Is it just me feeling like this?

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  • Question
  • Updated 3 years ago
  • Answered

Is it just me?

Contrary to the joy of FRS releasing nice new products, I feel like we’ve been dumped on from a great height.

FRS have been promising great headline grabbing features from SSDR for over 3 years now. Whilst we have been spoon-fed minor tweaks, we are still missing out on lots of basic must-have stuff.  By basic I mean things that almost all radios over $1k had included from shipment of serial No 000001.

For examples:  a proper useable S-meter, programmable RX filter profiles, all mode squelch, ability to assign antenna selection by band, ability to assign TX RCA amp switching by band, a lacklustre Noise blanker, a terrible ANF, the ability to quickly and simply do A <> B, A = B, split etc from on-screen buttons without needing numerous mouse clicks. And that’s without my long list of GUI shortfalls that are still lacking elegance, configurability and ease of use.  All these things subtract user pleasure from what could be a first class system.

For me just a handful of essential basic features would have been enough to make me happy. It would have enabled the excellent RF deck of the F6k to be used without feeling that SSDR is somehow the limiting factor in an otherwise great product. Even now we have no certainty nor confirmation from FRS that important missing functions will even be included with SSDR v2.0, which of course we will now have to pay for too.

FRS tell us that they are a software company, yet in the past 3 years they have developed the Maestro, co-developed the XL amp, developed the whole USB interface functions, and now they have managed to somehow design and develop 3 new radios!   All this time SSDR has lacked fundamental usability features, and has some serious bugs, lock-ups and GUI limitations.

I didn’t want WAN remote or other fancy ideas like diversity and S02R, just a solid radio deck that works as well as, and gives the same operating pleasure as any other radios in the $5k+ class.

If my soon to arrive Icom-7610 had a poor ANF then I’d send it back under warranty, expecting it fixed without charge, not a chargeable upgrade”. But, I suppose if I had to, I’d pay $200 again, even if it was for functions that really should have been included and/or worked properly from the get-go...but it had better have them ALL working A1 this time around.

For the past few months, I’ve been poised ready to decide if I should dump Flex. This would have been subject only to functionality immediately accessible from V2.0, and without having to wait / buy-in to more V2.x/V3 mañana promises.

And now the final nail in to coffin, it looks like my financial investment in Flex has just taken a big hit thanks to the new models.  Yes I know those in the USA can do a trade-up but what about the rest of the world?   I have been a loyal Flex user since SDR-1000. Are we second best, and does FRS only want our cash without the same level of commitment it gives to the US market?

I feel like FRS have strung us along for way too long with SSDR not moving forward with alacrity. Yet covertly they’ve been developing new radios instead that use up that precious and expensive payroll in other areas.

It looks like my trust and commitment in the FRS sales pitch and F6k has now become old-hat before it’s even reached functional maturity.

I had expected better from a small US company but I ended up very disappointed. So, no thanks FRS I will not be buying another prototype from you - I am not going to be that naïve and trusting twice.

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Steven G1XOW

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Posted 3 years ago

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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Official Response
Is it just me feeling...

Let me start with my bottom line advice. Buy on panic - sell on optimism.

If you have been waiting for a fantastic deal on a used FLEX-6000 buy right now! We were completely out of stock on all factory certified units before Dayton. We have not been able to keep them on the shelves and have a waiting list. If you want a factory refurb you may have to wait a little longer.

If some of you manage to snag a panic bargain, you can request our service department to run our full factory test for a basic one hour minimum bench fee. If any repairs are required we can quote those after testing. The warranty will be for repair parts and labor only and not the extended warranty we normally provide with refurbished units from the Trade Up program. If the radio is still under factory warranty we will include the warranty transfer as part of the one hour bench fee. We can provide this service from both our European and US repair centers.

Now let me set the record straight on regarding speculation and incorrect assumptions. I like to summarize facts because it helps me to organize my thoughts. I hope that everyone will appreciate our sincere desire to serve all our customers to the best of our ability and resources.

Here are the facts regarding the announcements of this weekend:

SmartSDR is the radio for the entire FLEX-6000 Series. Only a tiny fraction of our software development is unique to specific hardware including the new PowerGenius XL amplifier. That means that virtually all of our software development benefits the FLEX-6300/6400/6500/6700/6700R at the same time within the capability of each respective model’s hardware.

A very small portion of our engineering budget is for hardware development relative to SmartSDR development. Hardware is “easy” - software is hard.

We are committed to releasing SmartSDR updates that support common feature enhancements for all models concurrently. An example is that the new pop out panadapter feature on v2.0 will be available on all models simultaneously. For a variety of reasons from time to time there may be software features that are unique to a given model within any software software release.

Our full time software developers are and have been working on non-hardware specific SmartSDR. Software that is specific to the new models is extremely small relative to overall ongoing SmareSDR development and is primarily being done by engineers not dedicated to SmartSDR development on a regular basis. Oh, and we just hired another software engineer who starts next week working on SmartSDR development.

All the new models run SmartSDR and are based on a common scalable software architecture that sits above a hardware abstraction layer. Write once and test on all.

Version 1 is now feature frozen. However, there will be one or more v1.x releases likely to come after v2.0. ships. For example, we will include the IMD DR3 performance enhancement I discussed recently on the Community that we expect will benefit all existing models in a future 1.x release. We plan to address some other issues and bug fixes in those releases as appropriate.

Version 2.0 is in full testing now. We expect to release by the end of June. We demonstrated v2.0 in Xenia this weekend where you could instantly connect to any of a dozen stations across the country right from the radio chooser. Coming up will be a series of 2.x releases with a variety of new features that are in the works. At some point there will be a 3.x, 4.x, etc. There is no requirement to upgrade to any new release. Our licensing policy is published on our website.

Your current FLEX-6000 Signature Series radio is not obsolete. It is simply part of a growing SmartSDR based family of products. .

If you desire for FlexRadio to continue to develop enhanced SmartSDR features for all FLEX-6000 models many years in the future it is in your own best interest for us to be successful in selling new radios as well as new SmartSDR major versions. That is how the work gets funded.

We appreciate and listen to all constructive and respectful feedback. Thanks to all of you who have supported us over the last 14 years since the SDR-1000 was introduced We truly care about our work and your enjoyment of it. Thank you for helping us bring SDR into the mainstream in the small but fun ham radio market.

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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Official Response
I would like to thank all FlexRadio product owners who have shared their comments and feelings on this subject in a constructive manner.  Please rest assured that we have read them all and have heard you.  However, recent posts have become repetitive and started taking on an adversarial tone as this is a very passionate topic.  I feel that this particular topic has been well represented by those on both sides of the issues.  In addition, this topic has received feedback from the highest authority within FlexRadio Systems acknowledging the concerns.

In the interest of Community decorum and to curtail any possible breaches of the Community usage guidelines, I am inclined to close this topic at this time.