Decisions are hard to make

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Montezuma

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...or at least they are for me. I have owned various scanners over the years, primarily due to being in law enforcement and needing the ability to hear what other public safety departments were doing. I am out of law enforcement now, but I do still enjoy listening to my scanner. I am now trying too decide on a purchase I made today.

Radio Shack has their PRO-164 on sale for $149.99 and I purchased one. After thinking more about the purchase, I started to wonder if I made a wise investment. I am sure this is a great scanner and I have enjoyed the past many hours with it, but I wonder if it will suit my needs over the next year or two. I do like the items I purchase to work, as needed, for as long as possible.

The police department and other public safety departments in this area are using the same radio equipment they had over 20 years ago. As with everything, I suspect they may go digital in the not-so-distant future and herein lies my query. Should I return the PRO-164 and purchase a digital scanner, or should I wait until a later date to purchase a digital scanner.

I admit that I do not keep up with the scanner news as much as others, such as some of you, but I do try to look in sporadically. I live in Northwest Georgia and I have heard of only a scant few departments that are switching to digital, but nothing in the immediate area. So, are the digital scanners worth the investment, or should I stick to using an analog scanner for now?

Have a fun and safe New Years!
 

captclint

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I suspect they may go digital in the not-so-distant future and herein lies my query. Should I return the PRO-164 and purchase a digital scanner, or should I wait until a later date to purchase a digital scanner.
IMHO, NO. It takes a long time even after the decision to go digital. Scanners have made major improvements in digital within the last year, and will continue to do so. When the time comes, they will still be around $500 present value, but the features and ability to give better performance will definitely be more for your money. Now this assumes you will be willing to view your 164 as "sunk cost" (sorry..that's an accounting term for It has no bearing on your future purchase), and be able to justify a newer model when and if the time comes.
 
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Montezuma

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I figure that, even after those surrounding departments switch to digital, I can still find a good use for the scanner I just purchased. It will be a long time until all radio traffic has switched to digital. As a disabled college student(I figure I might as well learn something while I am doing nothing), money does not exactly grow on trees. Of course, I do have the money to purchase a digital scanner, but I feel that it would be an unwise purchase at this time.

In a few years I will do a cost-benefit analysis to see if a digital scanner is worth the purchase. I will also keep a eye open for a "good deal" between now and then.
 

jak122

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Simple: Keep the 164 AND buy a digital scanner when needed. Assuming you can afford to do both, of course.
I believe one can never have too many scanners, I have many including two Pro-2006s and two Pro-197s. Although digital trunking system(s) are creeping into my area, there are, and will continue to be, for a long time plenty of analog and non-trunking communications around.

That is if you enjoy scanning it all; such as marine, aeronautical, dog catchers, etc. If you're only interested with your local public safety, remember there's still private ambulances, taxis, buses etc that might play some role in the law enforcement drama and which will likely be standard analog for quite some time in many areas.
 

Montezuma

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I have decided to keep my PRO-164, but I am going to go ahead and purchase a digital scanner. What is the best option, as of today, in regards to digital scanners? I see tons of neat features, of which most people will not use 99% of. I would like to keep the price below $600, if possible.

Thank you for all the great responses thus far.
 

wheelerg

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Your dilemma is not unique, i have been into scanning for about 25 years and have 5 pro2026's and 4 72XLT's but got phased out by digital in my area. I still have those scanners for Aircarft scanning and airshows etc, i took the plunge and now am the happy owner of 2 BCD996T's and a subscription to RR so i can download nice and easy from the site. Once you take the plunge into digital you will enjoy it, its just a matter of what unit you want? jump in with both feet and you won't look back, happy New Year
 

captclint

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I have decided to keep my PRO-164, but I am going to go ahead and purchase a digital scanner. What is the best option, as of today, in regards to digital scanners? I see tons of neat features, of which most people will not use 99% of.
There are really only 2 choices and 4 radios(1 HH & 1 Base/mobile for each company) :GRE Radios and Uniden Scanners . RS is customer unfriendly, and very slow to incorporate firmware fixes and improvements. Uniden and GRE make radios for them, and the are both good about firmware updates, but RS delays firmware updates from both. GRE is the most aggressive and slightly better on customer relations. Also see: http://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/Digital_Scanner_Comparison_Chart

The basic considerations are as follows:

  1. GRE is more sensitive(gets weaker signals), but that very feature makes them prone to overload if in the city or near any type of radio/TV/cell towers. Previously, GRE was better with digital, but I think that difference has been minimized with the latest firmware from Uniden...see how important firmware can be.
  2. Uniden does not overload as much (hence is not as sensitive), and generally has more features, which you will probably appreciate once you are familiar. For example, they skip over encrypted communications, while GRE just hangs on them producing annoying noise. Also has GPS system control (limited value for a Base unit), and Fire Tone outs (limited value IMHO)
You will find diehards in either camp, but I think they all generally agree on the points above, so you need to decide if you are far enough from the radio signals to justify a GRE.
 
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Drafin

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I have to agree with the above poster.

And Cap, if the people in the GRE forum that keep arguing in two threads about never buying another GRE or ONLY buying GRE products in the future would agree that this is the basic difference those other two threads could be locked and deleted.

Both scanners have their positives and minuses and you summed it up in about a dozen lines. An argument that has been raging on for nearly two years and has about 9000 views...

Draf
 

wheelerg

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You may be well served to ask people in your state forum, those that monitor the local systems for input on which scanner might suit you better.

That may be a very good idea, see what works in your area and what radio covers it the best?
 

Swipesy

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I have decided to keep my PRO-164, but I am going to go ahead and purchase a digital scanner. What is the best option, as of today, in regards to digital scanners? I see tons of neat features, of which most people will not use 99% of. I would like to keep the price below $600, if possible.

Thank you for all the great responses thus far.
I would not purchase anything until after the January Electronics show in Las Vegas and see what GRE announces and/or Uniden announces. Two pluses to waiting (1) you will know what the latest and greatest is (2) prices may drop on existing radios.
 

Montezuma

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I would not purchase anything until after the January Electronics show in Las Vegas and see what GRE announces and/or Uniden announces. Two pluses to waiting (1) you will know what the latest and greatest is (2) prices may drop on existing radios.
Yeah, I plan on waiting a few weeks to see if there are any sales. I did not think about CES, but there may be some good choices that come about from that show. Unless there are some groundbreaking presentations during that show, I believe I will go with the Uniden BCD396XT.

I have always purchased hand-held units, since I rarely can sit in one place for very long(chronic pain problem). I have also always been use to having hand-held units from my years in law enforcement. The only thing I worry about is the future of radio equipment and its use. I know that there will always be something new, and I one can never always be on top of new technology, but the coming changes might end up hurting our interest.

I was talking to my old partner and he was telling me that discussions are underway for upgrading the aging UHF equipment with digital radios. He had also mentioned that many officers were worrying about was the fact that the plan is to encrypt all but one, maybe two, channels. What many of these departments do not understand is that law enforcement officers also monitor radio traffic with scanners, along with the general public.

The county I live in has seven different police agencies, some using UHF and some using VHF radio equipment. Since governments tend to go on the cheap, per person, for equipment rationing, it is left up to the officer to keep himself or herself properly equipped and "in the know". I cannot tell you how many times one department would be in an active chase, or having an actively dangerous situation occurring, and the dispatchers would never let the other agencies know the situation. This problem continues to occur to this day.

I do believe that some communications, such as law enforcement and other sensitive types, should be kept confidential, but not all communications. This is where cellular devices, using voice, SMS, mobile internet-type communication, and instant connection type voice communications(Sprint Direct-Connect, AT&T PTT, and Verizon Wireless PTT) will all accommodate such needs. I think cutting off the citizenry from the ability to continue monitoring government radio traffic will probably upset more people than such a move would make happy.

Ok, my apologies. I have been going off on a wild tangent and I will reign this conversation back on topic. I believe that the BCD396XT will be the best option. I can also have a BC-RH96 remote unit installed in my vehicle, if the urge hits me. I really like the options with the scanner, such as mobility, the computer-control option, and the location-based tracking.
 
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