Uniden BCD-396XT and GRE PSR800

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tilt404

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I recently got a new Uniden BCD-396XT and had a GRE PSR800 before that. I've had a lot of scanners over the years but I never owned this Uniden model before. Right out of the box I was so happy with the reception and digital audio quality.

When I had my GRE PSR800, I was constantly having trouble with getting the digital audio to sound clear enough to understand. I would always have to switch antennas and move it around. Even picking up more distant weak signals I would have to fiddle with the attenuator on the GRE, where the Uniden picks them up fine without any fiddling and using the stock antenna for both VHF and UHF digital systems.

I always heard Uniden scanners are less sensitive than GRE but now I see what they mean. I live in a very noisy area for RF noise. I live on the top floor of a apartment with a bunch of cell antennas right above me. The GRE always struggled where the Uniden acts like nothing is around me which is so nice.

I actually like the older style of systems and groups and how I can enable them with the numbers on the keypad quickly. On the GRE I had to go into the menu and found it to be a pain even though I could create more interesting groups by adding more than one type trunk system to a group. I miss audio recording on the GRE scanner a bit, but I still love this Uniden 396XT.

Being able to quickly hit a number to enable or disable a bank is so nice. Going into the menu and changing some settings is easily done. I love the size and how long the batteries last. Having gone from the GRE to Uniden though I realize now the differences in sensitivity and how big of a issue this is for me here. I see how where I live really has an effect on the scanner and its performance, and how its important to pick the correct scanner to match usage conditions.

I'm so happy to finally find a scanner that works for my location.
 

Boatanchor

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IMHO, the x96xt are the best, most reliable scanners ever made.
I believe that Uniden made a huge mistake by believing that bigger is better, with their new model handheld.

The compact design of the 396xt is just so convenient to carry around compared to the GRE PSR500 and even the new 436HP. The RF performance of the 396XT is amazing and still can't be beaten.

There are a few minor software related issues that could have been improved on and it is a shame that Uniden didn't put more time and effort into continuing the firmware development, considering the global popularity of the XT's.

I look at the new models coming to market today and then look back at my little 396xt and say to myself 'I'm just going to save my money until a better version of the 396XT is released' (if it ever is) :)

One thing I will recommend is to get yourself a nice vinyl or soft leather case for your 396XT.
Scannermaster sells a couple of different types and they are a cheap investment that will keep your scanner looking like new for years, plus they offer excellent drop protection.
 
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jaspence

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I have both an 800 and a 396xt. I find for our simulcast situation, the GRE wins, and when we move to Phase II, the 396xt becomes a boat anchor.
 

tilt404

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I have both an 800 and a 396xt. I find for our simulcast situation, the GRE wins, and when we move to Phase II, the 396xt becomes a boat anchor.
For me and the simulcast here the uniden wins but its not the scanner so much as my location. There's a lot of rf around me and my GRE only worked with an outside antenna. I could never get it to work ok inside with the digital voice being understandable. I think both are great though, just depends on where you use them.
 

tilt404

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IMHO, the x96xt are the best, most reliable scanners ever made.
I believe that Uniden made a huge mistake by believing that bigger is better, with their new model handheld.

The compact design of the 396xt is just so convenient to carry around compared to the GRE PSR500 and even the new 436HP. The RF performance of the 396XT is amazing and still can't be beaten.

There are a few minor software related issues that could have been improved on and it is a shame that Uniden didn't put more time and effort into continuing the firmware development, considering the global popularity of the XT's.

I look at the new models coming to market today and then look back at my little 396xt and say to myself 'I'm just going to save my money until a better version of the 396XT is released' (if it ever is) :)

One thing I will recommend is to get yourself a nice vinyl or soft leather case for your 396XT.
Scannermaster sells a couple of different types and they are a cheap investment that will keep your scanner looking like new for years, plus they offer excellent drop protection.
I've been loving holding my 396xt in hand compared to the GRE I had which was more top heavy or just too tall. The uniden is so comfortable to hold. I do miss some things from the PSR800 like the larger display and recording, and being able to combine trunk systems of different types into groups. I don't mean to bash the GRE in my post. Just wanted to mainly say the Uniden works much better for me in my location.

This scanner takes me back to years ago though when scanner was more simple. I love the quick bank access by just hitting numbers on the keypad. I wasn't a fan of the new models either mainly since I wanted to go back to something simple and reliable after having the GRE. With the GRE I had SD card issues and the paint peeled off the front of it after a month. Still loved the recording but receiving many things was a pain for me here.

I remember I had a case for an older model I had, but the scanner just stays at home now and take good care. It just feels so good to hold I don't want to lose that. ; )

I know what you mean about the RF performance also. It doesn't matter what I'm listening to. Weak VHF in the distance, simulcast digital systems, motorola type II mixed systems, P25 phase 1, they all are uniform in how they sound and receive. While on the GRE there was so much variation. I would have to go in and some I would have to set the attenuator on, some not, change antennas for some, others not... It drove me crazy.

Once again though, I don't mean to bash. Just glad I found a scanner that works perfectly where I am with all the RF I have to deal with here.
 

jaspence

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I agree location makes a difference. I was simply pointing out that phase II makes any comparison invalid, as the 396xt is the same technology as the Pro 106 and will be obsolete in a couple of years for many listeners.
 

tilt404

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I'm worried for all scanners actually becoming obsolete. So much in my area has been switching to NXDN or TRBO style systems lately that no scanner can pick up. The future looks dim unless something major changes in the future of scanners.
 

SCPD

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I would have to agree tilt, especially in Ontario and in around The Greater Toronto Area there's there is a heck of a lot of systems going TRBO. I'm that the Eaton Centre LTR system is going to be the next victim of voice inversion lol. I've seen a lot of guards carrying around XPR6550's

Anyway I hope you enjoy your new 396 tilt it will do you good especially on FleetNet
 

tilt404

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I'm in Essex County and still can listen to Detroit and its MPSCS system. My local system is P25 phase 1 thankfully, but PD are encrypted, fire isn't though. Fleetnet is my fave to listen to. Most of the county here in the past year has gone to TRBO Connect Plus. I don't think Detroit will switch due to their bankruptcy and its a statewide system, so big $$$. Locally our system isn't that old so I hope it sticks around.

I feel like sand in the hourglass is falling steady though and the days are numbered. I'm sure Motorola is out there knocking on doors trying to get the rest to buy into their system.

Loving this scanner though.
 

SCPD

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I'm in Essex County and still can listen to Detroit and its MPSCS system. My local system is P25 phase 1 thankfully, but PD are encrypted, fire isn't though. Fleetnet is my fave to listen to. Most of the county here in the past year has gone to TRBO Connect Plus. I don't think Detroit will switch due to their bankruptcy and its a statewide system, so big $$$. Locally our system isn't that old so I hope it sticks around.

I feel like sand in the hourglass is falling steady though and the days are numbered. I'm sure Motorola is out there knocking on doors trying to get the rest to buy into their system.

Loving this scanner though.

Lol motorola probably is and wow that sounds cool to listen to Detroit.
 

sibbley

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I always found the 396xt better at decoding the P25 than my PSR-800. I love my xt, it's still my go to radio. The PSR-800 sounds pretty damn good on Phase ll, but it lacks on Phase l.
 

SCPD

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I always found the 396xt better at decoding the P25 than my PSR-800. I love my xt, it's still my go to radio. The PSR-800 sounds pretty damn good on Phase ll, but it lacks on Phase l.

My PSR 800 could never decide Phase ll. was very choppy.
 

fourthhorseman

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I'm worried for all scanners actually becoming obsolete.
Not initiating a quarrel on a personal level,merely countering the point...

I think worrying about all scanners becoming obsolete is a moot point. Technology will advance and Uniden/Whistler ect either advance and expand their products to cover the future modes.Or they wont.

With the use of personal computers and the advent of programs like SDR#,DSD+,Unitrunker,SDRTrunk
and others the option will be to adapt these into the mainstream of monitoring. Or we will only hear static
on the air.

Its a new age in the realm of monitoring the spectrum. We now have access to technology and hardware that was never imagined 5 years ago.

Analog simplex/duplex was replaced by trunking,then digital trunking,then phase 2 digital trunking.Uniden/GRE advanced and met the need....Now theres NXDN,MotoTrbo..and IP...Its simple evolution..There Will be radios that will cover these systems,Many are asking If there will be scanners to allow people to tune these...Right now..No..In the future..Most definitely Yes..

In late 2009 I posted a question on the RR boards..

Will there be a program able to decode Moto Digital TRS Via a Discriminator tap into the sound card of a computer?
It was met with replies as follows...
No,It will not be possible...the protocols are proprietary..Yada-Yada-Yada.....

About 5 months later DSD for Linux came out.(never got it to work right)..

So my point....Today...No..Is it coming..Certainly.Will the manufacturers say whats up their sleeve...Not a chance in hell!
 

tilt404

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Good point fourthhorseman. I like to think even those in the field are in need of scanners to listen in with. It feels like all this homeland security and growing age of government control might be too much. Things need to make it past the FCC and I just wonder if anything could get by like something that would monitor TRBO, but then TRBO can have encryption just like current systems like P25 Phase 1 so it could be all for nothing.

I'll try to keep positive like you though. I have listened to TRBO systems using DSD but it sure wasn't a fun process. I found it wasn't worth the trouble. I hope we won't be shut out of the future though.
 
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