As of 11/15/2000 I now own one of the first two FT-817 in the Arizona area. (My boss owns the second one.) Do to my work load it will be a few days before I can really shake it out. My first impression is 'WOW'. The packaging is clean, the audio is quite acceptable and the feature list is unbelievable.
If you have puggy fingers you might find the SEL knob a little too close to the BNC connector. This is really no big deal.
The manual appears to be well written. As I go into discovery mode I'll find out how good it really is. But so far I have found everything will no problem. (Now the VX-5R manual I found to be a real pain.)
When you look at the schematic and then look at the rig you will most likely say "yea right, no way!" The radio is packed beyond belief with discreet components. I assumed the unit would be packed with lots of large IC's .... nope. Just plenty of parts.
As of tonight I am pleased with my selection. Look for a review in the near future. I will give it a good try using PSK-31 also. Interfacing looks like a piece of cake. CW should be interesting also. The rig has a built in keyer and is very straight key friendly.
One last thing. The picture shows a front panel antenna. As I suspected it is for 50, 144, 432 and FM (music) use only. I did do a antenna menu switch on the low bands and it does recieve (sort of) but it is not for transmitting. No big deal. My LDG QRP tuner is the exact same size as the FT-817. I already made a cable from the ACC connector to the tuner. I'll next make a 4:1 balum and really test itout on 40 - 6 meters with a hunk of wire and see what 2.5 watts can do with this baby.
If you have any question email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I'll try to answer them.