Pros of 6600M -
All in one radio you can just carry around
Look and feel of a traditional radio
No need for additional ethernet wiring
Pros of Maestro+6600 -
Ability to take the Maestro anywhere on LAN or via SmartLink
That said I like the idea of separate components because I like to move around. But for some the traditional radio look/feel is important and the HDMI out is important.
First it depends upon how you like to operate. If you want to go to your shack, shut the door then a 6600M might be the best as the knobs are always right there.
If you are the kind of guy that still wants knobs but you want to be out on your deck or in your living room then the remote Maestro is the better choice.
That being said:
Anything going over network to the radio whether it is a Maestro or a laptop running SSDR or an iPad running SSDR iOS need a good LAN. Your WiFi needs to be pretty good and have good coverage. It is not too expensive to upgrade these things and get better coverage if needed.
I am not a knob radio guy. I personally like the fact that my 6500 has zero controls. Everything is done on the computer. And I like operating that way. My shack is:
A) my desk near the radio (this is the shack op position)
B) my kitchen table with my laptop (like right now as I write this pos)
C) my living room with the TV on
D) under my deck in the shade viewing the back yard
E) my office across town
F) my friends place in Denver over 80 miles away
With a "server" type radio like the flex and a good laptop you can operate anywhere. If you really need knobs then the Maestro is your best bet but it in my opinion limits you as you cannot easily control your beam, your amp, other things in your shack. I can control everything via my laptop.
So no M model for me.
Mark - WS7M
Coming from a 6500 + Maestro (both now with new owners), and upgraded to a 6600M which I've been using for over a month now. I will probably add a new Maestro to work with the 6600M once the "Multi Client" feature is released in a future (date tbd) Flex software update.
Realistically, 90% plus of the time I'm on the air using a radio on my shack desk. The new 6600M takes up less space than the old 6500 + Maestro. I also find it very convenient to only have to power, manage and boot up one device to get on the air.
For the other 10% of the time my XYL and I take a few extended trips yearly where we bring radios along. We just got back from a trip for the CQ WPX SSB contest (operated as VP5P) and it was definitely easier packing one 6600M than the 6500 + Maestro we took last year.
I'm sure your needs are somewhat unique as well, and it doesn't take much to swing the decision one way or the other. Either way, you really can't go wrong.
GL & 73!
Jim - W5AP
I have a 6700 and a Maestro. I really like having the Maestro close to my keyboard so that it is minimal movement from the keyboard to hit a control on the Maestro. I used to use the remote Pod on my Ten Tec Orion the same way - immediately next to the keyboard and find the Maestro is even more convenient because it is so much more capable. Also - a minor aspect is the ability to tilt the Maestro so that it points directly at my line of sight. With a conventional radio front panel I am either looking down at the display or have the radio elevated so that it is awkward to use the controls.
Keith - AC9S