The IC7300 is probably a great rig for someone who is primarily a phone op, a very good rig for a digital op, but a less-than-good rig (I won't say "poor") for someone who is primarily CW op. If you've never operated a Ten-Tec, Flex or Elecraft radio on CW, you may like the IC7300 because you won't know what you're missing.
I should have known this in advance but ignored my inner doubts. My expectations were unrealistically high and were formed in part due to the rave reviews by almost all users of this radio. No one's fault but my own.
For better or worse, any reviewer's subjective opinion of a radio is relative to whatever radio they're accustomed to using. In the IC-7300, I found certain characteristics to be annoying and, rather than me adapting to the radio, I'd rather have a radio that can be configured to adapt to me. Those characteristics were:
- Only three selectable bandwidth filters. These can be configured to whatever width you may want but they are then fixed, not variable without going back into the menu and reconfiguring. I would end up using (or needing, in this case) a different set of three, if that is the limitation, for casual CW and another set for DXing or contesting. Only having three available, for all CW scenarios, doesn't cut it. Furthermore, those three bandwidths aren't labeled with their widths; they are labeled only as 'Filter 1' 'Filter 2' and 'Filter 3'.
- Similarly, the width of the bandscope has three fixed widths. They are also user-selectable, but in menus that can't be adjusted on the fly.
- The CW sidetone, set to maximum volume, is quite low.
My Flex and Apache Labs rigs have spoiled me - I admit it. Filter widths and the amount of spectrum presented on the display are infinitely variable and adjustable without the need of accessing a menu. This is enormously helpful in contesting and DXing (split), particularly on crowded bands encountered in those events.
For all my complaints about Flex's behavior with Windows updates, I realize now that the 6000-series of their radios were light-years ahead of their time when they were first offered for sale. I know that because they are still ahead of their time even 10 years later.
In my opinion, the IC7300 capitalizes on the "SDR" aspect as a selling point - without offering the true flexibility of what SDR offers. To a significant extent, it is an SDR-architecture rig with the limitations of a superhet. But this is Icom's first design of a technology that a small handful of others have been producing for a while - and it is a good "first".
Further, more minor, nuisances of the radio were:
- The fan comes on at each transmission, regardless of output power level chosen or of the current temperature of the finals.
- The tuning cursor does not change size (width) to correspond to the width of the filter currently in use. Since the names of the filters don't indicate their specific bandwidth, this would have been a way to see at a glance how much of the spectrum is being listened to. Even my $300 mcHF does this, in addition to displaying the numerical filter width. Much info presented on the touchscreen - but it should be specific, not generic.
The IC-7300 is a very capable and ground-breaking radio that offers a lot for a very low price.