Years ago in my late teens I had an old valve shortwave receiver and was fascinated by all the sounds and distant stations it picked up. I had a length of wire stuffed into the antenna socket and ran it around my bedroom. Later on I bought a card for my Commodore 64 computer that decoded data transmissions (I think it did CW, RTTY and SSTV). Then I discovered the "number stations" and imagined spies in distant countries scribbling down the codes as I listened in! Over the years I somehow lost interest and the old valve receiver died.
Now 20 years on I have renewed interest in SWL and would like to get a decent modern receiver, and plan to install some kind of long wire antenna in the attic of my top floor apartment (restrictions mean I'm not allowed to put up anything externally). I'm looking for advice on the pro's & con's of software driven receivers versus the traditional design. I spend a good deal of time on computers in my day job and at home doing web design, so it seems logical to go for something software driven. Also I'm assuming it will be more straightforward to decode data transmissions, with no additional hardware required?
On the other hand the traditional design receivers are more tactile to operate, eg. tuning seems more intuative when your hand is turning a real dial. Are the software driven systems just as good in terms of design/performance, or are compromises made? The one I'm considering is the Icom IC-PCR2500 - http://www.icomuk.co.uk/categoryRender.asp?categoryID=3510&cCID=6113
. Any advice gratefully received.