Which Uniden CB radios are best?
If you have a vested interest in being able to communicate with teammates safely and effectively where cellphones won’t work, or simply want to keep abreast of any inclement weather in your local area, a Citizen’s Band, or CB, radio is an ideal solution.
Whether you are an experienced owner and operator of CB radios or are purchasing your first unit, getting a model from a company like Uniden, which has more than 50 years of experience in manufacturing radio equipment, makes good sense. With a robust and reliable unit like the Uniden BEARCAT 980 40- Channel SSB CB Radio in your vehicle, you can navigate the open road, knowing you can stay in touch with those who matter to you.
What to know before you buy a Uniden CB radio
For those who are unfamiliar with CB radios outside of the context of vintage trucking films such as “Breaker, Breaker” or “Smokey and the Bandit,” CB radios are used by individuals in countries all over the world to facilitate short-range communication. While they are perhaps not as popular as they once were, CB radios are an affordable means of long-distance communication with a team, radio dispatchers and citizens. As opposed to amateur or “ham” radio, many countries do not require a license to own or operate a CB radio, although there are some notable disadvantages to not having a license.
For example, your unlicensed CB radio will not receive any protection from outside interference being transmitted by other devices; your system is not permitted to cause any potentially damaging interference; and it must function at a sufficiently low power level, which must not be in excess of 50 milliwatts.
Standard unit vs. fully customized setup
If all you are looking for is to have a reliable means of short-wave radio communication, you should be just fine with an everyday, off-the-shelf CB radio unit. However, for those who plan on creating a system that requires customizations including the incorporation of external electronics devices, it is worth purchasing a CB radio that allows you to do just that.
Popular reasons for adding other electronics to your existing CB radio setup include headsets and wireless microphones for hands-free operation of the unit as well as the use of external speakers for improved clarity and volume in receiving communications.
What to look for in a quality Uniden CB radio
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned trucker, an emergency responder or simply a dedicated nature lover who would prefer some peace of mind on walks through the wilderness, CB radios can be literal lifesavers. However, if you can’t receive or transmit a clear radio signal, your CB radio becomes an expensive paperweight.
All of the selected models of Uniden CB radio have been designed and selected for their ability to make incredibly minute adjustments to clarify and improve your ability to both send and receive radio transmissions. Examples include controlling the sensitivity of the microphone by adjusting the gain; an ANL/Noise Blanker option to improve sound quality by reducing static; and having the ability to alter the squelch control settings as needed.
Some models of CB radio come equipped with the ability to incorporate wireless microphones into the existing setup as well as noise-canceling technology to ensure your conversation partners aren’t deafened by ambient noises in your vicinity.
Other useful features include access to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s, or NOAA, dedicated weather channels and an incorporated SWR reader. The SWR or Standing Wave Radio Meter is an incredibly useful device that can detect discrepancies between a radio transmission line and its antenna, allowing you to ensure the settings are ideal so the components work seamlessly together.
When operating your CB radio in potentially dangerous conditions or extremely remote locations, the last thing you need is a unit that has a display confusing to operate or one that relies solely on your vehicle generating electricity to work. As such, consider purchasing a Uniden CB radio with LED backlit displays that come with several color options, easily readable channel indicators and units that feature display type sufficiently large and easy to read.
It is also worth considering the purchase of a Uniden CB radio that comes with the option of backup batteries in the event of an unexpected accident or electrical failure.
How much you can expect to spend on a Uniden CB radio
Depending on desired features as well as budgetary requirements, a quality Uniden CB radio can cost $100-$163 and sometimes more.
Uniden CB radio FAQ
How far can you transmit a radio signal using a CB radio?
A. Depending on external conditions including line of sight, outside interference and terrain, a typical CB radio can send a signal anywhere between 3-20 miles on average. Any specific conditions related to your location and equipment may allow you to transmit over much longer distances, but this is not a reliable phenomenon.
How many channels are there on a CB radio?
A. There are 40 channels available on your CB radio between the frequencies of 26.965-27.405 megahertz.
What’s the best Uniden CB radio to buy?
Top Uniden CB radio
What you need to know: This is a top-of-the-line CB radio that combines old-school tech with modern conveniences.
What you’ll love: This unit features a backlit control panel with seven color display options as well as easy-to-read laser-etched keys and full-spectrum CB operation. It can instantly switch to Emergency Channel 9 and get access to NOAA weather channels at a single button press. It has noise-canceling technology to eliminate background noise and compatibility with the Uniden BC906W CB Wireless Microphone.
What you should consider: Users have reported issues with the LED screen either not lighting up at all or being insufficiently bright to be easily seen.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top Uniden CB radio for the money
What you need to know: An affordable CB radio, it still delivers a great performance for the price.
What you’ll love: This unit includes 40 Channels with channel selector, a channel indicator, an S/RF/SWR/Mod Meter, redesigned durable microphone with front mic access, a PA mode, TX/RX indicator, instant channel 9, RF gain control, mic gain control, a Hi Cut function, dim control and noise blanker.
What you should consider: Users have reported issues with the unit’s speaker being excessive quiet as well as producing bursts of static.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This stylish limited edition CB radio is for those who prefer a bit of flair.
What you’ll love: This unit features a public-address feature as well as an emergency channel you can access automatically if desired and a seven-color backlit display with easy-to-read large type. An integrated dimmer switch lets you alter the intensity of the display. It has integrated diagnostic modes and a built-in SWR meter.
What you should consider: Users have reported issues with the unit’s screen fading and even melting when exposed to high temperatures for extended periods.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Daniel Martin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.