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396T vs. PSR-500

Should I buy the 396T or the PSR-500


  • Total voters
    52
  • Poll closed .
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Joined
Nov 20, 2004
Messages
8
Location
Salt Lake City, Utah
#1
I recently had my 246t stolen and now i have to figure out what to replace it with.

I have done so much reading!!! and now its time for some opinions between the replacement candidates. The candidates being the 396T and the PSR-500...... What are the pros and cons to either of these scanners? They appears to be functionally similar, but what are their shorcomings or strengths? Does anyone have a side by side pic of these scanners for size comparison?

I am going to be ordering one of these in the next couple days, but want to hear some opinions from people that have used both of them so i can make a good decision. I don't want to drop 500 bones on something that i wont be happy with!!!

Thanks in advance for your input!!!
 

troymail

Silent Key
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
9,977
Location
Supply (Lockwood Inlet area), NC
#3
jagermeister2 said:
I recently had my 246t stolen and now i have to figure out what to replace it with.

I have done so much reading!!! and now its time for some opinions between the replacement candidates. The candidates being the 396T and the PSR-500...... What are the pros and cons to either of these scanners? They appears to be functionally similar, but what are their shorcomings or strengths? Does anyone have a side by side pic of these scanners for size comparison?

I am going to be ordering one of these in the next couple days, but want to hear some opinions from people that have used both of them so i can make a good decision. I don't want to drop 500 bones on something that i wont be happy with!!!

Thanks in advance for your input!!!
There really isn't a simple answer for this--- depends on your needs...

Listen to mostly DIGITAL or distant trunked radio systems? No question - PSR-500.

Analog and close by with no belief you'll need digital anytime soon? BC-396T..
 

mrsvensven

Member
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Messages
104
#4
If you are used to the 246t, go with the Uniden.
I am in the process of moving from a 246t to a PSR-500 and I am having trouble getting used to a scanner that doesn't have the dynamic memory. You only get 20 banks with the GRE (vs unlimited on the Uniden), and there is no feature equivalent to the groups on the Uniden.
 
Last edited:

troymail

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#5
mrsvensven said:
If you are used to the 246t, go with the Uniden.
I am in the process of moving from a 246t to a PSR-500 and I am having trouble getting used to a scanner that doesn't have the dynamic memory.
I'd think capabilities, reception, and digital decoding (along with some other features of interest) would be more important..... but... we all have different reasons for making our choices.
:wink:

The PSR-500 is somewhat dynamic (in memory) too - just different. There are no real limits to the number of channels or talkgroups you can put in each scanlist-- in fact, I think there are even less limits than the 396 (I think the 396 limits you to 200 TGs per system... no such limit for the PSR-500).
 
Last edited:

mrsvensven

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#6
troymail said:
I'd think capabilities, reception, and digital decoding (along with some other features of interest) would be more important..... but... we all have different reasons for making our choices.
:wink:

The PSR-500 is somewhat dynamic (in memory) too - just different. There are no real limits to the number of channels or talkgroups you can put in each scanlist-- in fact, I think there are even less limits than the 396 (I think the 396 limits you to 200 TGs per system... no such limit for the PSR-500).
I love the GRE, I think either way you'll be happy with your decision. The Uniden is just less different from what you are already used to. I love the temporary lockout that the GRE has, and if I remember correctly the 396 doesn't have it. With the 246, I could have so many groups that I could just shut off a small number of channels and I never really needed the temporary lockout.

I've never run into any TG limits on the 246, but I do not monitor any huge systems. I did have problems with the 20 groups per system limit, but I was able to work around it. The GRE has a limit of 32 control channels per system, which could also be a problem.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 20, 2006
Messages
94
Location
Cincinnati, Ohio
#8
I just got my psr-500 a few days ago and I love it! I love the flexibility it has in programming scanlists and the it does a much better job at Decoding the P25 system here. Nice loud audio. Seems to be pretty quick in Scanning everything. The Multi-Color LED is fun to play with. so far I am pleased with my purchase.

When I first got it programmed up, I thought I had bought another pro-96 because of the way it was decoding the Hamilton County System and was pretty frustrated. But after doing the Firmware and DSP updates, It was so much better. Now it's nice and Crisp and clear....

Just my .02 worth.

Jeff
 

hiegtx

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#9
If you have a lot of conventional (non-trunked) P25 agencies that you may want to monitor, then the PSR500 has an edge. The 500 can decode the NAC used on those frequencies, so that you can separate out various agencies and stations on the same channel, as well as cut down interference. TX DPS uses the same set of frequencies in multiple locations statewide. With the BCD396T, I have to leave the squelch code at "none" for it to catch the ones using digital (not all have converted). Besides the potential for stations to overlap, using CSQ squelch leaves it open to interference from the various electrical devious in my home, vehicle, or office. Besides being able to tag individual sites, using the NAC codes, the interference is also reduced on the 500. As a few of the other agencies in the region are also beginning to migrate to conventional P25, the NAC capability was my primary reason to add a 500 to the collection.

For the systems that I monitor currently, I don't detect any significant difference in digital decode. The only digital TRS that is in close range, Grand Prairie, is behind a ridge line from me. I can monitor it with either scanner, and it sounds about the same: perfectly readable, just a bit of the 'underwater' sound. Uniden is due out with a firmware update in the coming weeks, so digital decode may improve on the 396. I should note that there are no systems in this metro area (at this time) of the type that I've seen generate the most complaints about any of the scanners. There are some new P25 systems coming online soon, but no large scale multi-site or simulcast types that seem to be problematic. The Parker County system is beginning to show usage, apparently, but out of my range. They have two more sites planned, don't know if that will provide any reception here (doubtful).

The object oriented memory of the 500 is an improvement over the old banks/channels system. However, I prefer Uniden's DMA system for this reason:
On the PSR500, for trunked systems & talkgroup IDs, you have two text tags, that will alternate (the blink on/blink ). So you get the system name (16 characters) alternating with the TGID name (also 16 characters).
On the 396, the memory system is like the 246 & the other DMA scanners. The top line alternates the system name and the group name, while the second line is the TGID text tag. So you have three pieces of information to define what you're hearing.

For conventional frequencies, the difference is more pronounced.
On the 500, the only text tag you've got is the 16 characters for the conventional object itself. The display does, also, show the frequency & PL tone (or DCS or NAC code), but that's all. On the 500, I have to get more creative on the text tags, to squeeze something in.
On the 396, you've still got system name alternating with group name, plus the conv. channel's text tag.

The 500 is more sensitive than the 396, but overloads badly in the metro area if you put too much antenna on it. I've gone back to the stock antenna, & get generally better reception around town than I did with the R/S 800 Mhz whip. Once I get out of town, I do switch to either a whip with more more gain, or a mag mount on my truck. The 396, while less sensitive, rarely overloads unless I'm right next to a cluster of transmitters, & using the R/S 800, hears everything I reasonably expect to receive.

Bottom line, for me, is that there are certain things one scanner does better than the other. Each also has some features the other does not. That's why I ended up with both.

You won't really go wrong with either. Ideally, find someone local that would loan you one for a day or so (maybe buy their lunch or a six-pack).
 
Joined
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Messages
8
Location
Salt Lake City, Utah
#10
Thanks for all of the input!! Any and all insight has been awesome!! I was used to my 246t and was just looking at the 396t up until a couple days ago when it was suggested that i look at the PSR-500...... I think that the transition to the 396t would be easier at this point, but am still undecided!!! I am in the Metro Salt Lake City area, it's mainly trunked analog and there is little digital here right now... some PD talk groups but the mass is still analog. But for the future and when traveling to other states i just want to have that capability.... Since i don't know what the future of the regional radio system is here, I dont know if there are any plans to implement digital any time soon. I am just not in a rush at this point, time to do some more reading!!! LOL

Does anyone have a side by side picture of the 396t and the PSR-500? anyone Bueller, Bueller??
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2004
Messages
8
Location
Salt Lake City, Utah
#12
Thanks delta_p!!!!!!!!

Well i think that form factor for me just put the last nail in the coffin for me!!!

And since i am used to the Uniden..... I think thats the way i am going!!!


Thanks for all of your responses and input!!!!
 

hiegtx

Mentor
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Joined
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#13
jagermeister2 said:
Thanks delta_p!!!!!!!!

Well i think that form factor for me just put the last nail in the coffin for me!!!

And since i am used to the Uniden..... I think thats the way i am going!!!


Thanks for all of your responses and input!!!!
Well, if you're going to be traveling..........

The 396 has a larger channel capacity, 6000 channels +/-, versus about 1800 for the 500.
However, the 500 has the V-scanner memory, where you can store more configurations of 1800 for use; you just can't load an use more than one set at a time. If you're traveling with a laptop, it's no big deal either way. If not, the V-scanner gives you the extra capacity to preload you're destination, or the points in-between, but not have to scan them (or lock them out), until you need them.

I've never pushed the limit on the 500, or come anywhere close on the 396 (I rarely go over 20% memory usage on it, except when taking a short trip).

But I agree, I do like the form factor of the 396 better.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2006
Messages
28
Location
Harford County, Maryland
#14
I also have both the 396 and the 500, and I still can't decide which I like better. There are "so many" Pros & Cons to each radio. I don't feel you can go wrong with either one. Kind of like asking which child you like better.

Note: I did vote for the 396, because there was no check box for (x) Both.
 

troymail

Silent Key
Joined
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#15
brian13pickle said:
I also have both the 396 and the 500, and I still can't decide which I like better. There are "so many" Pros & Cons to each radio. I don't feel you can go wrong with either one. Kind of like asking which child you like better.

Note: I did vote for the 396, because there was no check box for (x) Both.

...not suprising that everytime I look at the poll, the thing is split 50/50 - right down the middle.
 

CbusRog

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 27, 2008
Messages
32
#17
Before I "pulled the pin", I scoured the forums. I read the manuals to both scanners. Then I handled both scanners, side-by-side. In the end, it wasn't anything "technical" about my choice (both are equally capable scanners). No, it was that the PSR-500 can be operated exclusively with one hand from the front panel, and the display has a better viewing angle and contrast (IMO, of course). Those were my deciding factors.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Howard County
#18
In my opinion, and I know nobody asked, but I've been in this hobby since the first LED's scrolled left to right.
Despite all the bells and whistles that one radio might have over another, the most important
feature has to be sensitivity. Because if I can't hear what I want to hear with it, I can't use it.



Mike
 

troymail

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#20
joetnymedic said:
does the psr 500 do i-call? I know the 396 does.
yes
baybum said:
In my opinion, and I know nobody asked, but I've been in this hobby since the first LED's scrolled left to right. Despite all the bells and whistles that one radio might have over another, the most important feature has to be sensitivity. Because if I can't hear what I want to hear with it, I can't use it.
exactly
 
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