SDS100 or Unication G4, which one to buy? - My personal observations.

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Premium Subscriber
Jan 9, 2010
Hi everyone,

Im by means no an expert in scanning or writing reviews of my experiences. For all you experienced monitoring gurus out there, this will be a bit boring for you to read. However for the new guys and gals out there it might be helpful for you :) These are just my personal (layman) observations and thoughts on both receivers having owned both the SDS100 and G4for over 6 months plus. I run both daily, ever day. I just wanted to share my personal experience in case it helps others out there who may still be the fence and trying to decide which one is the right one to buy for their uses. I'll just try to address some main points that I considered important to me when buying both with some pros, cons, observations of each etc. Im sure I will have missed some thoughts, but if forgot anything and remember something later I'll try to update and edit the post to add it here. Hope this helps!

Which one? The bottom line up front:

Buy the SDS100: If you need to monitor several systems on different frequencies and transmission modes (i.e. you need to monitor several 800mhz digital trunked systems, 400mhz trunked systems, a single channel system, mixed mode digital or analog channel and/or conventional VHF/ UHF channels all at the same time. You need Nexden and DMR support to hear stations etc.....the SDS100 is for you and would suit you better for this situation.

Buy the Unication G4: If you only have 700/800 P25 simulcast or statewide P25 digital systems where most of the citys and counties you want to monitor on it the G4 is the way to go. It seems to never miss a P25 transmission. Personally for me; in Colorado we have the Statewide DTRS 700/800 Phase 1 system. My cities simulcast resides on that state wide system so I can literally program in and pick up all the cities I need to monitor on the G4. Also a majority of the states cities have migrated to the statewide DTRS, or are on their their way to building out their own 700/800 P25 systems here. So I could in theory run just the G4 here.

Here are my general observations as to why I make my choices above if you wish to read on.
Note: All observations are from monitoring systems in the state of Colorado using the stock SDS100 and G4 antennas.

Uniden SDS100 positive points:
1) Very good on monitoring standalone and statewide 700/800 DTRS P25 Phase 1 digital systems. .
- 98-99 percent of the signals come in loud and clear and only a few times I've noticed some talk groups were distorted due to low signal receiving strength. (Note that I don't monitor any phase 2 systems here in Colorado Springs).
- Towers on the statewide DTRS system are generally spaced farther apart from one another; which I assume is the reason its receiving this system so well with out other towers interfering like in the simulcast system I monitor.

2) Good to very good in monitoring the 800 P25 Phase 1 simulcast system here in Colorado Springs. .
- In the simulcast environment I'm getting about a consistent 95+ percent of all calls coming in clearly with the SDS100.
- My signal receiving comparisons are derived from running the G4 and SDS100 side by side on the same simulcast system.

3) The display screen shows a wealth of valuable information and looks great when receiving talk groups and signals.
- Seems to accurately show the system, signal strength, talk group information etc etc very clearly.
- Display is very very clear, easy to read and customizable.

4) With the larger (now standard) battery I get around 7 hours of run time on just the battery.
- I typically however run the scanner on my desktop all day with plugged in.
- I have have no issues at all with the unit overheating in any way and the scanner never shuts off due to it being plugged in 99 percent of the time.
- Once or twice a month I run the battery down and do a full recharge with no issues to report.

5) Scans multiple systems and you can set the scan delay to what you want so you don't miss any traffic when someone un-keys the mic waiting for the next person to talk on the systems and talk groups.

6) I monitor one military 400mhz P25 Phase 1 system from about 12 air miles away and it comes in decently. .

7) This is the unit to use if you monitor several systems and voice modes (P25, DMR, nexden etc.) at the same time in VHF, UHF/400 and 700/800 mhz.

8) Can be carried around easily in a case or bag but does have some bulk to it.

9) Speaker volume on P25 700/800 systems is very very good. I was actually surprised at how well it sounded compared to my 436hp.

10) Easy to quickly get up and monitoring by simply entering in your zip code and setting a radius of how far you want to monitor.
- Scanners database is is updated frequently by Uniden and Radio Reference so you get the most up to date system and TG information available without manually having to program in any systems if you chose not to.

Uniden SDS100 semi weaknesses:
1) Slower scan speeds while monitoring multiple systems i.e. I have 3 separate systems/banks set up (States statewide system, Colorado Spgs Simulcast and 400 Mil) and the time it takes to scan from one system and move to the next takes a lot of time even with scan/system delay set to none.
2) VHF and VHF air are poor in reception even with the stock antenna.
3) Takes forever to scan each system.
4) Setting the scan delay can and will delay your scans from system to system, so you will miss a lot of traffic with a high scan delay setting.
5) depending on your listening location you may or may not need to get an antenna upgrade to hear a distant system.

Unication G4 positive points:

1) The G4 is the best of the two radios on the simulcast system in my town hands down as compared to the SDS100.
- 100 percent copy on the Colorado Springs simulcast P25 Phase 1 system with zero missed calls. .
- I monitor the city police, county sheriff and state police on the SAME simulcast system programed into the G4 and don't have to switch systems.

2) Also works great on single and statewide non-simulcast P25 systems.

3) Has P25 Phase 1 and 2 in the firmware.

4) Super easy to carry around.
- can fit in a cup holder in a car.
- has a clip that you can clip to your pocket or where ever you want to hold it in place to monitor.

5) Stock stubby antenna works very very well.
- No reason to upgrade to any other antenna to get good performance.

6) Speaker has good audio when turned up past 40 on the volume control.

7) Battery life is around 10 hours running non-stop on my simulcast system with almost constant radio traffic.

8) Screen is easy to read, but lacks the details of the SDS100.

Unication semi weaknesses:
1) The G4 is not a scanner, and takes time to set up each individual system in the radio. Theres a slight learning curve to get up and running.
2) You can only monitor one 700/800 mhz system at a time. (Note: the G5 has to bands where as the G4 is just 700/800 mhz. The G5 can be switched from 800 to 400, or 800 toVHF depending on your pager setup)
3) You must manually switch or go into the menu settings to change from system to system.
4) Low volume "hissssss" from the speaker when receiving voice calls.
5) No scan delay and for that matter no way to delay or hold on a channel (unless you program it seperately into another slot on the radio dial). You literally turn it on and it just scans until there's activity on a group and holds on the talk group only while the audio is active, but immediately resumes scanning without any delay between transmissions. So you might miss a second part of a conversation if the other party doesn't key up fast enough with their reply.

Thanks for reading and good luck in your purchase!
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