Unwise Purchase: Uniden HomePatrol-1 Police, Fire Scanner As Long-Term Investment

UNIDEN BCD536HP base (Wi-Fi, APCO PHASE 2 XDMA) and BCD436HP handheld (APCO PHASE 2 XDMA) expected to be released in January 2014 … Developing …

UPDATE TUE FEBRUARY 04 2014 7:39 AM Product link for UNIDEN BCD536HP with APCO PHASE 2 XDMA capability. Product link for UNIDEN BCD436HP with APCO PHASE 2 XDMA

News reporters, neighborhood watch groups, scanner enthusiasts that might invest in a $500 police, fire and public safety radio from Uniden, should wait if they expect to get years of use of monitoring public safety communications in their area or if they travel and hope to make the most of monitoring police and fire communications.

Why? Because several metropolitan areas are switching to Motorola radio systems that use TDMA technology. The TDMA technology (Time division multiple access) carries voice by using a sort of time-sharing digital technology that no currently manufactured scanners can interpret.

The only scanning radio that could process the TDMA technology was the GRECOM PSR-800 discontinued in October 2012. The GRECOM PSR-800 radios with the latest updated software can receive talkgroups on systems using Project 25 Phase II TDMA modulation. The price of the limited supply of these radios jumped from $499 to about $699. The Uniden Home Patrol radio does not permit a user to listen to a Project 25 Phase II TDMA system.

GRE Official Announcement 10/23/2012

October 23, 2012

To our valued Dealers and Customers,

Due to circumstances beyond its control, General Research of Electronics of Japan (GRE) is temporarily not able to manufacture the GRECOM and Radio Shack branded radio scanners.

The Chinese Government’s plan to redevelop the area where the GRE factory had been in operation for over ten years finally forced its closure. Anticipating this eventuality, GRE was in the process of building a new factory but unfortunately the cost of raw materials, labor and increased taxes created a heavy financial investment burden that could not be effectively recovered.

GRE America continues to market, support and service the GRECOM branded scanners and is contractually committed to keep the Library Database updated and current. GRE America will continue to market, service and support Alinco’s radio products without any interruption.

We sincerely apologize for this unfortunate turn of events. GRE is proceeding to establish a contract with a new factory and believes it will be able to restart the manufacturing in the near future.

For continued sales, service and support, please contact the GRE America office.

Raj Gounder
Director of sales
GRE America, Inc.

GRE America — the manufacturer of the PSR-800 that could interpret the technology — was forced to shut down their factory by the government of China in October 2012. China apparently wanted other uses for the factory. There is word on the street that the company may re-open at some point in time, somewhere in the world, but currently their PSR-800 scanners are only available via second-hand purchases — and often at the premium of about $700.

Meanwhile Uniden promotional information about their HomePatrol-1 scanner claims that all a user has to do to operate their product is enter their zip code. No asterisk or disclaimer.

Product message about HomePatrol-1
Tune in and stay informed with the HomePatrol-1 simple program scanner from Uniden. Just enter your zip code or city on the easy-to-use touch screen, and the scanner will listen for transmissions in your area. The scanner tunes in to open two-way radio signals and allows you to quickly hear the communications systems used by public safety, aircraft, military, weather spotters, and more.

— Uniden

If you live in 60004, 60056, 60007, 60008 and several other zip codes in northwest Cook County near Chicago, Illinois, the $500 HomePatrol-1 is mostly useless. Northwest Central Dispatch, the 9-1-1 center for ten fire agencies — Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Palatine Rural, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg and Streamwood — uses a radio system with the TDMA technology. The police in the area use TDMA and their talk groups are encrypted. Bottom line? There is no scanner currently manufactured that can monitor the fire departments in these communities, although the discontinued PSR-800 radios are functional for the fire department talk groups. As long as the police stay encrypted, there may never be a scanner that can monitor the police communications.

TDMA technology is being used at various levels in Orange County, Florida; Apopka, Florida; Ashburn, Virginia; and is expected to be the situation in many metropolitan communities in the future. Many more communities are expected to eventually use the TDMA technology or Project 25 Motorola X2-TDMA.

If a news organization or neighborhood watch group has a need for a scanner, investigation of the current technology being used or the technology that may be used in the near future is recommended.

Uniden doesn’t seem to want to commit to the new technology because of lack of standards. There are actually two kinds of TDMA — Motorola X2-TDMA and Project 25 Phase II TDMA. While Uniden fails to commit on TDMA, there are still no disclaimers to their phrase “Just enter your zip code or city on the easy-to-use touch screen” for their Uniden HomePatrol-1 radio.

RadioReference.com Wiki APCO Project 25

Northwest Central Dispatch Site Details

Northwest Central Dispatch on StarCom21 Statewide Illinois P25

Apopka Public Safety (Project 25)

Lakeland City Services (Florida)

Loudoun County — Ashburn, Virginia

Orange County Public Services

Prince George’s County

Uniden HomePatrol-1 Scanner Online Purchase Page

GRE America — http://www.greamerica.com

GRE PSR-800 EZ Scan Digital P25 Scanner page

Police and Fire Radio Scanners.