jose maria trueba
16 bit Hermes, Angelia and Orion boards are very high dynamic range, excellent but expensive boards.
People who used the 14 bit version of Hermes said that for most occasions they could not tell the difference with the original Hermes16.
The 12bit Lite is very inexpensive. Lower D.R. and does not go beyond 30MHz but seems like a good enough small HF transceiver for the price although not sufficient but just a very good price for what it does.
I think that 16bit is the way to go at serious HF but using wisely the RF gain control and choosing the right amount of atenuation will overcome the lack of dynamic range of a 12 bit receiver. Pluto and Lime transceivers are 12bit also but are made for UHF which I believe is not as challenging as HF.
It could be much worse... Super cheap RTLs and Funcube dongle are only 8bit which is horrible, or simply too poor to be considered more than cheap toys.