Police Scanners

I’ve posted my review of the Pro96, Radio Shack’s digital police scanner. A high-level overview is that it has lots of features but is so shoddily built that I really wish I hadn’t wasted my money.

After disassembling it for the millionth time trying to fix the problem with volume cutting out, I had another one of my revelations: I’m sick of this crap.

In past discussions about police scanners, I’ve also vented that there doesn’t seem to be much innovation. They keep releasing new models that don’t really bring any features.

Then I discovered Uniden’s BCD396XT. One of the first things I noticed is that there isn’t a slew of complaints on the Internet about the volume knob not working, or no sound coming out the speaker. It’s also smaller and more compact, as if Uniden actually employs people who use police scanners and realized that a big, clunky, yet hollow enclosure was really annoying. I’m also running into a problem with the Pro96 where, although it has 500 channels, it has ten banks of 50 channels, each of which can only (as best as I can tell) contain a single trunking system. So even though I don’t really listen to all that much, my scanner is pretty much full, because I use the banks to organize logical groups of channels.

And then I realized — Uniden not only employs people who own scanners, but people who innovate and come up with new features. They implemented Nuisance Delete but called it Temporary Lockout. It can decode NACs, and the tones fire departments use when “toning out” calls. It can even do Priority mode on a trunked system, so that when the police key up on a trunked system, your scanner will drop the chit-chat on the DPW channel and go back to the police. You can program a channel as digital-only, so that when your piece-of-junk scanner stops decoding the signal, it won’t play the digital audio, un-decoded, through the speaker. (But maybe this new scanner doesn’t even have the problem the Pro96 did!) It includes AGC, which the Pro96 claims to have included, so that really loud transmissions are quieted and really quiet transmissions are pulled up a bit. It shows signal strength and battery level.

In short, it’s basically everything I’ve ever wanted, sans a really clear menu system. The only problem is that it’s $495. And I’m not sure anyone would want to buy my current police scanner, which I don’t think I could honestly sell without mentioning that it’s a giant piece of crap that I’m trying to unload because I hate it so much.

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