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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Scanners | Radio Shack PRO-96 Digital Trunking Scanner Help

Reviews Summary for Radio Shack PRO-96 Digital Trunking Scanner
Radio Shack PRO-96 Digital Trunking Scanner Reviews: 21 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $499.00
Description: This Analog, digital APCO-25 3600/9600 BPS EDACS and Motorola trunking scanner is the most advanced scanner on the market today.
Product is not in production.
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W2DI Rating: 5/5 Feb 14, 2007 08:03 Send this review to a friend
Edge to Pro-96  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've had both the BCD-396 and Pro-96 - just have the Pro-96 now.
Both are really fine radios and top of the line scanners for both digital and analog use.

For the BCD-396, I like the following:
-Size. Smaller than the Pro-96. Just the perfect size
-Blue Display. Just my preference.
-Memory Management, More flexible and open than the Pro. Not thrilled with the Pro V-File arrangement. Works ok but a little cumbersome compared to the 396.
-Scan Speed. Might be a hair faster than the Pro, but hard to tell.
-WFM. You can receive TV and FM commercial stations. Cannot with the Pro.

For the Pro-96 I like the following:
-I used Radio Reference for both but the Pro is, IMO, easier to program from scratch, if you get all the info. As a previous writer said, you can easily program in the control channels and set-up a few other things and scan away. You'll track all the system ID's but not know what they are for. With R/Ref, you get much more info.
-The Pro has a better AGC and handles digital signals better. The 396 will sometimes pop or take time to even out. Got to be careful with phones.
-The Pro does last longer with a set of batteries. The 396 is not bad, but the PRO is better.
-The Pro seems to be a bit more sensitive with the stock antennas. However, for the 800MHz band, the RS 800MHz duck is a noticable improvement.
-Pro seems to have more robust audio.
-Lastly, I was fortunate to get the Pro for 399. That helps.

Both are great. I would agree with others that the 396 has the edge with features, flexibility and looks while the Pro has an edge with performance.

Just observations, no measuring done.
Thanks for reading.
SIERRAHOTEL Rating: 5/5 Feb 14, 2007 07:11 Send this review to a friend
Great.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just bought one of these, after several local agencies went over to digital. I had friends with both the Uniden Bearcat 396T and the GRE made Pro-96, and I borrowed both to compare them so I could decide which one I wanted to finally buy.

As far as initial set up to scan, the 96 wins, hands down. All you need to do to scan most Motorola systems, both digital and analog, is to set a bank to Mo trunked mode and program just the control channels and scan away. I had the 3 major trunked systems set up in less than a half hour, using the keypad on the radio. It would have been even faster if I had the cable adaptor I needed. The Bearcat took a long time to set up the same way, the file I used to set it up was incorrect and I had to redo it, basically from scratch. I found the Bearcat's keypad too small and very annoying to use. Bearcat's trunk setup is more flexible, but for most users, it's too complex for it's own good. Once I get the cable to program the 96, I will add the alpha tags for the talkgroups, but I can listen fine without them.

Sensitivity was about the same, the bearcat seemed a little better on the air band but the 96 had better audio, and digital signals that were barely readable on the bearcat weren't great on the 96, but not nearly as bad as they were on the 396T. Both radios had oddly acting volume controls. Both of them went totally silent after I turned them down and I forgot to turn them back up. I think most of the diffference in sensitivity is due to the stock antennas.

Both radios share a lot of the same features, many of them of almost no use to most users, some, like the 396T's Close Call feature, might come in handy at the NHRA or NASCAR races.

I like the blue backlight color on the 396T better than the 96's amber, but I have problems reading it in my old age, but I can read the 96's display without any problems. I wish both manufacturers would add a color change feature to a future model, my 2-meter mobile's backlight can be green or amber. I greatly prefer the green, the amber is annoying.

Both radios use good old, can get anywhere, AA batteries. For RS, this is nothing new, but Uniden finally abandoned the overpriced battery back nonsense after about 20 years. I don't know how many times my old BC-205's battery pack died unexpectedly. I made the decision not to buy any Uniden scanner until the got rid of the battery packs and went to AA batteries. I'm glad to see they finally wised up.

Compared to my old Pro-93, battery life isn't as good, but I got about 16-17 hours on a set of AA's. I got about 13-14 hours on the 396. It uses just 3 AA batteries compared to the 96's 4, and I think that's part of the reason the 96 has louder audio.

I am very happy with this scanner, as I have been with my previous Pro-93. Radio Shack has another winner here. There's nothing really wrong with the 396T, but it's too complicated to use, IMO. Ease of use, louder audio, and better digital audio make it the clear winner, for me anyway.
KZ5I Rating: 5/5 Feb 4, 2007 01:54 Send this review to a friend
Good Scanner  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I will agree with an earlier review that the radio is difficult to program and I will also STRONGLY AGREE with another earlier review about a good support network being available for the Pro-96.

Once I got some very good programs and very good advice from the support network, I was on my way. The Pro-96 is very versatile and does a lot of things extremely well.

Overall I am very happy with this scanner.

' 73 Emmett KZ5I
KA3UIX Rating: 3/5 Jan 24, 2007 07:24 Send this review to a friend
Complicated  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've had the scanner for several months and in general think it is of Good Quality especially from Radio Shack. At $500, the unit is OVERPRICED, but Radio Shack obviously know that they and Uniden have little competition otherwise and the unit is in demand. The unit does go on sale on a rare occasion and if you apply for a Radio Shack credit card, you'll get another 10% off.

The unit is complicated to operate and program. Unless you are or wish to be a PC Geek, IT Engineer or Computer Programmer, it may be a frustrating experience and expensive wasteful investment. The features and technology get in the way of using and operating the radio. Why would I need a PC to operate a radio just to monitor public service?

And, while the audio and speaker is sharp for it's size, oftentimes part of the transmission is dropped and words and syllables are lost, which can have you miss out on key details and information.

It's OK but way, way expensive and overpriced.
WN3R Rating: 5/5 Jan 24, 2007 06:44 Send this review to a friend
One neat little radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
To add to the comments below, the people who own these radios are willing to share info and programming. Without this community it would have taken me weeks to get this unit completely setup. Thanks to the others who went before me. Get Win96 and the USB programming cable for trouble free upgrading and programming. You can find a new PRO-96 on eBay for $400 or less. RS price is $500.

Metal case and great audio. This is not your typical radio shack quality.
WT3844 Rating: 5/5 Sep 16, 2006 16:09 Send this review to a friend
GREAT HANDHELD  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
KG6EJT Rating: 5/5 Jul 19, 2005 14:18 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic Radio!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Really a great radio. I've owned a bunch of radios in over thirty years in the hobby, and I've got to say that the Pro-96 is one of the best, if not THE best I've owned.

There is a bit of a learning curve with the Pro-96, though not too bad. I would strongly suggest checking out Don Starr's Win96 to program the radio via computer. It makes it very easy.

LAPD APCO-25 comes in great as do all the analog systems, conventional and trunked. CTCSS works great too and the alpha tag display is a nice feature.

If you have APCO-25 systems in your area, this may be the radio for you.
N2MWE Rating: 4/5 Jul 17, 2004 11:33 Send this review to a friend
Good Deal  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Having owned a BC250D for over a year now, I decided it was time to get a radio to decode Bergen County's soon to be up 9600 UHF trunking system. Playing with this scanner makes me wish I had waited to get this one in the first place. No playing with sound quality settings; this radio locks in with the digital AGC, and provides clear digital audio. Volume out of the speaker is excellent for noisy environments; it's almost as loud as a regular public safety radio. Another nice feature...two battery cases, one for rechargable AA and the other for regular alkaline or lithium AA batteries. I run this scanner off 4 Radio Shack AA NiMH 2000 ma batteries, and they last me for the better part of the day, almost ten or eleven hours.
A note for other Pro 96 owners...there is a reported bug in the radio that does not allow it to read 4xxxx talk groups...Radio Shack is taking the radios back under warranty for a CPU Version 1.3 fix.
I give this radio a 4 because it lacks LTR and EDACS SCAT trunking. Maybe the new mobile scanner RS is coming out with will have LTR.
W6YB Rating: 5/5 Dec 24, 2003 03:51 Send this review to a friend
All in all, this is a winner!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I got this radio to mainly monitor the LAPD, although I now use it to listen to everything. Before this I had the Uniden SC150B, the Radio Shack PRO-93, and now I own the really nice PRO-96. I was deciding between the Uniden BC250D and this. After looking through reviews and thinking about it for quite a while I decided this would be better for me. Reasons included:

-5500 memory channels (I will never need that many channels, well... maybe later on. I never even used the 300 channels in my PRO-93, but boy I only recently realized how nice it is to have the extra room).

-It uses AA batteries, instead of a proprietary battery like Uniden.

-Cheaper then a BC250D (with the digital card).

-That brings me to the next one, no need to buy a card for digital.

-Follows 9600BPS systems.

-AGC DSP, not like the BC250D where you have to manually adjust the APCO-25 audio.

-Software ungradable.

-And much more . . .

I also love the lighting on the PRO-96 (unlike the PRO-93). CTCSS and DCS are also a nice thing to have. The AGC DSP is also nice and the PRO-96 receives APCO-25 transmission so good sometimes that I can't tell the difference between a APCO-25 and a FM signal. I also love the SEARCH frequencies in the scanner, and now it includes FRS/GMRS frequencies. I also got the computer programming cable (finally Radio Shack sells one) and I programmed my PRO-96 with it. The PRO-96 is easy to use, especially after using my PRO-93 for a while. Although, when programming 5500 channels (ok, I don't use that many channels, but still) it is much easier with the computer. With the cable/software you also get to change certain parameters. Including the voltage level at which it displays the battery low warning and my favorite, you can change the welcome screen. I also like the fact the 5500 memory channels are contained in separate folders, and each folder can have a separate parameters setup (a big plus).

Two things I would change on the PRO-96 are:

-Even thought I turn the volume knob all the way down the volume does not mute. The volume is lowered at a level which is quite, not that big of a deal.

-Oh, and also, if I could change just one other thing on this scanner it would be, not to have the name "Radio Shack" on it. I don't know why but I rather not have it on my scanner, and its not because it is bad (hi! hi!, I just had to add that).

The case for the PRO-96 is not the strongest out on the market, but in my option it is not something to worry about. I have dropped it and knocked it around a few times (no, not on purpose) and I have had no scratches or problems. Although you might want to get a case, just to make sure this $500 jewel won’t get hurt. There are cases available for this scanner. After all, a high-tech and the best of all scanners is hanging on your belt; I just love having the best of the best (doesn’t everyone?).

As far as actually buying the scanner, Radio Shack was really really nice. Too nice infact! The radio arrived in less then a week and free shipping was given.

I'm sort of sorry to say Uniden, but Radio Shack out did you with this one. All I can say is Radio Shack really listened to the scanner and radio community to bring you this product, and that is more then I ever would have expected from Radio Shack. There is much more I would like to say, but need I say more? All in all, this is a winner!

73 and enjoy!
Andrew W6YB

N1BD Rating: 5/5 Nov 22, 2003 15:55 Send this review to a friend
Quality Scanner!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just purchased this newest of the Radio Shack scanners. It's not yet available in the Boston area but, using the RS website, I found one in New Hampshire. About half-programmed so far, I
am very happy with it. This scanner offers APCO-25, both 3600/9600 baud digital capabilities right out of the box. No add-on card is required. True to the advertisements, it really does offer "eleven scanners in one" - each one independently programmable w/ 500 channels -
for a total of 5500 possible channels. Triple conversion cuts down on much intermod. Audio is crisp and clear. The ability to use AA alkalines in addition to ni-cads offers greater flexibility than that afforded by Unidens.

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