Hudson Terminus wrote: I currently don't own a scanner, and am stuck between saving up for a newer (more expensive) model, or jumping at the chance for his. Any suggestions?
It depends on what you want the scanner for. For general railfan use, a basic unit for about $100 that has 100 channels and covers the VHF Hi and UHF bands is all you need. The features of the expensive models like trunking, 800MHz and millitary air band are not worth paying for if you don't want to listen to that stuff.
This is also a bad time to buy a trunking scanner if you do want to monitor trunked public safety systems. These system will be subject to "rebanding" over the next year or so that will make some scanners useless for monitoring Motorola systems. The 296D is one that will be able to get a firmware upgrade from Uniden when rebanding affets your area.
While railroads may begin to use P25 digital in the future, it is likely to be many years before it is in general use and standards may change so I would not recommend buying a digital scanner now for something that may not happen until the FCC deadline (currently 2013 and has been pushed back several times already) for narrow band conversion.
That is a good price if you need the features on the 296D but I would not recommend spending that much money if it is only for RR monitoring.