Has anyone else noticed what’s on the back cover of the June QST? My copy just came yesterday and I didn’t even notice it until I got home and layed the magazine upside down by the door. Something unusual caught my eye–finally, the new TS-990S. I know this radio has been hyped for over a year now, but this is the first I’ve actually seen of it. The ad has a nice picture but is short on detail. I scoured the Kenwood USA website for at least five minutes and found no mention at all of this new model. So, I suppose the grand coming out party will be at Dayton, as has been predicted. I’m still surprised there’s not at least a pic or list of technical specs in their What’s New section, though.
It looks pretty attractive to me. The main screen looks similar to an IC-7600, but off-centered to the left. The second, smaller screen is centered over the main VFO knob and looks similar to the FTdx-5000. The button arrangement looks similar to the TS-590S, but there are more of them. Also, I like the large size of the knobs and the layout seems to be in a logical fashion. Even though I’ve never used it I believe I could probably get it on the air pretty quickly without a lot of staring at the instructions. More button/knobs should equal fewer menus, which is a good thing, I think.
As I said before, the list of features is pretty limited. And, of course, they’re all attractive to most of us. The 200W PA is nice for a radio it the high-end target group. Looks like it has a dedicated FSK mode for those who don’t care for AFSK through a soundcard and also PSK. This should allow a minimum of digital mode operation without a computer connected. I really doubt that any serious contester/dx’er that can afford this radio will be without a shack computer, though. The built-in power supply is also nice as a radio this large will probably not be taken portable very often. Might as well make it a complete unit that just plugs in the wall. The last item that really impresses me is the computer connectivity. I think Kenwood was one of the first to put a serial port on their radio making interfacing through a COM port much easier. This radio offers the standard COM port as well as USB A/B, and also a LAN port. It looks like this radio could be located anywhere and operated from anywhere in the world. Kudos for these modern touches–this is the 21st century! Ham radio is now in it’s second century of licensed operation and we need to stay abreast of (or at least current with) modern technology.
Well, next weekend is the Dayton Hamvention. I can’t wait! After seeing this ad I’ll definitely be checking out Kenwood’s booth. I hope they have it setup and running so people can evaluate the audio, filters, general operation…. No word, though, if it’s been evaluated and approved by FCC.