Flex Software

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Hello everyone... Im thinking about buying the Flex 6300 with built in tuner. Do flex Software defined radios require a subscription for the software?
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Wes Smith

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Posted 3 years ago

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James Whiteway

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No. You only pay for the next full version if you want it. Incremental updates/upgrades for the version you have are free.
james
WD5GWY
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Wes Smith

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Ok thats great!! Thank you James
Wes
VA3RYV
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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For reference, here is the entire description form the SmartSDR product web page under the Upgrades tab.

SmartSDR Software Upgrades and Licensing

Key Points:
  •     All FLEX-6000 Signature Series radios are shipped with the latest major version of SmartSDR software.
  •     Each major version of SmartSDR comes with free updates and maintenance releases for the life of that major release.
  •     After a new major version of SmartSDR is released, maintenance releases for earlier versions will be provided free of charge on an as needed basis.
  •     The choice to upgrade to the next major version of SmartSDR is yours. Your radio will continue to operate on its current major version of software as long as you choose.
  •     Each major release of SmartSDR (v1.0, v2.0, v3.0, etc.) will have an associated license fee (currently $199.00 USD plus applicable tax).
Description:

Your FLEX-6000 Signature Series SDR comes with a version of SmartSDR software that will operate your radio as long as you want.  Period.  We will continue to make improvements and fix instabilities (aka “software defects”) in that major version.  At some point in the future, we will release a new major version of software and offer it for sale.  It’s up to our product management and amazing engineering teams to come up with exciting new features and capabilities to convince you its worth upgrading to a newer version.  In the meantime, we’ll work hard to make sure your existing software version remains stable and functional. (Note that anyone who purchased additional years of “Flex Advantage” when they purchased their FLEX-6000 Signature Series radio will be credited for that many major SmartSDR software version releases.)

The simple way to think of our SmartSDR software licensing policy is that it’s similar to the Microsoft® model – When you buy a complete PC you receive the current version of WindowsTM.  When Microsoft comes out with a new version of Windows, you get to decide if you want to upgrade. In the meantime, bug fixes and maintenance releases will continue as needed for the existing versions.

We will support SmartSDR through all of our in-person, online, and distributor channels in the same way we do today with our other products without any restrictive time limits.
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SDR Fan

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Your model being compared to Microsoft is not a proper comparison.  SmartSDR is no Microsoft Windows level of software sophistication and the price should reflect that.  I do not mind paying but the value vs price must be in line.  Yes I dont have to buy it so after spending thousands for a radio I now have to pay to keep it up to date.  
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Bill -VA3WTB

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No not true.. as stated above, updates are free to the owner, always have been. The only thing you would purchase is a feature set on and after V2.0. And you can choose to purchase or not,,either way will not effect how your radio will perform. All updates relating to fixes and performance issues will remain free.

There are just to many things wrong with you comment about the sophistication of SSDR, I don't know were to even start.
(Edited)
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SDR Fan

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I did expect someone to attack me for my comments. How dare I suggest anything on this forum.

I did not need you to explain the update procedures as I understand, and you need to realize not all are as stupid as you believe in your arrogance and belief that only you are right.  You are obviously incapable of rational discussion.

After V2.0 the radio becomes outdated unless you pay. Maybe performance will not suffer but the feature set will not be available  to many at this high price.  Maybe $199 is not a lot to you but it might be to others.   Sorry but smartSDR is no OS level program no matter what you believe and should not carry an OS price.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I did not try and attack you..sorry you feel that way, just some comments seem strange.
If one decides not to purchase a feature set, it does not make the system out dated. Some of the upcoming features may not interest some people, and others may find them useful. Remember these are features well above the normal operation of the radio.

In some ways SSDR is far more complicated to write then Windows software. But it is a big discussion on that and better that maybe Steve at Flex could explain without losing us.
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SDR Fan

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Thanks for your comment. I will let this drop as it makes no difference .  The price has been set and I as a new Flex radio user wish this information was posted in big letters before I bought this product.  I would have gone back to a conventional radio and may decide to let my radio (that I love by the way) go to a new owner with deeper pockets.

Thanks for your time and 73
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Bill W2PKY

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Gary- many of us compare purchasing the software upgrade to buying new features. When I had my FT1000 if I wanted better filters they cost over $100 each and I spent a lot just on filters. My FT1000 was the same radio for 9 years with little possibility of upgrades. So the FLEX model allows the radio to keep up with the times adding new features periodically at a very modest cost. In the end for very little extra cost the radio stays current on features. That is much less costly than selling a box and getting a new one. Finally, Microsoft has millions upon millions of subscribers so they can price an upgrade with seemingly more value because of the high potential sales volume.
Hope this helps to present a more favorable outlook to the FLEX upgrade program.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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This is just the thing I was commenting on,,those types of comments. The flex has so many upsides to it, constant upgrading, new features coming only found on Flex radios, Best customer support, and way better performance than any conventional radio. The price of the upcoming features will not effect you unless it is a feature you want. This is up to you. Either way your radio is still up to date. Most of these features will be Flex only, meaning only flex specific.

But up to you,,your comments on deep pockets make little sense.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Every single comment he wrote didn't make a lot of sense.
He was "expecting" to be attacked?? He provides a blanket statement of the whole forum but doesn't see how his own comment that criticizes Tim's explanation can be perceived by the many that have been supported and helped by Tim countless times as an attack. But the part that really cracks me up is the one where he needed red bold letters that explained something that was understood from day one of these radios. His shortcomings informing himself in his own purchase is somehow also the fault of Flex.

I guess it makes more sense that Flex follows the "other" manufacturer's model, add features with a new radio. So you have to sell your old gear and purchase new one to get new features. That is probably way more affordable than a $200 fee on a new set of features.

I really don't know why wouldn't you want to have a healthy discussion on the subject instead of attacking the messenger.

On Microsoft comparison. There isn't a software upgrade model comparable to Flex in amateur radio space, so you are presented by Tim with an explanation that can be understood by many. I don't think anyone is comparing the software itself but the model. Selling Software is difficult... a lot of people do not value the effort that goes into writing and maintaining it. Price can not be compared either, very different sales volumes.

A recent successful model is (was) the $1 software at the app stores like Apple and Google Play.... guess what... they are all now realizing that it is not a sustainable model and are trying to move into a subscription model. Each OS upgrade and Android upgrade requires a expense on software development the is not recoup. 

Flex might or might not be successful with their approach. I personally hope they are because I am invested in the product.

I wonder how do you propose that a company pays for the engineers that have to write the software and features.

I am actually excited about the FRS model because it presents a path to improvements. If I want to add remote operation to my Kenwood TS-2000 I have to spend money... it is not provided by Kenwood. If I want to add features, like GPSDO or new modes (DStar, etc...) I have to sell the radio and get a new one, or I have to spend money and build my own. How is that model better? Does Kenwood need to write in red bold letter that new feature will not be added to my radio? Can I get upset because they didn't tell me when I bought it?

A more interesting debate would be on how to handle the software upgrades... will it be tie to a single radio or to callsign or to a household. If I own several Flex radios, do I have to pay $200 per each radio? Will they offer a 30 day money back on software upgrades? Will there be levels of upgrade.... meaning....can I have a bit of "a la carte" options... I want WAN but I do not want NR3.

Now that is a worthwhile discussion.
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km9r.mike

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Well said Sal
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Bill, I believe Gary's point was Windows XP users could upgrade to Windows 7 for free (assuming their machine could run it, and Windows 10 for free. That was largely a promotional thing as they, I assume, feared few would pay for the upgrade thereby signalling Windows was irrelevant. So, effectively the. Continued market 'domination' marketing wise more than made up for the loss of upgrade revenue. Microsoft can absorb that, perhaps FRS feels they can't. Microsoft also is orders of magnitude larger than FRS which allows them options small companies don't conveniently have.
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SDR Fan

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I should have known.  I was not going to comment further but every forum like this has product but-boys who have lost their objectivity.  If they have a Ford then Ford can do no wrong until they buy a Chevy.

Many of you guys just dont read or understand.

My view is just this simple.  

Is a software update to Ham equipment worth $200?  
If a new release comes out (I know I do not have to buy it) but if there is one feature I would like and 20 I would not is it worth $200?  
Are all operational bugs of the current software supplied when I bought this radio going to be fixed or do I have to pay $200 for those fixes?  
Why was this not made obvious when I purchased this radio and I had to find out later?

So my question is why so expensive?  

Comment about deep pockets means many hams (like me) stretch their radio budget to buy one of these radios. Now to get new features they need to spend another $200 per new software release level.  For guys that dont have unlimited money this will prevent them from ever getting the latest and greatest versions.  They may see features available that they would love to have but cant justify the expense.  I frankly would like to have the latest software to run my radio and the latest features.  I feel left out like many will who cant  justify $200 bucks to  get it.

Remember guys not everyone has unlimited ham budgets. They dont want to feel like second class ham citizens because they can have the features on their radio they want.  

Let me state again I KNOW I DONT NEED TO BUY IT. I UNDERSTAND!  But what if I want to and cant afford it.  I know you dont care about guys like us!
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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I read your comment. This is my answer... which is my personal opinion. 

Is a software update to Ham equipment worth $200?  YES

If a new release comes out (I know I do not have to buy it) but if there is one feature I would like and 20 I would not is it worth $200? That is a very personal decision, very difficult to answer.... that single feature might be worth $200 to you... and you get the others, which you might want in the future. If it is not worth the $199 then you are not forced to buy it.

 Are all operational bugs of the current software supplied when I bought this radio going to be fixed or do I have to pay $200 for those fixes?  My understanding is that new releases add features and revisions of current version are the bug fixes. Any ver. 1.xxx until ver 2.x will be free of charge and "should" fix any bugs.

Why was this not made obvious when I purchased this radio and I had to find out later? I was aware of this when I bought my first 6000 series 2 years ago. Maybe you are a bit at fault here for not researching it further?

As published in the December 2013 Flex Insider:
SmartSDR Software Policy Highlights:
  • All FLEX-6000 Signature Series radios are shipped with the latest major version of SmartSDR software.
  • Each major version of SmartSDR comes with free updates and maintenance releases for the life of that release.
  • After a new major version of SmartSDR is released, maintenance releases for earlier versions will be provided free of charge on an as needed basis.
  • The choice to upgrade to the next major version of SmartSDR is yours.  Your radio will continue to operate on its current version of software for as long as you choose.  
  • Each major release of SmartSDR (v1.0, v2.0, v3.0, etc) will have an associated license fee (currently $199.00 USD plus applicable tax).

You are talking about deep pockets and not being able to afford a $199 software upgrade, which, you are really not required to get to fully operate your current radio.

But, Really Gary?? This just sounds like demagogy to me. A 200 ft length of decent quality coaxial cable costs $200 dollars, a decent power supply costs over $100. You are definitely in the wrong hobby if a $200 expense, that will probably last a span of 2-3 years (I don't forecast a major release in less than 2 years after 2.0) is breaking your bank.

Bill pointed out a great example with the cost of additional filters in a superhet radio. A single filter for my FT-857D, which will only give me 1 feature, is over $100!!
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Flex_Fan

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Yes I agree with Gary.  I would like to see some subscription level price that might be lower. Maybe levels of subscription.  The cost would prevent me from getting new software versions too.

I am on fixed income and 200 for coax is hard for me too. Guess I cant be a ham because I do not have lots of money.  We do the best we can with what we have.  Guess your saying only people with lots of money can own a Flex.
(Edited)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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You agree with Gary??? Where did Gary mentioned a lower subscription level price?
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Flex_Fan

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Its my idea as a possible option.  
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km9r.mike

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$17 x 12 = $204.00 
$17 / 30 =  57c per day

You have got to be kidding me.
Even more so if you spread that cost over two or three years.
(Edited)
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Norm - W7CK

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Gary.  You are correct.  Not everyone will be able to afford a Flex 6x00.  Just like not everyone can afford to drive a Tesla.  Now, If I went out and bought a Tesla and then discovered that the maintenance on it was out of my budget range, I would then sell that Tesla and purchase a used car or something that I could afford.  The same applies to ham radio.  Not everyone can afford the big tower and 5 element beam, or maybe even the Flex.  That's just the way life is. 

I will agree with you that Flex is an expensive radio.  I also have to say that it Is one of the best or in my opinion the best radio on the market.  Many people who have purchased one will have the money to upgrade the software and get the new feature sets that are offered in the future.  Some will decide that the radio already does everything they want it to do and will not purchase the software upgrade.  I'm also sure there will be a few that just don't like the fact that the updates aren't for free and they will sell their radio and get something else.

I hope you don't get discouraged and are able to sit back and enjoy your new rig.  The 6x00 is an amazing piece of equipment.  I feel really fortunate to live in a time in history where I can enjoy such things.  When the next full software release is offered by Flex, I will evaluate the features and decide if it is for me or not.  Either way, I hope I can continue to enjoy the radio I have for many years to come and I hope you can too.
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Flex_Fan

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I have one question.

If I decide to skip a version and when the next version comes out I decide I like it. Will I have to buy the previous version to qualify for a later version?
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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That is a great question.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I believe the feature sets will be stand alone. We chose if we want that feature or not. So buy as you want them.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Gerald has stated that it is up to Flex to come up with interesting features that people want.

I bet if Flex was to publish a short list of features they are planning on, it would spark a lot of interest, understanding that many features are not even thought of yet.
(Edited)
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Flex_Fan

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So if you skip 2 and then went to vesion 3 then 3 wont include all earlier features from 2?
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km9r.mike

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So if you buy a cw filter do not expect to get a free ssb filter a well.
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I think it's pay as you chose...
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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SSDR has been out for several YEARS now with NO SUBSCRIPTION FEE.   ALL UPGRADES, BUG FIXES and NEW FEATURES for the past few years have been FREE. 

So what is all this whining about?   I think there is a lot of confusion in the minds of people that somehow think that there will be a fee for bug fixes and existing feature improvements.  There will not be a fee for these.

V2.0 which likely will not be coming until sometimes late this year or early next year is supposed to be the version that will add a NEW Capability called WAN,   Right now if you want to add WAN to any other radio you have to spend far more than $200 so if anything @$200 WAN would be a bargain. 

Yes $200 is expensive if you are on a fixed income...  it would mean drinking one less inexpensive beer a day for a year....something many of us would not like to contemplate.  But then you make choices... more beer or the WAN feature...


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SDR Fan

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Norm thanks for the rational answer.  I have searched this forum and two people who have answered my posts are waving the Flex flag and refuse to see anything could possibly be wrong.  These type of product forum bully posts need to be ignored and posts like Norms be read.  

Norm can see both sides of an issue and comment honestly. These other guys will defend Flex to their death.  Flex is an OK company (Ask the 5000A  an powerSDR users and see what they think) .The hardware is super and the radios work great.  I have learned that in future posts or questions who to ignore and who to listen too.

Thanks Norm and some others for objective answers.  The others have hit my brick wall filters.

This is my last post on this issue as it an effort in futility. 

This conversation is no longer open for comments or replies.