Sunday, January 9, 2022

Buy cheap, buy twice - the Xiegu X6100 or the Icom IC-705?

There is a school of thought that offers this advice: Consider the value of things; not just their price.

I've both adhered to that advice and strayed from it - and in each of those cases, the validity of the advice is proven. A lot of things appear to be less expensive just because their price is lower.

As I read various reviews on the new Xiegu X6100 - the "poor man's IC-705" -  I'm reminded of Sam Vimes' "Buy cheap, buy twice" metaphor:

Very briefly, a workman making $38 a week needed a pair of boots. A good pair cost $50; a mediocre pair cost $25. Over a 5 year period, the worker had to buy 4 pair of mediocre boots, whereas his wiser buddy bought the $50 pair only once.

The X6100 costs roughly half the price of an IC-705. Will that fact provide sustained consolation as you tune around on 40 meters, with a local AM broadcast station breaking through? At what point will that become irritating enough to cause regret in having bought the rig? Rhetorical questions...

I'm amazed that people buy rigs such as this - unproven and from a manufacturer whose previous offerings contain often-unresolved bugs. I'm even more amazed that I almost became one of those people.

The X6100 looks good in those full-color ads. Seductive even, to those of us for whom radio has been a lifelong hobby. A cold shower cooled me down and this came in the form of reviews here and here (Byron's).

I'll go out on a limb and say this: Anyone who can afford an X6100 can also afford an IC-705...maybe just a bit later or with a bit more of a temporary sacrifice in other aspects of life.

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16 comments:

Thomas Witherspoon said...

So many people have asked me if they should get the X6100 or the IC-705. I think the reason these two are under purchase consideration at the same time is because they sort of look alike.

I would compare the X6100 with the X5105 or maybe the G90 (all Xiegu products) if making a purchase. They all sport about the same RX performance and audio, but have different form-factors and features. Likewise, I'd compare the IC-705 and the KX3 or KX2 if planning to purchase.

The IC-705 wipes the floor with the X6100 in terms of RX. The KX3 even more so. We're not talking about the same league here.

-Thomas

John AE5X said...

I think it's quite intentional that Xiegu mimics the look of the radios whose performance they seek to emulate - by doing so, they rely on "implied performance" to make the sale rather than actual performance. It's too bad this ploy is so often successful here, and in other aspects of advertising...often to the disappointment of the new owner.

73,
John

Anonymous said...

So some of us like to play with radios and experiment with them, see them come to life as the new generations of software gets better.
You are opinionated and kiss the butt of Icom, well good for you .You paid twice the price and wheres your tuner? OH, thats right you paid another couple hundred for that! Oh and lets not forget over the past 50 years of being a ham the "DOGS" Icom has released!

My tuner is built in and works fine for a cheap radio. Oh and it's just ONE of my over 20 or so ham radios! I'm not cheap as you imply
Your point? The x6100 was never designed to be a contest rig?
It's a fun rig


Anonymous said...

I have a KX2 - these radios are too big and heavy for backpacking. I am waiting to see how the FX-4C, developed by BG2FX, fairs in reviews. I want light weight, low power consumption and an integrated sound card. The FX-4C looks to fit my requirements.

John, if you buy one to review, give me first right of refusal when you go to sell it!!!

73 Dave, kx3dx

MattyBaus said...

the 705 and 6100 are different radios and frankly comparisons are a nonsense - I own both and I don't even think about comparisons - if you are looking for a radio - write down YOUR requirements and then select the radio that best meets YOUR requirements because YOUR requirements will be very different to MY requirements

John AE5X said...

I agree - comparisons between the two are nonsense, yet they are made - as are purchasing decisions based on the (incorrect) idea that the radios are comparable. This post was written with that in mind.

73,
John

John AE5X said...

Hi Dave,

Back when the first FX-4 was released I really wanted one, based on its size and band coverage. But I had just bought a radio (KX2, I think) and couldn't justify it. Later, I found they were no longer available from their US seller, LNR Precision.

I am very interested in the radios coming from China, but more than the radios themselves, I'm interested in the trend of increased performance over time of what they offer. Not so much the bells and whistles but real performance characteristics like selectivity, etc. The X6100 held my attention because I thought it might be generationally better than the G90. I'm not writing Xiegu off yet and will be hopeful that the trend from them turns upward.

73,
John

John AE5X said...

Easy thar, anonymous feller! My main rig is a Flex so I'm well used to the negative "opinionated" views of others and have no problem with them. I'm glad you're enjoying your X6100. The ability to receive AM sports and weather while operating the ham bands is a Feature, not a flaw!

73,
John

W1AND said...

China vs Japan reminds me this short dialog from the Back to the Future Part III:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1QcjsjjtRc

Tim N9PUZ said...

Here's my problem with Xiegu in particular. I had an X-108G. Decent enough radio for the price. Over the time I owned it I had a couple of questions and Xeigu responded to my emails within a day or so. Then, their next radio came out. It was like my X-108G had never existed. Every question went unanswered. Every. single. one.

Buy cheap, buy twice.

John AE5X said...

I think official support is gradually giving way to crowd support via groups.io and other forums. Similar groups have always been there but they now seem to be moving in the direction of taking the place of official support rather than supplementing it, as in the past. Regardless, it's unfortunate that direct emails to a company about one of its products go unanswered. In a normal world, that would not bode well for a company's future offerings - but low prices create forgiveness in this and other aspects of Chinese products.

I've got my eye on one myself and may pull the trigger on it soon.

73,
John

John/KE8GAH said...

My first HF rig was a Xiegu G90. And I enjoy it. Though I was rushing at the time to throw my station together. Broke college guy, and the start of the pandemic it's what I could afford at the time.

However, I don't know if I want to buy another Xiegu rig.Quirks like the small screen, and the weirdness getting software to work with it is another point of nuisance. As well the menus are convoluted to navigate. Yes I can get digital software working when I call it another radio. But it's not optimal.

On screen size While there is the GSOC and a stand. But at that point I might as well buy a new rig. The screen alone is another $400. Yes its a bigger display. But I'd prefer it ships with that kind of display. Rather than saying it's becoming a thing for years. Just sell both as a kit for $800.

I operate indoors with a mag loop antenna so I don't care about a tuner. I've never used it. But when considering a radio I have to assume the worst conditions because I'm not exactly operating with optimal conditions. With the X6100 it looks really nice, but the reported issues with the frontend is very off putting to me. I primarily operate weak signal digital modes rather than SSB phone. With already in sub-optimal conditions, I need every advantage I can get from my radio's signal processing. A weak front end that can be overloaded easily is a deal breaker for me. I hope it gets fixed. But I need things to work when I open the box, not purchase on the hope that things are going to get fixed. Improvements over time with new firmware updates is great! But it shouldn't ship with glaring issues. Product should ship fully ironed out. Then updates improve and enhance the experience. Not fix it because you shipped a broken radio. Reliability is an absolute must for me.

I need to know my radio can work well in both the worst and best conditions. Because more likely than not I'm operating in the worst conditions.

I would like to replace the G90 as my primary rig. So have been looking around. Did see the X6100 and it looked really cool. But seeing all the comments about frontend overloading...I think I want to look elsewhere.


Thanks for making this post!

73,
John/KE8GAH

John/KE8GAH said...

Another issue I have with Xiegu, its not that they aren't legit. Just its very difficult to find any information about them, except for their products. When you search "Xiegu" the only thing I see is sites to purchase their radios. The front facing website doesn't appear to be up anymore. It really feels like they've just outsourced PR to their distributors, and the support to the community. While the company itself is just in the background. New firmware is usually downloaded from Radiooddity rather than their own site itself. I get it they're a small company. But it doesn't exactly make me confidant in their long term support ability. Rather feels more like, get a radio out as fast and as cheap as possible then move to the next one. I want to like them and see them do well. The idea of making high quality low cost HF radios is a very good proposition, especially for new operators. However, I would like to see more directly from the company. All big and small brands have public sites parading the fact their radios are the best, and you want this radio. Xiegu rigs the only place to find information is the distributors websites.They seem almost faceless to me. Just something else I wanted to mention that I thought of.

73,
John/KE8GAH

Dave New said...

It's funny, I just ran across someone posting on the QRP Labs groups.io list about WeFAX reception using the QDX transceiver, which is a small kit about the size of a deck of cards. What was interesting was that he said that WeFAX reception on the little $65 or so kit was heads above his G90, which he said was very noisy, etc. The QDX boasts a very high dynamic range receiver. I've just finished building a Rev 2 version of the kit, and will be putting it on the air on digital modes in the next few days.

I find it interesting that Hans seems to be able to put out very high quality kits, and companies like Xiegu keep pushing their junk for many times the price. If Hans EVER manages to release his QSX, it will eat all those other guys' lunch.

John AE5X said...

I saw that posting, Dave - he got pretty good results! I'll have to try that myself so I'm glad he posted the frequency (12.7841 MHz).

John/KE8GAH said...

As an update my G90 has since broke. No transmit power anymore. I absolutely will not buy another radio from Xiegu. Expensive lesson to learn.