TenTec Argonaut VI vs. Elecraft KX3

Back in July I wrote about TenTec and how I think they are losing their innovation an appeal.

Well I guess their latest product, the Argonaut VI confirms my opinion. The new Argonaut was recently listed on TenTec's website and now available. The price is a whopping $995. One hundred more than my worst guess.

Here are the problems. The radio is not a complete HF radio. Second, the price is very high for what you get. Three, the radio is not competitive.

The Argonaut VI is missing the 12 meter band! It also is missing the 6 meter band. How can a company be taken seriously is you leave off one of the HF bands? It cannot.

I will tell you my suspicions. I'll bet that TecTec originally planned on making this radio 80 through 10 meters. But when QRP folks heard about this, they raised a stink for the 160 meter band to be included. Since they were so far along with the design, they had to give up something so they sacrificed the 12 meter band for the 160 meter band. In my mind, it's a crippled radio and not complete with an almost $1,000 price tag to boot.

Frankly, the radio should have been designed from the beginning to have 160 through 6 meters. The decisions on this radio were poor from the start.

Now let's look at the Elecraft KX3. Assembled the radio retails for $999.00, just $4 more than the new Argonaut VI. Unassembled it sells for $899.

The KX3 comes with 160 through 6 meters. So it is complete. The KX3 also does RTTY and PSK31 which are not features of the Argonaut VI.

Elecraft has also noted that it is supposed to be introducing a 2 Meter module for the KX3. You can also get an optional internal auto-tuner and use a battery pack to go truly mobile. None of these are possibilities with the Argonaut VI.

When I brought up the lack of 12 meters and 6 meters on the Argonaut VI radio to the TenTec folks at Dayton, the response was that there was not enough room. When I asked how it is that Elecraft can build a radio that is smaller and with more features than the TenTec Argonaut VI, they answer was a rather rude, "I don't know, you'll have to ask them."

Really? TenTec wants me to go to a competitor and ask them how they can make a superior, more full featured radio than TenTec and at a better price. I can only guess the answer. It would be something like, "we have superior engineering" or " we build better products" or "we create better designs."

In full disclosure I am or was a TenTec fan and promoter. I have owned a number of TenTec radios over the years and still have an Argonaut V which is very nice.

I do not own any Elecraft radios so I do not believe my opinions are biased. If anything, I would be biased towards TenTec. But with this recent debacle, I am less biased and very disappointed in TenTec's lack of innovation and progress with the new TenTec Argonaut VI. I say avoid it and wait another 5 years or so when they can maybe make a competitive product again at a competitive price.