Best Digital Trunking Scanner – Top 5 for 2021
What are the best Digital Trunking Scanners on the market today? There’s a wide range of brands, with different features and capabilities available. Knowing which is right for you can be difficult.
You will clearly want something that will pick up on the objects you are interested in. Other important factors include reception and audio quality, programmability, and ease of use.
To help you in your search we have selected 5 top-rated Digital Trunking Scanners across a range of price points and designs.
For our findings at a glance, just head to the table below. For a detailed review of each of our picks keep on reading.
Top 5 Best Digital Trunking Scanner
Digital Trunking Scanner Reviews
We selected the following scanners based on their cost/performance benefits, overall reception quality, and other factors such as function and customization.
In our investigation, we have chosen a top pick for both handheld and desktop-style scanners. We have also attempted to cover both budget and premium options.
Our aim is to give you an insight into some of the best digital trunking scanners currently available in 2020.
1. BEST HANDHELD: Uniden BCD436HP HomePatrol Scanner Review
Our top pick handheld scanner for 2020 is the Uniden BCD436HP HomePatrol. With the onus being on ease of use, as well as a competitive affordability factor, this really is a highly recommended scanner.
Featuring Uniden‘s exclusive Close Call RF Capture feature, along with convenient GPS Connectivity, simply enter your zip code and let the TrunkTracker V do the rest.
The extra-large display makes reading important data nice and easy; add that to the Radio System Analysis and Discover Mode operation and you have a scanner a beginner can pick up and run with.
Users can immediately begin receiving communications used by a wide range of public safety services, including the Police, Fire service, EMS, and Ambulance. Other, harder to incept signals are also possible, allowing you to listen in on Aircraft and Military bandwidths too.
With a scan speed of 85 channels per second, you will quickly find signals of interest to you.
Uniden pitches it as the most advanced scanner available that can fit in the palm of your hand. And they are not far wrong.
Combine all the features listed above, along with the fact the inbuilt, patented radio system selection allows you to identify and monitor only nearby systems in the USA and Canada, and you have a versatile scanner that will certainly cover the demands of the average enthusiast.
Other options include a very useful instant replay; a feature that provides playback of up to 240 seconds (4 minutes) of the most recent transmissions.
You can also set up custom alerts. This means that you can set the unit to alert when a particular Channel or Unit ID begins. Be notified when a Close Call hit or an ID is transmitted with an Emergency Alert and be there to listen in.
The range of alerts you can program is impressive. Select from 9 different tone patterns, 15 volume settings, 7 colors, and 3 flash patterns. The customization of these features is nothing short of top-notch.
- Follows APCO 25 Phase 1, Phase 2, X2-TDMA, Motorola, EDACS and LTR trunked systems.
- Exclusive Close Call RF Capture feature
- GPS Connectivity and Extra-Large Display
- Radio System Analysis and Discover Modes
- Specific Area Message Encoding – NOAA Weather or Emergency Alerts for your specific location
- You can’t scan and charge the batteries at the same time
- The user manual lacks detail
- The unit requires a working SD card to access all features
If you are looking for a handheld digital trunking scanner, this is the unit to buy. Packed with features along with sophisticated Uniden patented technology, this is a scanner that will deliver.
And despite all of the hi-tech going on in the background, this is an extremely easy scanner to use. Beginners can tap into emergency service signals in no time. Our top pick for good reason.
2. Whistler WS1065 Desktop Digital Scanner Review
The first of the desktop digital trunking scanner in our top 5 review roundup comes from Whistler.
These guys know what they are doing when it comes to digital scanners, with a number of high-quality products on the market right now.
So does the Whistler WS1065 hold up? Let’s take a look at some of the features.
First off, we have the inbuilt, Menu Driven Programming with Context Sensitive Help. This really is a leap forward when it comes to ease of use and intuitive assistance.
With this, each menu item provides a few lines of help text. Desktop scanners are notoriously difficult to get to grips with for the beginner, there are just so many options.
And while the context-sensitive help doesn’t remove the myriad variables available, they do offer a way of getting to grips with them all a lot faster.
The Scan List-functionality is another feature that aids in the overall ease of use. Now you can arrange, group, and scan objects according to your preference.
Other features that demonstrate the high level of technical sophistication of the unit include the Free-Form Memory Organization (memory will efficiently adjust to the demands of the user), Digital AGC (that automatically compensates for low audio levels), and of course, Multi-System Trunking.
The latter ensures that scanning of Motorola, EDACS, LTR, and P25 trunked radio networks can be carried out with reliable ease.
In total, the WS1065 can store up to 1,800 frequencies. That’s a market-leading amount for a unit at this price point.
Furthermore, the virtual Scanner mode stores 21 various scanner configurations. When added together across all potential objects you have the capability for a total storage capacity of over 38,000 scannable objects.
Finally, for weather spotters, the Whistler WS1065 has a built-in Skywarn Storm Spotter Function. This allows the user to easily access frequencies used by storm spotter networks.
- System Requirements: Only for use on Windows Operating System
- Included: In-dash DIN-E installation kit. Subaudible Squelch Decoder
- Memory Backup with Free-Form Memory Organization
- Skywarn Storm Spotter Function
- Multi-System Trunking – Scans common trucked radio systems including Motorola, EDACS, LTR, and P25 trunked radio networks
- Tune – Find new and unlisted frequencies
- Digital AGC – Instantly compensates for low user audio levels
- Both talkgroup and individual call monitoring are supported
- Less user-friendly when compared to other units in our top 5
- Programming is more difficult than it should be
If you are looking for a high-spec desktop digital trunking scanner with sophisticated storage ability (and a ton of other options beside), your search may well end here.
While it just misses out on being our top pick in this category (see the Uniden review below for more on that); this is still a highly recommended unit that won’t disappoint.
- Related Content: Best Weather Station for Weather Underground
3. Radio Shack PRO-652 Digital Triple-Trunking Desktop Radio Scanner Review
For those looking for a low-budget, yet user friendly desktop digital trunking scanner, this offering from Radio Shack is definitely worth a look.
The specifications really do speak for themselves on the PRO-652. In line with the scanner from Whistler, this too has a massive object memory capable of storing 1,800 within the main memory.
Not only that, but the built-in 21 V-scanner memory offers up even further versatility.
The 700 Mhz digital interface along with the digital trunking ability means that the unit can trunk all 3 popular system types.
As with most scanners of this type, you can customize your alerts so that you are notified when a particular object is being heard.
The Object-oriented, menu-driven programming, while not as intuitive as the offering from whistler (that has in-built menu option text help), will not present a problem to any experienced user.
In fact, within a short space of time, even a beginner will be selecting and tracking objects with relative ease.
- Digital triple-trunking desktop scanner – trunks all 3 popular system types
- 700MHz digital interface
- Customize LED and alert sounds
- Easy to use, Object-oriented, menu-driven programming
- 39,000 object memory -stores up to 1,800 objects in main memory
- 21 V-scanner memory
- The internal speaker is low quality
- Not as user-friendly as the Uniden units
If you are on a budget but are looking for a quality desktop digital trunking scanner, the Pro 652 from Radio Shack is definitely worth a look.
While it isn’t up to the level of either the units from Whistler or Uniden, it still packs a punch as far as features go and will satisfy most enthusiasts.
However, if your budget does stretch further, we do recommend that you consider some of the others reviewed in our top 5.
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4. BEST DESKTOP: Uniden SDS200 Advanced X Base Trunking Scanner Review
Once again Uniden claim a top product prize in our 2020 scanner review round up. This time it is in the category of Best Destop Unit.
Let’s take a look at the features that made it our preferred choice this year.
Firstly, there is the Advanced Frequency Range that allows 25-512Mhz, 758-824, 849-869, 895-960, and 1240-1300MHz to be scanned.
Then you have the True I/Q receiver technology that ensures reliable digital performance no matter the strength of the signal.
The unit has the full USA/Canada Radio Database built-in with alphanumeric frequencies. Not only that, but purchase this unit from an official supplier and you can enjoy free lifetime updates on this frequency list.
PL/DPL/NAC are all supported of course. The unit also has Location Control for high specific location-based usage.
3. 5″ Customizable Color Display makes things easy to operate. Add that to the fact the scanner can tap into APCO P25 Phase I and II, Motorola, EDACS, and LTR Trunking, and you have a unit that really does deliver.
What to scan Airband, Marine Weather, and Analog signals? Great, you are covered with the SDS200.
Another excellent feature is the Direct Ethernet Connectivity for Streaming and Control. Not only does that offer sophisticated user control, with Optional paid downloadable upgrades you can increase the capability of the system for Capacity + and Connect +, DMR Tier III, XPT, Single-Channel DMR, NXDN 4800 and 9600, and EDACS use.
Finally, for overall peace of mind, free Uniden Sentinel Software updates will keep the SDS200 database and firmware current for the lifetime of the unit.
- True I/Q Receiver, Trunk Tracker X
- Direct Ethernet Connectivity for Streaming and Control
- Complete USA/Canada Radio Database
- Location Control for Simple Operation
- 3. 5″ Customizable Color Display
- Free lifetime updates
- Can’t be programmed using Apple Macs
When it comes to top quality features, superior user control and wide scanning options there is very little that can beat the Uniden SDS200 desktop scanner.
Add all of this to the ethernet connectivity and update capabilities and you have a unit that will grow as your needs develop.
An easy choice for our number one desktop scanner in 2020.
5. Uniden HomePatrol-2 Color Touchscreen Digital Scanner Review
The final unit in our top 5 is the Uniden HomePatrol-2. As one of the most popular Digital Police scanners on the market, it had to be reviewed.
As with the top pick handheld unit from Uniden, this will allow the beginner user to quickly locate Public Safety, Police, Fire, Ambulance, Aircraft, and Military objects.
Just enter your zip code and begin.
A similar technological ability is at play here. The unit can receive all unencrypted, non-proprietary radio systems in order to provide the user with superior listening ability.
The usual suspects are included of course (APCO-25 Phase I and Phase II digital, Motorola, EDACS, LTR, conventional analog and P25 digital channels), making for an extremely versatile system.
What differs here most is the context in which the scanner can be used. Built in a way that it can be dashed mounted, if you want to drive around while listening to objects, you can with the HomePatrol2.
It comes with a Vehicle Mount and can be easily connected to your car speakers. GPS location provides accurate positioning as you drive.
It covers both the USA and Canadian territories and can be powered via USB or batteries, again making it an excellent choice for patrol style used.
It also has an easy touch screen interface, again important if being used while on the road.
- Excellent for in-vehicle, patrol use
- Receives all unencrypted, non-proprietary radio systems
- Tracks APCO-25 Phase I and Phase II digital, Motorola, EDACS, LTR, conventional analog and P25 digital channels
- USB or battery-powered
- Full USA and Canadain use
- Audio is not as good as other premium scanners
- Doesn’t work with Apple Macs
Uniden has come up trumps again, this time in the category of patrol style vehicle-use scanning. Easily connect this up and enjoy scanner capabilities as you drive.
Everything is setup to this end. So if this describes the way you wish to use your scanner after purchase, this is the unit to buy.
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