My wife mentioned that I've started to amass quite a few radios. That's her way of saying, "you've got too many (darn) radios - get rid of some."
She's right. I've kept every radio, with the exception of one (a beautiful and powerful Kenwood TS-900 - why, oh why did I sell it?) that I've bought. All told, I now have 1 standalone receiver, 2 standalone transmitters, and 5 transceivers.
But I think I've finally found the radio that I've been looking for. A couple of weeks ago I ran across a really nice Elecraft K2 for sale. It already had most of the options that I'd chose, including the 100 watt amplifier. The only extras that I want are the 100 watt antenna tuner, which can come later, and either the audio filter or the DSP module. The condition appeared to be immaculate and after receiving it, I couldn't find a scratch or even a fingerprint on it. After opening it up, I am very pleased with the build quality. I feel really fortunate to have found one in such great shape.
Yes, I would love to have a K3, but considering I bought a Yaesu FT-857D back in February of this year, I've blown my budget. I bought that little radio to take with me whenever I'm out of town since my job requires a fair amount of travel. In fact, as I write this, I have it here with me right now. Unfortunately I left the power connector laying in the floor at home... Oh well, there's always next time. That boneheaded mistake prompted me to buy a second one to always carry with me.
Back to the K2. I've not had an abundance of airtime with it yet, but there's a few things that struck me right off the bat. It's quiet! And I don't mean that the fan doesn't kick on much, unlike the Yaesu, which jumps into motion every time I send a single dit. I'm talking about the receiver. The signals (I'm a CW guy) literally jump out of nowhere. For comparison, my Kenwood TS-940SAT is a decent rig, but after listening for close to an hour I'm nearly worn out from listening to what I'll call background noise or band noise. The Yaesu is much the same way, even with DSP.
With the K2, there's none of this. I can keep the volume much lower than I would with the 940 and still copy signals easily because I'm not hearing the rush of noise or static. It has a very pleasant sound to it. I did discover one drawback, however. For times where you do need to crank the volume up (like when your wife decides to run the vacuum cleaner as TX5C answers) there's not much oomph there. I read some comments addressing this and some fellows were saying that behavior is by intent, in order to keep the power consumption low. I like to plug in an old Heathkit speaker, which seems to help and is an improvement over the built-in speaker. I may see what else I can find about this. Using headphones is another option, of course, and I mainly do wear headphones when I'm concentrating.
Another thing is the built-in keyer. I really like having the keying speed adjustable on the front panel, and I also like how the display shows the speed and then quickly returns to the frequency readout. But I'm not crazy about the keyer's performance itself. I had to make some weighting adjustments to become more comfortable with it. I'm still getting used to it. Maybe soon it'll be second nature?
As far as I'm concerned, all the important features and adjustments that you use while operating are readily available on the front panel. This is in contrast to the little Yaesu, where digging through menu options is commonplace. But the fact is, there's only a few items that I normally adjust while operating, I've become used to the Yaesu and the menus don't seem to bother me like they do other folks. Plus, if you connect it to Ham Radio Deluxe, many of the menu options are available for the Yaesu there, as they are for the K2.
There's probably more information about the K2 available on the web than there is for any other radio. I like that. By contrast, I had a real booger of a time trying to find information for the Yaesu whenever I wanted to interface it to N1MM logger, even after joining the Yahoo group.
I thought that I'd dislike having the LED readout for the S-meter and power instead of an analog meter or even an LCD representation of a meter. I'd prefer an analog meter, but it isn't as bad as I thought it'd be. I do miss a nice meter, however. I bought the LDG analog meter for the Yaesu and that is one really nice add-in. I wish there was something similar for the K2.
Thus far I've mainly used the radio at 90-100 watts output. But I did 'restore' the QRP mode one evening and used about 8 or 9 watts to make several contacts. That might open up a whole new interest for me - QRP.
I know there's oodles of sites with pictures of K2's, but I'll see if I can't get some uploaded soon anyway.