Is Kenwood preparing to release a new HT? Signs seem to be getting stronger.
UPDATE: AES says the F6A has been discontinued. See below for more details.
The December 2015 issue of Spectrum Monitor had this to say:
“The word is that Kenwood will be introducing a new tri-band (144/220/440) portable that fits in somewhere between the TH-F6A and TH-72A. (TH-D62A or TH-D80A, perhaps?) One of the promises that have many excited about this radio is that it is supposed to support analog FM, APRS with internal GPS and (wait for it) D-STAR.”
Apparently the source on this was a post to the DSTAR Digital Yahoo group:
I talked to the Kenwood rep and AA4RC at the Stone Mountain GA hamfest TODAY. Also announced during the DSTAR Forum. Nothing on the internet as far as I know. It is a HT, a cross between the TH6 and TH72. It will do DSTAR, FM and APRS, has a GPS built in like the TH72. Tri band, 2m, 440 and 220. Kenwood should release more info around Thanksgiving. Comes out in March 2016.
Since then, there hasn’t been much more information about a new HT. There have been a few more “hints”, however.
The back cover of the January 2016 QST has the following Kenwood ad, which seems to be hinting at new stuff:
The last sentence of the copy reads:
“Constantly keeping up with technology, Kenwood strives to be innovators to ensure ongoing customer satistfaction. You speak, they listen…”
One could easily read between the lines of the ad as “We are refreshing our radios” - they’ve done this with the TS-990 release, and the update/refresh of the TS-590SG. It’s becoming more and more common for HT’s to have some sort of digital AND APRS capability, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Kenwood followed suit.
The F6a came out around 2000/2001 (I think I purchased mine in 2003), and so a 16 year refresh cycle on an HT is probably more than overdue.
To make things more interesting, there’s now a $30 manufacturer discount on the venerable TH-F6a HT. AES says, “Coupon until product is gone”, which seems to imply they aren’t expecting to get any more in stock.
I’d personally like it to be either DMR or System Fusion, but it appears that Kenwood has had a relationship with Icom, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the HT does end up being D-STAR compatible. Whatever digital technolgy they end up choosing (if they even do), it will be interesting.
I received an email from AES confirming that the F6A has been discontinued, but Kenwood hasn’t officially announced its replacement.