I'm sure the different profile makes a difference. But yes, I'm not sure exactly how and how much having not used them (so that's part of what I meant, yeah). But I also have suspicions that the difference is "worse" for Euro-style cooks. Maybe better for others.
Ok, let me first admit to being super-provisional about this. I haven't developed sufficient technique to make any real claims, so much of this is theoretical, what I think I'm working toward doing, with my understanding such as it is.
A "good profile" depends in part on what your technique is. A big bellied knife, like some of the Shuns and most of the German knives, encourage more tip-down, lots of handle pumping, "powering through", less agility. A "paper cutter" or "rocking" movement.
A more French profile knife, like most other Japanese gyutos, is a more agile thing, and if making classic Euro cut (juliennes and dices and batonets and and....) reward what BDL's blog describes as "guillotine and glide". That's also a quieter way to cut that chopping all-vertically (and quiet is a value, I imagine more so in a crowded restaurant kitchen). But these knives, while considerably flatter than the German profiles, are still not particularly flat. Some Japanese gyutos are *much* flatter. (Let alone the traditional Japanese knives).
So while up to a point -- if you're starting from the point of view, say, of a Wusthof user -- "flatter is better". But if you're doing a "guillotine and glide" type motion, trying to master that, then at some point flatter is worse again. BDL talks about the Sabs having the "platonic ideal" profile.
If you want to do more push-cutting, less "glide" and more "guillotine", in other words, you may like flatter still. And there are other grips that might be used, or pinching in a slightly different spot on a wa-handled knife. Certainly flatter is better if you're really chopping with no, or almost-no, "glide" (forward motion, toward the far end of the board). Or almost certainly. I'm confused about why a nakiri is shaped the way it is, given that this sort of motion is really how those are used. But you get no tip-down at all on those. And the nakiri is a tangent, better to wait for other posts.
All that said, it seems to me, from an unscientific "sample" -- just impressions reading other forums -- there's a lot of "flatter is better" taste out there. And certainly I've seen some videos of people who had insanely fast and precise and beautiful technique that was all "guillotine" pretty much. Chop chop chop, vertical movement, we've got 78 paper thin slices of cucumber. But it seems to me that's coming at it with a bunch of "asian cooking technique" influence.
That all said... IF the Sab profile is a "platonic ideal" for Euro cooking, the new Konosukes are farther from that, and flatter.
The Masamoto KS looks flatter too, but I recall some of BDL's posts in the past (maybe on foodieforums, maybe here) talking about how the shape of the blade along the edge is less flat than you may think just looking at the whole profile. It's a step closer to the French profile of the Sabs than it appears in pictures. I'm not sure if I have that right, so don't let me say with any certainty that I'm characterizing either the knife or BDL's description perfectly accurately.
And the "new" Konosukes are clearly much flatter than the "old" ones. The fact that CKTG says in the description that they're "funayuki" shaped means, to me, Mark asked Konosuke to copy the profile of Murray Carter's knives. The funayuki is Carter's gyuto, and from what people say they're magically great knives. And there's a large niche of knife nuts who prefer that profile. Some of them, I'm sure, because it better suits their technique, and they really know what they're doing. Some of them because it's "cool" and there's a fashionability element to it.
I sort of prefer the look of the funayuki shape, myself, if I were just looking at it. But I think it encourages a less classical Euro technique.
Why am I uncertain? Well, because I"m not a very good technician in the first place, and were I to learn to be a particularly good cutter on a flatter knife, then that would be my "platonic ideal" no doubt. But I think BDL has it right, for smooth and efficient and stress-free (in shoulders and elbows and wrists, stress-free) cutting, a bit more curve than the funayuki would be helpful.
If you're cooking Asian cuisine, the cuts are often very different. Have a look at this video for example (with a kamagata usuba): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2MT7PRopK08 . That starts with a Katsuramuki (so in hand) but then goes on to on-the-board cuts. Different knife (flatter knife), different technique, different cuts from classical Euro. Another example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaEYZZapaTs&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL. (Thanks to Jon Broida for hipping us to that video, and the Japanese Knife Society videos in general). If you learned japanese cooking/cutting first, a flatter profile makes ALL kinds of sense.
So the new "funayuki" Konosukes are uber-cool looking. I want one because of coolness. And there's a niche for a Carter-looking-knife that is both awesome and cheaper than a real Carter. But maybe it's a further step away from the "Platonic ideal" profile for western cooks, or at least some of us western cooks, than the original Konosukes we've been lusting after.
Dos that clear it up? I mean clear up *my* intentions? I'm just waiting for someone (Jon? BDL? anyone?) who knows what they're talking about to tell me how I'm completely wrong about some or all of it!
Edited by Wagstaff - 12/18/11 at 1:18pm