Best Police Scanner Reviews 2017

(Updated )
Many people don’t like getting weather alerts second hand from the media. They prefer monitoring things first-hand from the relevant agencies. They know a five-minute head start could be the difference between life and death in severe weather conditions. You might just be interested in knowing what’s going on in your locality. Whatever your reason, you need a police radio scanner. But which one is right for you?
Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Type
Channels
Size
PC Control
Extras
Our Top Choice
Uniden BC75XLT 300-Channel Handheld Scanner
Uniden delivers when it comes to wireless communications products. Now you can get first-hand reports from agencies with its Amazon-bestselling handheld radio scanner.
PC-programmable with free software. Detect/tune to nearby transmissions you haven’t programmed in. Preprogrammed service search bands. Ten Scan Banks for easy operation.
Gives you a low-battery notification, but does not give you a way to monitor battery levels.
Handheld scanner
300
1 x 5 x 3 inches
Yes
Close call RF capture
Best Value
Whistler WS1025 Desktop/Mobile Scanner Radio
Whistler is an industry leader in radar/wireless electronic products. Get a taste of this company’s expertise with this value-priced, user-friendly analog desktop radio scanner.
Data cloning for easy transfer of data to another WS1025 scanner. Easy reading/programming in low-light situations.Key lock prevents accidental changing of scanner’s programming.
The audio is “thin.” A little bass and midrange would have helped.
Analog desktop radio scanner
200
6.9 x 8.2 x 2.4 inches
Yes (with 3rd party software)
Lock-out function
RadioShack PRO-652 Desktop Digital Radio Scanner
When you want to get serious about monitoring, you look for RadioShack. Meet this powerful digital triple-trunking radio scanner that unlocks “impossible” frequencies.
Great sound. 21 V-scanner memory stores up to 39,000 objects. Intuitive object-oriented user interface. Adapts to multipath/fading for P25 digital systems. Context-sensitive help.
Programming this scanner is quite complicated, because of its monitoring capabilities and range (up to 39,000 objects).
Digital triple-trunking radio
Over 39,000
14.3 x 8 x 4 inches
Yes (via USB synch cable)
Group/scan objects without limits
Cobra 29 LX Radio Weather Scanner
Cobra Electronics created the world’s first CB radio half a century ago. Now people on the move can monitor the weather and stay ahead of emergencies with this CB radio/scanner.
Up-to-date weather reports on the move. Emergency alert even when CB is turned off. Selectable easy-to-read display.
Some customers complain that the clock resets whenever they turn their trucks on after it’s been turned off.
CB radio/scanner
40
7.2 x 9.2 x 2.2 inches
No
PA capability
Baofeng UV-5R V2+ Handheld Police Scanner
When you want highly reliable but affordable communications products, you turn to Baofeng. This handheld transceiver gets the job done, without the cost burning a hole in your pocket.
Clean and crisp audio. Durable metallic housing. Easy-to-read two-color LED display. Charging cradle with LED feedback.Numeric keypad with solid feel and good tactile feedback.
Distortion when you crank up the volume.
Handheld transceiver
128
4 x 2 x 6 inches
Yes (via programming cable)
Compatible with UV-5R batteries

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How Do I Choose the Best Police Scanner?

Would you like to know when the police put out an APB (all-points bulletin) for your arrest? Just kidding! Police scanners are for much more than listening to police communications and dispatches. They’re as handy as a radar detector. When most people hear about police scanners, they usually assume it’s illegal for everyday folk to own one. This is far from the truth. The restrictions are against listening to cell phone conversations and encrypted communications and listening to get information that will aid in a crime or financial gain. Some states also do not allow listening on a police scanner while driving. Apart from these, there are many other uses it can be put to, which is why many people own them.

In an emergency, having a police scanner can help you get access to information as it breaks. This is usually before it’s broadcast in the mass media. Owning a police scanner can also provide informative and entertaining insights into your city. You can listen to real-time news on local crimes, traffic accidents, fire, domestic disturbances, air traffic control, the national weather service and more.

There are three basic configurations of police scanners. We shall list them as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

The first is the handheld configuration. The advantages of this kind of scanner are its portability, and the fact that running on batteries makes it immune to power outages. The disadvantages, however, are that it has a poorer range and reception than other configurations. It’s also more prone to accidental damage and has a lower volume.

The next is the desktop scanner. The advantage of this is that it has a stronger reception and range than the handheld. It also has a louder volume. The disadvantage of this type is that it is not portable and has to operate from a fixed position, usually connected to the house’s power source. This also makes it susceptible to power outages.

Finally, we have the base/mobile. This has a better sound, reception and range than the handheld. It can run on the house’s power supply or that of a car. This means it can be mounted in the car. Reception can also be improved with an external antenna. The disadvantage are that it’s not portable, may require additional accessories to mount it in a car and may also require a mobile scanner antenna when used in a car.

One very important step you need to take before choosing a scanner is finding out the frequency of the agency or agencies you want to listen to in your area. Knowing the frequency will help you get the right scanner. You also need to check to know if they are transmitting on analog or digital mode. This will also determine what you will get.

There are features you may need and those you may not need. Also, think about required accessories – such as external speakers or a good pair of headphones – and whether they’re necessary for your setup.
Price
Based on our research, you can get a good police scanner for anywhere from $50 to $400. With such a broad range, you should expect some scanners will have more features than others. While we’ve ensured the scanners we selected will offer good value for the money, remember the more expensive scanners will have more features. We have not included the cheapest scanners, where poor build quality and lack of essential elements made them a false economy.

Digital scanners will cost more than analog scanners. Other factors include: number of channels, sensitivity, computer compatibility, mode and step selection and more. If you want these features, then be ready to pay more.
Features
When choosing a police scanner, there are a number of factors to consider. You need to decide which features are important to you and which are not. These are some of the features to consider:
  • Configuration – Handheld, desktop or base/mobile
  • Mode – Analog or digital
  • Frequency coverage – scanners cover different frequencies. You need the frequencies you want to listen to.
  • Type – trunk tracking or conventional
  • No of channels to determine to number of agencies you can listen to
  • Search mode to be able to search for unpublished or unlicensed frequencies
  • Service search – for quickly locating frequencies and services
  • Alpha tags – for identifying channels and agencies
  • Mode and step selection – for automatic selection of frequency modes
  • Sensitivity – the higher the sensitivity, the easier you can listen to even weak signals
  • Computer compatibility – to fully control your scanner from a computer
Construction and Design
We mentioned 3 configurations of police scanners. If you are going for the base/mobile and would want to use it in your car, you need to be sure you can easily do so. It may have to be dashboard mounted and you may need to get a mobile scanner antenna for it.

You also want to get something that is sturdily built, especially if you are getting a handheld scanner. You also need to determine the number of channels you will need so you can get one with enough channels to meet your requirements.

Sometimes, you may want to punch in an exact frequency. Having a scanner with a keypad will make this possible so you don’t have to scan if you know frequency. At other times, you may not know what you are looking for or may want to find unpublished or unlicensed channels. Having a scanner with a search mode feature will make this possible.
Performance and Ease of Use
There are a few functions that will make the use of your police scanner easier. One is a lockout button which allows you stipulate some channels your scanner won’t halt on. This saves you time when scanning. Another is sensitivity which makes it possible for you to listen to channels even when their transmission is weak.

Some scanners are compatible with your computer, from where you can control it. Some users will find this more efficient. If you are getting a handheld scanner, be sure it has a good battery life so you don’t have to recharge or change batteries often.

What is the Best Police Scanner?

Are you just interested in monitoring local emergencies? Then your requirements will be different from someone who wants to scan thousands of frequencies. Now you’ve gone through our buying guide above, look at the products featured below and see which one gives you the capabilities important for your goals. That will be the best brand/product for you.
Our Top Choice
Uniden makes top-quality wireless communications products. The BC75XLT 300-Channel Handheld Scanner gives you the right equipment to listen to reports directly. If you prefer a desktop scanner with the same quality we’ve come to expect from Uniden, we recommend the BC355N 800MHz Base\/Mobile Scanner.
Uniden 300-Channel Handheld Radio Scanner With Close Call RF Capture Technology

Uniden Police Scanner BC75XLT -- Black


Features
Uniden manufactures wireless consumer electronic products. You can count on top quality construction and features in any of its products. This 300-Channel Handheld Scanner (selling for $119.99 – Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) is an Amazon bestseller for a reason: It is a top performer.

It gives you great equipment for monitoring events as they unfold. You don’t have to rely on TV/radio reporters during disasters or severe weather conditions. You get direct details from the relevant agencies. You can detect and tune to nearby transmissions even if you haven’t programmed their frequencies in, thanks to the Close Call RF Capture technology.

Out of the box, you have ten preprogrammed service search bands typically used by Police, Emergency/Fire, Racing, Marine, Ham Radio, Civil Air, CB Radio, Railroad and Weather. This scanner comes with other useful features like:
  • 300 Channels
  • Ten Scan Banks for easy operation
  • PC programmability with free software from Uniden
  • Narrowband compliance
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Simple USB charging
  • Temporary lockout
Best Value
Whistler uses its leadership position in the radar/wireless communications industry to make value-priced products for communications enthusiasts. Meet its PC-programmable analog desktop radio scanner, the WS1025. If you prefer a handheld scanner by Whistler, we recommend the WS1040.
Whistler Analog Desktop Radio Scanner With Data Cloning For Easy Data Transfer Between Scanners - Black

Whistler Police Scanner WS1025 - Black


Features
Whistler delivers high-performance products that are affordable and user-friendly. This company has put its vast experience in mobile electronics and radar detection systems to good use in the WS1025 Desktop/Mobile Scanner Radio. It sells for $139.95 (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price), but our research has shown that you can get it for less at Amazon.

This analog desktop radio scanner lets you monitor radio bands and get first-hand reports that give you a head start in the event of a disaster or emergency. Features include:
  • 200-channel memory for storing your favorite frequencies in 10 separate storage banks
  • Data cloning for easy transfer of data to another WS1025 scanner
  • Backlit liquid crystal display for easy reading and programming data in low-light situations
  • Lock-out function for skipping over certain frequencies/channels while searching/scanning
  • PC-programmable for updating database and programming scanner via a PC (Requires 3rd party software)
  • Key lock to protect scanner’s programming
  • Skywarn Storm Spotter functionality for monitoring storm conditions as they occur
  • SAME and All Hazards Weather Alerting for specified locations
  • Scan delay gives space to hear replies before moving to another channel
  • Priority channel for checking a specific channel every two seconds while scanning
  • Spectrum Sweeper for scanning transmissions from nearby sources
  • Service banks for easy navigation of preprogrammed frequencies
  • Tune for finding new/unlisted frequencies
When you want to monitor difficult and non-trunk frequencies, you need a RadioShack scanner like the
PRO-652 Desktop Digital Radio Scanner. It has a memory for up to 39,000 objects. If you want the same power but prefer a handheld model, we recommend the PRO-651 Handheld (also from RadioShack).

Amazon Product Page:
RadioShack Digital Triple-Trunking Desktop Radio Scanner With Intuitive Object Oriented User Interface

RadioShack Police Scanner PRO-652


Features
RadioShack is known for wireless items that deliver as advertised. It has partnered with Sprint cell phones, and its products are for people who want serious stuff when it comes to radio equipment. The RadioShack PRO-652 Desktop Digital Radio Scanner is for heavy-duty monitoring, and for people who want to be able to monitor a wide range of frequencies that most scanners can’t even detect.

This digital triple-trunking desktop radio scanner sells for $399.99 (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price), but you can find it for less at Amazon. It comes with a 21 V-scanner memory and can store up to 39,000 objects. A scannable object is “any defined item that can be scanned or monitored," including non-trunked radio frequencies, talkgroups on trunked radio systems, defined searches and radio services (among others). This serious desktop scanner has:
  • Intuitive object-oriented user interface
  • Zeromatic for enhancing the scanner's ability to lock onto the actual center frequency of a search hit, instead of an adjacent frequency
  • V-Scanner technology for saving complete backup radio configurations (up to 21 versions)
  • Exclusive Automatic Adaptive Digital Tracking (Adapts to multipath or fading for P25 digital systems)
  • Signal Stalker II (Advanced feature for finding active frequencies)
  • Context-sensitive help
  • Scan list
  • SKYWARN™ storm spotter function
  • SAME and All Hazards Weather alerting
  • Multi-system trunking
  • Exclusive Digital AGC
  • LTR Home Repeater AutoMove
  • Subaudible squelch decoder
  • P25 NAC functionality
  • Alert LED and audible alarms
  • High-speed USB PC interface
  • Real-time signal strength indicator
  • Upgradeable CPU and DSP firmware
Cobra Electronics has built a big reputation for developing innovative products for professionals on the move. This CB radio/scanner combo, the Cobra 29 LX, helps you stay ahead of bad weather and other emergencies. If you need a scanner/radio with Bluetooth capabilities, we recommend the MR HH500 FLT BT (also by Cobra Electronics).
Cobra 29 LX 40-Channel CB Radio With Instant Access 10 NOAA Weather Stations And Selectable 4 Color Display -- Two Color Options

Cobra Radio Scanner 29 LX - Black


Features
Some companies claim global leadership on mere hype. That's not the case with Cobra Electronics. This company gave the world its first CB radio half a century ago, and continues to make innovative products for outdoor enthusiasts and on-the-move professionals.

The Cobra 29 LX (selling for $139.95 – Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) keeps you informed of current conditions and alerts you of severe weather situations that exist. It does this with its new weather receiver that automatically scans the next clear channel to ensure you are getting up-to-date weather reports on your cross-country drive. It has several useful features like:
  • 10 NOAA weather channels with emergency alert even when CB is turned off
  • Selectable 4-color LCD display with dimmer (easy-to-read display colors: red, blue, green and amber)
  • Radio check diagnostic/antenna calibration
  • Talk back for adjusting desired amount of modulation
  • Memory channel with scan feature
  • Clock/alarm and on-duty timer, handy for professional drivers
  • Delta Tune to clarify incoming signals
  • Adjustable Dynamike feature boosts your microphone for increased voice clarity
  • 4-pin front microphone connector allows convenient installation to be in dash or under dash
  • 9-foot microphone cord for providing easy reach
  • PA capability allows you to use the CB radio as a public address system
  • 4 Watts AM RF power output lets you transmit with the maximum amount of power allowed by law
  • Instant access to emergency channel 9 and information channel 19
Baofeng makes inexpensive but highly reliable radio products. If you want to get into two-way amateur communications and monitor emergencies around you, the Baofeng UV-5R V2+ is a great choice. If you prefer a scanner with tri-power functionality, the Baofeng BF-F9 V2+ comes recommended.
Baofeng UV-5R V2+ Plus Handheld Transceiver With Dual-Band 136-174/400-480 MHz FM Ham Two-way Radio -- 3 Sizes, Six Color Options

Baofeng Police Scanner UV5RV2PLUSBLACK


Features
Baofeng makes products that are affordable and reliable. If you want to get into monitoring emergencies, you have a great ally in this brand.

The UV-5R V2+ makes it easy for you to engage in amateur communications (with serious monitoring capabilities). This handheld transceiver sells for $47.99 (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) and delivers clean and crisp audio. Its features include:
  • Compatibility with Baofeng 7.4V 3800mah and 3600mah extended batteries
  • Frequency range: 136-174 / 400-479.995 MHz
  • Metallic upgraded, durable housing
  • Upgraded bright and easy-to-read two-color LED display
  • Numeric keypad with tactile feedback
  • Charging cradle offers LED feedback on status

Get the Best Police Scanner of 2017!

Now you’ve read our reviews, we hope you have enough information to buy the right police scanner. Start monitoring channels effectively. Pick your preferred model now.

Our Top Choice
Uniden BC75XLT 300-Channel Handheld Scanner
Best Value
Whistler WS1025 Desktop/Mobile Scanner Radio
RadioShack PRO-652 Desktop Digital Radio Scanner
Cobra 29 LX Radio Weather Scanner
Baofeng UV-5R V2+ Handheld Police Scanner