The BCDx36HP Series is inclusive of the handheld BCD436HP and the desktop/mobile BCD536HP. The series is a fusion of the Uniden Dynamic Memory Architecture of previous series melding with the HP series. Its most prevalent feature from the fusion is the series now contains the Radio Reference Data Base (RRDB) on a SD card. The SD card also contains their freeware programming software called Sentinel.
Ports and Jacks
There's a standardized USB Mini-B port on both for programming/control/updating, and a semi-proprietary square port from prior BCD scanners on the BCD436HP for GPS
On the rear of the BCD536HP, there's a standard Serial port.
User navigation within the menus now allow for visual list for Services, Favorites, and Systems in a Menu with easy toggle ON/OFF, making Quick Keys a thing of the past for some users. The old 2 layer system of the DMA architecture with System and Groups has been revamped to include a new entity above Systems making it a 3 layer system: 'Favorites', 'Systems' and 'Departments' (which were called 'Groups' in previous versions of DMA). There has also been some changes in the nomenclature; for example, LOCKOUT / L/O is now AVOID.
Pro Voice Upgrade
Uniden has made a new and exclusive to the scanner world system type available post release with a $50 upgrade and registration to bring Pro-Voice to the nearly 6% of the county that's still uses this mode (which, ironically enough, will be deprecated in the near future). This gives these scanners a leg up on its direct competitors the GRE PSR-800, Whistler WS1080 & 1088 and Radio Shack Pro-668 in areas where this mode is utilized. See this page for the links for this upgrade.
DMR MOTOTRBO Upgrade
Uniden recently issued a firmware update for both the 436 and 536 that will enable these scanners to decode DMR MOTOTRBO systems, a first for any Uniden scanner. As with any new mode, there's a learning curve to programming - see the Uniden forums for a complete discussion. The links for the upgrades can be found here.
SD Cards for Memory
With the price of memory and SD cards decreasing by half every year, the switch to using SD cards makes sense, but also makes the scanner more prone to memory or data corruption. SD cards have what's called in the computer world a "FAT File Limit"; this is related to the amount of files (not size) to be saved, before a larger card is filled: i.e 5Gb of a 16Gb card with between 55k and 65k files written, before the BCDx36HP begin to show signs that the data may be corrupt and the scanner reboots itself. See the Replacement SD Cards thread for more on replacing your SD card.
With the SD is you can replay up to 240 second clips and instantaneously replay all that has been captured, or you can record all transmission until you move them to a computer to play back. You can individually select which transmission you what to listen to as they are sorted by time and date stamps. There isn't any dead air time in the recorded files unless there was an open carrier. There is one caveat; you can NOT use the instantaneous "Replay" while "Record"ing.
There's an additional IF filter, in the series, which helps narrow down narrowbanded frequencies, as well as, 12.5khz & 25khz frequencies, ultimately helping the radio scanner pick-up signals cleaner than ever before, without traps and filters. Originally a user idea, through many discussions here on RR, with the previous DMA scanners, showing promise when users hacked there way into having 2 IF filters inline before the Voice decoder, showing somebody at Uniden is responsive to user ideas.
There have been growing pains along the way, involving an Audio Jack problem on the BCD536HP with serial numbers in the xxxx2600 range, a long delay to get the Wi-Fi dongle (and the firmware to make it work), a RTC Battery failure and a dimming display. Several of these issues resulted in Uniden starting a repair campaign. This has left many users questioning the quality control process as this radio was released. Uniden has since issued fixed units with a series numbers in the 58001xxx (2015) and 6800xxxx (assumed to be for 2016) ranges. However, the battery and LED issues continue to show up from time to time, but doesn't appear to affect all users. Most of the battery issues appear to have been with users that had purchased the scanner 9 to 12 months prior and had not properly charged the scanner as recommended in the manual.
The BCD536HP is unique in that it has a Wi-Fi dongle. It provides ad-hoc and infrastructure modes, (along with WPA and WPA2 networked security). At this point it's only been flushed out through a few third party apps, along with their iOS Siren app. Uniden reportedly had a year-long standoff with the Wi-Fi vendor, making the dongle unusable after its initial release. The firmware has since been updated, but users are still waiting for an Android application that works with the dongle. The iOS version of the Siren App is out, making a connection possible on iPhones and iPads. While still a little clunky with occasional disconnects it shows promise. Links to known third party applications, and Siren, can be found here.
Is there a FAQ for these radios?
Yes, there is - a 2 page document can be found at BCD436HP and BCD536HP Scanner FAQ where you will also find links to the Easier to Read manuals.
These scanners exist in a market that has slowly become crowded with SD card driven scanners- notably the recently released Whistler TRX-1 and TRX-2, Radio Shack's PRO-668, and Whistler's somewhat older WS-1080, 1088, 1095 and 1098. While generally well regarded, it remains to be seen whether the 436 and 536 will continue to keep pace with any new innovations, particularly in light of Whistler's development of NXDN decoding (rumored for the end of the year) for their new TRX-1 and TRX-2. This is an important consideration for users that have these systems in their area. However, if you have a ProVoice system, these scanners remain the only game in town, short of using an external application such as DSD.