricing range where they are out of the reach of the willingness/ability to spend that many dollars on one part of a station. You are spot on Walt that these the willingness to pay super-premium prices is fairly fickle.
Agree on the tiered assessment - hence the legacy 1500 and the three steps of 6300/650/6700 and other options.
Somewhat disagree on the marketing assessment, but as it isn't our call that agreeing-to-disagree is likely the most fruitful course as individuals.
Misunderstood Bill. I had said "I don't mean to imply FRS is actually saying that..." yet you seemed to rush to their defense when no defense was required.
That was actually a grossly distilled version of what I was going to say which was some technology, some sociology, some economics, and some ego-feeding. I think analogies are very good, right up until they overreach or get so obtuse nobody can follow them. Steve's analogy was very simple, there is the Tesla then there is the Kia. Those were my words, not Steve's but, hopefully, I was being true to his point.
So let's dive a little deeper. I cannot help but hear the echos of Ricardo's fine Corinthian Leather ads. But that does go to comfort and some people like the feel of leather over vinyl. Does anyone actually use vinyl any longer? But, using radios, let's consider Rob's top 10. Is the difference in their receiver's sensitivity anything the human ear can even distinguish between? I understand the knee **** response is 'oh absolutely'. Would one be able to in a double blind test? It's not clear to me they could. Having not done such test I can not say for certain, but my hypothesis is no. If you buy a car with a feature you never utilize can that feature be justified as a reason you purchased it? I'd say no.
One can't need something they don't, or can't, use. They can, however, want something they will never use. Observationally, where Maestro strips out all slices over 2, can one claim they ever needed those slices? Ditto for jumbotron like pan displays. I am not picking on Maestro. I think the popularity of Maestro says a lot about the need/want of the original 6500/6700 purchase which, especially on this forum, seem to be used as leverage against those others, "it's clear you are not up to using 8 slices. I must admit, however, sometimes it does require an aspirin". Granted, that was a single person who said that but I see that same sort of sentiment displayed when people talk about non Flex radios. For myself, I got the 6500 because, at the time, the 6300 did not exist and the 6700 had features I neither needed nor wanted. But, yes, I could have bought it just because of bragging rights. I wasn't, however, going to leverage my future finances to do it. - this was just an observation relevant to the topic of this thread. YMMV.0
Doug -- K0DXV MemberMicrosoft has no plans to create additional versions of Windows. Windows 10 is the end of the line. Microsoft doesn't foresee the desktop computer living much beyond its current rip old age. Windows 10 was designed in a very modular fashion so that all it's bits can be upgraded.0
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