The brand-new RFS44 44 GHz four-port switch is available for purchase!→

Signal Hound provides free software updates for our devices. This includes functionality and feature enhancements, not just stability updates.

It’s a simple claim, yet we feel the statement is powerful in its implications.

Now, we realize that we’re not the only company providing free software updates, and we know this isn’t a new concept. We don’t necessarily think that this “sets us apart from the pack” (pun intended) in terms of differentiating Signal Hound from our competitors, although we do hope that it helps when people are evaluating our hardware for purchase.

But it is something we do, nonetheless, and we believe that offering continually evolving software free of charge is the right thing to do.

Why do we do this?

Quite honestly, it’s because this is something that we want in the tools we use as well. As developers of hardware and software, we appreciate the devices we use that offer simple and easy updates. And of course we love when these updates are free. No purchase requests to deal with, no justifications to upper management—just download the update and run it to get new device features. We also appreciate frequent updates, because we know the performance of the hardware we paid for is being leveraged to its fullest.

Look! A new version of Spike is ready!

Look! A new version of Spike is ready!

And that’s really why we offer free software updates as often as we do. We want our customers to know that when they purchase a Signal Hound device, they’re not going to have an outdated device one year down the road. The device will continue to serve and be functional as long as we’re able to support the hardware on the device—which, as it turns out, is actually a pretty long time. Take a look at the following entries from Spike‘s release notes, for example:

Why Signal Hound provides free software updates

And this one, introduced in May 2015:

Why Signal Hound provides free software updates

In the instances above, we’re still targeting first-generation devices, enhancing their functionality for free. In all reality, we could have taken a different approach when updating the software. For example, if you want 5 MHz RBW we could require you to upgrade your 5-year old SA44 to a newer SA44B. Or, possibly, we could have you pay an extra cost to even gain this functionality in the first place. The same with tracking generator compatibility for the BB60A—we haven’t sold the BB60A for over a year-and-a-half, but we’re still taking the time and effort to make the device useful to its purchasers. And this will continue as long as the device is able to handle the update.

We also added digital demodulation to the BB60A in addition to the BB60C. This could have been a prime opportunity for us to charge for an upgrade. Digital demod is a whole unique set of tools that our users have been requesting for a while now, and we could have easily charged for this functionality. To offer it to the users of the BB60A…well… the functionality is still compatible with the hardware of the older device, so why not, right?

There are differing thoughts and opinions on keeping your business and personal beliefs separate, and there aren’t always clearly defined answers. On one hand, charging for these upgrades may bump up the bottom line for a bit and qualify us as a manufacturer with software so extraordinary that it needs to be paid for. On the other hand, this could potentially produce a negative side effect. At what point would our customers grow weary of the hidden charges and feeds for additional functionality? Maybe they’d put up with it for a while because their business activities could justify the extra cost, but what if they tire of the continuing charges required in order for them to utilize their devices to the fullest? We know that we would.

We offer free software updates because we want our users to know that the devices they purchase will be current for years to come, as long as the internal hardware can support the software enhancements, with no strings attached. We offer these updates because we appreciate this kind of service as well. Signal Hound is a company built on the principles of value, which is offering the best features and performance for the lowest cost possible. Value is at the top of our list for new product criteria, and key to this, is building a device with a long, productive life, continually enhanced via free software updates.

About the Author

Cory Allen

Cory is a writer and marketing specialist in the RF and test industry, and worked as Signal Hound's marketing director from 2014-2021.

View Cory's profile on LinkedIn.