Take no notice of G4YDO, I find their support excellent in every way.... now your questions
I find the internal ATU pretty good it manages to tune my 12m dipole on my MA5B beam which is around 3.6 in the through position (don't expect a 1.1.1 match mind mine typically about 1.5 which is good enough for me) as for memories in the ATU mine seems not to remember it takes around 10 seconds for my ATU to tune the desired frequency even if I have been on the frequency before then come back to it As for the software just buy your radio then upgrade from the flex website when it is released which I am told is very soon
hope this helps
oh and yes the flex is an excellent radio
73 Keith M1VHT
Based on my experience, I would recommend the FLEX internal ATU if your antenna has moderately high SWR. (Based on Flex's comments to me that would be an SWR in the range of 1.2:1 to maybe 1.5:1.) There is no need for an ATU if your SWR is already low and the Flex ATU is not sufficient to protect the transmitter output transistors if it is very high. Based on Flex's comments to me, I would not recommend the FLEX internal ATU if your antenna has high reactance. And of course, it probably doesn't make sense to get the Flex ATU if you are planning on using an external amplifier in the near future.
Side note: Currently the Flex ATU does not remember previous settings but I'm told that feature will be added in the next software release. Most external ATU's have this feature already.
While I am very happy with my 6300 overall, as well as the antenna tuner, if I would have known there were no memories (and none coming in the near future), I probably would have purchased an external tuner instead of the internal one.
I had the Icom 756 Pro III and also have the 7600 and like you was curious about the Flex.
I have had my 6300 with ATU for about a month and the radio is fantastic.
Hears better than any of my Icoms, quieter receiver and it is a piece of cake to operate.
My advice is take the plunge and ignore people like G4YDO and decide for yourself.
There is NO perfect radio. I hear guys complaining about bad display screens on Yaseu's, poor noise blankers on Icoms and power output issues with Kenwoods.
Are there features ever one with an opinion wishes were available ? Of course but for my money Flex is a solid product and you can take it out of the box, plug it in and be on the air in 30 minutes. I looked at the other SDR products on the market and if you do your research and get past the cheerleaders you realize they are more of a science project than reliable radio platform.
Steve, if you have any specific questions I am happy to try to answer them.
The ATU is good and if you find a band that will not tune just add a few feet of coax to the feedline until the tuner has success. I heard from a reliable source that ATU memories are a 1.5 feature. Will have to see when the 1.5 road map is detailed.
The community forum has a lot of good information. There are many users who monitor the forum and answer questions.
Hope this helps.
Like Alan, I also have a 6500, and the ATU on mine (which I believe is the same ATU in all the 6000's) regularly tunes an 8:1 SWR on bands my G5RV Jr. does not cover well. I can't tell you what the limits are, but I do have some antenna/band combinations where it will fail to tune, but they are way off. The last one I had which impressed me was the one in my TenTec Orion, which tuned as well as this one (and also had no memories.)
You get free updates within the MAJOR version of the software you buy. So the currently released version is 1.3.8... they're working on 1.4. If you buy the radio now, you'll get free updates all the way through V1.x -- When Flex moves to V2.0, you'll have to pay for that upgrade IF you want the features that V2.0 provides. You will not HAVE to upgrade. As Flex regularly says, it'll be their responsibility to make the new version sufficiently tempting to make us WANT to upgrade.
The hardware is superb. Not everything about the software (SSDR) has the "fit and finish" that you might expect in a conventional radio. But this is because it does sooooo much more than any conventional radio.
I work digital modes mostly, and once you've had the experience of being able to move the edges of your receive filter around... pull one edge in JUST far enough to avoid QRM from another station... you'll be spoiled for anything else.
It's not a perfect radio. But it's a really great radio.
I bought the SDR-1000, the grandfather of this generation of rigs, shortly after I got my license. My original rig was a TS-2000. After I got the SDR-1000, the TS-2000 stayed shut off.
I now have a 6500. I love it.
Don't listen to the kooks on this board. Don't listen to the ones who say that Flex sucks OR the ones who say that Flex is perfect. Neither is true.
There's nothing like this radio. Once you've played with the panadapter, if you're anything like me as a ham, you won't be able to use anything else. Because you *really* won't want to.
Flex's sales record speaks for itself. All the folks selling their 3ks and 5ks to upgrade to the Signature series speaks volumes.
Customer loyalty is an accurate standard to measure product and service quality. That's the thing that influenced me to buy a used 3000. And I love the radio and can't wait to upgrade.