The Icom IC-7300 is a real game changer. If you’ve listened around the bands the past couple of weeks, it seems like it is impossible to not hear conversations about the 7300. And almost all of them are totally positive. There are pages of reviews on eHam.com, all positive.
Update, January 2018: The title of this article seems pretty prophetic. Since it was written immediately after the release of the 7300, Icom has sold over 20,000 units. This is essentially unprecedented. It is outselling all other radios, and has apparently caused a deep depression in prices in the used radio market. That does mean you can get a really nice radio pretty cheap, but it won’t be a 7300.
Why is this happening? It is because Icom has put almost all the technical features you can find in high-end transceivers (like those costing well over $5,000), and put them in a $1,500 ($1,200 in 2018) radio. Overnight, Icom has rendered essentially any transceiver under $3,500 obsolete, including their own. And the more expensive radios – you’d have to think long and hard to buy one now, especially since Icom is likely to introduce more deluxe models (the IC-7610
or IC-7750 perhaps) within a year or so. (1/2018: the IC-7601 is now released and available.)
I’ve just become active again after quite a few years off, so maybe I’ve missed some of the more recent radio developments. I did make one mistake: I assumed that almost everyone would have a radio with a built-in, real-time spectrum scope with a full waterfall display. I don’t think that is really true.
All the wonderful attributes of a Software Defined Radio (SDR) aside, the ability to operate with a spectrum scope totally changes the experience of operating a transceiver. It is like being blind before, but now being able to see. If you haven’t experienced using a spectrum scope, you really need to.
And it has to be a real-time scope – building a scan while the audio is off as is found in some of the transceivers that have a scope, or building a scan from HRD or other computer interface to your radio is simply not the same thing.
The 7300’s real-time scope is the only one in a sub-$2,000 traditional style transceiver – one that doesn’t require a PC interface. This by itself is huge, but the 7300 is also an SDR with a RMDR@2kHz of 103db. The receiver, in other words, is amazing. You can’t touch it for anything less than $3,000 or $4,000.
And the scope display is on a 4-inch LCD touch screen. This may seem small, but it isn’t. Even my old eyes have no difficulty seeing and using the screen. The other benefit is that almost all of the control of the radio is only a press or two away on the touch screen. Icom has done an amazing job designing the touch sequences for the commands, and it really is much easier than a whole bunch of mechanical buttons and knobs on the front of the radio.
So what we have is a transceiver with a truly excellent receiver, a transmitter that puts out high quality audio and other signals, a built-in antenna tuner, a totally amazing spectrum scope that also includes an audio scope with a waterfall, and a very easy to learn touch screen interface to control the radio. And there are a bunch of other really nice features – like audio recording, a USB interface that works with all the major PC software tools.
And all of this is in a $1,500 package. At the moment, it is really impossible to get all the technical features in another radio for even 3 times the price.
Sure, there are some things missing – only one antenna input, no video output, no direct full-size keyboard input port, no IP connector for direct remote control, only one receiver (but it does have two VFOS that are a simple button push away from switching), and probably other stuff nice for contesting. But, remember, this is an introductory level computer, and only costs $1,500. I can’t really imagine what Icom has planned for the next model up, let alone a $7,000 or $8,000 version.
Just one more thing – it is really fun to use the 7300. The spectrum scope changes how you operate, and you can hear signals you’ve never heard before.
Disclaimer: This really is my reaction to this radio. I have no affiliation with Icom or any place selling this radio.