KA7NIQ, great questions. Any purchase should be made based upon facts and not rumor/speculation/here-say.
I don't know why Mike does not participate in these discussions. I don't know if he does email (maybe does not have the time, since he's building these things himself). I do know that he goes to some of the trade shows (or did as recently as 2010). The other comment about market share may be valid as well. And perhaps he has all the business he can handle. These are all just speculations.
He does provide a "defense" of his design in general terms http://hexbeam.com/ttechdesk.shtml
Performance specs are here: http://hexbeam.com/performance.shtml
I guess I can best answer why I purchased Traffie is by giving a comparison of why I would buy one particular type of car over another. It comes down to personal preference.
I cannot comment on K4KIO, DX Engineering, or any of the other hex beams from personal hands-on experience...I have only owned Traffie. I do know that G3TXQ knows what he is talking about...he and I have corresponded many times over the years and have shared technical notes, EZ NEC files, etc. His website is simply awesome.
I like Traffie's customer service. He helped convince me to buy the lightweight 20 meter version, especially when I was hesitant. His assistance was limitless, it seemed, and he never pushed me. Even when I had my doubts after putting the thing together (I was in CCR neighborhood), he asked me to just give it a try. If somebody saw it and complained, Mike said he would refund my purchase without any questions. I figured I could not say no to this offer. And I put up the 20 meter lightweight version with the 32 foot mast he supplied, and I was hooked. That was July 2006 (no other suppliers at that time, as I recall). (I also had the 6 meter version mounted above the 20 meter, and did some weak signal meteor scatter work with it.)
I have since spoken with Mike many times over the years; he is a gentleman and always goes the extra mile for customer service. He and his wife Kathy and their son run the operation as a family business. Mike has been so helpful with guidance, especially after I moved three years ago to my new QTH. (I have heard that the other suppliers are also excellent, and I can say DX Engineering overall is simply superb to deal with).
In terms of quality - when I relocated in 2009, I made the plunge and bought the 5 bander from Traffie...and it is small, lightweight, and SERIOUSLY RUGGED. The lightweight 20 meter never had an issue except when a branch became entangled with it during a hurricane. But it survived, as I did some emergency surgery to it with Mike's guidance over the phone. Now the 5 bander, suspended between two oak trees at 40 feet and painted black and basically invisible, has fallen and hit a fence...become entangled between two pines in an earlier installation here...been snared in a low sweetgum when raising it in its first location here...struck with large falling branches during windstorms and especially the late June 2012 derecho...covered in snow and ice...it has ALWAYS worked flawlessly.
So it is about personal preference, brand loyalty, and confidence/certainty in the satisfaction with purchase. (Plus it's a family run business, which I like).
I can give a similar example (although not exactly apples to apples, it proves the point). When buying an HF amplifier, I chose the Tokyo High Power 1.2 kFx with 750 watts, at $2500. Why not just get the Ameritron 811 for $800? I wanted a no-tune amp. Why not get the Ameritron solid state device for $1300? Because I wanted to KNOW that my purchase would satisfy me, without any doubts. And the THP amp has done that in spades. (Not saying K4KIO or DX Engineering = Ameritron here, just showing my thought process.)
I hope I have answered your excellent post/question about why I bought Traffie, although I fear I have expanded outside of the original question. I realize that my purchase as described above was not based upon pure performance data. If we look at a decibels of gain per dollar spent, that metric would go to one of the less expensive models. For me there are other intangible elements involved.
KC2NYU, the 12 and 17 meter segments of the MA5B are single elements, like a rotating dipole. These will not have the same performance as the other bands. That (and the size) are what steered me away from the MA5B.
The arms of the Traffie are fiberglass...painted over with black or camo they are pretty much invisible except against the clear sky. There is one side that you point for maximum directivity....take a look at Mike Traffie's website http://www.hexbeam.com/
Thanks for the long, and well written reply!
Mike just may not have the time to participate on the Internet, since as you say, he is building these himself.
I have went and read every review of the Traffie Hex Beam on EHam, and customers seem very happy with them.
And, people also seem happy with the G3TXQ redesign, sold by K4KIO, and others.
In the final analysis, the marketplace will decide which Hex Beam gets sold, and to who.
The lower priced KIO Hex Beams have been for sale quite some time, and yet Traffie still seems to sell their more expensive product.
It would appear that there is room in the marketplace for BOTH designs, since both Traffie and KIO seem to be doing very well, based on all the reviews.
That Tokyo High Power amp is the cat's meow! I was looking at the Italian no tune, solid state Kilowatt amps! I can't afford one, but maybe someday ?