As an Elecraft user, I wasn't going to post about this, but the big news recently came out. All QRPers and Yaesu fans finally got the announcement they were waiting for. Yaesu made the public at large aware of their plan to replace the venerable FT-817 and introduced the new FT-818.
I don't think that Yaesu got the reaction that they were looking for. Instead of excited anticipation, the reaction that I've seen from bloggers and on the e-mail lists that I've read was not so much "Wow!" or "Yay!", but more like "Why bother?" or "Huh?".
The big improvements seem to be:
1) An increase in mean power output - from 5 Watts to 6 Watts
2) An improvement in the battery.
3) The TXCO, which was an option before, is now standard equipment.
I think, by and large, Yaesu fans were looking for an overhaul. They were anticipating something different than what is being offered as an improvement.
Now don't get me wrong - the FT-817 has been a very fine piece of Amateur Radio equipment. It has a large fan base and a loyal customer base. It is a top notch performer and there are a lot of very satisfied users. My personal belief is that since the FT-817 has been on the market for so many years now, that the FT-818 was envisioned as to be something radically new, not just a "minor" upgrade.
But when you look at it, QRP is still a niche market. I don't know how the FT-817 fit into the yearly sales earnings of the Yaesu brand. I would tend to think that if it accounted for a significant amount of their income, then they would have paid more attention to introducing something totally different.
When in doubt, always "follow the money."
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!