With great fanfare, Hobbico (parent of Futaba) has just released the AnyLink system. Does it live up to the hype?
AnyLink is a small device that plugs into the trainer port of a transmitter. It works with a large range of different transmitters, including many of those made by Futaba, JR, Spektrum, and Hitec. Many FM and 2.4GHz transmitters are supported. Adapter cables that work with many of these transmitters are included. Adapter cables for other transmitters need to be purchased separately.
Once plugged in, your transmitter can be used to control any Tactic receiver. Hobbico has also just released about a dozen different small model airplanes that come with these receivers pre-installed. They are called Tx-R (“transmitter ready”) airplanes.
Tactic transmitters do not require an AnyLink device to communicate with the Tactic receivers. Also, SLT refers to “secure link technology”. It’s the specific 2.4GHz signal encoding used by the Tactic systems.
From the looks of it, Tactic is to Futaba what Spektrum is to JR. In other words, it’s a sister budget brand. Tactic radio transmitters are definitely lower-end than most Spektrum radio systems. Tactic transmitters don’t have digital displays and are only available in 4 and 6 channel aircraft versions. All current Spektrum transmitters, except for the DX5e, include digital displays.
The AnyLink device itself only costs $25. That’s a good deal. A 6 channel Tactic receiver goes for $30, which is reasonable. The receiver only weighs 8 grams. There’s a reasonable variety of airplanes already available with the Tx-R feature. In other words, they come with a Tactic receiver pre-installed.
The Tactic 6 channel transmitter with a 6 channel receiver retails for $100. The 4 channel transmitter/receiver combo is $80. The Spektrum DX5e, the least expensive radio system in that lineup, retails for $110. The Tactic systems definitely have the advantage as far as price.
The Tactic receivers are currently only available in 3 and 6 channel versions. If you need more channels than that, you are out of luck.
The range of the AnyLink is just 1,000 feet. That’s good enough for most situations, though I would be real careful with a thermal duration glider or any other model that could get far from you.
The top of the line Hitec Aurora 9 radio system is not supported at all. Neither is the new Spektrum DX18 radio system, though the Hobbico website could just be out of date.
Almost the entire current Spektrum line up of radio systems requires a $120 adapter cable. Ouch! The only exception is the DX6i, which works with an adapter cable included with the AnyLink.
I’m no marketing genius, but I’m having trouble seeing the compelling use case. Buying a receiver separately from an ARF airplane and plugging in the servos into it is pretty easy. Installing the servos correctly is much harder. I guess the hardest part of a receiver installation is plugging in the servos into the right channels. It would seem that a Tx-R airplane’s primary appeal is to those relatively new to the hobby.
Somebody just starting out will just buy a Tactic transmitter and a matching Tx-R airplane. Given the convenience, I would probably buy another Tx-R airplane as my second airplane. There is some value there for the end user, at the cost of limiting your airplane choices.
For a current Spektrum transmitter owner to pay $25+$120 = $145 just so that they can use a Tx-R airplane would be nuts. I don’t see it happening.
I suppose there might be a market for those owners of older FM transmitters wanting to move up to 2.4GHz that do not want to spend much. Whether $25 is a reasonable price for these cheapskates (I mean, frugal folks) is debatable.
I have a hunch that the AnyLink system was overcome by events before it was released. Not supporting most of the current Spektrum lineup out of the box is going to seriously limit its acceptance.
On a positive note, it does offer reasonable value to those starting out that have purchased a Tactic radio system.