GRE PSR600 & PSR800 review from a Uniden Junkie

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EJB

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Over the past 6 months or so I have gone from being a Uniden man to a GRE guy. Nothing against Uniden, if I had my way (i.e. disposable income) I probably would have bought a 396XT.

In April, I purchased a PSR600 from a buddy of mine, this is the first GRE/Radio Shack scanner that I purchased since 2002. Two weeks ago I swapped my Home Patrol for the PSR800 from the same friend.

PSR600-It is a wonderful scanner. I live in a region (county) that has a P25 system. I have heard a good deal of people mention that P25 systems are not decoded well by any of the Uniden Scanners and that GRE (I guess now Whistler?) did a better job.

I never really had any trouble listening to the regional P25 system on my Home Patrol but I do feel that the audio is a good deal better on the PSR600. As for analog and mixed analog/P25 systems, the 600 is too quiet on the analog comms, then you get blasted by a digital comm. The older Uniden scanners I used to own, the 296 and 396T would be the same thing, it was a drag because I do most of my monitoring on our provincial "mixed" system. Originally the Home Patrol that I purchased in 2010 was also too quiet on analog and too loud on digital but I felt that the various firmware updates fixed this problem.

Another complaint on the 600, it is pretty sensitive. I live in an urban area of highrises and scan see about 15 cell antennas on the two buildings next to ours and we are also pretty close to montain that rises about 500 feet (called the Niagara Escarpment) that has a good deal of antennas for various agencies. So we get hammered by what I used to call intermod. In order to monitor towers that are a decent distance away I learned that I would have to use my attenuator in order to monitor. I never had to worry about this with any of the Uniden Scanners mentioned in the previous chapter. Live and learn.


PSR800- I would like to make clear that I was not in any way looking to get rid of my Home Patrol. It is a wonderful scanner, I very much enjoy tagging and acquiring radio Id's (RIDS or UIDS), and its screen was large enough to tag and "show" the talkgroup information and the RID's. After almost four years I wanted a change. Again, if I had disposable income I would of bought a scanner to use along with the HP but I don't so goodbye HP, hullo PSR800.

The PSR800 is small enough that I will be able to toss it into cargo pants pockets and hoodies for monitoring on the go. I could fit the HP into these pockets barely. I feel more comfortable with the 800 on my walks than the HP.

Unlike the PSR600 the volume between analog and digital is fine. Leave it on "20" and all is well. The screen shows a good deal of information and I will be able to add the 30,000 or so RID's that I have been able to acquire on Trunk 88 and the Home Patrol. The 800 also does well on my regional P25 system, and unlike the 600, this radio is not overwhelmed by the numerous towers near me.

The colour tags are great! I absolutely love giving my fave talkgroups and channels their own colours, flash, no flash. I have also noticed that I can 'get' distant city systems better on the 800 as compared to the Home Patrol. I live about 35 miles west of the city of Toronto. 99.9% of the time I could not monitor that cities soon to be deactivated Motorola Analog system on the HP. With the 800, I can 'hear' this system I'd say about half the time.

The four things I have issue with the 800:
1) With the Uniden scanners that I have owned in the past, I was able to see which tower I was monitoring. Unless the 800 has acquired a voice comm I am unsure which tower is coming in. Again. I live about 30-40 miles from a few towers outside of my home base in Burlington Ontario. I am 'blocked' my the escarpment to the West of me. I wish I could see what tower was acquired like I could with the Uniden scanners.

2) The Ezscan software is really not that easy until you become familiar with it. Uniden scanners might be more of a chore and a challenge to program but I enjoyed programming Uniden scanners. I felt it was easy to do and easy to load. When I first bought one of the new breed of scanners, the 246t and 396t in 2005 and 2007 respectively I very much enjoyed building numerous systems and items to scan.

3) Having a USB port to allow the 800 to work is great because quiet frankly, this scanner goes thru battery power very quickly. I was able to get up to 8-10 hours on the 396t & about 8-10 on the Home Patrol. I barely get half that on the PSR800.

4) To program the 800 takes a long time to transfer the data from the software to the scanner. If I am adjusting my two V-folders it takes a good deal more time than it did with the Home Patrol. If you are using the database with the scanner it works just as quick as the Home Patrol but the software with the Sentinel updated whatever I add or change a good deal faster than the 800's EZScan.

Conclusion:

The PSR800 is a wonderful handheld scanner, the audio is superior for P25 communications, it also does a very good job displaying the RID's, as good if not better than the Home Patrol and I value RID's very highly. The size of the scanner and its Phase 2 P25 are important to me. I have seen the new 436/536 scanners, for whatever reason they do not appeal to me, I would much rather have a 396XT than the new Uniden scanners and if I was forced to choose I'd go for the 396XT over any scanner I mentioned in this thread. After the initial difficulties with the GRE software and the Phase 2 abilities I am happy with my GRE scanners right here right now.


One final note about Phase 2 P25 transmissions. There is limited useage of this technology in my immediate area, there are a few talkgroups in the last listed system I monitor, they are buses used by our multi-region transportation system but these buses are not boring in that they have to travel the extremely busy roads in and around Toronto. And I am not sure if any of you realise that Toronto has the worst trafic in Canada by far and is ranked either just worse or almost as bad as Los Angeles. So when the buses talk to each other they give hints which roads to avoid or take. The P25 Phase 2 comms sound horrible on this system. If any of the municipalities incl Toronto use Phase 2 I hope it does a better job.

Eric

Monitoring:

Bell FleetNet - Ontario Provincial Government Zone 1 Trunking System, Southwest Zone, Ontario - Scanner Frequencies
Halton Region Trunking System, Halton Region, Ontario - Scanner Frequencies
Metrolinx - GO Transit Trunking System, Golden Horseshoe Area, Ontario - Scanner Frequencies
 

RDGDigital

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Very good review. I just wanted to point out a couple of items that may make things a little easier for you. First, I've found if I remove the micro SD card from the scanner and put it in a card reader it makes transferring data much faster. And second I alternate several sets of Sanyo Eneloop 2550 mAh batteries and can easily get 10 hours of use before needing to recharge.
 

blacktop

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+1 on battery consumption. I get 10+ hours with 2700mAh Powerex batteries in my 800. Almost all re-charging I do is in a dedicated battery recharger / conditioner.
 

EJB

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Interesting read, thank you!
You are very welcome. I cannot 'do' or explain the technical aspects of pretty much anything but I have an ear, and an idea of what I like and don't like.

It's always helpful to read reviews from other people on these scanners, there is a tremendous wealth of information here, I enjoy adding to it in ways that I can.
 

EJB

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Very good review. I just wanted to point out a couple of items that may make things a little easier for you. First, I've found if I remove the micro SD card from the scanner and put it in a card reader it makes transferring data much faster. And second I alternate several sets of Sanyo Eneloop 2550 mAh batteries and can easily get 10 hours of use before needing to recharge.
Hi Rick: Yup, I noticed that, I went to a friend's house on here who helped me program and understand the scanner better and a card reader is a solution to the lag.

As for batteries, I tried Eneloop's once, they were pretty expensive and they last about as long as any of the various Duracell or Energizers you find anywhere. I use a 15 min charger, I figure that if I was smart (and that's debatable, lol) I'd get a better charger for it and possibly repair a good deal of the re-chargeable batteries that I havent recycled yet).

I wrote this article probably a week before it was checked over and approved by mods here, so I have had the scanner for close to a month. There are times when I miss Uniden scanners, I feel I understand them a bit better and relate to them, again, a 396xt is what I really want but I am happy with my purchase.

The only thing that really bugs me about the scanner, I travel to and from Toronto and across SW Ontario often enough. When I am monitoring the Fleetnet System I cannot see which tower the scanner can 'see.' My old Uniden scanners, it was easy to tell, but with this 800, I have to wait until it picks up a transmission.

It's a small complaint and really hardly worth mentioning.

In conclusion, Toronto's Public Safety users are in the process of migrating to a new Digital P25 system. I think the police are going to be encrypted, thats life, Toronto is hard to monitor, the city is too big and way too much is going on to monitor the police, EMS and Fire service, heck, it's hard enough to monitor EMS and Fire alone. I am hoping that if what information we are getting is correct, EMS and Fire will be in the clear. And I hope that if they use Phase 2 that it sounds better than the phase 2 comms on the Metrolinx commuter transportation system.
 

EJB

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+1 on battery consumption. I get 10+ hours with 2700mAh Powerex batteries in my 800. Almost all re-charging I do is in a dedicated battery recharger / conditioner.
I should get a charger like yours, to 'condition' the batteries. For the most part, my trips in the car are within an hour so I havent worn out the batteries yet.
 

krokus

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As for batteries, I tried Eneloop's once, they were pretty expensive and they last about as long as any of the various Duracell or Energizers you find anywhere. I use a 15 min charger, I figure that if I was smart (and that's debatable, lol) I'd get a better charger for it and possibly repair a good deal of the re-chargeable batteries that I havent recycled yet).
The 15 minute chargers are very stressful to the batteries. I think you will see a significant difference by using a charger that tailors the charge profile.

Sent via Tapatalk
 

EJB

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I agree, I abuse the batteries with a fast charge, I should get a charger that is better.

BTW-I like the name, Krokus, I remember an obscure early 80's metal band by the same name.
 
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