G5 PII quick review

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noaffiliatefan

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There's a lot to like in the G5, but a few quirks as well.

Granted, some of this is due to it being first and foremost a pager, and a "scanner" second - and I suspect much of this is a) easily fixed and b) likely underway already from things I hear here and there.

Good stuff:


  • 700/800 sensitivity - absolutely on par with XTS 3000/5000, even with 1" antenna.
  • P25 handled quite well overall, including priority scan which works perfectly
  • Yes, it decodes the CC and gets neighbors for roaming
  • Overall decode quality
  • Generally informative display
  • Reasonably loud audio
  • Bluetooth (but also a negative)
  • PPS reasonable (but not stellar)
  • Good size; doesn't look too dorky
  • It's not a Uniden
  • Don't have to deal with Opitz

Not-as-good stuff:

  • Internal VHF antenna - ouch - but it does work OK
  • CPU may be a bit overtaxed, can see the display paint at times
  • Bluetooth connects/disconnects between each carrier
  • Hangs onto a signal for far too long when roaming - parameters are not settable or even exposed
  • Incoming call disables all user input - more frustrating than it might sound
  • No nuisance delete for scan list
  • While encryption is detected - it is not muted
  • No delay setting for talkgroups - even 500ms would be great
  • PPS is brain-dead in spots; lack of defaults and other UI annoyances


Compared to an XTS or even APX, it holds its own if you're only listening. You get more talkgroups, easier programming, and easier charging (USB). You can wildcard a whole bunch of parameters, which is something I haven't seen on the CPS side.

But you don't get any opportunity to improve your VHF reception, and you might get a tad frustrated with PPS, and ENC and a lack of NUIS and no delay can also make things a bit frustrating here and there.

But again, it's not a Uniden. And it's never going to try to affiliate.

Even if no further FW updates come out, this is a good piece of kit. Address some of those items above and it gets even better.
 
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Pezking

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Not having to deal with Paul was the number one selling point for me.
 

box

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Thank you for providing this in a well laid out fashion. There are some items I hadn't seen or heard of yet.

Trying to pick out such useful bits of information in the RR forums is a very depressing process.
 

Pezking

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I think the problem with the people on RR is they expect it to be a scanner when it clearly is not. It is a purpose built pager.

The one thing I still have trouble grasping is the Receiving Mode. TG Scan, TG Monitor, Silent Scan, Priority Scan, Normal Scan. There is no help file and the user guide just shows pictures of the available options. It doesn't explain the difference.
 

Number 6

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Using an internal antenna for VHF is welfare. How "ok" is the performance on VHF?
 
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noaffiliatefan

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That's a very fair question - I don't like this design decision at all either.

For FM, just by listening, it's hard to tell - separating the radios so you can hear the difference then oftentimes puts one in a better spot than the other. There have been times when the XTS doesn't even unsquelch and the Unication does, and the reverse. But the overall edge of course goes to the XTS - physics being physics. I do have a service monitor, I may be able to run a test at some point.

So, yes, clearly it's worse - but it's not as bad as one might think either. I can't praise it, nor can I completely damn it either. Note: for monitoring actually local systems - not systems 20-30 miles away - full quieting.

For P25, I was never out of range on a VHF system - there was always another site available that it would switch to. But if I had to say, monitorable site radius is down about 20-30% - down 50% if comparing to a 5/8 wave center-mounted.

So maybe not welfare, but food stamps?
 

Number 6

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I also see that the unit is "not compatible with Smartzone or Smartnet systems".
 

crazyboy

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I also see that the unit is "not compatible with Smartzone or Smartnet systems".


That is correct, P25 only.

In addition to the above.
Display/Voice announcements are very delayed from the actual change of the physical knob. Ie: volume level display compared to turning the knob, channel selector etc.
Its huge, well compared to a Minitor 6. Not a big deal for those of us using it to monitor, but for pager use there is a significant amount of hesitation for this.
A lot of buttons/fancy screen. Good for us techies, not good for the actual design of it as a pager. Needs to be firefighter proof with limited buttons. On/off/Volume/Channel only.
 
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noaffiliatefan

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The Smartzone/Smartnet incompatibility really was a non-factor for me, as of the 6 systems close to me that have been SZ/SN, all but one have just moved to P25, and the last one is scheduled to very shortly. If you need to monitor one of those and it will be staying on the air, I can see it being a bigger factor.

It's also not tri-band, so it doesn't cover VHF, UHF and 700/800 in one box - again, a non-factor for me personally.

It could be smaller and have less bells and whistles, yes, but I'm also unaware of any other P25/trunking pagers out there at the moment. It's been a while since I've used a pager, but I have used a variety of them over the years.

A few other observations:

Battery life seems OK. I've been using the screen on 100% brightness without timeout and it lasts 4-5 hours. When turning down the brightness and a 10 or 20 second timeout, I used it for about 3 hours and went down 1 bar (I know, a fairly useless measurement), so I can see it going 10-12 hours on a full charge, even more if using in standby mode.

There is a lack of documentation; while I'd certainly appreciate more, I'm (somewhat) enjoying figuring out how to use it. It's not unlike CPS with its quirks. But I can see others being unhappy about that, especially if being placed into actual paging duty. It's also clear that there are additional features on the way, as there are several parts of PPS that are not yet active - all the fields are there, but not selectable.

PPS: I don't yet see how I can manage the equivalent of codeplugs outside of the app; therefore I'm unsure on how to back one up for safekeeping. Not saying the functionality doesn't exist, but it's not obvious to me at this point.

Overall, still a thumbs-up, but it's not a Minitor, it's not an APX, and it's not a Uniden. It has blemishes, but I suspect for many reading this on this site, it may be an intriguing device.
 

crazyboy

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The Smartzone/Smartnet incompatibility really was a non-factor for me, as of the 6 systems close to me that have been SZ/SN, all but one have just moved to P25, and the last one is scheduled to very shortly. If you need to monitor one of those and it will be staying on the air, I can see it being a bigger factor.

It's also not tri-band, so it doesn't cover VHF, UHF and 700/800 in one box - again, a non-factor for me personally.

It could be smaller and have less bells and whistles, yes, but I'm also unaware of any other P25/trunking pagers out there at the moment. It's been a while since I've used a pager, but I have used a variety of them over the years.

A few other observations:

Battery life seems OK. I've been using the screen on 100% brightness without timeout and it lasts 4-5 hours. When turning down the brightness and a 10 or 20 second timeout, I used it for about 3 hours and went down 1 bar (I know, a fairly useless measurement), so I can see it going 10-12 hours on a full charge, even more if using in standby mode.

There is a lack of documentation; while I'd certainly appreciate more, I'm (somewhat) enjoying figuring out how to use it. It's not unlike CPS with its quirks. But I can see others being unhappy about that, especially if being placed into actual paging duty. It's also clear that there are additional features on the way, as there are several parts of PPS that are not yet active - all the fields are there, but not selectable.

PPS: I don't yet see how I can manage the equivalent of codeplugs outside of the app; therefore I'm unsure on how to back one up for safekeeping. Not saying the functionality doesn't exist, but it's not obvious to me at this point.

Overall, still a thumbs-up, but it's not a Minitor, it's not an APX, and it's not a Uniden. It has blemishes, but I suspect for many reading this on this site, it may be an intriguing device.

Profile Import/Export -> Export -> Select profile -> Export -> Select where to save.
 
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noaffiliatefan

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Thanks - I had played with that momentarily but thought there might be a file exposed in the file system but found nothing obvious there either.
 

Number 6

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Really? No 3600 baud analog trunking? That would render it useless for me.
 

JeffFireRadio

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Fred Flintstone called. Bedrock wants their trunking system back. :) Seriously though, are any of the manufacturers still supporting 3600 analog systems (parts, firmware, tech support)? I thought we lost one of the last ones in Wichita four years ago when we 'had' to upgrade due to those issues. No question, they were great systems. More on-topic though, I have a 9600 analog system (on its way to P25) that my G5 won't receive, so I feel your pain.
 

Number 6

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Seriously though, are any of the manufacturers still supporting 3600 analog systems (parts, firmware, tech support)?

There are still 3600 analog systems in use in major cities. I know of one major city that is 3600 analog and digital where the PD is still using MTS2000s along with APX6000s and 7000s. They have been fussing around with a P25 system for over 3 years,and Motorola still maintains the system along with the city's techs). Another city is 3600 analog and digital (and again in a multi-year "test" of P25) and is using BK-Relm and APX radios.
 

cyrus

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I would hate to pay a licencing fee to Motorola for an old technology on its way out.
 

Alpha

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Does it do Project 18 or whatever it's called, that's a 3600 baud control channel like SZ/SN but with digital talkgroups, or is it pure P25 9600 CC only?
 

crazyboy

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Does it do Project 18 or whatever it's called, that's a 3600 baud control channel like SZ/SN but with digital talkgroups, or is it pure P25 9600 CC only?

Pure P25 Phase 1/2 only.
 

bstafford

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That was my one hangup stopping me from getting one since our statewide system isn't true p25 and the 700 MHz p25 overlay isn't fully statewide yet. I had planned on holding off however some local towns near me are building out their own phase 2 systems so I'll probably be getting one within the next year.

Does anyone know if a triband v/u/800 version is on the way? I'd hate to buy one then they come out with a triband version.
 

CQDX

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I feel like a better design would be to put the VHF on the external SMA antenna, and keep the 800MHz antenna internal. But of course that would make sense.
 
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