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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 9 January 2014
The UBC125XLT is a great little scanner that delivered considerably more than I was expecting, having not owned an airband radio for 30 odd years. The manual can seem a bit opaque in places if you've never owned a scanner before, but in most respects setting it up is pretty simple and in operation it is exceptionally easy to use and packed with useful features.

The unit itself is well built and feels reassuringly robust, with crisp operation of the of the keys and scrolling knob. While you cant beat a decent pair of headphones for audio, the small speaker does a very credible job when the signal is strong. The digital display is easy to read, with good contrast and even backlighting.

In terms of advantage over cheaper units, apart from the 500 channels, probably the stand out feature is the alpha tagging (basically text description of what the frequency is on the LCD display) which is pretty much an essential - unless you have an encyclopaedic memory for frequencies you are going to get pretty confused without it.

Adding channels based on what a search of the chosen band has found is a matter of a couple of button presses and entering a tag via the scrolling knob. Entering a frequency manually is similarly simple, although doing so one frequency at a time for 500 channels would try the patience of the Buddha. A far better option is to swallow the 17 quid and buy the Butel* software (butel.nl) to add channels. With this installed on a PC, once you get past the "oh no, its got that Windows software-from-the-80s look", the software is very simple to use and comprehensive. In conjunction with the equally uninspiring MS Excel and a bit of copy and paste, you can fill the 500 channels in seconds from a suitably formatted list of frequencies. The beauty of this is that you can change the list on the scanning banks very rapidly to suit the locality you're visiting.

In addition to the "search" and "scan", the "Close Call" function is worth a mention. This picks up any strong transmissions within 2 or 3 miles on predetermined bands and (dependent on your settings) interrupts your current listening to inform you of a local signal. The signal can then be ignored, listened to using the "Hold" key and/or aded to the programmed list of frequencies. It works well, and is especially useful when you've just got the scanner to give you some easy access to local transmissions.

Beyond the feature mentioned, the UBC125XLT has plenty more features of which probably the more useful for me are custom search ranges and configurable search steps.

As to performance, while I cant offer personal comparison with anything recent, it seems to me to be excellent. I live on the second floor in East London, and listening with the included antenna from the middle of the flat in a room full of bits of metal and radio-unfriendly computer equipment, I can comfortably get reasonable to clear airband reception from aircraft up to about 35 miles away (just short of Clacton was the furthest clear one at about 45 miles), including Luton, Stansted and occasionally Gatwick traffic in addition to very clear Heathrow traffic, although most ATC transmission except London are too faint. However adding a 3rd party airband tuned antenna was a game changer, vastly improving the signals and clarity all round, and ATC is now clear including most regional approaches up to about 35 miles, with London crystal clear. The most astonishing improvement was in the distance airborne signals can be pulled in, with the best so far after only a few days an inbound transatlantic flight over the Bristol Channel 135 miles away, and I suspect there's more in it than that. After reading a few reviews I settled on the airband-specific Comet AB1230H over the Watson W-901, which was almost as well reviewed and 10 quid cheaper. A lot of people report excellent results from the wideband Diamond RH771 if you can avoid the fakes with which online shops - to my utter astonishment - abound.

In addition to my primary interest of civil airband, the scanner also covers military airband, CB, some Amateur Radio Bands and PMR (professionsl/private mobile radio).

The set comes with 2 rechargeable batteries, but its probably worth buying a couple more sets as it chews through them pretty rapidly, and although it will take alkline batteries, they dont deliver particularly good performance. The unit has a built in recharging facilty, but although it might be of use if you're out and about in a car, its very, very slow to charge compared to a standalone charger. You can use the included charger to run the scanner from mains power.

Overall, as a novice to modern scanners, the scanner seems to me to deliver very competently on its claims with a good range of features and what seems to be good performance. Prior to buying it, the price of scanners in general seemed to me to be expensive, but having used it for a couple of weeks, I'd amend that to suggest it actually represents fairly good value for money and an excellent reintroduction to radio for anyone who hasn't owned an airband or marine radio for a few years.

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* Quite a few people report having trouble installing the driver software needed for the specific scanner. It's easy enough if you first download the seperate driver package from the Butel site (go to the page for the software for your scanner and click the "downloads" link and download both the software and the separate driver package) and:

- find the driver zip package on your hard drive and decompress it.
- Discard the US model drivers and put the UBC125XLT (EU model) folder somewhere accessible - I'd suggest your "My Documents folder for ease of navigation.
- Plug the radio into the USB and start the software, then choose your model (UBC125XLT (EU model)) from the dropdown menu.
- When Windows asks for driver software and suggests it will find it for you - it won't, so ignore it and instead choose (from memory) the "Browse to driver" option and navigate your way to the folder you previously unzipped. Then choose the "UBC125XLT (EU model)" folder and installation should start.
- The driver should then install fine (see caveat below about Windows objections**)

**I think this is an "unsigned driver", so you install at your own risk. If Windows or your antivirus software object or block the installation (or like my AV software it silently discards or quarantines the driver), either temporarily disable the AV software or click to assure the entirely unhelpful Windows Devil Nanny you really do know what you're doing, honest guv'nor.
33 comments| 75 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 March 2014
Excellent Super Fast Service on This item, The Scanner is Great, Really good on VHF (Civil Aircraft) and Brill on UHF (Military Aircraft) Ideal for Airshows and Listening to The Red Arrows. Very Happy with this Scanner, All I need Now is a Case for it.
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on 1 July 2015
Excellent little scanner. Covers all of the frequencies that are commonly used including military airband (unusual at this price). Don't worry if all of the bands are locked out when you first select Scan - they need to have something saved into them before you can select them. Similarly, in Srch, you have to manually select the bands you want it to search. That's part of the only downside to owning this scanner - the user manual. It's confusing for someone new to scanning and seems to miss out some important information. However, don't let this stop you from buying this scanner; there is a lot of good information online including some useful videos on YouTube. I can only think that the comments in some reviews about how many button presses are required to do things are written by owners who don't really understand how it operates - once you've got the hang of it it's quick and easy. Whilst it definitely works out of the box, I found that reception improved dramatically with a decent after-market telescopic antenna (needs a BNC connector). Finally, although you can buy software to speed up the programming of frequencies and general setup, search online for Scan125 which is an excellent, free, program which has been written specifically to work with this scanner.
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on 16 May 2014
Comparing it against my Grecom PSR295 scanner, the 125XLT is a much better size, the Grecom is like a brick and not that easy to carry around. The Bearcat is quite dinky and will go in a large pocket. The display is large compared with the Grecom and has fewer buttons to fiddle with. It may give the impression of far fewer functions but these are accessed by fewer buttons instead of having buttons specifically assigned to them.

Using the manual, it took me a couple of hours to figure out how it works and not much longer to punch in my frequencies. I didn't by the software so I've gone the laborious route. Once mastered, it's easy to use.

It picks up everything I've been picking up with the Grecom and doesn't seem to have any reception problems. I tested it against the Grecom on a sub-squelch transmission (an airport ATIS channel) and the Bearcat seems to pull in a bit more background noise than the Grecom but it's nothing major.

The supplied antenna is actually quite good - although the above-mentioned ATIS transmission was barely audible, it does very well on above-squelch signals and I've been happily pulling in aircraft up to 80 miles away (if the reporting points are anything to go by). It is not as good as my MRW100 antenna but you won't be slapping your forehead in frustration as you might with most manufacturer-supplied rubber ducks.

I've not used close call because i live in the sticks and am trying for distant signals. One plus is that unlike the Grecom (which has a glitch), I can pick up PMR446 transmissions. You have to press the function button then the rotary knob to access the squelch but I count it as a good thing - it means that I can't knock it too high by fumbling.

Unless I've not found it yet, the Bearcat seems to lack an attenuation function, which the Grecom has. Airband freq 133.8 tends to need attenuating where I live or I have to lock it out so attenuation would be a handy feature.

It ate the supplied alkaline batteries but does better with NiMH rechargeables (2500ma) so it's best to carry spares if you're going to be out with it for a while. I used a trickle or fast charger rather than charging them in the scanner.

But in summary, I'm very pleased with the Bearcat, which is a great out-and-about scanner that works very well out of the box with the supplied rubber duck and I heartily recommend it.
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on 13 March 2015
the bearcat series are the best mobile scanners you can buy, this is towards rhe upper end of the mobile series, and you get a lot for your money. digi squelch, close call, air,marine , ham, mil air,its all here, recharge circuit is good, but put better batteries in for top battery life, i get normally around 10 hours with light on with a set of 2800 mah batteries, buy a thunderstik aerial for this as the onboard rubber duck is so so, build quality is ok, very easy to use, forget yaesu, they are overpriced
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on 8 October 2015
Had this as a retirement present. I am a complete novice so my observations come from this angle. Took time to read a lot of reviews and started to read the instruction manual with some trepidation. The jargon can be confusing so I,m taking it page by page & a day at a time. However just tinkering around with the keys gives me some confidence even unlocking the channels on the first read.
First observations are that the keys should be back lit to match the screen display, seems odd that this was missed in the design. Also the squelch & volume button has no marker to tell you were you are.
On the up side it feels and looks substantial & fits in the carry case just right . Early days so will update you in the future
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on 18 April 2016
This is my first scanner and I am impressed. Lots of features and channels to program, but it is a lot easier to use arc125 or scan125 to program in the frequencies. Contrary to other reviews I have seen, the battery life is very good too as long as you set it up to only come on when a signal is received. So far I have been using the scanner for about 2 hours a day for the last 6 days on a single charge and no low-battery indication yet.
The manual is very confusing though.

The scanner comes in a default state which, if you press Scan just gives you an unhelpful error message because there are no frequencies programmed. As a quick start, after you have installed the batteries, press [Func] then [Srch] to get the scanner going though all its bands. At the bottom of the display you should see a row of numbers. If any are missing, press the keys 1 to 7 to toggle the bands that are scanned. If the scanner gets stuck on on interference press [L/O] briefly to skip this channel on the next pass. You should find something to listen to and is a good test of the receiver.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 April 2016
Didn't really know what to expect as this is my first scanner. I had used a friends before but couldn't really get to grips with it. This time I watched YouTube clips which helped no end but that said, the instructions were also straight forward. I like the fact that yo can either charge it up in situ or take the batteries out. This also allows,you to put in non rechargeables but if you do you will need to flip the switch in the battery bay. The standard antenna is ok but there's a definite benefit to upgrading to an aftermarket one, they even mention it themselves in the instruction book. The Watson W881 seems to be the fave and now allows me to pick up EMA from inside my house at a distance of approx 15 miles as the aircraft flies! The alpha tag feature is also a good extra over the cheaper models as this allows you to name the frequencies that you program in making it easier to see/recognise which one is active.
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on 19 September 2014
Im a total novice on the whole radio scene, I use mine for watching military and civil aircraft, it works great, and to be honest its pretty easy to figure stuff out just by playing around with it, and having a scan over the instructions. The re chargeble batteries you get with it are awesome, they havent died on me once yet, and ive had it on all day at airports. Seems to be a great product overall to me. would recomend it.
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on 30 January 2014
Very good purchase, can now listen to my favourite hobby.Have now got used to the scanning frequencies on the aircraft waveband
the only trouble is finding the time to us the scanner.
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