This is a fantastic scanner. When programmed correctly, it has more bells and whistles than a circus train and leaves nothing to be desired in the way of a scanner. The specs are on the money and correct to a T.
The most difficult part is the programming.
If you wish to do it yourself, WIN500 from Radio Reference or Starrsoft is highly recommended but it is a PC based program. It will not work on Mac.
Radio Shack and others sell Butel software, Netherlands, which means you'll have to register in a foreign country. It is also PC based.
Here's a WARNING based on my experience.
Since I didn't know anyone who could program the scanner for me, I ordered from an online SCANNER retailer that offered pre-programming for 1 county for $69.95. I thought it would be great to have my scanner working right out of the box. Was I ever wrong. This was a huge mistake.
Here's what happened next:
The scanner did not work. The LED display did indicate some of the agencies I wanted to listen to but there was no audio. I emailed the seller twice and explained my problem. I was told to call them.
Having worked on an I.T. help desk for a major corporation for years, I fully understand the obstacles involved in communication between the trained and untrained even when both parties speak the same language fluently. That's seldom the case anymore. I've written trouble-shooting flow charts and know they exist on any help desk, however, they are not about to email them to a customer. Programming a digital scanner is a complicated process. Attempting to do so over the telephone was more than I was willing to endure.
I tried GRE pre-amplifiers and a few expensive antennas to no avail.
Finally, through an Internet search, I located a local radio club. A half dozen members responded who were willing to help me out.
I live in a small county with only eight frequencies. The seller had only programmed four and the primary frequency was not one of them. After an hour of line-by-line evaluation, the radio professional was unable to determine the problem. He had to delete all data and clone my GRE PSR-500 to his. The results were amazing.
This scanner has several color coded lights that can be set by the programmer to flash or stay steady indicating which agency is transmitting. This is really helpful anytime you're not holding the scanner in your hand. The LED and keypad can also be programmed to illuminate as the user desires. This is a great amenity in low light conditions.
My pre-programming service did not include this.
Had the online help desk been able to get me up and running over the phone, I would have never realized what I was missing and would have probably been willing to accept the very minimum this scanner has to offer.
If a new, pre-programmed scanner works out of the box, it will be the very minimum at best and most users will probably be willing to accept it. As a result, they will never know what they're missing.
There are hundreds of amateur radio clubs all over the country with members who are willing to help beginners get started.
There is NO refund on this pre-programming service whether it works or not. I should have paid heed to all the caveats and disclaimers.
A pre-programming service is not for the benefit of the buyer, it merely helps the online retailer make more sales. And making sales is what business is all about.
I am now learning WIN500 at my own speed and having a scanner that is correctly programmed greatly enhances this learning process.
Do it right from the beginning and you will be a HAPPY SCANNER.
I wish I had.