We love new gear, don’t we?

I’ve been watching with some amusement as the news continues to break about the newest entry into the ham gear market…Kenwood’s TS-990S. It dovetails nicely with other big roll-outs such as Elecraft’s KX-3. As soon as the ad for the 990 appeared on the back of last month’s QST and CQ with word that a prototype would be shown at Dayton, the message boards have exploded with speculation about what kind of rig it would be, what features it would have, how much it would cost, and more. And there were the immediate negative comments, too.

“Who needs another ($4000, $5000, $10,000, $Trillion…take your pick) ham rig?”

“Why don’t they do a QRP rig instead of another (IC-7600, IC-7700, IC-7800, FT-5000, FT-9000…take your pick) clone transceiver?”

“Will it have a band scope?” “Will it have (one, two, three, sixteen…take your pick) USB ports?”  “It’s bigger than the TS-850.  I don’t want it.”  It’s smaller than the TS-850.  I don’t want it.”

There have even been many who denigrate Kenwood for their lack of marketing acumen on so many scores you would actually think those posters actually  knew anything at all about the top-secret radio. Or assume they know more about marketing ham gear than Kenwood–who has been doing it for many, many years now.

Then things really went bonkers this week with the publication of an ad on the back page of the June QST:

Kenwood TS-990S
Ad in June QST for the new Kenwood TS-990S
Now guys could really go goofy!  If you look at the ad carefully, the date on the display is “April 1.”  April Fool’s!  Kenwood is just messing with us.  It’s all a hoax.  And the image is obviously Photoshopped.  All the knobs’ indicators are straight up and down.  Nobody would have the knobs that way on a “real” radio. 
Posts have been flying!  People are Googling left and right.  Kenwood has a small, non-descript press release on their main site but nothing on the amateur radio pages, so obviously the radio does not exist.  There won’t be a working model at Dayton so it will be years before it is on the market. 
You know what?  Kenwood unveils the radio at Dayton in one week.  They say it will be on the market in “winter 2012” (which I thought ended back on March 21, but maybe they mean this coming winter.).  And we’ll all have ample opportunity to see the specs, read reviews, and even twiddle the knobs at some point.
All this hoopla is sort of silly don’t you think?  Yeah, me too. 
Ooops.  Somebody on one of the several TS-990S reflectors just posted a bit of an email he got from some guy whose brother-in-law talked to a Kenwood rep at Visalia!  See you later…
Don N4KC
Don Keith, N4KC, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Alabama, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “We love new gear, don’t we?”

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Don, yes this simple picture sure has stirred things up eh!! With Dayton just around the corner and that being the time new ham toys are being dreamed about by hams as they sleep. Im not sure if it’s real or a hoax but time will tell which one it is……but I will say your post was very interesting and got me thinking.

  • W0FMS:

    I have a ‘590 and I like it. I have a TS-440 and my dad at the time couldn’t afford the TS-940, and I now couldn’t afford the TS-990. So I see it as a very interesting tradition that they are carrying on. It’s amazing how the overall “feel” of the 990 is like the 940 was and to a lesser extent (until you use it) the ‘590 is like the ‘440.

    I knew last year at Dayton that this one was going to be the expensive one– so did everyone else. I wonder why the comments now? It was no surprise!

    Fred W0FMS

  • Tom. Kb3hg:

    Just remember, Kenwood’s philosophy… If we build it, they will buy it. Tried Kenwood before due to so many touting them. Never again. But that’s me. If that’s what works for you great.

  • Cliff Fox KU4GW:

    I ran a TS-570D for 3 years and was very impressed with it’s performance once I got the narrow filter for it and actually received unsolicited compliments on my audio using a Heil Proset Plus headset with it. I sold it about 3 years ago when I ran across a good deal on a Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V and absolutely love it! I would not be reluctant at all to own another Kenwood, I just hope the TS-990S is real because it actually looks like a ham radio instead of a piece of Kenwood audio equipment like all their HF rigs have for the past few years! Anyway, probably too high for my pockets! I’m wanting a Flex 3000 now since I’ve heard quiet a few of them on the air on 75 meters and it is really appealing to me to be able to put a filter or as many filters as I desire on at the same time and being able to take the computer mouse and drag the width of those filters as wide or as narrow as I like. The ultimate in working through the QRM!

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