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Which Transmitter You Should Buy...


Site Moderator
Which transmitter should I buy?
That is a question often asked and understandably so. This hobby has historically been cost prohibitive for many and the transmitters alone are a large part of the investment.​

With that, some forum members have assembled the more recommended transmitters available to aid in making that decision. By all means if there are any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. This thread is meant to provide information but not to discourage questions. And please don't feel pressured by the mere title of this thread. These are only suggestions/recommendations. In the end it's your money/your call. Whatever you decide, you will find support here to make the best of your decision.

Below is the transmitter index. It shows transmitter systems that have been covered in this thread and in which post they can be found. It is not meant to be an all inclusive list nor cover every aspect of the radios discussed but rather to outline those same radios we recommend so often and why. Again, if there is a concern or question please do ask.

Transmitter Index
Spektrum---Post #2
Jumper-----Post #3
FrSky------Post #4

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New member

Spektrum is a part of Horizon Hobby based out of Champaign Illinois who also produces several other lines of products that are usually compatible with each other.

Available Tx Models (Prices shown are from company website and do not reflect special offers potentially available)
Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 12.11.29 AM.png

  • [*=1]6 to 9 channels (based on programmed configuration)
    [*=1]Programmable (through mobile device and cable)

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 12.17.35 AM.png

  • [*=1]6 channels
    [*=1]250 model memory
    [*=1]Model Airplane News Editor's Choice 2017

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 12.43.06 AM.png

  • [*=1]6 channels
    [*=1]250 model memory
    [*=1]Antenna diversity
    [*=1]Programmable voice alerts
    [*=1]Airplane, helicopter, & sailplane programming
    [*=1]Wireless trainer link

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 12.43.50 AM.png

  • [*=1]8 channels
    [*=1]250 model memory
    [*=1]Antenna diversity
    [*=1]Programmable voice alerts
    [*=1]Airplane, helicopter, & sailplane programming
    [*=1]Wireless trainer link
    [*=1]2000mAh Li-Ion battery


  • [*=1]20 channels
    [*=1]250 model memory
    [*=1]Antenna diversity
    [*=1]Programmable voice alerts
    [*=1]Airplane, helicopter, & sailplane programming
    [*=1]Wireless trainer link
    [*=1]4000mAh Li-Ion battery
    [*=1]AR9020 9 channel Rx included

Spektrum Technology

  • The main back bone behind spektrum air radios is DSMX. This technology is based off of the DSM2 2.4GHz frequency.
  • Your transmitter when turned on scans the sky for two frequencies that are free. Once found these two frequencies are used to control your model.
Note: DSM2 reciever is compatable with a DSMX transmitter, however a DSM2 transmitter will not work with a DSMX reciever.​

  • AS3x is an available option/ upgrade to any spektrum system. This technology is solely embedded in the receiver. Essentially this is a gyro enabled receiver. AS3x basically counters any wind and propeller effect. So rather than you having to use stick input to correct a gusty wind the AS3x will do this for you.
SAFE technology

  • This is used in conjuction with AS3x. This allows three flight modes, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Based on what mod you fly in you are only given 30 degrees, 60 degrees, 360 degrees respectfully of control for the pitch and roll. You also can program a recovery button so that no matter what orientation you are in in will automatically level your plane.

Wireless Trainer Link

  • [*=1]Wirelessly ''buddy box'' with another DSM2®/DSMX® transmitter when teaching someone to fly.
    [*=1]Assign gimbal functions to a 2nd ‘camera’ transmitter when flying a camera drone so you can focus on avoiding obstacles and maintaining visual contact while someone else lines up the shot.
Bind N Fly

  • [*=1]BNF aircraft can bind with DSMX transmitters thereby making it possible to use 1 transmitter with multiple models.
    [*=1]Common compatible BNF brands include E-flite, Blade, HobbyZone, ParkZone, Hangar 9

Warranty - Warranty and service is provided by HorizonHobby.com
Programming - User interface and programming is perhaps the easiest to use if you understand all the terminology. If not youtube.com has just about every tutorial on how to program your transmitter.
SAFE technology - Perhaps the smartest thing for anyone wanting to learn how to fly.
Integration - Just about every flybarless unit for rc helicopters will accept a DSMX satellite as a means of a signal.

Price - Compared to FrSky these are expensive transmitters. However compared to JR and Futaba prices are right on par.

Author's Opinion
I highly recommend the DX 8 to anyone getting into the hobby. Here is why:
  • Most RC planes take 4 channels, however if the aileron requires you to have separate channels and you have separate channels for flaps. You are now at 7 channels. Add some landing gear and now you require 8 channels. While a DX6 will get you up and flying, it does not give you a ton of expandability or growth options. However if you want to stick with flite test and simple plans DX6 will keep you in the air all day long.

  • If you plan on getting into RC helicopters eventually at a minimum you want 7 channels.

  • For quads I have found 7 channels works best as well.
I recommend the spektrum lineup to anyone for 2 reasons
  1. Reliable - I personally have never had a problem
  2. Warranty - warranty support from horizonhobby.com is superb.
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AMA 51668
Jumper T8SG

After having and using a gaggle of radios from Spektrum to Tactic to FrSky, I'll still continue to recommend the Jumper T8SG as a radio for both newbie and seasoned pilot alike. It's smaller and lighter than almost all full function brand boxes, some might consider too small and light (not me). The sticks work quite smoothly, too soon to tell their overall durability. There was an issue with the earlier versions that required the box to be opened to access the USB port in order to update the firmware, but that was been corrected awhile ago and USB access is easy via the tx's bottom hatch. The Jumper can be had in modes 1 or 2. The Pro's ...

  • The Jumper can handle just about all tx/rx protocols, good for toy rotors to the larger aircraft.
  • It has built-in model templates.
  • It's firmware (Deviation) is open-source to allow updates for protocols & features.
  • It's computer navigation is about as intuitive as they come, for easy newbie use.
  • Onboard advanced features included (telemetry, voice).
  • It's CHEAP, costing under $80/shipped in the USA
What might be considered its only "con" is that it doesn't come with a battery and will require a 2s lipo that measures no larger than 90x30x15 mm. One the best batts for the Jumper is the MJX Bugs RC Quadcopter 7.4V 2S 25C 1800mAh. That's a chunk of tx horsepower that will power that puppy for a very very long time (hours). However, ANY 2s lipo that will fit in its battery compartment will do just fine. There are more than a few YouTube instructional vids on the Jumper, too - and growing.

FT Hyperion 2s 850mah lipo - $9

IMHO, this little giant killer radio has revolutionized r/c radios. It sets a standard that all other radios will need to get up to speed on, in terms of functionality, build - and price.

The techie stuff that most newbies can just bypass (for now!) ...

TX: Jumper T8SG
Storage: 25VF016B (2MB)
4IN1 RF mulit-protocol chip: JP-4MP(CC2500, NRF24L01, A7105, CYRF6936)
Transmission power: adjustable 0-150mw
Display screen: 128*64, 1.7 inch LCD
Channels: 10 (up to 12 depending software)
Prompt mode: sound and vibration
Power supply: 2S Lipo (90*30*15)
Dimension: 188*151*86mm
Weight: 338g (not include battery)

Cyprus Semiconductor CYRF6936: DSM/DSMX, Walkera Devo
Texas Instruments CC2500: FrSky, Futaba SFHSS
Amiccom A7105: FlySky, FlySky AFHDS2A, Hubsan
Nordic Semiconductor NRF24L01: HiSky, Syma, ASSAN, Tactic/SLT, and most other Chinese models

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Pollen is coming
I'm rather a fan of not duplicating good effort, and with the OpenTX / FrSky stuff, I feel like there's already a wealth of information at the following two sites:

OpenTX software site:

OpentTX University (not affiliated with the devs, but a great site with collections of end user contributed tutorials, etc):

The OpenTX software site even has a comprehensive list of compatible hardware (which include non-FrSky products): http://www.open-tx.org/radios
About FrSKY
FrSKY (free sky)
was founded in 2010 and has more than 40 patents. Based in China they have dealers all around the word.
Authorized Dealers
Premier Dealers are located in China, Belgium, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and USA.
Note: Only their premier dealers provide after sales service, support, replacement and warranty.

Available Transmitter Models
2018 January 16 - Prices in USD, Aloft Hobbies, plus shipping.
Suggest shopping around with premier dealers to get the best deal for your circumstances.

Features Common To All FrSKY Transmitters
  • Up to 60 models (more on SD Card)
  • Receiver/model match
  • Audio announcements (SD Card required)
  • Programmable actions, curves, flight modes, audio announcements and alerts
  • Telemetry
  • New Model Wizard (SD Card required)
  • 3 Timers with throttle % option
  • 16 Channels
  • Up to 32 Channels using External JR Module Bay
  • Trainer port, 3.5mm stereo or mono headphone jack
    • Not present on the X-Lite
  • Wireless trainer between X7S, X12S, X10, X10S
  • Mini USB port for software updates, configurations, Joystick Emulation & SD Card access
  • Compatible with Spektrum, Futaba and all major brands using a module placed in the external module bay
  • DIY Upgradeable to Hall Effect Gimbals
  • ​Reasonably priced and easily available spare parts
  • ​Battery & Charger included except where noted
  • OpenTX on Taranis X7 series & Taranis X9 series
  • Horus X10 series and X12S firmware may be changed to OpenTX
Note: The X7 series requires you to open up the case to set the sticks to mode 1 or mode 2. If you are not comfortable doing this buy an X9D+ which comes preconfigured to mode 1 or mode 2 or ask your supplier if they will do the X7 mode 1 or mode 2 configuration for you.

Taranis X-Lite ($120)

1525891295935.png 1525891390116.png

  • OpenTX
  • Black & White LCD 128 x 64
  • 4 Switches – 2 x 3-position, 2 x 2-position
  • No Knobs
  • 2 Sliders
  • Vibration alerts
  • No 3.5mm trainer jack
  • M12 Lite Hall Effect Gimbals
  • Soft case included
  • Two 18500 batteries & charger usually extra
  • FrSKY FreeLink App compatible
  • RAM 128K
  • Mode 1 & 2 configurable
  • Internal antenna and external antenna connector
Note: Mode 1 and 2 conversion adjustment can be made without opening the case.

Taranis Q X7 ($110) & X7S ($184)

  • OpenTX
  • Black & White LCD 128 x 64
  • 6 Switches - 4 x 3-position, 1 momentary, 1 x 2-position
  • 2 Knobs
  • No Sliders
  • S.Port Jack
  • Vibration alerts
  • Wireless trainer on the X7S
  • M7 Hall Effect Gimbals on the X7S
  • Soft case included on the X7S
  • Battery & Charger usually extra X7, included with the X7S
Note: Mode 1 and 2 conversion is made by opening the case. It comes with both gimbals centred by springs.

Taranis X9D+ ($189) & X9D+SE ($257)

  • OpenTX
  • Greyscale LCD 212 x 64 (nicer on the +)
  • 8 Switches - 6 x 3-position, 1 momentary, 1 x 2-position
  • 2 Knobs
  • 2 Sliders
  • Vibration alerts on the +
  • Only + available for new purchase
  • DIY M9 Hall Effect Gimbals on SE
  • Case included with SE

Taranis X9E ($315)

  • OpenTX
  • Tray version of the X9D+
  • Colour OLED top display
  • Greyscale LCD 212 x 64
  • 8 Switches - 6 x 3-position, 1 momentary, 1 x 2-position
  • 2 Knobs
  • 4 Sliders
  • Vibration alerts
  • M9 Hall Effect Gimbals upgrade available
  • Soft case included

Horus X10 ($369) & X10S ($430)
  • FrOS changeable to OpenTX
  • Colour outdoor TFT 480 x 272
  • 8 Switches - 6 x 3-position, 1 momentary, 1 x 2-position
  • 3 Knobs - 1 x 6-position, 2 smooth
  • 2 Sliders
  • 2 extra trims
  • Vibration alerts
  • Wireless trainer
  • 2 internal antennas
  • Internal Li-ion battery
  • Support FrSKY Free Link App (unavailable with OpenTX)
  • M10 Hall Effect Gimbals on the X10
  • MC12P Hall Effect Gimbals on the X10S

FrSKY X12S ($499)

  • FrOS changeable to OpenTX
  • Colour outdoor TFT 480 x 272
  • 8 Switches 6 x 3-position, 1 momentary, 1 x 2-position
  • 3 Knobs - 1 x 6-position, 2 smooth
  • 2 Sliders 2 rear, 2 front
  • 2 extra trims
  • GPS and 6 axis sensors
  • Haptic vibration
  • Wireless trainer
  • Hall Effect Gimbals
  • Hard case

Available Receiver Models ($10 to $35)
2018 January 16 - Prices in USD, Aloft Hobbies, plus shipping.
Suggest shopping around with premier dealers to get the best deal for your circumstances.

D Series

X Series

  • Failsafe
  • Smart Port (a hub-less sensors technology), S.Port/SPort
  • Receivers that feature telemetry can be connected to the X series sensors
  • Telemetry receivers feature built in receiver bus voltage and RSSI feedback
  • Bind in D16 mode
  • SBUS and CPPM outputs on most receivers, check receiver details
  • 6-8 PWM outputs but accessing up to 16 channels using SBUS
  • Source https://alofthobbies.com/radio/frsky-telemetry-system/x-series.html

S Series Receivers

  • A subset of X series receivers
  • Adds stabilization, auto level, recovery/oops, hover, knife edge

R Series Receivers/Redundancy Bus

  • A subset of X series & XM series receivers
  • Adds the ability to attach a second receiver vis SBUS for for redundancy
  • Use a Redundancy bus module to use two non R series receivers
  • Use one R series receiver with a non R series receiver

XM Series Receivers

  • Lightweight and tiny
  • Failsafe
  • No telemetry
  • SBUS​
  • RSSI out on CH16 for flight controller

Available Sensor Modules ($10 to $50)
2018 January 16 - Prices in USD, Aloft Hobbies, plus shipping.
Suggest shopping around with premier dealers to get the best deal for your circumstances.

  • Chain sensors together or use Y cables
  • Needs an S.PORT on the receiver (X series receivers)
  • Lipo voltage sensors
  • Varios
  • RPM with temperature
  • Current
  • Air speed
  • GPS

Target Audience (Opinion)
The Taranis series of transmitters come with OpenTX. The Horus series of transmitters come with FrSKY's own FrOS. Many people who purchase Horus transmitters change the firmware to OpenTX.

OpenTX is an open source and free software environment for Transmitters. It is used by thousands of hobbyists and developed by volunteers based on user feedback and requests.

OpenTX is meant for flyers who know a bit about RC but want advanced features available using a computerized transmitter. It is meant for users who are comfortable with computers, trying new things, willing to research how the system works and troubleshoot problems that may occur.

There are many OpenTX users in forums who are willing to help when needed!

One major advantage of OpenTX is the Companion PC Software which you can download and try before you decide to use OpenTX.

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AMA 51668
ok, good - its a newbie thing. excellent. most newbies aren't gonna understand 10% of the tx-speak, it'll be all gobble-dee-gook to them (who hasn't been there? not me!). then it will come down SOME of the points i listed above that they can understand from the get-go. the rest of the tx-speak would be a disservice to everyone.

if they have NO r/c aircraft, the overview qualities of the current crop of tx's should be explained, but based on what the newbie expects from their usage. OR, they may have a toy whatever with its toy tx, and wish to get more involved - this is where multi-protocols comes into play.

so, it's a matter of newbie needs/functionality, what radio can deliver those goods, with a minimum of schooling, at what cost, and perhaps have room to grow to other machines. select what applies and can be absorbed ...

  • intent of radio tx/rx usage
  • brand and model tx
  • single or multi-protocol?
  • protocol type(s)?
  • protocol updates available?
  • number of channels
  • number/types of availble switches, sliders, pots
  • build features (sticks, power, USB access, etc)
  • function features - trainer, telemetry, voice, etc.
  • build, durability and support
  • model templates?
  • ease of navigation and programming intuitiveness
  • availabiliy and cost


Skill Collector
One of the biggest factors in what radio a noob should start out with depends on how much they enjoy solving puzzles/tinkering with things vs. they just want it to work so they can fly and if it doesn't fly right away they get frustrated and move on.

A puzzle person isn't going to need as much local or online support compared to the person with a short attention span or low patience who just wants to go fly. The 'just go fly' person is likely to need more local in person support to get up and running, especially on a complex system. IMHO they should not get an OpenTX radio. I don't have enough experience with a Deviation based radio to know if a noob can be totally self-sufficient with it or not, but there are a growing number of online resources / videos / forum members who can help.

But at any budget level there are radios that cater to either of those personality types.

For us tinker/puzzle people, absolutely get a radio that's running open source software - either OpenTX or Deviation - and enjoy the expanded capabilities and how much the single radio can do over many years in the hobby. I think the hardware selection is entirely up to what feels right in the hands, or looks cool, or fits a budget if this is the direction chosen.

For the 'I just want to fly' and easily frustrated crowd, they need to buy a radio that someone nearby can help them with. Cause other than getting an RTF kit, there will always be setup questions. Usually I think people in this group are best served by a radio brand that has a large user base, and simpler interface, but again it's more important they have a local person who can lay hands on the transmitter and help solve problems. Again, there are radios in all budgets that fit this - from cheap Spektrum to expensive Hitech and Futaba.


AMA 51668
if yer a newbie to r/c, there are a number of things that can make the transition easier.

join a local club and take their advice on the radio to get, typically one that the club is familiar with and can assist in using.

not having that luxury will mean listing to the opinions of others and gambling a bit, hoping that youtube vids and forums can help ease the pain of trying to set up a model in a computer radio.

also consider protocols - most radios allow only one, or at best a few. what does that mean? if yer into RTF and BNF aircraft, yer new radio might not work well, if at all, with the model's rx.

in the best of all worlds, a tx that is at least reasonably intuitive for both understanding and programming is the most important. add in that it can do multi-protocols, have model templates, good sticks and overall feel, and be cost effective.

only radio that can do all of that right now is the jumper, for under $100/USD. with the current discount sale they're $73 shipped. no radio comes close to that, not even the taranis qx7 that i had, with the added irx4 multi-protocol module, where both cost more than the two jumper radios i now own, and the taranis is NOT for a newbie, maybe not even for a seasoned pilot.

keep in mind the audience we're talking about - newbies, not seasoned pilots that have very special aircraft requirements. for them, a jumper is out of the question. but for the other 90% or so of r/c enthusiasts, the jumper was made for them to get out and fly.
I think adding in ranges of costs fro receivers and sensors is important because FrSKY receivers and sensors are so much less money than Spektrum. If someone is going to make a decision based on costs then we would serve them better by giving them the complete financial picture.

Already see problems there are many DSMX DSM2 compatible receivers which are dirt cheap Lemon, Redcon, Orange Hyperion etc just to name a few..

Not trying to make this difficult just trying to keep to facts and availability of after market products.


Skill Collector
Agree there are cheap after mark products for DSM2 & ACCST (FrSky) - and those generics are plenty fine for DTFB park flyer type models. I even own quite a few of them (for both protocol families).

But I wouldn't trust them with models of significant size or cost. I'd hate to hurt someone smashing a 60" wingspan, 100 mph, or $400 model into them because the $5 receiver fried.

Do be aware there are cheap options out there.

Please choose to use them responsibly.
Maybe I should have said FrSKY branded receivers with Telemetry are cheaper that Spektrum Branded receivers with telemetry.

So yes, we can also make a comment that third party spektrum receivers are available but make sure we state their telemetry status. Trust is a matter of personal preference.
With regards to non FrSKY radios capable of running OpenTX.
I'm on the chat room set up by the developers and while technically a number of non FrSKY transmitters are supported in reality most of the developers now never had and no longer have the non FrSKY equipment. So when they do new releases there are things that sometimes break and come to light only after a user reports it and even then no guarantee it will get fixed soon.
Thanks. I hope so.

About the title, I know the title sounds more "forceful" (for lack of a better word) but I want to go with the wording similar to how the question is worded. It's to be more eye catching than requiring.

I will clarify that we are merely making suggestions and not actually directing them.
Can`t do the sign for thumbs up......... so here is a thumbs up.


Site Moderator
Ok I've trimmed a bunch. I plan on doing some more editing and reformatting this weekend but I'm very pleased with what we have already. It's much easier to trim this than bulk it up. I'm also pleased with the ones we have so far as they are certainly the most talked about in recent months. If someone "pops the question" I will be happy to share what we have already.

Nevertheless I would like to get in like the Turnigy systems or something more affordable so have a good range of choices that are already considered dependable.

And if there is anyone who'd like to add a system that is being overlooked or would like to jump on one of those listed but not yet covered, please speak up.



Skill Collector
I'm really excited about how this thread is coming together - thanks Jim and everyone else for working on this!

I just ran across a post over on the other forums related to using the Jumper with simulators. Since normally that radio's USB port is hidden inside the case and you need to pull the back off and/or drill a hole to get a cable into it, it's not conducive to doing a normal USB cable connection for simulators. But as reported over there....

For Freerider, I use the OrangeRX 'USB Wireless Dongle' (from Hobby King) and connect to it wirelessly with the T8SG set at 1mW in DSMX protocol. No pesky cables and no noticable (to me at least ;-) latency, it just works perfectly.
That dongle is about $15 over at Hobby King

Since spending some time on a simulator (free or otherwise) is something strongly recommended to noobs - especially for multi-rotoring - we should probably add a note in each of the radio posts about how to use them with sims.

Also, another radio brand we should probably address in here is FlySky - they are very cheap and basic and I know quite a few folks that have started with them (myself included on my 2.4 spread spektrum radio journey). In hindsight, I should have skipped it in favor of a more capable radio since I bought a new system within two months, but for people on very limited budgets it can still be a way to get into the sky.
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Site Moderator
Wow, nice tip. Thanks John.

Oh, and Spektrum just released a new radio, the iX12. At $600 I'm not sure if that would be one to include in the line-up. Interesting though.
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Building Fool-Flying Noob
Anyone doing an Radiolink AT10 - AT9.

It uses the FHSSS protocol boasting 3ms response time, 1.5 mi. range and 12 channels with $10-18 receivers. I love the AT-10 I selected at $110. Before the QX7 models came out, this was the only thing between the Tranis X9D ($250+) and barely-reviewed Jumper S8SG the low end 6ch Orange Box, HK-t6a, Frysky TS-i6's for $65. It inspired me to get crazy on my builds knowing I have channels to give to gear, flaps, camera switcher, bomb drops, Gimbel servos etc. + the standard 4. (EATR)

15 model memory
8 switches, 4-3way, 4-2way. 3 potentiameters

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Site Moderator
Anyone doing an Radiolink AT10 - AT9.

It uses the FHSSS protocol boasting 3ms response time, 1.5 mi. range and 12 channels with $10-18 receivers. I love the AT-10 I selected at $110. Before the QX7 models came out, this was the only thing between the Tranis X9D ($250+) and barely-reviewed Jumper S8SG the low end 6ch Orange Box, HK-t6a, Frysky TS-i6's for $65. It inspired me to get crazy on my builds knowing I have channels to give to gear, flaps, camera switcher, bomb drops, Gimbel servos etc. + the standard 4. (EATR)

15 model memory
8 switches, 4-3way, 4-2way. 3 potentiameters

No one has claimed this one except for you. Thank you for volunteering. Just follow the example of the Spektrum format in Post #2 with the pertinent information and I'll put it in the index. Looking forward to another option.
I believe the new IX12 should be part as it is the first transmitter that has had any thing like the Android app as part of the overall radio system. I would bet my bottom dollar that all Spektrum radios will have this platform down the road it will probably be the new Spektrum norm..


Site Moderator
Include the new iX12 for completeness.
The Dx20 at $1300 is listed as is the $600 Horus.
Part of me (the OCD part which should be CDO for alphabetic order) says go for the complete line-up, however the target audience of this thread is for the newcomer who is looking to get into the hobby. By going for completeness the thread just gets even more verbose when what I want to do is keep things simple. After all how many newcomers are looking to spend over a $1000 on a radio? Possible? Of course. Probable? I don't think so.

If I made $1000 the line in the sand then Horus stays, iX-12 enters, and DX20 is a no-go.

Also, I was planning on doing some HK and Turnigy radios but again the intent here is to be a handy reference even if not exhaustively complete. I'd much rather focus on the probable candidates which are the ones we find ourselves recommending several times a month.