Essential equipment for some. I will confess that I can't copy the DX stations who send at 50+ WPM, and a good CW decoder works great on the machine-sent code, which is what most contest stations send. FLDIGI is free and does a good job on CW. I use it to demo various digital modes, and run some digital nets, but I've demo'd it to my Tech students several times during contests. I know several 'no code' or 'very slow code' guys who work DX using it. I've always wished I could get Techs and other nocoders interested in using computers to do Morse on the air. Two Techs could be happily banging away at 50 WPM without knowing any code. Unfortunately, a CQ will almost always result in answers from people who don't send really standard code. If you're using a code reader, only answer the ones you are copying well. You MUST learn how to send with proper character and word spacing, and all the CW prosigns on the keyboard.