After a nearly 2 month wait, my rig came in recently. The good news is that they are coming through with the current firmware and manual. The manual is "OK" but lacks an index making things hard to find, and does not include all the menu items. Fortunately, after you get comfortable with the logic, it is easy to figure them out. The computer programming software is available so far only in Japanese, but they claim the English version will be available Real Soon Now. For normal operations, the RX and TX audio are excellent, and the wideband receive is useful, or at least fun. As with most HTs, the stock antenna could stand to be replaced, and has been. Packet works well, and the VOX simplifies interfacing.
On the downside, the receivers are both less sensitive than they should be. In comparison with an ancient Icom HT with exactly the same specs, using the same antenna and location, marginal repeaters which are close to full quieting on the Icom are noisy and largely unreadable on the Alinco. More importantly for satellite use, the sub band which you must use for RX is significantly noisier. I use an ARR preamp. With it on, pointing to clear sky with an Elk antenna, I get 2-3 S-units of noise on the main RX. Using the sub RX, it is full scale, and actual readability is poor in comparison with the main RX. This is independent of whether the wideband RX function is on or off. Attenuators off of course. ;)
I have had the impression that some of the old AMSAT hands at portable operation have been less than impressed, and so far that has been my experience. It will be interesting so see if there are any helpful firmware updates. While a disappointment so far for satellite use, I do expect to use this as my main HT for normal operations once the English programming software becomes available.
Anybody have an experiences to share, hopefully positive?