Marketing Idea

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  • Idea
  • Updated 1 year ago
  • Under Consideration
Not being an early adopter, nor an impulse buyer, I have been biding my time researching my next radio purchase. WAN remote is a must here so I have whittled the list of candidates down nicely. It would be very helpful (& probably profitable for FRS) if I & others in a similar state of indecision) could remotely test drive a 6x00.

My idea is therefore: Flex & any other benevolent owners create a pool of radios which have V2 & have smartlink activated.

Enable the free download & installation of V2 (if it isnt already)

Share the temporary (time limited) credentials with potential customers.

I realise I can make a trip to a dealer to try their demo radio but from experience I have found the exposure time far to short to to get a proper feel for the system. My idea would enable potential customers to climb further up the learning curve & hopefully make better decisions as a result.

I can only think of up-sides to this idea for both customers and Flex. PLS VOTE :)
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Paul

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Posted 2 years ago

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G8ZPX

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Paul, agreed. They did it very easily for the last 2 shows, so it can't be difficult.

All they have to do is make the sign-in links publicly known. I would go further and say that all new versions of SSDR should now be available on-line for a test run before purchase. Now remote is a given there is not really a good reason not to do this.
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Paul

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Yes, even receive-only permission would be a great help. Much better to let the system speak for itself rather than relying on heresay.
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Donovan van Loggerenberg

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Brilliant idea. There are many of us far away from dealers and conventions that would like to experience this too. 2 thumbs up!!
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Paul

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Thanks for the support Donovan. Let's hope it gains some traction.
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Paul

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No input from anyone at Flex? Disappointing, I know you're awake over there now ;)
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Ken Hansen

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I suspect they might be a little busy supporting the SSDR v2.0 release to take time out to focus on marketing suggestions...

The issue I see is around transmitting, take that off the table and it seems doable.

If I remember correctly, Flex plans/hopes to support multiple remote logins per radio - once that feature is offered, it would be trivial to offer time-limited access to a receive-only radio.
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Paul

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Tongue in cheek there Ken. But yes I can see tx & licensing aspects might preclude tx. Aim high, but RX-only should now be straightforward. Here's hoping!
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Chris DL5NAM

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Why you to take care of maybe FRS problems to sale hardware? FRS must found the best solution for the company.

More important for me is that i can create a guest account to share a friend my radio, or to share a club station or ....

Owner should have a master account and create a guest account for his radio. If i shared in moment my account, the guest can change pass and i am out.

Every stupid WIFI Router has this guest function. So it's not a big deal !

73 Chris
(Edited)
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Paul

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It was simply a suggestion Chris, I'm sure Flex is perfectly able to manage its own strategy and I have no problem with that. Some suggestions gain traction, others don't - that's life. 73, Paul.
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Jim Gilliam

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It wouldn't even have to be a radio; it could be a simulation.
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Paul

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It could Jim, but if so I would hope it would be considerably better than the simluation/demonstration offered in SSDR for ios. The sound on that was unusable and the gui simply consisted of images rather than being properly navigable. It could have been much more realistic.
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Ken Hansen

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I wonder, could Flex record, say, 30 minutes of full 20 meter band and make it a 'playable file' within SSDR? That would give users a chance to play in a real environment without tying up a radio or server bandwidth (aside from file download)?

I know this can be done with SDR Play receivers, it would be interesting if Flex could offer something similar.

Imagine, download, say, the 20 meter band off a decent antenna during a contest weekend for 30 minutes or so, should be lots of opportunities to tryout the software.
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VE6JY

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That file would be MANY gigabytes. Not practical for many of us to share this over internet.   I do this routinely on my Perseus but only for a few minutes to make a "snapshot" archive for myself of the conditions for the contest. Any sharing is thru a thumbdrive...  As a recent owner of a used but new to me Flex 6700 I am hoping the ability to record the spectrum will soon be implemented.
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Ken Hansen

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Understood, certainly tradeoffs could be made - instead of full band, maybe one of US CW band portion of 20 meters, another one 100 KHz of SSB portion, and instead of an hour, perhaps 15 minutes?

Sure, it would be 'big' but it should be a one-time download - I would think a 1 gig file limit would be useful/practical.
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Eric - KE5DTO, Official Rep

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Official Response
This is a great idea and one that we are considering.  It is a bit different to hand credentials to a customer than it is to show them in a show environment.  But we are working towards this very thing.  Thanks for sharing the idea.
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Bob G W1GLV

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Eric, what about a guest registration. Where an individual could let some else operate it as a guest which would need the owners permission via email or telcon.
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Ken Hansen

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Don't forget license/privilege verification.
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Paul

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Receive-only would give potential buyers a feel for the radio and would be simple to set up with no licence issues. FRS must have higher priorities, eg. getting new models out of the door.
(Edited)
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Paul

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Eric, thanks for the reply. I do understand that some safeguards will be necessary. I look forward to developments as I am sure it will be of mutual benefit to both FRS & prospective customers.
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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I use to do that back in the day when I upgraded standard dialup analog modems to digital 23 channel PRI's. Demo accounts were setup so users can see the speed difference of digital as compared to plain analog modems. Geez, remember the rack and racks of US Robitics . . . oh no the flashbacks yikes. Anyway we were the first in the area to do this. With a Radius server you have lots of flexibility for authenticating. I'd suggest receive only for a set of credentials limiting a total of a one hour session limit within a 24 hour period. So one person can't hog the radio.
(Edited)
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Paul

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Ken: I agree, a demo version of SSDR with an integrated IQ recording would be useful. I use Simon Browns' SDR console with my current receive-only SDR, it has an inbuilt IQ recorder/player which is extremely handy. Obviously the bandwidth would be too great to send this via the WAN so it would be restricted to a stand-alone demo version of SSDR. Not in itself a problem but imho it would be a better marketing tool if Smartlink was also part of the demo.


Mike: agreed. Preferably use a pool of radios so that a longer time limit would be acceptable. Or even better, just have a single radio with open access once multi-client is working. Users can't break anything with receive-only. I share my receiver freely via the WebSDR project, no log-in required - just a web browser. It's robust & popular.


http://topband.ddns.net:8901/


If I do go for a 6x00, I will be making it available by feeding DAX iq into my WebSDR server - another significant plus point for Flex.
(Edited)
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Chris DL5NAM

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Paul

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Many thanks for the link to the WebSDR index Chris. I believe this is ranked in order of the average number of simultaneous connects. Clearly this varies with time, so if looking for a specific SDR I tend to scroll straight to the world map at the bottom of the page. Cheers.
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Chris DL5NAM

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... or you select on top of table what you want - Band or ...

Then the list will be smaller :-)
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Paul

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Yes that does also help, thanks Chris.
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Brenton Meadows

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My answer, dealers are the solution often to visibility. The more dealers, the less load on a suggested system but I do agree that doing a show is a lot different from live day to day testing by individuals contemplating purchase.    I love the suggestions above as well, well thought out and some of the work we are rolling out here in Australia will involve remote Flex base sites with multiple base sites.
Some of this has purely been for the exclusive usage for hams in Nursing homes, they can enjoy what they have lost etc.   Overseas, commercially, the same, we have some countries where we can get a base site in the neighboring country but not in the one we are primarily tasked to.  These are always havng to be well thought out.  But the discussion below is more pointed to the remote person from a dealer as to why buy a flex, how can I be confident of a flex, and will this be the right decision?  Please remember, the comments below are just one Aussies appreciation of a very innovative American company and his recent experience with their products and support.

To all non impulse buyers, my suggestion from Australia, and you will have to trust me , and I do have one of those trust me faces, (Ask Tony VK5TT, Tony, be nice haha )  if there was ever a product I impulse bought and I work in the electronics industry, (some would argue the word work)this product in my case, the 6700 and Maestro, was one of the most impulsive non researched buys of my life.  Since owning it, I can tell you it will ruin every chance you ever had of having a good nights sleep again.  I fully support the concept of consumer testing before purchase but man this has been one of the most exciting products that we as a company and I as an individual have ever had the pleasure to enjoy learning, and learning, and learning, and well, as  a newbie, Im sure you sense my incredible excitement that this product is just sensational. 

The argument for a potential buyer is of course, do I buy an Anan or do I buy the Flex if you are primarily interested in SDR.  The simplest way I can respond is that both are incredibly good products, however, for time challenged people like myself, I decided the Flex due to its simplicity and what I was seeing as a much longer learning curve for the Anan series.  Do I enjoy Anans achievements, well I do, and  as they are moving to Australia and its apparently RUMOURED to be an Australian made product when it transitions from India, so Im sure the visibility of Anan will improve over here.  However, I still felt that the Flex strategy from hooking the 6700 base up to a network cable to the Version 2 hot spotting capabilities made me a very happy man, mainly because it all just happens if you follow simple instructions.  If I put my professional cap on, the team I work with and my own listening skills have shown the Flex to be amazing with noisy environments, the tracking notch filter incredible, and there are a few other areas we are under an NDA with right now, but I can say that tests with external "bits" are responding beautifully.  Some of our team are highly technical and have had experience with the Anan and Flex and they see both as powerful items in the industry.  Our professional goal has to be to supply simple to understand solutions to our rather unique customer base, and Flex has pretty much made that job very easy, although we still have some ruggedised requirements that are being developed by our Israeli team members so a little way to go. None of this reflects on Flex, more our own customer needs, and lack of patience to get results at times.  Welcome to the world of commercial sales, yesterday is usually the time prerequisite and customer patience, minimal. 

One reflection I would like to clarify, Anan in Australia has an incredible Dealer who gets almost every radio dollar I spend in new equipment, this is the Mecca of ham radio in Australia www.strictlyham.com.au and Ross has sold me some incredible number of purchases that I have had to put him on retainer not to tell my wife.  I was surprised when Ross was not the dealer for the  Flex dealership(maybe he was approached and felt it was not a good fit, apologies if this statement is incorrect) and I have had no official dealings with the Australian representatives of Flex, however Matt in the USA has backed us up when the rubber has needed to hit the road.  This is not a criticism, more a matter of suggestion regarding Flex's current dealer appointments.  The current sole representation may be more suited to defense applications and Ross at Strictly ham who is absolutely the largest Ham radio dealer in Australia more suited to handling Ham radio enquiries.  I know one thing about Ross, he loves displaying working equipment, and to walk into his shop with 8 slices of receivers open on a screen and a Maestro sitting there working away, that sells systems.  Anan has been displayed this way, and displayed well.   And really, that is what this forum subject is about, seeing the system before buying, or being able to log into it to play,  it doesn't matter how much I love it, you need to love it, and any dealer selling it should at a minimum have a working display of the Flex6700 and Maestro.  the logging into your local dealers system for a trial has some factors I think that would be difficult,(not impossible as long as responsible time limits and restricted re entry time frames provided) versus walk in customers seeing live equipment. Once again, these are IMHO comments, I am an ex Motorola lad, we had hundreds of dealers and expectations and we expected that they could effectively meet their forecasts we asked them for monthly, which we assumed they took advantage of a reliable crystal ball.  Truth was, working demos worked for Motorola dealers beautifully, especially in Land Mobile products etc.  Their crystal ball forecasts, well about as good as my own to my boss in Motorola. 

So whats the summary of all of this ham radio use, professional  ruggedised use, Maestro usage and well, as of next week, Ipad usage, (we ordered a new late model ipad for our testing yesterday) I think Flex have a huge future and if you dont have a way to get up close and personal with hours of testing at your local dealer, I really think you are in very safe hands with the team at Flex.  One argument I hear from some Australians is, what happens if Flex go broke tomorrow and file for chapter 11 or in our country, the term is just simply Bankruptcy.  My answer is simple, what company is not open to tragic breakdowns of the economy that can effect the product you buy, and if Flex keep doing what they are consistently doing with venturing into both Ham radio Markets and Defense Markets, its a great strategy to ride the bumps of any economic changes we are becoming almost used to worldwide.  Flex just have their hands in a few very specific profitable markets, this is a smart business strategy and obviously by design, in short I suspect they will be around for many years to come.  The fact Version 2 Software costs $199USD, consider it an investment in ensuring the same level of excellent support will be there tomorrow, I felt it was incredibly well priced for the amount of man hours that it represented, and will pay for and represent more hours as they further refine version 2. 

And dont forget, Tokyo Hypower in Japan, never did anyone see the demise coming, but Im potentially on dangerous ground to discuss the actual reason for their demise, but I can say, they decided to enter a path with another major manufacturer and it was definitely putting huge capital and all their eggs in one basket and right when THP needed maximum support, the Manufacturer pulled out. This made them immediately insolvent and the rest you can google.   Flex hit me as much smarter than to involve themselves in a situation like this, they simply have spent too much time building the company from the ground up, versatility has been evident, if they were a stock option, I would list it as a buy.
 
Your all, including myself, living in exciting times, manufacturers of ham radio all over the world who have invested heavily in past technologies are having to admit that even their own designs are going to be heading more and more towards SDR boxes(ie IC7300, IC7610) .  I own both an Icom IC7850 and a Kenwood TS990 which some of us have been discussing, are we seeing the end of this style of big box radio.  Sales are down, In Australia, Kenwood have dropped the price twice on the TS990 and each drop was substantial.  Icom have remained reasonably content with their higher price points however this was not the case with the IC7300 which is not an expensive radio, but no coincidence, an SDR based radio.  And yes, Icom sales are down.  The world awaits this new super Icom IC7610 and Japan tells us it will be a supremely superior to the IC7300 SDR based radio, however, price points have varied here in Australia from $2999AUD(not believable) to $5499AUD which will make it a difficult beast to sell IMHO.  Truly, its needing to be a $4499AUD product to be price effective, but this represents only one mans opinion and I paid $15kAUD for the IC7850, so some may say, I'm bordering on delusional just for the IC7850 Purchase.

So what would I buy for the dollars all mentioned above, and remember, not every one needs the Signature 6700 series, models of a lot less cost are available from Flex. Of course my answer is Flex, otherwise you just wasted a whole lot of time reading a very long thesis that doesn't bear fruit. 

However, in the end, Flex has made it to my number one radio choice after admittedly previously for some 40 years being a diehard Icom fan to the max.  Will I sell my big box radios, probably not, they have there place for rag chewing and some dxing of course, but if the conditions are terrible, there's a good reason Im changing over to the Flex 6700 asap, I get to hear signals I cant hear on my IC7850 or TS990.  Its great to have the option on board, especially at this part of the cycle, Flex has saved the day more than once, thats for sure.  Oh and keeping 8 slices up on display while Im busy on other equipment is sure handy.  A few times, 10m has opened by viewing my flex screen, and Im using my IC7850 on 40m, its a quick, be back soon, jump on the flex, work the USA for the 20 mins the band opened, and then, whoosh, the opportunity is gone.  But I would not have even seen it if it wasn't for my Flex and its amazing capabilities, both graphically and its incredible receiver.

I too hope Flex move the concept forward of live log ins, its a marketing tool for sure for those too far from a dealer, I know I would be happy for anyone in Australia to log in for a test if pre arranged, if thats you and your considering the Flex product, contact me and we will arrange a log in to trial as I am often working and someone may as well be testing to see of they are making the right decision.  I assure you, you are........Oh, just quickly, no financial interest in that offer, just happy to help.

Happy Radio Hunting, and Good Luck from Tangambalanga North East Victoria Australia.

Cheers
Brenton
VK3CM
VK5BM
Flex 6700 and Maestro owner with V2 working like a dream.  And next week, I would love to report on impressions on the Ipad when it arrives in the mail. The software for under $100 to control the Ipad, what a bargain...Flex management must love the software writer, its just an amazing package to complement the Flex family.
(Edited)
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VK6SJ

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Having transceiver set up back at the shop while I demonstrate the Maestro, IOS App and SSDR application is exactly where we are headed now (I am the Australian Distributor for Flex). As fantastic a radio the 6700 is; its just not that exciting to look at! :) Should have it in place within the next few weeks. Still getting set up in the new house which is the only delay at the moment. It makes good sense and I think having access to similar operations with other country dealers would be cool as well (any other dealers feel free to contact me to discuss further).

Having a system in a show room is great for the people living within driving distance of the show room but in a country like Australia where we have 20 odd thousand hams in a country the size of the USA, a show room loses some of it's significance. Being able to get to the larger ham events (and only my company (Future Systems), plus TET Emtron and RF Solutions bothered to turn up to Wyong - our largest event in VK),  is very important, but the best way is certainly to let people have a play in the comfort of their living room or at their club rooms. We try to make a point of approaching clubs if we are working in the area (we work all over Australia) to offer a demonstration.  

On another point, the ham market in Australia is a hard one to crack. I'm not sure I'd like to put my entire living in the hands of one sector of the communications market (Ham or otherwise). The Amateur section is just one of our sectors; others being Commercial HF and UHF to the Public Safety sector as well as running our own Commercial HF networks. I see the Flex distributorship as a very likeminded addition to our portfolio of similarly excellent products (like Codan - where we are recognised for our skills in System Integration). Having multiple sectors to work with makes sure that we are around for the long haul and not expiring in the coming recession when retail sales may be harder to come by.   

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Paul

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Good to hear that dealers are starting to do this. I'm sure you will have plenty of interested customers. Do you plan to allow wide access or would it be restricted to those who might realistically buy a radio from you? I hope more dealers (and indeed FRS) will follow suit.
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VK6SJ

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Hi Paul, apologies for the late reply but only just saw this post. We have our remote station running using SoftEther VPN now and have been successfully showing this at clubs and ham events in Australia. Not planning on making it "widely" available but more to give clients who are thinking of buying from me but not yet sold on the fantastic value and performance of the 6000 series radios to have some quality time with the radio.
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Paul

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No problem, I hope it goes well for you.
73, Paul
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Paul

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Many thanks for the comprehensive input Brenton. I do appreciate observations (both good & bad) from users on the forum. I agree that dealers ought to be the main point of exposure but as I said earlier, the operating time (and the quality of that time) is not comparable with that offered by an on line pool of receivers. I am getting closer to parting with some cash, thanks for your help. Cheers!
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Ken Hansen

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As a reminder, in US Flex sales are direct to buyer, in foreign markets retail stores have demo radios and (I believe) sell from inventory.
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Paul

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True Ken. But I believe my idea would be if benefit regardless of location. The more customer exposure to the radio the better I think.
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Ken Hansen

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My point is there is a greater need for a 'virtual showroom' in the US market because there is no dealer that stocks/sells Flex from a store front.
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Paul

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Thanks for clarifying Ken, I missed the point completely - sorry.
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John - WA7UAR

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I haven't seen anyone suggest just using a 6700R -- just the Flex Receiver. No worries about having special login restrictions to prevent someone from transmitting -- they physically can't. Straight forward. Yes?
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Ken Hansen

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Certainly simplifies one aspect, but still requires multiple login support - a future OS enhancement.
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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My suggestion, in a future release with multi-client let us register demo accounts. To setup multi-clients I imagine we would have to log into the server with a master account, once logged in we can setup multiple clients with an option to input a time and date and check off DEMO. This would append "demo" into the username. Then have the radio look at the username and the phrase "demo" is anywhere in the username, prohibit TX.
This will also be good for resellers who have their radios setup for demonstration during store hours but after store hours sit there and do nothing. The can hand out a demo account to prospective buyers.
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Paul

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Guys, let's not relax the spec too soon. Flex has indicated the original idea is under consideration so I advocate striving towards tx & rx demo. Indeed two contributors have offered the use of their radios already (one in this thread and another separately) so there does seem to be momentum - let's maintain it. Maybe more votes for the idea?