A Review of The Uniden BC144XL Programmable Desktop Scanner

Just so everyone knows, I am not the owner of this featured image; it is from a picture that I Googled and cropped.

I had first discovered scanner radios in the Summer of 2001 at the age of fourteen and a half.

However, I had little to no income due to my age and my parents aren’t big on technology to appreciate such a device. It angered them that I could potentially eavesdrop on other’s communications, especially law enforcement and government operations. In fact, they were appalled when they found out that such an item existed.

And, at the time, even an entry-level scanner cost at least $100, brand new.

So, I had no hopes of getting one.

Well, until September of 2002, that is.

My local Wal*Mart had a Uniden BC144XL on clearance for $30.00+tax.

I borrowed the money and purchased it at once.

That was the first scanner I ever owned and what this piece will be a review of.

At first, I had a slight amount of consumer’s remorse when I took it home and set it up.

There was only a two-digit LED display, that didn’t show the full frequency readout.

There were no search functions, which meant I could only program the frequencies I knew-this resulted in a lot of trial and error.

I later found out that at the time, local law enforcement in my Parish was on the Louisiana 800 MHz Motorola Smartzone Trunked System, so I could not pick them up whatsoever with this scanner-and boy I was ticked off at that fact!

While it was capable of picking up The Feds, there were no Federal Government operations within range.

However, I did find some use for it and I ended up enjoying it.

For example, I frequently listened to my local fire department and eventually neighboring fire departments. I discovered 2 Meter local Amateur Radio operations in my area. I listened in on analog cordless phones that operated in the VHF Low Band. There were some local businesses and utilities with wide-area repeater coverage that I would listen to. And I would eventually use it for listening to marine communications and even railroads, some months later.

In December of 2002, with the money I was gifted for Christmas, I upgraded to a Uniden BC80XLT, which had more channels, covered 800 MHz, had search functions, and was portable. I had that newer until the Fall of 2005 when someone sabotaged it. I may write a review of it someday.

I sold my first scanner approximately a year later because I needed the money for other things.

For years, I regretted selling it, especially in more recent years when the bulk of my scanner listening transitioned from law enforcement to railroad and marine traffic.

On this day, January 3, 2021, I purchased a duplicate Uniden BC144XL in fairly decent condition for roughly the same price I paid back in September 2002. It was a late birthday present to me from myself. Thank God for eBay! I plan to use it in conjunction with my Realistic Pro-59, which I shall compare it to.

In these ways it is better than the Realistic Pro-59:
It has double the channel memory with sixteen channels as opposed to eight.
It also covers 29-54 MHz in addition to 137-174 MHz and 406-512 MHz.

The Realistic Pro-59, has better antenna connections, though, at least in my humble but honest opinion.

The user interface between the Uniden BC144XL and the Realistic Pro-59 is very similar, with the Uniden BC144XL being more advanced.

Well, they are both Unidens though one is a true Uniden and the other is a rebadged Uniden made for Radio Shack under the Realistic name.

I don’t have the receiver sensitivity ratings for this scanner, but I am durn sure that it is more sensitive than any of its modern-day counterparts and that is a crying shame. I was amazed at how far away it could pull in signals from, even with just the stock antenna. I cannot wait for my duplicate to come in the mail!

I already have a general idea of what I am going to program in it:

The first few channels will be for local and neighboring fire departments (almost all on VHF High Band.)

Then I will store my local utilities (Electrical on VHF Low Band, Waterworks on UHF Band.)

Then a few amateur radio frequencies (2 Meter and 70 Centimeter Bands. Might even program some 6 Meter and 10 Meter FM frequencies since a new sunspot cycle is beginning!)

Then railroad and marine, that is a must (VHF High Band.)

Finally maybe a few local businesses (Mostly UHF Band.)

I haven’t decided where in my residence that I want to use it, since I already have a tabletop scanner in each room.

I will admit that I bought it for the sentimental value but also for the powerful sensitivity because I’m convinced that it pulls in signals clearly that my newer scanners won’t even stop on.

In my teens, I would have given it a low rating, maybe 1 or 2 out of 5 stars, because of all it lacked

However, at the age of thirty-four and with totally different listening habits I can give this scanner a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, only because it lacks a full frequency display and a search function. However, it does make up for it in being well-built, long-lasting, and extra sensitive.

I mean many scanners that were made 25-35 years ago still work perfectly even though they may be partially or even mostly obsolete. Well, they are still perfectly fine for most of my listening tastes!

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again:

Will any scanner made today or even within the last decade still be functioning 25-35 years in the future?

Somehow, I don’t think so.

All in all, I guess this concludes my review of Uniden BC144XL.

I cannot wait for my duplicate to come in the mail and I hope that you, the reader, have been informed and maybe even entertained.

May God richly bless you!0

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