Radar Detector Product Reviews
March 1, 2006
Although no system is 100 percent effective, there are several good models on the market to help evade the notice of a radar gun. Cobra, Escort, Whistler, BEL, and Valentine are among the most popular brands of radar detectors for speed demons and electronic enthusiasts.
Cobra Radar Detectors
Cobra radar detectors are a customer favorite. They have high sensitivity, especially while in "highway" mode. Cobra detectors claim to produce few false alarms, though this function takes a few minutes to engage for first-time users and is not always affective. While some consumers have complained of poor laser detection, most agree that this is one of the best brands on the market. Cobra radar detectors come in several models. Newer styles feature either 11- or 10-band extra-sensory radar and laser detection, a 360-degree view, and 8-point electronic compass. Further, they can detect X band radars, K band radars, and Ka Superwide radars. While even the lowest-cost Cobra models have features designed to alert the user of surveillance and provide immunity from VG-2 systems, these functions have failed many users of the Cobra XRS 9300 style. While it remained undetectable by the VG-2, the detector failed to spot the VG-2 until nearly at point-blank range in test. Newer Cobra models will provide the user with their relative proximity to the radar and allow the user to select operating modes for reducing the frequency of false alarms in densely populated areas.
The Passport 8500 X50, an update of Escort's 7500S model, is the company's most popular model. It detects both K-band and Ka-band radars, has a 360-degree radar and laser detection radius, advanced reprogrammable digital signal processing, an AutoSensitivity mode to automatically reduce false alarms, three high-resolution meter modes, an ultra-bright matrix display with 280 LEDs, multiple high-performance laser sensors, and a built-in earphone jack. This model is also immune to VG-2 systems. The Escort has nine menu options, for a wide range of adjustability, and its signal processing is excellent.
Whistler has over 12 models of detectors, including one for European models. At under $100, the cost-effective and comprehensive DE 1734 model comes with mute, manual mute, and settings memory. It features four operating modes, two of which are very effective in limiting urban false alarms. Further, this model has good audio and great laser sensitivity. Although its radar sensitivity is not a leader in its class, it is well-balanced and worth the cost. Some Whistler detector models have come up short in VG-2 detection, and this model is no exception. While the DE 1734 will inform the driver that a VG-2 has been detected, the Whistler can be spotted at distances far beyond its detecting capabilities.
BEL Radar Detectors
Many BEL radar detectors have the ability to adjust audio volume at the touch of a button, and BEL's radio sensitivity is equal to or better than all other detectors. BEL detectors offer settings for a variety of driving environments, and its "AutoScan" feature on higher-end models is remarkably capable at its job. The seven user-selectable options on the BEL Pro RX65 are far simpler to program than on earlier BEL models. A user can enter the programming mode by pressing a pair of buttons simultaneously for a few seconds. Once in this mode, one button scrolls through the menu items while the other allows the user to make the selection. At less than $100, the BEL 925 model has arguably the best price/performance ratio of all detectors.
Valentine models have remained largely unchanged in the last decade, minor software tweaks notwithstanding. Most models depict radar signal strength via beep frequency and a red light emitting diodes (LEDs). New users may have difficulty learning the difference between the signals for K- and Ka-bands. All models feature a "highway" mode for highest sensitivity on all three radar bands (K, Ka, and X). Compared to the other brands, however, Valentine detectors lack features. Even higher-end Valentine detectors lack text display, voice alerts, and a tutorial mode. In addition, many users have complained of an unusually high number of false alarms. The V1 is Valentine's most popular model, but even this style's user guide is outdated – it claims that X-band is the most common used in radar guns, despite the fact that 47 state highway patrols have switched to Ka-band radar. Despite these shortcomings, the main benefit of Valentine detectors is that they can often provide two to three times the detection range of other brands.
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