They might try and deny it but its a reality thats going to happen. The K3 is already a SDR so they have the skill set to build a direct sampling/DUC transceiver.
Closing off the possibility when in the long run this is the way forward into future seems silly. Who knows what next year is going to deliver. It may well be possible next year to build incredible low
phase noise synthesizers and SDR receivers that kill the performance of the K3. Look at the funcube dongle, a 200 dollar SDR receiver. Saying that its going to be impossible to
build a direct sampling transceiver that cant outperform a K3 is arrogance at its best and I am sure it will be words that the folks at Elecraft will be forced to eat.
Besides who cares if its Elecraft? If you noticed how the direct sampling market has developed, you noticed that its mostly non ham companies doing the innovation. The current ham companies are tired and seem to lack innovation.
They also cant seem to see the potential that this technology can bring to the ham radio service. Its then no surprise to see the traditional ham radio companies and this includes Elecraft being so closed minded about what is after all in all our futures. The dynamic range limit of SDR designs will be broken its only a matter of when. If you look how SDR receivers are performing at the moment why would anyone want such old hat technology? Besides there is a silly game being played about receiver numbers, numbers that we dont need and cant possibly realize. Hams are being played for suckers when it comes to the receiver numbers game. I prefer a clean transmitter, good ergonomics and a good sounding receiver with low inband IMD than a radio with high numbers that cant be used for anything but bragging rights.
What we need more of is SDR technology to deliver things like better noise blankers, beam steering/forming and direction finding. These adaptive DSP methods will open new worlds for us in antenna technology, propagation and antenna designs. We all need DUC technology with things like pre-distortion to clean up transmitters so we can use the receivers we have now with incredible dynamic range numbers, numbers we cant use because other hams transmitters are so dirty.
Besides the only way Elecraft can compete with a radio like the TS990S is too produce a direct competitor using SDR/DUC technology. They cant beat the might of JVC Kenwood in producing a radio like the TS990S which surely
is affecting their sales.If Elecraft produced a radio like the TS990S it would cost double the cost of what the Kenwood sold for today. A direct sampling/DUC K4 could do all of what the TS990S will do and much more for far less money.
If Elecraft did not want to produce a direct sampling K4, they would silly if they did not build an improved K3 thats an all in one box. The K3/P3 with a 200 watt clean MOSFET amp with a big front panel would be a top selling radio.
This would fix up the K3's lack of appeal for many other operators. Most operators that use my pair of K3's always say "nice but too small" They all want a big radio with big knob, a real hams radio.. Most of them have ordered the TS990S which is no surprise because it offers what most hams want. The minor advantage of receiver numbers in favor of the K3 is really inconsequential in the real world. So yes a all in one K3/P3 with a big box might be Elecrafts next release rather than a direct sampling K4. But who cares, some other ham manufacturer will probably deliver a direct sampling /duc radio fairly shortly. If I had to take a bet I would say that manufacturer would be Icom. A direct sampling transceiver from Icom will deliver enough performance margin over its current product range and deliver real world performance that is equivalent with the K3.
Its disappointing that elecraft has shut the door on such a radio. Maybe Elecraft should negotiate and buy the ADAT transceiver rights and manufacture the ADAT radio with a 100 watt or 200 watt PA. I am sure that would be popular as
well. ADAT seems to be a company thats not interested in broadening its marketing program. This is a shame because it would quickly convince a greater part of the amateur community to the advantages of direct sampling technology. Radio like the Flex6000 are overly expensive and dont meet the needs of hams who want a box with knobs. If Flexradio produced a Flex6000 in a box with a front panel it would be the most popular ham company on the planet. Unfortunately just like Elecraft is a company that has a QRP/portable/small radio image and Flexradio a computer radio image they will always remain niche market players rather than main stream ham radio manufacturers. They will always remain so rightly or wrongly because they fail to understand that the majority of ham radio operators are emotionally wedded to a big box sitting on their desks with knobs. Just as computer driven test instruments have failed to attract engineers so too will ham radio companies fail if they persist trying to force hams down the path of forcing one to use a PC to enable you to use a ham transceiver. The PC should always be a useful accessory not the main interface to the box. I dont think I will be eating my words anytime soon, its just the ham radio market is and will always be.