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Uniden Pro520XL Review: Pros, Cons, and Key Features

For nearly five decades, Uniden has been synonymous with crafting dependable CB radios. They recognize that not everyone seeks an exhaustive array of features; instead, some prioritize size and resilience.

There’s a demand for a radio that is solid and compact enough to squeeze into confined spaces – a discreet yet robust option capable of enduring the demands of commercial or off-road usage.

Uniden Pro520xl cb radio

This demand has led to the creation of Uniden’s Pro series, featuring the Pro505XL, Pro510XL, and the focus of this review, the flagship model, Pro520XL

Uniden Pro520XL
Uniden Pro520XL
8.5/10Our Score

The Uniden Pro520XL CB radio delivers impressive durability and performance in its compact design. The inclusion of RF Gain control adds a personalized touch, making it worth the slightly higher cost compared to the Pro510XL.

Backed by Uniden’s proven track record, this radio ensures longevity, offering a practical array of features for effective communication in a variety of situations.

Key Features and Benefits

Simplicity and functionality converge in the Uniden Pro510XL, making it an indispensable tool for communication enthusiasts and those needing reliable contact on the road. Packed with an array of essential features, the Pro510XL offers all the basics you’d need all squeezed into a compact and durable enclosure.

  1. 40 Channels: The full, legal number of channels that you’d expect on most modern CB radios.
  2. Clear Channel Display with Digital S-Meter and TX LED: The clear channel display on the Pro510XL provides you with easy-to-read information about your current channel and signal strength. The digital S-Meter (Signal Meter) enables you to gauge the strength of incoming signals, helping you assess the quality of communication conditions. Additionally, the LED transmit indicator light lets you know when you’re transmitting, ensuring you’re aware of your radio’s status at all times.
  3. Emergency Channel 9 Switch: Safety is paramount, especially when you’re on the road or in remote areas. The Pro510XL features an emergency channel 9 switch, allowing you to quickly access and transmit on the universally recognized emergency channel. This feature can be a lifesaver in critical situations, enabling you to call for help or provide assistance when needed.
  4. Volume Control: The conveniently located volume control on the front panel allows you to adjust the audio output of the radio to your preference. Whether you’re in a noisy environment or need to lower the volume for discreet communication, the volume control ensures you can always hear your conversations clearly.
  5. Squelch Control: The squelch control is a vital feature for eliminating unwanted background noise and static. By adjusting the squelch level, you can customize the radio’s sensitivity to incoming signals, ensuring that only strong and clear transmissions are heard. This enhances the overall clarity of your conversations.
  6. ANL Switch: Reduce noise interference with the Automatic Noise Limiter.
  7. RF Gain Control: RF Gain provides you with the ability to adjust the radio’s receive sensitivity. This is particularly useful when dealing with strong nearby signals that might otherwise cause distortion or interference. By adjusting the RF Gain, you can fine-tune the radio’s performance to match your communication needs.
  8. Front Mount Microphone: The Pro510XL features a front mount microphone design, allowing you to conveniently access the microphone and controls without reaching for the unit. This design promotes ease of use and ensures that you can make adjustments and transmit messages without taking your eyes off the road or your surroundings.
  9. PA Capability: The Public Address (PA) capability is a standout feature of the Pro510XL. This function allows you to use your CB radio as a PA system, projecting your voice through an external speaker.

What’s in the Box

  1. Uniden Pro510XL CB Radio: The main unit itself.
  2. Microphone: A microphone for transmitting your voice over the CB radio channels.
  3. Mounting Brackets: Both the mounting bracket that allows you to attach the CB radio to a suitable location within your vehicle or desired location and one for the microphone to clip into.
  4. Mounting Hardware: Screws or other hardware required for attaching the mounting brackets to your vehicle.
  5. Power Cord: A power cord that connects the CB radio to your vehicle’s power source.
  6. User Manual: A user manual that provides information on setting up, operating, and troubleshooting the CB radio.

Note: As with most mobile CB radios you’ll need to purchase a suitable antenna separately.

Pro520XL vs Pro510XL

If you are trying to decide between the Pro520XL and the more basic Pro510XL these are the differences between them.

Both radios share the same compact design, the same power output (4 Watts), same number of channels. However, you lose the RF Gain, ANL and Instant Channel 9 switch.

What’s Great

  • Robust Physical Build and Durability: Having handled many CB radios I can confidently say, the Uniden Pro510XL boasts exceptional build quality. The radio feels sturdy and well-constructed, ensuring it can withstand the rigors of regular use and even some rough handling.
  • Front-Mounted Microphone for Space Efficiency: The front-mounted microphone is a practical design choice that optimizes space utilization. This feature eliminates the need for extra space on the sides, making it easier to integrate the radio into various setups without sacrificing precious room.
  • Premium Feel of Knobs and Switches: Unlike some radios with flimsy controls, the knobs and switches on the Uniden Pro510XL have a reassuring tactile feel. This not only enhances the overall user experience but also suggests greater durability over time.
  • Clear and Legible Display: The clarity of the display is another notable advantage. The information on the screen is easy to read, even in varying lighting conditions. This enhances the radio’s usability and reduces potential frustration during operation.
  • RF Gain Control: The inclusion of RF Gain is a notable pro for the Pro520XL. Personally, I consider RF Gain to be a bare minimum on my radios, as it allows me to fine-tune the receiver’s sensitivity based on the current signal conditions. This feature not only enhances signal clarity but also gives me the flexibility to adapt to varying environments and improve overall communication quality.

What’s Not So Great

  • Mic Feel and Size: One drawback lies in the microphone’s tactile experience. While the modulation is perfectly adequate, the microphone itself might not feel as high-quality as other components of the radio. Additionally, the microphone is relatively small, which could be a concern for individuals with larger hands.
  • Compact Design Fiddliness: Again, perhaps only an issue for those with larger hands. The radio’s compact design, although a space-saving feature, could prove challenging for users with larger hands. Operating the controls and buttons might feel a bit fiddly for individuals who require more space to maneuver comfortably.

Verdict / Bottom Line

Comparing it to its junior counterpart, the Pro520XL makes a compelling case for itself. While the Pro510XL is undeniably a noteworthy CB radio, the slight price difference is a small trade-off for the additional features that the Pro520XL offers. In my opinion, the added advantage of having RF Gain alone justifies the investment. Having a personal preference for RF Gain on all my radios, it’s a feature I would willingly pay extra for and consider it a bare-minimum requirement.

Furthermore, the Pro520XL doesn’t just promise durability; it exudes it. The confidence it instills by feeling robust and capable of withstanding various challenges is a testament to Uniden’s consistent track record in crafting resilient communication devices. When a device feels like it can take a beating and emerge unscathed, you know you’re got a radio that will last.

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Featured Image credit: Uniden