Dedicated Scanner vs App

RoverTtx

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With the high costs for a good scanner, I was turned off pretty quickly. I like the idea of a scanner but it doesn't mean $500+ to me.
My local pd is broadcasted on a scanner app and it works well enough for my needs. I'm curious what the advantages of a real radio are.

I don't know a ton but I've heard that the apps or sites with free broadcasts tend to be delayed. I also know scanners can have gps so I assume they can auto tune to the correct frequency in that area. Is this true?

I could see the appeal for someone who frequently travels across counties, etc...
On another note, aren't a lot of modern pd's using encrypted channels anyways? Would a scanner have any (legal) advantage over a stream in the case of these encrypted channels?
 

gwing

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As a countermeasure, I think the addition of a properly tuned scanner is a valid idea, but in practice, you would have to be a serious speeder to need this level of protection re: 2019 Cannonball. As a hobby or curiosity, I agree $500+ is kind of a steep admission ticket. In the end as always it comes down to what your end goal is.
 

Vortex

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I’ve actually gone back from running a scanner + antenna to an app. It’s much cleaner, simpler, and takes less room. The app may be slightly delayed from real-time, but it’s certainly an option. If you drive a lot in rural areas though, the scanner may be the clear winner.
 

rvacs

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So a couple words from a scanner user....
An app can be ok but can also be missing critical channels... (go to channel B but B is not being broadcast through the apps).

Encryption is encryption - no app or scanner can listen to those encrypted signals.

My favorite for the Driver is the Uniden Beartracker 885 - easily update the frequencies via internet and no user programming with GPS it follows you as you drive...driving into a small town - set it to police and it automatically starts scanning that town - no user input. Its REALLY cool but - my problem is unit is too big as it contains a cb. The old beartrackers didn't have a cb and were much smaller (but most their frequencies pre-programmed are out of date making those older units outdated).

@UnidenSupport please please consider a Beartracker 885 without the CB so its smaller.
 

InsipidMonkey

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The apps are convenient and a great way to get an idea of what having a scanner would be like, but they have a few major drawbacks IMO. The delay can be significant at times (10-60 seconds), and you have no control over what is scanned. The scanner you are monitoring via an app may also be located quite a ways from you, so parts of nearby conversations can be missed. And of course it requires cellular data coverage.

There is no reason to spend $500+ on a scanner. Fully featured digital trunking scanners can be had for ~$200, and depending on what you are trying to monitor a <$100 scanner may be sufficient. You could even make one yourself with a $40 RPi and a $20 RTL-SDR dongle.

Check out RadioReference for a list of systems in your area to see what they use and whether they are encrypted.
 

surprisinguy

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I've found apps are passable- in my area though too many channels are not scanned on an app and you miss too much. Say a speed trap is set up - you hear the stops, but when the coppers are discussing specifics (not just on traffic) they go to another channel and 9 times out of 10 the channel isnt broadcast on to an app. Remember the channels you hear on an app are the channels that others are uploading to the app - it's not going to be all of them.
 

RoverTtx

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I've found apps are passable- in my area though too many channels are not scanned on an app and you miss too much. Say a speed trap is set up - you hear the stops, but when the coppers are discussing specifics (not just on traffic) they go to another channel and 9 times out of 10 the channel isnt broadcast on to an app. Remember the channels you hear on an app are the channels that others are uploading to the app - it's not going to be all of them.
In your example, would a good scanner automatically go to whatever channel is active? IE: would you be required to manually switch between channels to hear everything or does it do that actively?


Sent from my Moto Z2 using Tapatalk
 

surprisinguy

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A good scanner will scan the channels and generally goes to the next channel in the list that is broadcasting. I have mine set up with all the police channels in the city and when someone says to his buddy, "Go to channel x" it scans right to it - sometimes of course there could be another broadcast inbetween the 2 but you can just skip it.
 

mikeoxlong

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One of the biggest drawbacks to an app is that you can't control what is scanned. The feed provider could be scanning other stuff while that one important call that could save your butt is being broadcast.
 

Deacon

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I guess it depends on what you consider a “good” scanner. Completely depends on what you’re looking to listen to, but a scanner is always better than an app. If you’re looking at it for a countermeasure, for sure, but if you’re looking to listen in to local CB and analog ham radio traffic, any old scanner will work great.

For countermeasure purposes, the BCD436HP will do everything you need it to, I think. It’s one of the few that can handle EDACS ProVoice that’s used in San Antonio (and will be for the next couple of years). You can find decent ones on eBay often, and they’re even linked here in the external links section of the classifieds occasionally. Because ProVoice is a deprecated technology, it’s only used in a handful of cities in the US, so it’s not common to find them already upgraded with that option.
 

protias

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Often scanner feeds do not have certain channels being broadcasted, where with a scanner, you can program it to scan all the channels. The only ones you'll miss are the ones that are encrypted.
 

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