Portable Digital Scanner Purchase - GRE PSR 500 vs RS Pro 96 vs Uniden BCD396

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robo21

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The following is based upon my listening to digital, non-trunked, conventional broadcasts in my area (Southern California) YMMV.

After researching the top 3 digital portable scanners over the last 45 days or so here is what I've found:

Radio Shack Pro 96 -
Pros: Very easy to program and use, fair sound quality. Cheaper, was on sale for $399.
Cons: Very much prone to frequent "motorboating" or buzzing which totally obliterates the broadcast. The only way to correct this is to go off channel and then back to that channel. This is the heaviest and largest of the 3 units. Less memory. No PC cable or AC adapter included - maybe not cheaper cost after all.

Uniden BCD 396T -
Pros: Small size and weight, good sound quality, lots of memory.
Cons: Very steep learning curve, cumbersome user interface, less info in the display.

By far the most annoying flaw was the constant dropouts during a broadcast causing me to miss out on lots of significant info during a broadcast. This alone renders this unit almost useless for my needs. This unit is also prone to "motorboating" or buzzing at the beginning of a digital broadcast, but at least here it clears after a couple of seconds.

GRE PSR 500 -
Pros: Good sound quality, easy to use, nice user interface, USB cable included with unit, lots of memory, no motorboating/buzzing/dropouts.
Cons: Squelch wheel is wrapped around volume knob.

For my purposes the PSR 500 is working out far better than either of the other two. I've only had it for 4 days and I'm clear that this is the keeper.
 
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PSR-500 - The best handheld yet

I agree with pretty much everything you said. I also have used all of the digital scanners by uniden and gre, over the last several years. The psr-500 is superior at decoding digital, and does a better job of following a whole transmission.

I agree that the push knob of the 396, its beautiful display, and small size are pros for that unit. The PSR radios have small displays and there is more key crunching involved to be sure.

With that said, I must say the PSR units are better scanners when it comes to a scanners main job, picking up every possible transmission, with the least intermod. VHF sensitivity on the 396 and 996 is worse than it should be, bottom line. My local FD still uses VHF high, and this requires a good scanner with great rejection and sensitivity. Something that works with with my antenna which sits on a 35' mast, in the middle of a large city, with tones of rf energy out there to leak into your scanners front end.

No this does not perform like the old 2006 on this band, but neither does any other modern scanner. The Chinese don't build 'em like the Japanese did in the eighties and early nineties. But this is as good as you can do in that band with a digital scanner.

As far as features, the PSR 500 has many more than the 396. I really love the audio boost feature, so that quieter channels can be heard easily with the others. In a sea of channels, I can specify that certain ones, which I am looking to listen to, that rarely have anything happening, will be heard. When there is a hit on one of these, I can have the display light up, various alarms go off (I just use a chirp), and a solid or blinking LED of various colors. Useful.

The concept of object based scanning makes the most sense of any method yet to be honest. It will take a day or two of tinkering to understand why, but trust me on this one. It works more like the hierarchy in pc software. Objects are referenced on a scan list like a shortcut on your computer desktop. The files isn't actually located there, but a reference to it is. This means that only one memory location for one frequency is used, even though it could be referenced in several scan lists. Set up a virtual scanner for every geographic area if you wish. For me: Arizona; Southern Cal; Texas. There is plenty of space in each virtual scanner for a given geographical area.

Sound quality is great too.
 
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64larry

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I have the PSR-500, Pro-96 &97 and the Uniden 396. The Pro-96 does really well in receiving the signal and it's sensitivity. The PSR-500 does very well on the conventional channels, but for some reason doesn't do well at all on any of the trunking systems. I haven't tried the 396 on trunking yet. Some of the motorboating, however is a nuicance with the 396 & 96. I like the PSR-500 except for the tinny high piched audio and total silence on trunking.

Larry - N7LWB
 

SquierStrat

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if thats your only con for the psr500, thats not much to worry about
ive never tried a pro 96 but i have had the bcd396t and i currently own the psr500. alot of people say its about the features, or your scanning style, but for me its about listening. if i want to listen to and actually understand the people talking on the system i monitor, i NEED a psr 500. the bcd396t acts like complete dog crap on the system whereas the psr500 handles it near flawlessly.

a few things i dont like about the bcd396t is how the squelch is adjusted, only 200 talkgroups/channels per system, and you HAVE to use both hands to do certain things on it. i do however like the fact that you can scan EVERY thing you have programmed into it all at once. about 6000 items, whereas the psr500 can only scan about 1800 items at once
 

NYRHKY94

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The other big downside to the RS model (I have both the handheld & base and like them) is no remote control interface. I find that an essential feature for my scanning habits.
 

N9JIG

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Having (or had) each of these radios I agree with many of the comments. I decided to stick with the 396 over the 500 since I had it a while longer and figured it out, while the 500 came later and I never quite figured it out. I also liked the smaller size of the 396.

Needing 700 MHz. coverage the 96 I have has been relegated to use for Pro96Com while traveling. Occasionally I use it for railfanning, but the Pro83 has pretty much taken over that role.

Had I more patience I might have stuck with the 500 instead of selling it off. I might get another one and give it another shot.
 

torontokris

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I also stuck with the 396T over the psr-500.
Forget the pro-66 unless you get it super cheap and you dont need 700mhz / ltr / i calls etc

I disagree with the points about the 396T
Cons: Very steep learning curve, cumbersome user interface, less info in the display

I found the 500 to be a much higher learning curve
I like the 396T's user interface... its all easy menus, I dont get the GRE's menu's (is there even a Menu button?)
I think there is more then enough info on the display (and the letters are a great size).. even the battery voltage








The following is based upon my listening to digital, non-trunked, conventional broadcasts in my area (Southern California) YMMV.

After researching the top 3 digital portable scanners over the last 45 days or so here is what I've found:

Radio Shack Pro 96 -
Pros: Very easy to program and use, fair sound quality. Cheaper, was on sale for $399.
Cons: Very much prone to frequent "motorboating" or buzzing which totally obliterates the broadcast. The only way to correct this is to go off channel and then back to that channel. This is the heaviest and largest of the 3 units. Less memory. No PC cable or AC adapter included - maybe not cheaper cost after all.

Uniden BCD 396T -
Pros: Small size and weight, good sound quality, lots of memory.
Cons: Very steep learning curve, cumbersome user interface, less info in the display.

By far the most annoying flaw was the constant dropouts during a broadcast causing me to miss out on lots of significant info during a broadcast. This alone renders this unit almost useless for my needs. This unit is also prone to "motorboating" or buzzing at the beginning of a digital broadcast, but at least here it clears after a couple of seconds.

GRE PSR 500 -
Pros: Good sound quality, easy to use, nice user interface, USB cable included with unit, lots of memory, no motorboating/buzzing/dropouts.
Cons: Squelch wheel is wrapped around volume knob.

For my purposes the PSR 500 is working out far better than either of the other two. I've only had it for 4 days and I'm clear that this is the keeper.
 

Patrick_

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Jan 28, 2007
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Rumor has it Uniden is going to be coming out with a new "revision" of the 396T, the 396XT. I'll be interested to see how it addresses the motorboating issue along with other things. I know when I had my BR330T I loved nearly everything about it, except for the fact that it took only three batteries (so I'd have to keep a backup after about 8 hours), and I would've liked to be able to tune out a channel for X seconds. I hear the PSR-500 supports this feature?
 

iMONITOR

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Having (or had) each of these radios I agree with many of the comments. I decided to stick with the 396 over the 500 since I had it a while longer and figured it out, while the 500 came later and I never quite figured it out. I also liked the smaller size of the 396.

Needing 700 MHz. coverage the 96 I have has been relegated to use for Pro96Com while traveling. Occasionally I use it for railfanning, but the Pro83 has pretty much taken over that role.

Had I more patience I might have stuck with the 500 instead of selling it off. I might get another one and give it another shot.
Just an FYI, the PSR-500 allows audio while running PRO96COM. :)
 
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