Best Radio Scanners

Review & Comparison, Last Update August 29, 2018
Ever wanted to hear the thoughts of the people around you? While that may be a pipe dream, a radio frequency scanner can help you tap into any wave out there and listen in on previously unavailable radio stations, hear racecar drivers chatter, and much more. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Type
Range
Modulation
Frequency Range
Control
Power Source
Features
Kit
Warranty
 
PROS

The Close Call technology allows for saving the strongest signals automatically without interrupting your regular listening.

CONS

The manual is needlessly complicated.

OUR VERDICT

The Uniden BCD436HP is a smart device that automatically sets itself to the right frequency and saves the strongest signals. While it takes a bit to really master, you'll surely end up liking functions like the recorder, the GPS sync, and broad modulation compatibility. A versatile choice for many uses though a bit tough on newbies.

detailed parameters
Type

Handheld

Range

Up to 50 miles

Modulation

AM, FM, NFM, WFM, FMB, APCO25, DMR, PRO VOICE

Frequency Range

25-1300 MHz

Control

LCD display with mechanical backlit keypad

Power Source

3x AA Batteries (8 hours Operation), AC power supply, DC power supply

Features

Trunk Tracker V Operation, Multi-Site Trunking, Control Channel Only Scanning, S.A.M.E weather alert, Close Call RF capture with 4GB of memory, Radio System Analysis and Discover Modes, PC Programming and Control, Replay feature (up to 240 seconds), GPS Connectivity

Kit

Belt clip, strap, USB cable, batteries

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The Skywarn Storm Spotter will always keep you updated on the weather and you'll know about approaching storms before the media reports them.

CONS

The storage case is pretty bulky.

OUR VERDICT

Listening to emergency reports is a good way to keep safe and there's no option more convenient than the Whistler WS1040. It can be taken on the road, works in a wide range, and is relatively easy to program for scanning data. A smart choice for a cautious user, especially since it can tap into almost any frequency.

detailed parameters
Type

Handheld

Range

Up to 50 miles

Modulation

AM, FM, NFM

Frequency Range

25-1300 MHz

Control

LCD display with mechanical backlit keypad

Power Source

Batteries (4 AA alkaline, Ni-Cd, or Ni-MH), AC power supply, DC power supply

Features

Automatic Adaptive Digital Tracking, Data Cloning, Free-Form Memory Organization, Key Lock, LTR Home Repeater AutoMove, Multi-System Trunking, PC programmable, Skywarn Storm Spotter Functionality, V-Scanner Technology

Kit

PC/IF Cable, AC Adapter, Black Battery Shell, Yellow Rechargeable Battery Shell, Rubber Carry Case

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The Band Scope mode displays how strong the signal is and helps improve scanning.

CONS

The device is not that easy to program.

OUR VERDICT

If you're willing to really take a few hours to learn about programming the Uniden BCD996P2 and its features, it's a true treasure trove among other scanners. It works on a broad range of frequencies and can be used both in your car and as a desktop device. A real bargain if you're not averse to digging deep into the manual.

detailed parameters
Type

Base/Mobile

Range

25-30 miles

Modulation

AM, FM, NFM, WFM, FMB, APCO25

Frequency Range

25-1300 MHz

Control

LCD display with mechanical backlit keypad

Power Source

AC power supply, DC power supply

Features

Trunk Tracker V Operation, Advanced Dynamic Memory System, Close Call RF Capture Technology, GPS compatibility, Multi-Site Trunking, Band Scope Mode, Priority/Priority Plus Scan, Intermediate Frequency Exchange, Key Safe Mode, Automatic Channel Setup, PC Programming and Control

Kit

AC Adapter, Vehicle Accessory Power Cord, Three-Wire Harness, Mounting Bracket and Hardware, Antenna, USB Cable

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The programmable alerts will light up the screen when a channel you usually listen to becomes active.

CONS

The interference suppression is a bit weak.

OUR VERDICT

Though it is a good choice for beginners, the Whistler WS1065 is also sure to impress more experienced users with how easy to program it is and how many quality-of-life improvements it has. While the sound quality could use some fine-tuning, we like this affordable model overall and can certainly recommend it for those shopping on a budget.

detailed parameters
Type

Desktop

Range

~20 miles

Modulation

AM, FM, NFM

Frequency Range

25-1300 MHz

Control

LCD display with mechanical backlit keypad

Power Source

Batteries (rechargeable or non-rechargeable), AC power supply, DC power supply

Features

Menu Driven Programming with Context Sensitive Help, Alert LED, Automatic Adaptive Digital Tracking, Data Cloning, Digital AGC, Free-Form Memory Organization, Key Lock, Lock-out Function, Multi-System Trunking, PC programmable, SAME and All Hazards Weather Alerting, Skywarn Storm Spotter Functionality, Spectrum Sweeper, V-Scanner Technology

Kit

PC/IF Cable, DIN-E Adapter, AC Adapter, DC Cable, Telescopic Antenna, Mobile Mounting Bracket, USB cable

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The unique One-Click Readiness Key technology provides easy access to data on your car's status and exhaust level.

CONS

The warning lights aren't that bright and might go unnoticed.

OUR VERDICT

While this may not be the most feature-rich radio scanner, the SEEKONE OBD2 is great for picking up drivers' chatter as well as doing diagnostics on your car to see if everything is in order. It's compatible with pretty much all models made after 1996 and works efficiently, showing info on the large LCD display. A good choice for proud car owners.

detailed parameters
Type

Automotive Handheld

Range

~30-40 miles

Modulation

UHF, VHF

Frequency Range

25-512 Mhz

Control

2.8" TFT LCD Color Screen with mechanical keypad

Power Source

OBD2 port

Features

Live O2 sensor test data, One-Click Readiness Key, On-board monitoring test, Display fault code definition automatically, PC connection

Kit

5-ft Long Diagnostic Cable

Warranty

Lifetime with free software updates

Uniden BCD436HP

Catch Them All

Like listening to new music or obscure radio shows, collecting these auditory experiences all over? You don’t have to do so via the Internet as the Uniden BCD436HP is a portable and elegant device that does the trick while resting comfortably in your hand.

You can rest assured that you won’t miss a single station as the device browses AM, FM, NFM, WFM, DMR, and many other modulations, ranging from 25 to 1300 MHz. Plus, even if you find a station that you enjoy but the quality is poor, don’t despair! The device has a Close Call function that automatically saves these frequencies and then searches for a better source of the same signal, doing so automatically even as you listen to other things.

However, we do have to admit that a few automated functions don’t make the Uniden BCD436HP an easily accessible device. It has dozens of settings and options, which is good because versatility is key. But it’s also a problem because the manual that comes with the purchase is pretty poor and won’t be of much help. Prepare to spend some time researching your portable radio scanner.

As for the small but pleasant details, well, the Uniden BCD436HP picks up signals in a 50-mile range and you can use the built-in recorder to save whatever sounds you get. This means you could potentially end up with a recording of a space shuttle’s signal. And don’t worry, your device won’t give out in the middle of a listening session as the AA batteries keep it going for 8 hours easily and, if you’re at home, you can even charge it via AC/DC power.

There’s lots more to like about the Uniden BCD436HP such as the accessories that come with the purchase and the GPS and replay functions. But we’ve already touched down on the key characteristics and hope that you see why the Uniden BCD436HP is a great choice for listening and recording radio waves.

Review of Uniden BCD436HP HomePatrol Series Digital Handheld Scanner

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Features

I have owned several handheld scanners and this one is my favorite. Why? because I didn't have to program it! And program it again every time I go somewhere! Wherever I go I just punch in a zip code and I am scanning

Key Specs

You can do some editing but for the most part you select where you are, how much distance from where you are that you want to hear, it imports it and you are scanning. Very easy to use, the screen is quite readable.

Sensitivity (12db Sinad) Nominal

This scanner is VERY sensitive in comparison. I can hear Birmingham Alabama APCO25 system at home now almost 30 miles away where I live on the outskirts!! And that's with a 800Mhz rubber antenna!!
 

Whistler WS1040

Storm Warnings

Looking for a digital radio scanner but want it to do more than just listen in on radio shows? Take a look at the Whistler WS1040, a handheld scanner that can let you peek into the world of emergency services, using the information as precautions to avoid areas that may have wildfires or storms.

As the scanner surfs three modulations: AM, FM, NFM; it searches in a range between 25 and 1300 MHz to find both regular radio waves as well as ones used to transmit emergency messages about natural disasters or critical weather conditions. That way you’ll never be caught out on the road in a hail or a snowstorm.

You can easily take the Whistler WS1040 with you as it works both from the grid and on batteries or a rechargeable battery. Plus, the device comes with its own carry case though we have to admit it's pretty bulky and we’d recommend getting a strap to hang it on your belt instead of simply carrying it.

Since you’re not too likely to be standing right next to a transmitter, the Whistler WS1040 has a wide range of 50 miles, gathering signals from all over. Don’t worry about the quality either as the programmable scanner can be set to seek out better quality.

As the old saying goes, knowing is half the battle and the Whistler WS1040 will give you enough knowledge to keep bad weather away for the rest of your life!

Review of Whistler WS1040 Handheld Digital Scanner Radio

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Uniden BCD996P2

Chasing the Signal

Hate your current car stereo that barely picks up signals and mostly plays interference? You could do a quick upgrade to a more expensive system or opt for the Uniden BCD996P2 instead. This CB radio scanner can be slotted into your dashboard (or left at home, the choice is yours) and pick up signals from a 25-30-mile radius. You can listen in on radio stations as well as conversations between truckers, switching back and forth effortlessly as the scanner works pretty fast. Plus, the Band Scope mode will show you how strong the signal is and help keep it stable.

We did feel like the Uniden BCD996P2 was a bit tougher to program than some of its counterparts. However, it’s worth in the end if you want to get serious about intercepting radio chatter and hearing more than you would on a basic radio system. Plus, it comes with the advanced dynamic memory system that’s actually pretty easy to navigate as you save preferred settings and stations for later.

Last but not least, the Uniden BCD996P2 comes with an array of handy accessories including all the necessary mounting parts and cords as well as an AC adapter. Plus, you can connect the scanner to your PC via the free USB cable to program it a bit faster and use it at home if needed.

All in all, if you’re ready to spare the time and set up the Uniden BCD996P2 properly, it’s one of the better scanners out there in terms of both price and functionality. It’s most useful for car owners but will work well as a desktop model as well.

Review of Uniden BCD996P2 Digital T.T. V, Close Call, 25000 Ch, 4Line Alpha display Base/Mobile, Phase 2

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Sensitivity (12db Sinad) Nominal

Scanner works great, it's very sensitive and you can hear everything.

Features

This is really easy to program when using the programming software that you must download from the Uniden website, it is money well spent.

Key Specs

This scanner is capable of receiving the majority of everything (not encrypted) in the Police/Fire/Public Service/Military Air/Gov/Misc bands in either analog or digital modes. It receives APCO P-25 digital (both Phase I & II) signals great for me with a stock antenna.
 

Whistler WS1065

Easy Access for All

Want an easy way to get into ham radios and surf the frequencies, looking for curious waves and transmissions? We recommend the Whistler WS1065, a simple yet functional digital trunking scanner.

For example, a lot of newbies worry that their radio hobby may get time-consuming as they wait for the timed transmissions or spend hours programming the device to actually catch those. However, the Whistler WS1065 is easy to program and you can adjust it to automatically light up your scanner’s display when a channel goes online. That way you never miss a message!

You might, however, have trouble hearing it occasionally if the signal is a bit weak. This model doesn’t have the best interference suppression, especially if the signal is on the outskirts of the 20-mile range. However, the device does try its best to find the frequency with the best quality.

As for the quality of life features, you can save lists of preferred frequencies, keep the device on via battery or AC/DC power, clone the data you’ve received, and track storm warnings via a special function. Nothing innovative but quite a few points that we’d call necessary for your first scanner.

Even if it’s not your first foray into the radiowave world, the Whistler WS1065 still manages to impress with an affordable price and a nice array of features that will be of use to both newbies and professionals.

Review of Whistler WS1065 Desktop Digital Scanner

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Uniden BC75XLT

Diagnostics on the Road

Are you a fan of racing or simply looking for ways to spruce up your car? If you said yes, we’ve got just the thing for you - the SEEKONE OBD2 trunked radio scanner. This device can help you listen to the drivers’ chatter as they go lap by lap as well as check your car’s exhaust level and all other stats.T

he unique One-Click Readiness Key technology will provide you information on the car via display, using the graphic display to highlight any issues or problematic areas. We do feel like the device lags a bit behind in the actual radio scanner functions as it only works with UHF and VHF. Plus, it doesn't save frequencies, which is another handy features. Still, if you’re looking for a basic scanner that will also serve as a great diagnostics device for your car - the SEEKONE OBD2 is unique in its usefulness.

One last gripe we have is with the design as the lights that’re supposed to warn you about any faults aren’t that bright. Be sure to double-check them to see if there’s any trouble before you head off for a trip.

Last but not least, we have to really praise the compatibility as the scanner works with any car made after 1996. No matter how modern your model is, you can rest assured that the SEEKONE OBD2 will be compatible with it. In the end, the word that would best describe it is ‘reliable’. Sure, it may lack some functions but it’s a great and affordable device that you can trust.

Review of Uniden BC75XLT Public Safety Scanner, Racing Scanner with 300 Channels

 

What Is a Radio Scanner?

So a handheld radio scanner might not be enough to tap into the thoughts of your peers, but these devices can help you discover radio waves that aren’t regularly available on less intricate models. This includes public radio stations, broadcasts from ham radios, chatter from racecar drivers, and sports match commentators. In fact, if you take your time and set your programmable gadget to the proper range and frequency, there’s a chance you might pick up a signal from space! It’s rare but it’s known to happen.

Using the scanner to tap into broadcasts can be difficult as you’ll have to learn about what types of modulations there are and what each of them is used for. But the dive into the technology of radios will likely be worth it as you tap into a trove of knowledge and frequency surfing. You can use your radio scanner to listen in on the weather report or enjoy some music, it’s all up to you.

If you end up snared in the allure of radio technology, check out some CB radios, an old-school way to communicate out on the road. And if you also want to look at the easier side of things first, look at our clock radios review.

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Publish Date: 2018-08-29 13:18:16