I called up my local HRO last night and found that they finally had the new Yaesu VX-8r in stock. Some of the features that intruiged me about this new radio is that it's sumbersable to 3 feet, has a built in TNC, APRS support, optional Bluetooth headset support, and optional GPS receiver that integrates with the APRS. The supported bands are 6m/2m/23cm/70cm. This morning I got up, drove over and after playing with it in the shop for a little while, decided to take it home with me! :w00t: I also purchased the handheld speaker/mic and the GPS receiver options. I really didn't want the handheld mic, but Yaesu hasn't released the GPS adapter for the radio yet; you have to get the hand mic if you want the GPS right now. I'm actually glad I got the mic...more about that later. Total bill for the whole package without tax came to $549.85. Ouch! Here is a picture of the new little HT: You can see that it fits pretty well in the hand. It's not too small to the point where the buttons are difficult, but not so large to be bulky. Here is a comparison in size to the popular Kenwood TH-F6a and the ultra small Yaesu VX-2r: Here is a picture of all three radios side by side for size comparison purposes: Even though the VX-8r is a little larger in height and width, you can see from this picture that it is more slender: My first impressions of the radio is that it is built really rugged! After handling it and assembling the necessary components, I can say without too much doubt that is is much more rugged than the THF-6a. Even small details like the screw holding in the earphone and charging rubber plugs is well thought out. On my THF-6a, this little cover was the first thing to rip off. Here is a picture of the SMA antenna connector. You can see that it has a thick rubber seal that mates with the rubber around the antenna. The lip of the seal extends up to help keep water out. Very nice. Here's the THF-6a connector for comparison. Its seal is inside the radio. Of course, Kenwood doesn't claim that the TH-F6a is waterproof, either: Here is the external mic connector with the waterproof cover popped open. When you attach the connector, the plug presses in, then scews on. This is similar to how commercial handheld radios are built. Maybe this is some of Motorola's influence starting to show? Regardless, it's a really good design Here's the volume knob. It's nice and big for easy adjustments. The volume knob placement is one of the things I didn't care for on the TH-F6a, and I like this design by Yaesu's. You can again see the design details even on this as it's held down by a fairly decent sized screw. On some HT's the knobs are just stuck on and can pop off. Here are a couple of pictures of the antennas. The first is the stock antenna for 50/144/220/440 mhz. The second picture is with the low frequency extender added. You can use it like this at all times if you want, but you can see how much additional bulk and length it adds. The manual says this extension greatly improves reception below 50mhz. I'll guess we'll have to find out after it finishes charging up. Here's the external speaker/mic with the optional GPS receiver installed in the top. The GPS receiver is also held in with a screw instead of just snapping in. I think this is a pretty nice sized speaker/mic also...not to small, but not too big. Finally, here's the whole unit assembled. That battery is shipped deader than dead, so I'll probably have to wait until tomorrow to play with the radio. While it's charging, you can see how nice the dot-matrix display is with the charging progress bar showing: Coming soon - functionality review and mod information for MARS. I have to wait for it to charge first!