The Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Police Scanners in 2020
Digitalnerds blog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. we never accept free products from manufacturers.Learn more.
Crime rates are staggering up with each passing year. As a citizen if you would like to know about the emergency situations, weather alert police radio chatter and road conditions, commercially available police scanners helps you keep track what is going on around your neighbourhood.Now days citizen journalists and general pubic find it useful for knowing the scene of the incidents and covering the incidents as they develop.
There are plenty of police scanner models that help in getting to know of incidents in your neighborhood quickly. A Police scanner is one of the critical devices that are essentially used by journalists, enthusiasts, and any other individual who is interested in knowing the surrounding occurrences. It enables people to monitor radio communications in the area. Police scanner allows individuals to pick up different ranges of radio bands all at once.
In this police scanner guide, we’re going to learn about police scanner technology. We’ll explain how they work, the intricacies in the many different scanners available, and how to pick the right scanner for based on your requirements and budget.
Table of Content
- 1 – What is Police Scanner?
- 2 – How Does A Police Scanner Work?
- 3 – Types of Police Scanners in The Market
- 1 – Handheld Scanners
- 2 – Desktop
- 3 – Base/Mobile
- 4 – Why Use A Police Scanner?
- 5 – What You Can Listen With A Police Scanner?
- 6 – Buying Guide: Factors To Consider While Buying A Police Scanner
- 1 – Analogue/Digital Dual Band
- 2 – Handheld/Mobile/Desktop
- 3 – Weather/Emergencies
- 4 – Legality
- 5 – Local Priority
- 9 – Best Police Scanners That You Must Think About In 2020
- 1 – Uniden BCD436HP Home Patrol Series
- 2 – Uniden BC75XLT 300 – Channel Handheld Scanner
- 3 – Whistler WS1040 Handheld Digital Scanner
- 4 – Whistler WS1010 Analog Handheld Scanner
- 5 – Uniden BC355N800
- 6 – Whistler TRX-2 Desktop Digital Scanner
- 7 – Uniden BearTracker Mobile Tracking Scanner
- 8 – Whistler Desktop Scanner
- 9 – Uniden BCD325P2 Handheld Scanner
- 8 – The Bottom Line
No matter how tech-savvy the world has become, the relevance and significance of a police scanner have not decreased even an ounce. Enabling the user to connect with different channels and tune into different frequencies, police scanner is a form of radio that is commonly used by law enforcement and other emergency services.
With the evolution in the communication system, police scanners have witnessed several changes in their features that have made them potent for use. There are plenty of range systems and features now available in the police scanners that can often confuse you during the purchase journey.
Police scanners are essential utilities that help the general public and citizen journalists to remain vigilant about the surroundings. Today, the police scanners also come with weather alerts, so it highly necessary for police officers working in extreme weather conditions.
The following table gives you an over view of top selling police radios & Scanners.
|Police Scanner||Channels||Price||Main Features|
|Whistler TRX-2||MicroSD card- Unlimited||$$$||
|Whistler WS1040||up to 1,800 frequencies||$$$||
Police communication device or the police scanners work similarly as a radio broadcast. The radio waves with high-frequency photons are transmitted over different bands and then converted through transistors into sound waves. It is quite different from the conventional AM or FM radio due to its ability to broadcast multiple receivers. The only drawback a police scanner is that it cannot transmit, as transmitting on government channel is considered illegal.
However, receiving transmission is completely legal. It is important to look into different police scanner models that perfectly align with your requirements to make the best buy. There are plenty of features available today in these scanners; you need to filter out the products that are ideal for your use.
A police scanner works in three different modes: –
- Scan Mode
- Manual Scan Mode
- Search Mode
Scan Mode: In this mode the receiver will change the frequencies in a particular order to find the ideal frequency that the sender is transmitting. The panel will display what frequency or channel the device is currently scanning. Frequencies can also be programmed into the device.
Manual Scan Mode: The user can press the button or turn the dial to manually go through the preprogrammed frequencies.
Search Mode: The receiver will search between two predetermined sets of channels within a given band. This mode is particularly useful when the range is not clear as it should be.
Police scanners basically come in three different types, but all of these scanners work on standard technology. Take a look at these three different police scanners:-
- Handheld Scanners: As the name suggest, this type of scanner is portable and can be held in hand. This type of scanner is used by people who are looking for mobility and want to use a scanner on the go. In terms of features, handheld models are extremely popular in the market. It might be weak on the broadcast pick up range, but it certainly compensates it its other amazing features.
- Desktop: Just like its name, the desktop police scanners are placed in a particular place with wall mounted output. It is a complete opposite of the handheld scanners as it not portable. Once you install a desktop scanner in your vehicle or office, it will stay there until you re-install it somewhere else. While lack of mobility is a drawback here, desktop scanners come with amazing frequency pick up power. It also has some built-in features like additional channel memory.
- Base/Mobile: It is the middle ground between both desktop and handheld scanners. These are portable and can even plug into the wall. So, for those who are looking for portable as well as wall-mounted scanners, base/mobile scanners are the ideal pick.
When it comes to types of scanners, analogue and digital is also something that differentiates the product. While analogue is the traditional radio that has been in use since the birth of radios. Digital scanners, on the other hand, are the product of technology and assist in modern communication. Analog is generally cheaper than the digital ones, and digital scanners are powerful than the analogue ones.
Different types of police scanners have different kinds of perks and drawbacks that make them distinctive from each other. Today you can avail every kind of police scanner that performs various functions but work on the same technology. The abundance of options and choice can make a buyer further confused. It depends on the buyer to streamline their requirements and choose their ideal type of scanner.
It is a way of communicating between different channels and detects different frequencies. It comes handy during the situation of emergency. Citizen journalists who buy a police scanner for personal use as well. Many people use it just to listen to hear what is happening in their surroundings.
Police and firefighters need a police scanner to listen to commands from their office or detect what is going on in their surroundings. The weather alert feature alerts them regarding an oncoming weather condition, so that they can take necessary action at the right time. Either way, the police scanner is an essential utility that can make things easier for the police or fire department.
Though they are called police scanners, there are plenty of things that you can do with it. Here is a list of things you can do with a scanner if you don’t belong to the police or fire industry. The proximity of your location and the agency becomes the deciding factors for what you might listen:-
- Local police, sheriff, State Police and Highway Patrol
- Fire Department
- Road and Street Departments
- Air Traffic
- Water, Gas and Electric Utility
- Malls and Stores
Just like any other product that you buy from the market, police scanner has to be brought carefully by looking into its features. There is an abundance of options when it comes to police scanners. From features to functionality, there are plenty of things that can make you confuse. In order to make your purchase fruitful and get hands-on the ideal product, you would need to gauge each and every product against some predetermined factors.
Feature to Consider When Buying Police Scanners
|Channels||Most has around 10-20 channels|
|Banks and lists||Sorting the channels based On Category|
|Storage||2GB of sd card minimum|
|Color screen and touch screen technology||Need to decide if you need color screens|
|GPS compatibility||If you move to a new area,update automatically|
|Software||Should be user friendly|
|Charging while scanning||Nice to have|
|Pre-loaded frequencies||Check before buying which frequencies are preloaded|
|Range||See if the range meets youre needs|
|Battery life||8 hours minimum needed|
|Search features||scanning speed of roughly 16 per second is fine 10 channel scan|
|Sensitivity and selectivity||Look for a lower number which means high sensitivity and better|
|Trunk tracking||needed to listen to trunked radio system|
When it comes to buying a police scanner, there are plenty of things that you need to take into consideration in order to make sure that everything falls into place. Take a look at some of the features that you must see into s product before making any purchase decision:-
Analogue/Digital Dual Band
As mentioned earlier, there are different types of police scanners available in the market and analogue/digital/dual-band are the forms that you need to look into. This can only be decided by determining what sort of system is being used by anyone you are planning to listen to. For instance, if the local police department is using digital signals, then it is better to go for a digital police scanner. If you are ensured about the range system you can always go for the dual-band style for superior computability. Anyway, you have to make decisions regarding the type of scanner you need and filter the product regarding the specific type.
Just like deciding on the digital/analogue/dual-band, it is important to determine you need a handheld/mobile/desktop scanner. All these scanners are available in different price ranges and feature-rich models; all you need to do is determine your purpose. Handheld scanners are portable and can be used when you are out in the field. You can carry it anywhere but it can sometimes compromise on the range system. If you are looking for something with more power and superior range system, you can think of a desktop scanner. Mobile scanners are the middle option which is portable as well as it can be mounted to a place. You need to determine your purpose and decide on the type of scanner.
Emergencies can pop up anytime, you need to be prepared with your scanner. There are plenty of scanners that are specifically designed for emergency purpose. Features like S.A.M.E weather alert are good to work in extreme weather conditions. Furthermore, the scanners that are powered with AA batteries can stock the power for long. So, if you are working in regions that are prone to disasters and other weather emergencies, then you should probably look out features that can provide you with superior coverage. So, when you are looking for a police scanner, then you should always look out for weather and emergency features. Many police scanners come with easy operation through a smartphone application. You can also think about taking them into consideration as well.
Legality is another crucial feature that you must look in a police scanner. There are some frequencies that are illegal to broadcast, you need to make sure whether your concerned police scanner broadcast any illegal channels. Depending on your work area, you need to determine whether the police scanner is the right pick for you or not. There are specific police scanners that are illegal to use in certain regions. Make sure you are not investing in something that you cannot use eventually.
Police scanners broadcast several frequencies, while you are working in a local area; you need to look out for scanner that majorly prioritizes local channels. It is essential to find a scanner that provides you with all the prominent local radio signals because at the end you would need a scanner that gives you clear local radio signals. Scanners that prioritize local radio signals make it easier to listen and find local source radio transmission. A majority of police scanners are compatible with local radio signals. However, you must check into the features before buying any specific product.
Every year the technology of police scanners is leveraged that makes them even more efficient to use. There are plenty of products in the market that is lauded for their distinctive features. To make your task further easier, take a look at some of the best products in the market that you can probably take into consideration when you are searching for police scanners.
Delve into the product descriptions, features along with their pros and cons to make a well-informed decision:-
- Uniden BCD436HP Home Patrol Series
- Uniden BC75XLT 300 – Channel Handheld Scanner
- Whistler WS1040 Handheld Digital Scanner
- Whistler WS1010 Analog Handheld Scanner
- Uniden BC355N800
- Whistler TRX – 2 Desktop Digital Scanne
- Uniden BearTracker Mobile Tracking Scanner
- Whistler Desktop Scanner
- Uniden BCD325P2 Handheld Scanner
When it comes to buying the best police scanners it programming capabilities plays a major role in making a well-informed decision. If you are looking for a police scanner that is powered with numerous features, then you can certainly think about this Uniden product. It is a feature-rich police scanner that has advanced programming capabilities. Other features that make this product an ideal pick is its GPS compatibility, weather alerts, radio system analysis compact size, etc.
This Uniden police scanner is the first product in the market to incorporate HomePatrol-1 in a conventional handheld scanner. This police scanner is easy to use and highly user-friendly. The amalgamation rich radio system database with radio reference has made its functionality a lot more streamlined.
- Trunk Tucker V
- Close Call RF Capture Technology
- S.AM.E weather alert
- GPS connectivity
- Radio System Analysis
- Discover Modes
- Easy to use and handle
- GPS compatibility
- Pre-programmed into channel
- Detects near transmissions
- Requires proper setup before starting
- The battery can be unreliable
Being a true budget-friendly police scanner, this Uniden product comes with a variety of features that clearly makes this a top pick. It covers plenty of channels that make it easier for tracking any agency. To be precise, there are 300 channels, ten programmable search engine provided by this scanner. You can also program it on your computer, and it is easy to use.
It doesn’t require any setup, and you don’t need to be a professional to handle this police scanner. It comes with a Close Call RF Capture Technology that automatically detects the nearby transmissions and tune-it accordingly. This police scanner runs on 2 SS alkaline or USB charging that instantly charges the battery for your use. You can easily search for new frequencies that are typically used for official purposes. It is undoubtedly one of the ideal scanners for police and fire department.
- Close Call RF Capture Technology
- 300 Channel Handheld Scanner
- NOAA Weather Broadcasts
- Ten Programmed Service Search Bands
- Easy to charge
- Programmed on computer
- Owner’s manual is confusing
- Reception limited inside buildings
Whistler is a reputed and reliable company that has been known in the industry for its quality product offerings. Standing out in both quality and user-friendliness, this Whistler is undoubtedly a tempting option to pick. With excellent reception both indoors and outdoors, this handheld police scanner from Whistler is worth your investment. The clear audio and ample storage space is another major attraction of this police scanner. Additionally, this Whistler product also topped the charts of best handheld police scanner 2018.
It is highly user-friendly, so you don’t need to be a pro to use this scanner. Programming is made easier with menu-driven programming that provides short information prior to programming. It has a scan list functionality that allows you to customize groups and scan objects accordingly. Skywarn storm security spotter functionality allows instant access to the frequencies. You can easily compensate low user audio levels with digital AGC.
- Menu Drive Programming
- Scan List Function
- Skywarn Storm Spotter
- Digital AGC
- Intuitive Object-Oriented User Interface
- V-Scanner Technology
- Complete function package
- Great sensitivity and clearance
- Easy to use
- Quality function
- Quite overpriced for a handheld scanner
Offering a wide range of built-in features, there’s no doubt in asserting that this scanner is a real stunner. Providing good value for money, this Whistler product will never disappoint you in terms of its amazing features. The user manual is comprehensive and ideal for helping you out with the right functionality. Covering all the basic functionalities and providing some additional features, this scanner is definitely going to amaze you with its features.
This handheld Whistler scanner has a 200 channel memory and 10 separate frequency storage banks. It is to note that this a handheld model that also offers great reception ranges. This scanner is PC programmable as well. You don’t have to worry about customer support, as Whistler is brilliant with their customer service assistance.
- Lock out Function
- Scan Delay
- Easily Programmable
- 200 channel memory
- Extra Large Battery
- Chargeable battery
- Quick manual guide
- Analog only model
Before getting into the detailed review of the product, it is important to note that this Uniden product is a mobile scanner. So, if you are looking for quality mobile scanner, this Uniden product might entice you. There are plenty of things that stand out in the crowd. It is one of the best tri-band radios in the market. You can expect some great features in this mobile scanner, like Close Call RF Capture Technology, pre programmed search, 100 channels/second scan speed, etc.
You would not need any other product once you have laid eyes on this Uniden product. From features that can blow your mind to the functionality, you cannot get anywhere else; this mobile scanner will adhere to your entire requirement. This product also offers you a 300 channel frequencies and better frequency coverage in extreme conditions as well.
- Close Call RF Technology
- 300 Frequencies
- Search Lockouts
- 6 service banks
- PC Programmable
- Active frequency search
- 100 channel/second scan speed
- Does not have all the premium features
A well-designed desktop scanner that can adhere to all your requirements, this Whistler can amaze you to some extent. For the desktop scanner, this Whistler scanner is quite impressive. For someone who is looking for compact design and easy to handle desktop police scanner, this Whistler product is an ideal pick. Whether you want user-friendliness or abundance of features, you can expect anything with Whistler scanner. It is a multi-system adaptive digital trunking scanner that has ability to group stored objects.
It has a wide range of frequency ranging to 200 along with a special Skywarn scanlist. This desktop scanner comes with functional keypad and backlit LCD display as well. Quick location based programming is the major highlight of this product. It can decode radio ID/ Talkgroup ID data.
- Great Audio Quality
- Updatable Software and Firmware Support
- Easy Connectivity
- Quick Location Based Programming
- Detects and masks voice
- Functional keypad
- Skywarn Scanlist
- Quite heavy on the pocket
Apart from tracking bear, this Uniden scanner can do possibly anything. If you are looking for a compact mobile style scanner for police and fire department, then this Uniden product is certainly a match. It is packed with a range of beneficial features that will come handy in different situations. The scanner has an advanced dynamic memory system that enables you to save 9000 channels, and that’s the major highlight of this product.
You can also enjoy the Close Call Capture FR Technology which will perfectly tune local origin radio sources. The scanner is also backed with amazing GPS technology to provide you with more accurate results. You can also get access to the S.A.M.E weather alert system if you are working in the area with the extreme weather condition. The scanner is also pre-loaded with state-by-state radio frequencies. If you are looking for a scanner that can help you with all the scanning requirements, then you should probably think about this Uniden product.
- 9000 Channels
- Close Call RF Capture Technology
- Trunk Tracker III Technology
- Location-Based Scanning
- S.A.M.E Weather Alert
- State by state pre-programmed channels
- Location-based scanning
- Amazing battery life
- Quite heavy
Whistler never disappoints its customers with its offerings. This desktop scanner is no different; it is packed with all the necessary feature that a desktop scanner should have. Unlike the mobile or handheld scanner, this desktop scanner will be mounted to a particular spot and connected to a wall output. If you are looking for a scanner that can assist you inside the cars or behind the desks, then this Whistler product is the right pick for you. The lack of mobility has certainly made this scanner heavier than the other models, but it’s amazing features have well balanced that drawback. The eye-catching feature that will make you fall for this scanner is that it can store up to 1800 frequencies.
With this scanner, you can easily search the prominent and local channels effortlessly. The scanner will automatically flit from one channel to the next with ease, allowing you to find channels within seconds. The memory of this scanner is more like dynamic design than a traditional banked design. The device can instantly make the decision where and how to allocate the memory resources that makes your job much easier.
Working with a desktop scanner is quite different from a mobile or handheld scanner, but the user-friendly interface if this scanner makes it easier for you to operate with ease. Though it is quite pricey for a desktop scanner, you can avail a lot of features that you cannot possibly find in any other desktop scanner.
- Menu Driven Programming
- Scan List Functionality
- Free Form Memory
- Skywarn Storm Spotter Function
- Digital AGC
- Memory backup
- Easy to use
- 1800 frequencies
- Catches signal automatically
- Not portable
- Quite heavy on pocket
Another handheld radio that can make your job easier, Uniden BCD325P2 is an amazing scanner in the market. It is quite identical to other pricey models, but this handheld scanner set itself by its brilliant features. This scanner has 25,000 dynamically allocated channels that are way too high for a handheld scanner. It also has Close Call RF Capture Technology that easily catches the nearby transmissions. It also has a location-based scanning that will easily connect you to the optimal GPS for automated selection.
You will also get S.A.M.E Weather Alerts that will alert you regarding the upcoming weather conditions. It has a 100 quick key system access along with the other vital features. This particular handheld scanner has a user-friendly operation, but generally, it is preferred more by the professionals than the beginners. So if you are someone with experience in the field can go for this handheld scanner without any doubt.
- Advanced Dynamic Memory System
- 25000 Channels
- Close Call RF Technology
- Quick Key System Access
- More channels
- GPS connectivity
- Easy to use
- High-end customer support
- Quite heavy on the pocket
Police scanner is always a reliable device if you want to get access to police bands, emergency responders and even utility companies. Police scanners does not have many moving parts and if you buy good quality police scanner it may last years to come and majority scanners has the capability to scan for majority of the spectrum which are used by law enforcement and first responders.
With the advent of technology, the market for police scanners has grown radically. Today, you can expect as many features as you want in a police scanner. From multiple channels to S.A.M.E Weather alerts, police scanner these days have every feature to leave you stunned.
The above mentioned was a complete guide for buying the best police scanners in 2020. There is an abundance of options available in the market that can often befuddle you. But, if you know the right way to search for a product and factors to consider in an ideal scanner, the purchase journey can be made easier. The next time when you are out shopping for a police scanner, make sure to keep this guide in mind to streamline your purchase journey and make a well-informed decision.