Whistler WS1040 Review

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When picking between handheld and desktop digital police scanners, you’ll want to consider how often you move around and whether you’ll need your scanner on you at all times. Most of the time, the convenience of a handheld scanner wins out, and that’s why they’re more popular than their desktop counterparts.

Today, we’ll be reviewing one of the best handheld digital scanners on the market: the Whistler WS1040, and it boasts a modest price point and impressive performance.

Whistler WS1040 Features

There are so many features that help put the WS1040 at the top of the pile of mid-range portable police scanners. A great example is the customizable alert LED, which you can set to a certain color so that the device can notify you about a particular channel that’s broadcasting or something along those lines.

The Automatic Adaptive Digital Tracking feature helps continually adjust to the transmission so that the device can receive more clearly, resulting in less jumbled audio. The LCD screen on this model is also backlit, so you’ll be able to use the WS1040 in the dark without a flashlight.

Since digital systems usually have low raw audio levels, this model is equipped with a digital AGC, which helps boost it so that it will be easier to hear without headphones on. Another key advantage over the competition is that this model doesn’t have the saved items organized into memory banks; it instead uses free-form memory.

Since you just have to connect this model to the PC to get it working, it’s also a lot easier for beginners to get into using the WS1040. Several other features make it easier to use this scanner when it comes to day-to-day operation, like the lock-out function, which allows you to skip channels.

There is even a memory backup to help ensure that your data doesn’t disappear if the device is left without batteries for a long period. Much like other Whistler scanners, this one features an Object Oriented User Interface that is designed to make it easier to use, as things are laid out more logically.

Whistler Ws1040 ReviewYou can even set a priority channel that will be scanned every two seconds while you listen in on other frequencies. And the scanner features S.A.M.E. and Skywarn capabilities, ensuring that you’ll never be caught off guard by foul or even dangerous weather conditions.


One of our favorite things about this scanner is that it’s a lot easier to access the functions that you need because of the larger keypad. Even though it will take you a little longer to get used to it, the large number of features that can be accessed directly from the touch keys ensure that you have access to the features you use most.

This scanner also used fewer batteries than competing models, ensuring that you won’t run out of juice halfway through listening to a transmission. If you aren’t using rechargeable batteries, then this can even help save you some more money.

Finally, we were impressed by just how much value for money you get out of this model, as it’s more affordable than a lot of high-end scanners, though it’s still as capable as them.


Unfortunately, the WS1040 disappointed us in a few places, so we can’t give it the perfect score that it may seem like it deserves so far. First off, the display is too small to understand easily, and the lack of full color means that it can often be challenging to differentiate between similar symbols.

The keypad also doesn’t use the traditional system for entering alphabetical characters, which will require a bit of an adjustment period if you’re used to the way that it works on other scanners. Finally, the scanner is a little bulkier than competing ones that are available for the same price, reducing portability.


If you can get over these minor issues, then you’ll find that the WS1040 is one of the best digital handheld police scanners that are currently on sale. We hope that this guide has been able to tell you all that you need to know about this product.

You can get your hands on this scanner by clicking the yellow button so that you can be brought directly to the Amazon page for the WS1040.

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