Top 5 Best Digital Police Scanner Reviews 2017

Police scanners enable you to explore a world of communication that you won’t be able to access with a normal radio frequency and are becoming more and more popular amongst the general public. These devices aren’t just being used by cops and journalists looking for their next career-boosting scoop, they are actually being utilised for various purposes, with scores of radio enthusiasts snapping them up too. In short, scanners are radio receivers that enable you to listen to two-way radio calls but some of these radio calls are now transferring over to digital trunking systems which means if you want to get in on the action you will need a reliable digital scanner as opposed to analogue.

As there are so many police scanners on the market, it can be difficult to make sense of the vast range of options available to you, whether it be analogue/digital or trunked/conventional which is why we created our police scanner buyers guide to make these points clearer. This article will be dedicated to showcase some of the most talked about digital police scanners on the market.

At A Glance

Uniden BCD436HP HomePatrol Series Digital Handheld Scanner

Uniden-BCD436HP-review
This scanner offers a range of exciting features including enhanced dynamic memory, location-based scanning and narrowband reception. This scanner is the first to bring the HomePatrol-1 functionality to a traditional handheld scanner and offers a range of advanced scanner features such as GPS connectivity, Uniden’s Close Call RF Capture feature, which is exclusive to the brand, an extra-large display, discover modes and radio system analysis. The range of innovative features on offer puts the BCD436HP HomePatrol Series Scanner right at the forefront of the market. The Close Call RF Capture has 4GB of memory and detects and tunes into frequencies close to you, even when the frequency in question isn’t programmed to a channel.

The features don’t stop there. The S.A.M.E Weather Alert is another one of the scanner’s big draws. S.A.M.E stands for Specific Area Message Encoding and means you can be alerted to severe conditions in your area in the case of a NOAA Weather or Emergency Alert. We love the way you can simply enter your zip code to instruct the device to tune into local frequencies, and how you only need to connect it to your PC for firmware and frequency database updates. As the database is regularly updated, you can continue to enjoy ever-improving functionality from your device. If you’re out on a trip, you can use an external antenna to extend your range. What’s also great is that you don’t need to spend hours and hours reading the instruction manual to start making the most of it.

Best features:

  • Favourites list
  • A.M.E weather alert
  • Close Call RF capture (4GB memory)
  • Location-based scanning
  • Multi-site system support

View more features

What others think

Many reviewers have complimented the device on the way that users only need to press a few buttons to scan an area with a 20-mile radius. The device is often used to listen to police and fire departments, and some reviewers advise sidestepping the zip code scanning as there is a chance some traffic could be missed. Customers generally love the way the area range can be adjusted, though there have been some minor complaints about volume. Some reviewers recommend looking for YouTube instruction videos if you do have trouble setting the scanner up. As the scanner is so sophisticated, it’s no wonder so many people do face difficulties, but many reviewers who have faced problems initially have overcome them by obtaining information online.

View More Features & Customer Reviews

Whistler WS1040 Handheld Digital Scanner Radio

Whistler-WS1040-reviewThis device also comes complete with a variety of useful features including menu-driven programming. All menu items feature information on using the scanner, whilst the scan list functionality makes grouping, scanning and arranging objects a breeze. The free-form memory organisation makes it easy to allocate memory in line with your preferences, which sets it apart from many older and cheaper scanners. You can even access frequencies used by storm spotter networks and take advantage of digital AGC, which helps you counter problems with audio levels.

We’re huge fans of the sensitivity offered by the device as well as the high level of customer support provided by the Whistler team. The sound quality is just one reason why this scanner is one of the most impressive currently on the market. We have even been able to operate the device in the car without a car antenna. When it comes to manual programming, the process is a breeze, although the bulky user manual can make the idea of using the device seem more daunting than it is in reality. Other factors making the device one of the best around include the rapid scanning, its ability to receive most common digital modes and the vast amount of memory on offer. It also runs on MiniUSB rather than MicroUSB, so you can charge it from a wider range of devices. The device offers robust build quality and has a backlit LCD screen and keypad.

Best features:

  • Menu-driven programming
  • Great sound quality
  • Quick scanning
  • Scan list functionality
  • Free-form memory organisation
  • Digital AGC
  • Skywarn Storm Spotter Functionality

View more features

What others think

This scanner has regularly been complimented for its quality on various leading review sites, and is constantly praised for its simple programmability. Though some found it tough to get to grips with at first, most were happy that they had persevered and invested time in making sense of the device. It has received a plethora of five-star reviews and often been complimented for its ability to receive the vast majority of digital modes. A large number of users have been won over by its rapid scanning abilities as well as the voice quality, which makes deciphering audio incredibly easy. The vast amount of memory on offer has led to compliments, as has the way it uses a MiniUSB port. On the other hand, some reviewers said the product would be most likely to benefit advanced, highly-experienced scanner operators and is likely to leave those seeking an out-of-the-box solution frustrated. Nonetheless, the consensus is that those who have worked with scanner settings before and require advanced trunking features may well find tremendous value in the device.

View More Features & Customer Reviews

Whistler WS1065 Desktop Digital Scanner

This mobile scanner has been raised comparisons to the PSR 400 and 600 series, though the ease of use and advanced features on offer mean its quality is vastly superior. The device has intuitive controls and a brief control system that delivers impressive, clear sound. You can store various different configurations to meet your requirements and there is also a special button for the skyward and spectrum sweeper.

We’re huge fans of the first-class speakers that are built into the device, which makes even distorted signals sound clear. The device can also access frequencies used by spotter networks, though we did notice some problems with lag in terms of reception. Nonetheless, this option also offers huge storage capacity, quick weather updates and is remarkably easy to programme. Whistler have great reputation when it comes to designing and manufacturing long-lasting products that cater for user needs for many years, and the quality we have experienced is typical of the other Whistler products we have operated, which means there’s a great chance it could serve you well for a long period of time before it needs to be replaced.

Best features:

  • Menu-driven programming and context sensitive help
  • Free-form memory organisation
  • Digital AGC
  • Great sound quality
  • Skywarn Storm Spotter Function
  • Scan list functionality

View more features

What others think

One highly-experienced communications technician who has owned any array of scanner radios in the past described this device as the best they had ever used. Of particular appeal to the reviewer were the lit-up display buttons, which came in particularly handy during nocturnal use. The same reviewer did warn readers about the difficulty faced in programming the scanner manually, but advised subscribing to a service that would enable you to programme it via your computer. They did say that it was easy to scan different areas whilst on the move once the device was set up.

Another user branded the scanner as one of the best on the market in terms of audio quality and even decided to buy an extra model for the home. They did tell readers that they would need a computer and internet connection to programme it correctly, and like the reviewer above, advised customers to pay for a RadioReference.com subscription to get it set up properly.

View More Features & Customer Reviews

 

Uniden BearTracker Mobile Tracking Scanner with GPS Support

Uniden BearTracker Mobile Tracking Scanner
This BearTracker scanner comes complete with over 9,000 channels, close call RF capture technology and an advanced dynamic memory system. The TrunkTracker III technology built into the device enables you to stay up to date with activity on Motorola, LTR and EDACS systems. Furthermore, the location-based scanning functionality means programmed systems based on your location are selected automatically when the device is linked to a compatible GPS receiver. There are pre-programmed channels for police, highway patrol and DOT channels that can be used as you travel from state-to-state, without forcing you to program. The features don’t end there as there are 100 Quick Keys with 10-channel keys per system. Also on offer is system and channel number tagging, delivering rapid access.

Best features:

  • Mobile BearTracker scanner with 9,000 channels
  • TrunkTracker II technology
  • Location-based scanning
  • 100 system Quick Keys and 10-channel group Quick Keys per system

View more features

What others think

One particular happy customer said they could not be more pleased with this device. They said they found the device tough to programme initially but were set up in moments once they accessed the owners’ manual online. Whilst some users have complained about complex programming procedures, this reviewer described the process as “child’s play”. They also said that no computer was required to programme the radio, and they loved the way that each frequency added to the radio could be given a custom name. Furthermore, they were impressed with how the frequencies could be grouped together in terms of agencies using frequencies. The reviewer said they purchased the radio just days before a fire broke out near their home and it provided them with valuable, potentially life-saving information.

The reviewer recommended adding an indoor telescopic scanner antenna to boost reception and was pleased with the way they were able to hear both sides of conversations between emergency services officials. They said the only regret they had about making the purchase was waiting so long.

View More Features & Customer Reviews

 

Uniden BCD996P2 Digital Police Scanner

Uniden BCD996P2 Digital Police Scanner
This popular device follows communication on LTR, EDACS, Motorola, Phase 1, Phase 2 and APCO 25 systems. It features an advanced dynamic memory system alongside close call RF capture technology, enabling the device to instantly tune to signals from local transmitters. Other big draws of the device include its GPS compatibility and 25,000 dynamically allocated channels. We love the support for digital systems such as the latest APCO Project 25 Phase II systems and see the device as a worthy replacement for more dated offerings.

Best features :

  • Follows communication on a wide range of trunked systems
  • Advanced dynamic memory system
  • Close call RR capture technology
  • 25,000 dynamically allocated channels
  • GPS compatibilty

View more features

What others think

A large number of customers have been using the BCD999P2 to replace older models. Some have experienced problems with compatibility, particularly for older versions of Windows, though a quick Google search should help you find the drivers you need to get it up and running. One user replaced the BCD99XT with the model, saying that the two devices shared a range of features but applauded the addition of the USB mini port, saying that the port on their older device was vulnerable to damage.

View More Features & Customer Reviews

Hopefully our guide to some of the most impressive and most talked-about police scanners on the market has been of use to you. We have selected police scanners to suit a wide variety of budgets and showcased devices that have generated a plethora of positive reviews online. No matter what your reasons for investing in a police scanner are, hopefully there’s at least one device in this list that meets your personal preferences. If you have never used a scanner before, we recommend you to invest time in finding out how they work so you can make sense of your purchase.