Safetyobc Pro-2096 Review
Please do not edit this review. It is the authors own opinion and views of the scanner.
Radio Shack Pro-2096 Review
by: Matt Outlaw aka safetyobc
The Pro-2096 is a great digital scanner. This DIN-E sized scanner allows for installations just like that of car stereo components. The scanner comes with an expendable antenna, mounting bracket with hardware, AC power cord and DC hardwire for vehicle installs. No programming cable is included nor any programming software. For programming software, I recommend Win96.
Programming this scanner by hand is a real pain. Just like the Pro-96, it is difficult to program in text, as you have to select the letter from the key pad, then if you want a lower case letter, you press the function button. Then you select the letter from the corresponding key 1-4. It is confusing and I screwed up a lot trying to program. Besides, who wants to program 5500 channels by hand? Get the Win96 for $30 and save yourself a finger ache and a headache!
Although the Pro-2096 is computer programmable, it is not computer controllable. If you like to control the scanner with the computer, you'll have to look into a Uniden made model like the BC796D or BCD996T. Ease of use, I'd give it a 6 out of 10 because of the inputting of text layout. Even an old pro can have difficulty programming this scanner if you aren't used to GRE made scanners.
The Scanner features 5500 channels. However the channels aren't all usable as far as scanning 1 through 5500. You can use one, 1 - 500 channel folder at a time. These are called V-Folders. You have 11 V-Folders that you can access. These are neat in that you can program the scanner for different areas that you may travel or for different setups in the same area. It only takes a few key presses to change V-Folders.
The biggest thing this scanner has going for it is it's AUDIO. The audio is awesome. It will blow you out of the room and never distort. The BC796D after I turned it about half way, it distorted and was almost impossible to discern the audio. The Pro-2096's audio was definitely built to go mobile. You can definitely hear this scanner over normal road noise.
The 2096 is constructed really well. It is in a metal case which makes it feel nice and rugged. The LCD display is a on the small side, but it has great resolution and is easy to see the great resolution producing sharp letters, numbers, and symbols. The keypad is well laid out and is also backlit and easy to see at night. The back light comes on when powered up and has a dim feature. You can use the original backlight setting, the dim setting or turn it off completely. The neat thing is the scanner remembers your backlight setting through power cycles. I would like to see more alpha tags, the Pro-2096 only allows for 12 alpha tags where the BC796D allows for 16. The extra 4 spaces for text is really missed on the 2096. The Volume/squelch knob is not backlit. I would prefer the volume and squelch knobs to be separate, but these work well. The PC/IF port is located in the front of the Pro-2096. Why is this worth mentioning? With the programming cable you can plug this into your laptop to edit programming and never have to un install the scanner! If you take the time to mount the scanner in your vehicle, chances are the back of the scanner will be well out of reach. The PC port on the front solves this problem. You can also connect a Pro-96 hand held scanner to this port and clone it to the Pro-2096 which is a great feature if you are lucky enough to have both scanners. Programming cable can be purchased from the radio shack website or from greamerica.com. A USB version is also available at both websites.
Did I mention the audio! Man, this thing can get loud. It also performs great at lower audio levels. The audio is great from the very minimum to the loudest. I am impressed with the audio as you can tell.
Digital? It decodes Arkansas' statewide Motorola P25 system known as AWIN with ease. The audio is nice and crisp. However I had to turn off the AGC to get the audio "just right." With the AGC on, it sounded like a lot of background noise was on the radio. Kind of like wind blowing across the mic, even on dispatchers. I turned off AGC and it sounds flawless. Digital audio compared to the BCD396T, was near equal. The Pro-2096 will definitely get louder! But as far as sound quality, the Pro-2096 has a deeper sound to it, but both are equal to my ears. The Pro-2096 definitely beats the BC796D in the audio department, analog or digital. The Pro-2096 was more sensitive compared to the BC796D and the BCD396T.
The Pro-2096 usually sells for $499.99 from Radio Shack. It often goes on sale for $399.99. You can sometimes find a used one on ebay or radioreference.com for a reasonable price.
These are simply my opinions on this scanner. Yours may be different, depending on systems monitored and features you use. I rate this digital scanner a 8 out of 10. It is a great scanner for it's intended purpose. It would work great as a base scanner or as a mobile unit. If you don't need digital, the Pro-2055 may be the way to go. I actually prefer the use and sound of the Pro-2096 over the Pro-96. But neither can replace my BCD396T because of features offered for the price.