I have owned my TS-450S/AT for about six months and thoroughly enjoy it. It has the SSB and CW filter options. The ATU tunes very fast and has a pretty good range although it doesn't tune anything that is 4:1 or higher. Audio is clear and clean and CW operation is really a pleasure.
This is a "keeper" class of radio, excellent as a back-up rig or spare. No menus to deal with and get lost, pleasant display. If you find a nice one for sale, it's well worth having. It is a cut above the great TS-440 which is still in demand.
I bought my IC-725 from HRO in San Diego, early in 1992. After several older radios, it was my first "new" purchase in years. I was immediately impressed with the ease of operation, straight forward layout with no hidden controls under a door or on top of the radio. It was reluctantly sold to a ham friend four years ago when I needed cash to pay unexpected medical bills. He is still using it as his primary HF rig today.
The addition of the CW filter greatly enhanced CW operating and would eliminate most interference. Just about any keyer would do well with the rig.
Receive sensitivity and selectivity was excellent for a radio in this range. I also received great audio reports when using it on SSB and especially with the SM-6 desk mic. It was easy to operate, interfaced nicely with the LDG antenna tuners and performed fine on digital modes.
My only negative experience was after six years the PLL became unstable which was somewhat common for the early production runs as the PLL circuits were not 'baked-in' before calibration and would simply lose lock after a few years of operation. Simply recalibrating the radio made it as good as new once again. Replacing the dial lights with LED's is also a great improvement.
I would strongly recommend this radio to any new ham especially because they can be bought now for $250.00 to $350.00 USD on the used market. They also make a great field day and portable HF station for emergency use. If you find one in nice shape, it will make a worthwhile investment.
As the first review posted on the IC-718, let me say that a review based on a comparison with more expensive radios is a poor review. One must evaluate the radio on it's OWN merits for what it is designed for and not what it doesn't have or doesn't do compared to higher end rigs. Obviously, more expensive radios with far more features can DO more and you get what you pay for. But, that is not a fair review.
I have owned two IC-718's over the years and enjoyed both of them. The first one was bought new from HRO and was given a workout over three years operating CW, SSB and PSK31. This is my first recommendation to a new ham breaking into HF or for someone on a limited budget looking for a solid rig to use.
In particular, I was impressed with the receiver sensitivity which was comparable to many of the far more expensive radios and I found it very stable which suited it well for digital operating.
The radio is laid out very well and is easily operated by new and experienced operators. It is especially well used for portable and emergency work as it is compact and rugged.
This would be my choice as recommended for a new ham getting into HF operating. It does everything it is designed to do and will satisfy most needs. If I were to mention any negatives, it would be the volume control that gives off a 'pop' when turned up from the fully counterclockwise position as a minor design deficiency. What I did find really enhanced operating was to find a good volume setting and vary the RF gain downward which reduced the background noise considerably with very little reduction in signal level. A little practice doing that really make this a nice radio to use.
I bought this rig after deciding I wanted a change after being an Icom owner for many years. I was not disappointed. The features it has including the ATU, built-in keyer, two antenna capability and variable bandwidth filtering along with dual VFO's and well laid-out menu system had me sold.
I have used the radio mostly on CW which is my preference and it has performed well above my expectations. It also performs well on SSB and I find it very stable and reliable. The extra features seem to be those most desired and Kenwood has filled that need very well. I will be very interested to see the new version due out in 2010.
If you have an opportunity to buy one that has not been abused, you will certainly be happy with it's performance. This is definite a keeper and I hope to have many years of good service from it.