We are complete gadget heads at Geekanoids, with around 95% of our time spent in front of some sort of screen, so getting away from all that LCD brightness is a good thing, if somewhat scary. However, it is important to still bring you something that fits it with the geek flavour and the guys at Radioscan kindly agreed to lend us a Uniden radio scanner.
The Uniden UBC3500XLT conjured up thoughts of listening in to robberies in progress, that boeing 747 having to make a landing at an alternative airport, and maybe even the odd ship having to avoid an iceberg (or two). So with great excitement we cracked open the box, plugged in to start charging the unit and turned it on.
Before we share what came next, a little bit about the UBC3500XLT. This is one of Uniden's latest scanners, with its full title being the Uniden Bearcat UBC3500XLT, from herein we will call it the 3500 for ease. It covers a very wide range of frequencies from 25MHz all the way up to 1.3GHz. This promises to cover the citizen band (CB's, breaker breaker, that's a big 10-4), air band (for listening to aircraft), land mobile, analogue phone, and other amateur bands. This should give you the scope to pick up the various local emergency services, for some interesting listening. The 3500 also features Unidens Close Call RF capture technology, which listens for nearby transmissions, and depending on your settings, switches to the signal and lets you listen in. This should be great for airshows, racing events, and perhaps local security transmissions. Supplied in the package is the radio unit itself, some rechargeable batteries, a mains adapter, wrist strap, belt clip, BNC/SMA adaptor (for attaching bigger and more powerful antenna) and the all important owners manual.
The 3500 handset feels very well built and it has a nice size screen, keypad and speaker, all well proportioned on the front. On the left side are some rubberized buttons for the menu and functions of the scanner. The top has a headphone socket and a three-way control that has you pushing for selecting something, and turning for volume and squelch. The back of the handset has meaty connection for the supplied belt clip, but this also puts the unit at a nice angle if you sit it on the table in front of you. The 3500 will work of rechargeable or normal AA batteries, of the mains power (adapter supplied), and can also charge the batts whilst inside the unit.
Being used to the Mac, we were surprised at how complicated the menu system was. It was very difficult to get from one feature to the next and you will find that a lot of button presses are needed to achieve anything. That said, the 3500 has so many features, it would be a mammoth task to do things any different way. Once we had found our way around the menus we could pick up some of the local services, and a lot of aircraft. Sometimes you only get one side of the conversation, other times you can hear the whole thing. We then headed outside and on top of some local hills, which proved to be a good move. The reception was much better and with great excitement we listened in to a coast guard announcement of an unexploded mine along the Dover to Calais Straight. This was fantastic, within hours of cracking the box open, we were enjoying the experience.
We think that this is a great way to get out of the house and away from your computer. It is a quick fix and if you pick up something interesting, it is really exciting. There are a lot of accessories available for these units, and the first purchase should really be a larger antenna. This will allow you to pick up a lot more and enhance your listening experience no end. The UBC3500XLT is very well built, can be used out and about, and just as effectively as a base scanner when attached to a meaty antenna. If you fancy giving radio scanning a try, head on over to the Radioscan website and check out the vast range of units. If you want to be sure you buy the best, then plump up the cash for the 3500, you will not be disappointed.
Product: Uniden Bearcat UBC3500XLT
Supplied by: Radioscan