My wife bought me a Uniden BC72XLT Handheld Scanner for Christmas. It’s the first handheld scanner I’ve owned. These devices are often referred to as “police scanners” but they can usually receive a wide variety of frequencies used by different agencies.
I’d classify it as a good beginner’s radio for anyone interested in using a radio scanner. I’ve learned most of the basics of how to use and program the scanner, though there are still a few features I haven’t learned, yet.
It has several features I appreciate. It stores up to 100 frequencies in ten channel banks and can also recharge rechargeable batteries.
Note that simply owning a scanner isn’t all there is to listening to the local police transmissions. First, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the 10 Codes (for example, 10-23). Those are fairly standard, though I’ve noticed some deviations between the published uses and the meanings that I’ve inferred via context locally.
The signal codes (for example, Signal 1000) are more difficult to decipher and often do vary between jurisdictions. Unfortunately, the signal codes can also describe the more interesting activities. In the few weeks since I got the scanner I’ve only determined the meaning of one signal code with certainty.