Besides the obvious face plate, digital phase 2 and USB port, what are the other differences between the Xt and P2? As I have the 996XT and am considering upgrading. Any opinions on how it performs are also greatly appreciated
If you are using remote head with the 996XT, it will not work with the 996P2.
The serial driver for the 996P2 is a little different, since it's using USB. I use a program to control my BCT15X, 996XTS, and now 996P2s. However, when the 996P2 is off, the serial port goes away in the computer's eyes, and the software, which is a expecting the serial port to be there hiccups. Yes, the program could do things differently, but it isn't an issue with the older scanners.
I don't think the 996P2 is as good as a receiver(including simulcast p25) as the BCD536HP/BCD436HP. However, I think it's a good value for the prices available currently. If you were using the remote head or serial to control, I don't think you'd notice any difference in using the 996P2 via the keypad, and you'll be able to hear Phase 2(although a little muffled).
Does the P2 have a different VOCODER thingy? Besides getting new firmware updates, is P25 simulcast or trunking receive any better in the decode department? My local P25 SmartZone wide simulcast system, anywhere near cell towers is practically unusable.
I need to select new news desk scanners for my station to replace our 996XT's, but the assignment editors cannot be trusted to be able to touch a 536HP or TRX-2 without rendering the radio unusable. I work nights and have to be woken up frequently in the middle of the day with someone asking why a 996XT is stuck on a HAM or similar search, locked up listening to Tijuana taxi cabs in Mexico! The 996's are the easiest to operate scanners EVER!