UHF CB Head to Head – XCD 5W v Digitech DC-1068

This is a head to head review/test of the XCD 5W UHF CB and the Digitech DC-1068 UHF CB. Both are 5W UHF CB radios which retail for $189.

Background:
I have been involved in the video hobby for over 25 years this started off on UHF CB then moved onto shortwave listening radio scan in amateur radio and then more recently I was involved in the ultralight radio DXing hobby.

I work professionally in the information technology space as a senior information technology operations manager. I have extensive experience in technical systems, this includes in the original mapping out of the Tasmanian EDACS Radio Network and developing a programming guide to program various Uniden radio scanners to trunk track the EDACS network successfully. This means I have extensive experience with using these sort of radios, if I struggle to use them and program them, then most people would.

What you get:

Both of these are 5 Watt UHF CB handheld radios, they are both retail for the same price of $189. Where the XCD comes with the radio unit itself, 240 volt AC charger, 12 volt car charger, aerial, speaker mic and earphone mic. The Digitech DC-1068 only comes with the radio unit itself, the battery, aerial, droppin charger and 240 volt charger. A speaker mic, earphone mic and car charger can be purchased separately if required. To purchase all of these and end up with the same kit as you get with the XCD, it will cost you around an extra $70.

After a couple of days of use, the belt clip on the Digitech DC-1068 was actually broken off. I’m probably not going to make much use to that, so it is not a huge issue for me, it might be something to keep in mind as it may cause issues for people if they are going to use the belt clip regularly.

Features:
As far as features go, I’m not going to focus too much on what is the same between them, they’re both 5 Watt UHF handheld radios that both cover the full 80 channels of the UHF CB band. They both have 5 what output, they’re both have the standard features such a ctcss and dual watch. What I am going to focus on is the differences between the two units which includes the features that each unit has which the other one doesn’t.

XCD: A couple of the features on the XCD which I found interesting include the ability to Alpha tag channels. By default it comes with a number of the UHF CB channels with tags on them such as Road channel or emergency channel. It does allow you to customise these tags, so for example if you used channel one as your office channel you can have an alpha take that pops up that says office. UHF CB channel 18 is used at our tip, so you could for example on UHF CB channel 18 have the tag tip on it, that is a feature that the Digitech DC-1068 does not have. The XCD also features an FM radio and this has the unique ability where you can have the FM radio going but it will also allow you to select UHF CB channel which will monitor that means you can listen to the FM radio and the UHF CB conversations will break through. This may be an interesting feature for some people who may like to listen to sports scores on you on the FM radio band but also be able to monitor UHF CB channel for communications.

The XCD also has a rotary channel selector which is a knob that is on the top of the radio beside the volume control, it is easy to quickly move between UHF CB channels. The only other thing of note with the XCD is that it uses a more standard connector for the speaker mike and earphone microphone. It has a much more solid connection to the radio and is less likely to fallout.

Another couple of unique features of the XCD include the ability to set a 4 digit pin so when the radio is turned on you have to enter pin number to use it. The menu option is included to speak the channel name, so as you move between channels or the menu options, it will actually say in a very broken sort of English what is on the screen, which may or may not be useful for some people depending on your usage of the radio.

XCD also has a full keypad the keys generally work ok however they can be a little bit hard to press at times. I’ve also found with them at times it takes more pressure to press them what I think it should and sometimes it doesn’t register the key presses.

DC-1068: The Digitech DC-1068 actually only has six keys is on the front panel and two on the side. I have found from my usage that is actually works better and easier to use than the XCD and the display on the Digitech DC-1068 is also larger and provides more relevant information I feel.

The main selling point and difference to me on the DC-1068 is that it allows you to program up to 100 receive only channels in the UHF band between 400MHz and 520MHz. I have programmed in around 50 UHF channels and I have it set up scan a mix of these. This feature works extremely well, the radios is very sensitivity on the UHF band and the scan speed while not up to the same level as a genuine radio scanner, is still more than acceptable.

The Digitech DC-1068 also has an inbuilt fire and police band where it will scan a number of pre-programmed frequencies. As most of the emergency services are now using digital trunk radio networks, the inclusion of these frequencies is of limited value. I would much prefer to see the police and fire band replaced with an RX channel system so that you can easily turn on scanning just the UHF CB channels also include in your own receive only channels that you’ve programmed in.

Usage:
After undertaking some head-to-head testing between the two radios, it is hard to separate them based on performance. Both scan the UHF CB band quite well, both transmit well. I’m able to easily hit our local UHF CB repeater, from this and the reports received, both radios are very similar.

One thing I’ve noticed is with the Digitech DC-1068, the keys are a lot easier to use in the menus. They are laid out better and the use the large display, it is easier to see what you were doing. The XCD has more menu options, as it has some extra features around things like set in the power on passcode, setting up channel names and the process to do some of these is more complex than I feel it needs to be.

One thing to be mindful of with the Digitech dash DC 1008 is that some of the information in the user guide is not very clear easier, I don’t understand it, even with my extensive background in radios and information technology. To program in the extra receive-only channels and also add these to the group scan function. In basic terms, some of the menu options that talks about what to press a mem key, took me a little while of playing around with various options to actually work out the best way to firstly program in the extra receive only channels and then secondly how to add these to the group scan feature.

Overall:
So in closing both of these 5 Watt UHF CB handheld radios work as designed, they both work well on the UHF CB band, each of them has additional features, which may or may not be useful for people. For me personally, I find the Digitech DC-1068 to fit my needs, it is easier to use, it has a better display the keys work better and the additional 100 receive only channels, that I’m able to program in for me have worked really well.

If you’re going to buy a UHF CB hand-held radio for work purposes, I would be tempted to go the XCD, simply because it represents better value with the speaker mic, earphone mic and car charger included. If you buy the Digitech DC-1068, you have to purchase these separately and that pushes the cost up by around $70.

If you’re looking to buy a 5 Watt hand-held UHF CB for personal use, I would be tempted to go the Digitech DC-1068, I think because the extra 100 received only channels can be quite interesting. There is a number of UHF users which you may be able to pick up and having these included in your scan group can be quite interesting it times.

At the end of the day, both radios work well they do what they designed to do, both radios are perfectly suitable for professional use and they would provide many years of reliable service, the choice really is up to you.





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