April 15 QST product review of 6700 and 6300 with SSDR 1.38

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The 6700 and 6300 product review appeared in the April 2015 QST. My take is that the author seems to be impressed with the hardware but not overwhelmed with SSDR 1.38. Is my assessment correct?

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Karl KB2AS

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Posted 4 years ago

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Photo of Dave - W6OVP

Dave - W6OVP

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The April 2015 issue of QST is not available to members yet on the net. Where can I see a copy of this article?
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Dave,
I found it listed on the ARRL website in the reviews by manufacturer section.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com


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Dave - W6OVP

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TNX Al. Good catch!
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Stu Phillips - K6TU, Elmer

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Thanks for the pointer to the article - I guess the April edition of QST must be very close to release.

The technical review of the radio reinforces its capabilities - an excellent radio with top of the line performance.  The ARRL Technical Lab does a solid and objective analysis - tested performance is defined by the tests and their results.

For the rest of the article, I think its prudent to read and assess what level of editorial bias is present or otherwise.

A couple of quotes from the article that will have me thinking about this for some time to come.
But much of the story these days is about the user interface — both for SDR and traditional radios. We don’t have a “thermometer” scale for those questions. Many times it will come down to personal preference.
... leaves unanswered the question about the author's personal preference and whether it influenced his comments.

One of the most important elements of any of the 6000 series radios is “customer supplied equipment,” namely your Windows personal computer. (There is no native support for Macintosh or Linux computers at this time.)
I wonder why the author thought to emphasize Windows (its italicized in the PDF of the article, I added the bold here since the quote and italic formats are identical here when I paste the quote) given the pervasive nature of Windows "personal computers" in general and within the ham

The author's blog has quite the Linux focus from a quick read of its posts going back from current to much older posts.

Being a regular reader of two daily newspapers (Wall Street Journal and the New York Times), the contrast between the editorial biases in both is stark and ranges from subtle to blatant.

It doesn't seem that the author spent much time using the radio in "on air" testing - which is too bad and is a major shortcoming in the review for folks thinking about SDR use in their station.

The technical review confirms comments made by FlexRadio and from on-air experience with the radio and is objective.

The rest?  Doesn't do much for me...

Stu K6TU

PS: And yes, there is bias in all written content - including this...  I like my Flex 6700 because of what it does for me in my operating practice.  It's a great radio and its possible to get excellent operating results by using it the right way.
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Michael - N5TGL

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Ugh, some Linux people...  I support 100% their decision to use a non-mainstream product.  However, I do not support their contempt about certain software not being available for it.  YOU KNEW THAT GOING IN!  </rant>
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Steve W6SDM

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Stu, you pointed out two reasons why I am very critical of the critics.  I love the reviews and they are usually a big part of any buying decision that I make, but I evaluate the source very carefully.  Many times the individual only has limited experience with the equipment and only under specific conditions.  Another is that there may be a personal or professional bias.

For some reason, Linux users seem to be a "me too" crowd.  Whenever a software release comes out, they are looking for a Linux version.  I am no lover of Windows or Microsoft, but that is where the commercial market is, at least for PCs.  Changing, yes, but it's where the majority of the users are now and it's where the developers are congregated.

I have a Linux machine and all of my portable devices, iPad, iPhone, iPod, are Apple.  My Linux machine is primarily for my experimenting with Raspberry Pi and Arduino.  Judging from the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that Flex is putting into SSDR 1.4, putting a team on a parallel Linux development would not only cost a fortune but slow everything down to a crawl.
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Stu Phillips - K6TU, Elmer

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Only too true!  It very difficult (I don't like impossible but in this case, it's likely more appropriate) to get a way of implementing a modern application that is cross platform capable.

There are solutions that allow this but the end result is an application that looks bad on all platforms and doesn't behave consistent with native applications on any.

FlexRadio appropriately focused on the majority of the market - and that's Windows.

Stu K6TU
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Jim - N7CXI

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Steve :  
Make that "Me too and software should be free!" - all in one sentence...
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Stu Phillips - K6TU, Elmer

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Free software - you get what you pay for...

Free the whales...
Free beer...
Free matches...

Free software - no thank you.
Stu K6TU
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Michael - N5TGL

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Steve, completely agree with you on forking development for another O/S while the primary ain't done yet.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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I found it a very good review. I learned things i didn't know. I was a bit disappointed to learn that the 6300 has worse 3rd order dynamic range then the 6500 or 6700, somehow I thought those numbers would be equal on all 6000 series. I also think the author made some interesting suggestions for improvements on the software. Overall, I didn't feel that much bias and I think the author was even generous not pointing out some of the shortcomings of the current software.

Thanks Karl.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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One reason for not saying anything about shortcomings in the software is the fact, It's not finished. And He knew that.
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Mark K9BOO

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Objective reviewing isn't always easy.  I very much agree with you both, Stu & Steve, about the bias in nearly all authors' work.   What someone says, how someone says it, and what someone doesn't say can be all equally important.

What first struck me was the lack of brevity yet little information provided in the author's "Bottom Line" section:

  • The FlexRadio 6000 series of SDR radios with SmartSDR for Windows software provides a range of per­formance and price and promises a continuing stream of new features.

I noticed the author's exclamation in the side bar about the FlexControl:

  • Unfortunately, the FlexControl’s physical labeling has no relationship to any SmartSDR function!

I thought this seemed an odd thing to exclaim this way, but then I counted exclamations marks in the article:  15!  (had to throw that exclamation in <grin>)     Passionate writer.

A couple more obvious digs:

  1. Flex can add that to their to-do list! [another exclamation point]
  2. The Flex 6000 direct sampling radios will appeal to those who are seeking the maximum in performance and versatility — and who enjoy a technical adventure!  [emphasis added]

I must confess I was at times confused by what the author's tone was.  And, QST are rarely hard-hitting exposes.

My bias:  I love my 6300 and might want an upgraded model one day--but I'm quite satisfied for now.  And, I didn't find setting it up particularly (or technically) adventurous.