Uniden SDS100 Review: Best Police Scanner


Uniden makes some of the best police scanners in the industry. They have many models on the market, and they keep improving each recent addition to ensure it is more user-friendly and adaptable to the needs of many types of users.

If you are looking for a handheld police scanner, you will find the SDS100 is undoubtedly a step up from the older analog-only scanners. With this uniden sds100 review, we will give you all the information you need, including the good, the bad, and even the ugly. We want to help you make the right choice in handheld police scanners!

Uniden SDS100 Specs, Pros and Cons

The Uniden SDS100 offers a multi-color LED display, handgrips molded into the sides with a rubber covering for grip, a back-lit keypad, a multi-function knob for volume, squelch, and menu selection, PC connectivity via USB, Sentinel Programming Software, Close Call feature, RF Capture capabilities, a 3.7V 5400 mA Lithium-Ion battery pack, Discovery Mode, Instant Replay, an 8GB MicroSD card, Multi-Site trunking, Quick Key capabilities, and NOAA Weather Alert with SAME.

  • Media Type: MicroSD Card
  • Scanner Type: Digital Handheld Scanner
  • Brand: Uniden
  • Model Name: Uniden
  • Connectivity Technology: USB
  • Item Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Resolution: 24 Bits
  • Item Weight: 0.49 Ounces
  • Color Depth: 24 Bits
  • Standard Sheet Capacity: 1


  • True I/Q receiver design ensures improved digital performance.
  • Rugged and weather-resistant, making it durable for various conditions.
  • Customizable color LCD for a personalized user experience.
  • Comes with a Li-Ion battery for extended usage.
  • User-friendly interface with contextual soft keys.


  • The product might be on the pricier side for some users.
  • Some users might find the device bulky due to its rugged construction.
  • The need for a MicroSD card might be an additional expense for users without one.
  • The product’s weight might be a concern for prolonged handheld use.

Why Should You Purchase a Handheld Police Scanner?

When people consider purchasing a handheld police scanner, it is often because they want to stay abreast of what is going on in their surrounding area. Whether crime or weather events, it helps to have a police scanner to stay informed.

Although there are car/desktop versions, having a handheld police scanner makes scanning much more convenient. You can carry this scanner in your pocket or use it with a belt clip.

Whether you want to scan as a hobby or to stay informed, the SDS100 gives you all the features you need in a compact and lightweight design. To learn more about the features of this scanner radio, continue reading.

The Uniden SDS100 Fixed an Old and Annoying Problem

Those new to the world of police scanning may not be aware of some of the problems that occurred with older scanners. One of the biggest obstacles that needed to be overcome was the problem with older scanners being unable to handle QPSK.

QPSK is a modulation scheme that is generated by Phase I and Phase II. Because the scanners could not handle this modulation scheme, they would attempt to demodulate, which resulted in issues with poor reception and garbled voices.

The Uniden SDS100 was designed as an I/Q receiver. This means it can handle the QPSK modulation scheme, without breaking signal or causing transmission sounds to be altered. With this issue resolved, Uniden has taken the lead in producing some of the best handheld scanners on the market.

What are the Features of the Uniden SDS100?

As stated above, we told you we would cover the Uniden SDS100 in depth. Knowing all the features will help you better understand why this model is such a popular one among police scanner enthusiasts.

  • This police scanner offers a multi-color LED display.
  • There are handgrips molded into the sides, and there is a rubber covering to help with grip.
  • Unlike some brands and models, Uniden back-lit their keypad, which makes it much easier to operate this police scanner in low light conditions.
  • This model features a multi-function knob at the top that helps to control volume, squelch, and menu selection.
  • The Uniden SDS100 offers unit to PC connectivity, via a USB cable.
  • Uniden has included their famous Sentinel Programming Software, so you can program your scanner through your computer.
  • Like other Uniden scanners, this one also includes Close Call.
  • This device supports CTCSS, RAN, DCS, and NAC color decoding.
  • As with other Uniden models, the SDS100 has RF Capture capabilities.
  • These units also come with a 3.7V 5400 mA Lithium-Ion battery pack, which is rechargeable.
  • With the Discovery Mode, you can easily find new channels.
  • Instant Replay plays back up to 240 seconds of transmissions.
  • Comes with an 8GB MicroSD card.
  • Offers Multi-Site trunking.
  • Offers Quick Key capabilities.
  • Offers Weather information through NOAA Weather Alert with SAME.

There are so many intricate features with this model that it would be difficult to list them all. It is packed with features that make it one of the best handheld police scanners in the industry.

How Is the Battery Life?

If you are concerned about battery life, you should not be with the Uniden SDS100. It offers a long battery life of about eight hours, depending on the functions you are using.

Handheld police scanner users often complain about the lack of battery life with portable units, and Uniden has worked to alleviate this problem with their SDS100.

If you will be using your scanner for longer than eight hours or going on long trips, it would be wise to purchase a spare battery or two and keep it charged at all times.

You can also operate the Uniden SDS100 via a USB 5V DC ≥300mA. You will need to purchase this separately, as it is not included in the box.

What Is the Frequency Range?

The following offers information on the frequency ranges that are available with the Uniden SDS100. These were correct at the time of this writing but are subject to change. Uniden updates their ranges from time to time.

  • 25-512 MHz
  • 758-824 MHz
  • 849-869 MHz
  • 894-960 MHz
  • 1240-1300 MHz

What Is in the Box?

The unboxing of a police scanner is an exciting event. Before purchasing the UNIDEN SDS100, it is important to know what you get in the box. The following offers information on exactly what you can expect to find in the box when you open it.

  • One SDS100 Handheld Police Scanner
  • An SMA antenna
  • One SMA-BNC antenna adapter
  • Registration card for 411
  • One 5V 2A USB wall brick
  • One USB Mini-B programming cable
  • An extended battery door
  • One extended capacity Lithium-Ion 3.7v 5400mAh 19.98Wh battery
  • One rotating belt clip
  • Owner’s manual
  • One 8GB MicroSD card (Installed)

Is the SDS100 Water-Resistant?

The SDS100 is water-resistant, but it is important to note there are limitations. You cannot submerge this unit in water or get it overly wet, or problems with the operation will occur.

Be careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe and authorized usage. Using the unit outside of these instructions could result in voiding the warranty.

System Types Supported by the Uniden SDS100

The Uniden SDS100 supports all the major systems you would expect. They are as follows.

  • Analog conventional frequencies
  • Motorola Type I
  • Motorola Type II
  • Motorola Type III
  • Hybrid
  • Smartnet
  • SmartZone Omnilink
  • Standard Wide
  • Standard networked
  • Standard narrowband
  • Narrowband networked
  • SCAT
  • ESK
  • ProVoice
  • LTR Standard
  • APCO Project 25 standard
  • Phase I FDMA
  • Motorola X-2 TDMA
  • Phased II TDMA
  • LSM systems
  • MotoTRBO

*Some systems require a paid upgrade.

What Comes Pre-Loaded on the MicroSD Card?

There are a few things that come pre-loaded on the MicroSD card, and they include the following.

  • Uniden’s Sentinel software package
  • A copy of the Radio Reference Database
  • The MicroSD card comes pre-formatted with FAT 32 Filing System

Tips for Using the Uniden SDS100

Some tips can make using your new handheld police scanner much easier.

  • Never use your Uniden SDS100 in overly wet environments.
  • Make sure the antenna is connected properly.
  • Discover your local frequencies.
  • Make sure you learn how to program your scanner. This can be done with the Sentinel Software that is included on the MicroSD card.
  • Scan your area for local frequencies.
  • Save your favorites as you go.
  • Make sure you have a license to operate your new police scanner.

Is the Uniden SDS100 Good for Beginners?

It is important to note that not all police scanners are simple to use. Some require advanced knowledge of programming, which can be tedious for those who are beginners.

The Uniden SDS100 is fairly straightforward and simple to use. If you are a beginner, make sure to check out the Bearcat videos that Uniden releases. They will help you better understand getting started with your new scanner.

What We Like About the Uniden SDS100

There are tons of things we liked about the Uniden SDS100 during testing. As always, it is our goal to give factual review information with hands-on experience.

Overall, this is an amazing unit. It is packed full of the best features Uniden offers. We found the setup process to be simple.

We really like how the unit feels in our hands. It is solid and offers a grippy rubber that prevents slippage.

The scanning speed outperformed many of the previous scanners we have tried. With lightning-fast speed, you can find channels quickly and easily.

What We Didn’t Like About the Uniden SDS100

Let’s be honest. There are no perfect handheld police scanners. While the SDS100 is near perfect, in our book, there are a couple of minor issues we did not like.

While the multi-color display is a good feature, viewing the screen in sunlit conditions can sometimes be difficult. There is also no keypad lock, which we miss from the previous Uniden model.


It would be difficult to include everything there is to know about the Uniden SDS100. There are so many features and options available.

We get a lot of questions regarding our in-depth product reviews, and we are happy to answer them whenever we can. Below are a few of the most asked questions we have received regarding the SDS100.

What is the main feature of the Uniden SDS100 scanner?

The Uniden SDS100 scanner features a True I/Q receiver design that improves digital performance in weak-signal and simulcast areas.

u003cstrongu003eIs the scanner durable and weather-resistant?u003c/strongu003e

Yes, the SDS100 scanner has a rugged design and is weather-resistant with JIS 4 construction.

u003cstrongu003eWhat type of battery does the SDS100 scanner use?u003c/strongu003e

The SDS100 scanner uses a Li-Ion battery.

u003cstrongu003eDoes the scanner have a customizable display?u003c/strongu003e

Yes, the SDS100 scanner comes with a customizable color LCD. Users can modify the color and choose what is displayed.

u003cstrongu003eWhat is the resolution and item weight of the scanner?u003c/strongu003e

The scanner has a resolution of 24 Bits and weighs 0.49 Ounces.

What comes pre-loaded on the MicroSD card of the Uniden SDS100?

The MicroSD card comes pre-loaded with Uniden’s Sentinel software package, a copy of the Radio Reference Database, and is pre-formatted with the FAT 32 Filing System.

How long does the battery of the Uniden SDS100 last?

The Uniden SDS100 offers a battery life of about eight hours, depending on the functions being used. It comes with a 3.7V 5400 mA Lithium-Ion battery pack, which is rechargeable.

u003cstrongu003eIs the Uniden SDS100 suitable for beginners?u003c/strongu003e

The Uniden SDS100 is fairly straightforward and simple to use, making it suitable for beginners. Uniden also releases Bearcat videos to help beginners get started with their new scanner.

Why did Uniden change the battery from AA cells to the new Lithium Polymer battery pack?

Many people seemed to prefer the old AA cell batteries and were not happy when Uniden made their change with the Lithium polymer battery pack.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThey did this because the AA cells simply did not have enough power to run the advanced operations of this police scanner effectively. This battery offers longer life and greater power, which is a win-win for Uniden and its users.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eI have trouble seeing the multi-color display in direct sunlight. Is there a fix for this?u003cbru003eAs mentioned above, we love the multi-color display, but it can be difficult to see when you use your police scanner in full sunlight.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThankfully, a fix allows you to change the color scheme temporarily. You can go under settings and select the display option for black on white or white on black and see which one helps you view the screen better.

Is it possible to share favorites lists with other scanners?

If you are like many police scanner enthusiasts, you likely have more than one scanner. We use one in the car and one at home and keep our handheld for travel.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIf your other devices use Uniden’s Sentinel Software, sharing your favorites list with other scanners will be a piece of cake. If you have another brand of scanner, you will need to use third-party software to share your favorites.

Why is there a little hole on the back of the Uniden SDS100?

When people get a good look at their Uniden SDS100, they often see the little hole at the back of the radio and worry they are missing a screw or an important component.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThis hole is intentional and is there to release pressure from the police scanner. It offers breathability to help keep everything working at a proper internal temperature.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eUniden included this pressure-relief opening because earlier models of their police scanners sometimes had pressure issues. This little opening resolved those issues.

How to Care for Your SDS100?

Before you use your radio, read through the entire user’s manual to get a feel for how to use the scanner properly. It is important to store your radio in a dry and temperature-controlled area.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eNever submerge your unit in water. If you need to clean it, use a soft, damp cloth to wipe away any fingerprints or grime. If dust is a problem, a can of compressed air will do the trick.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a new handheld police scanner that is packed with features and easy to use, this Uniden SDS100 may be for you.

While it is not perfect, it offers tons of features that make it fun to use. With our exhaustive uniden sds100 review, you are now prepared to make your purchase.

With this radio, you can easily scan all types of channels, including police, fire, EMS, ambulance services, schools, air traffic control, and many more. Once you get your hands on it, you are going to find it quickly becomes your favorite tool for hobby scanning.