Hot Pursuit: The 5 Best Radar Detectors

Mar 17, 2016

Category: Tech

Let’s face it: The world goes by quickly. This is the digital age where information moves faster than thought, yet the government is still putting up speed limit signs and expecting people to follow them. The whole notion is preposterous. You’re busy. You have to drive to work, drive to the gym, drive your idiot cousin to the airport even though he never pitches for gas, drive to the store, and finally drive home. You need to maximize your time. You need to be able to accomplish all this driving with a minimum of fuss. You need to have speed on your side. You need a radar detector that works so you can get in, get out, and get gone without “The Man” dropping the hammer on you.

Valentine One

Valentine One

Considered by many to be the last word in radar detectors, the Valentine One or V1 looks more like an old Motorola brick phone than it does like the advanced piece of equipment it is. It’s as chunky as a CB radio, but it also is the only detector out there that will give you true, honest-to-god 360 degree protection from all of the wicked radar tricks that the cops want to throw at you. It accomplishes this feat by offering two radar-detecting antennas, one that faces forward and one that aims backward. This allows the V1 to determine not only that radar is present, but where it is coming from.

It bears a three arrow display that will then transfer this information to you so you can tell if a radar signal is ahead of you, behind you, or coming from the side. It can also tell you how many different signals are hitting your car at any given time so that you can behave accordingly. It consistently outpaces the competition for range and is almost as good as the expensive models favored by truckers. Under ideal conditions, you can expect it to find radar more than 13 miles away. It picks up all the radar bands you would expect, including K, Ka, X, Wideband Ka, and even Ku Band. It picks up POP radar and laser alerts with excellent consistency. At $400 it will pay for itself many times over no matter how heavy your foot is. [Purchase]

Escort Passport Max

Escort Passport Max

The Max just barely made the cut. This is what you buy when you want style over substance and don’t mind paying for it. Before you read on, know that you can expect to lose about $530 for the Max, and at that price it is going to underwhelm you. It isn’t going to catch every blast that hits you, but it will alert you faster than anything else thanks to the inclusion of the military Digital Signal Processing (DSP) tech that they shoved into it. The second it knows radar is active, it will let you know while other detectors take a few precious seconds that could be costly for the speed maniac.

The display gives you a lot of information, and sure is purdy, so long as you are looking at it straight on. The problem is that it can suffer from glare and be hard to read at an angle. Where the Max shines is in features. The on-board Auto-Learn technology allows it to detect and ultimately reject false positives so that it is always gaining new knowledge to help you in your quest for The Best Time. In addition, it can access the web for software updates and the Escort DEFENDER database, which gives you real-time updates on speed traps. It’s sleek and slick, but it can sometimes miss a POP radar scan here or there. [Purchase]

Beltronics STi Magnum

Beltronics STi Magnum

The Magnum improves on Beltronics already solid performance by offering a low-profile that is still highly effective. The internal factory presets automatically filter out false positives as well as catch all your standard bands of radar and laser detection with remarkable accuracy. It has a decent 11-mile range under top conditions, but where it shines is in it’s ability to “Go Dark.”

The Magnum looks like a stealth bomber because it not only detects radar, it flies under it. It is nearly invisible to most radar detector detectors, which will make the heart of any cat burglar skip a beat. It brings excellent performance along with this special “ninja vanish!” capability so you don’t have to sweat a cop sitting on your tail, knowing you have a detector and just waiting to bust you for something like making an illegal left turn or running over your neighbor’s creepy little garden gnome. It has decent features so you can turn off different bands if you want, adjust the volume, and other simple controls. [Purchase]

Whistler Cr90

Whistler Cr90

It’s like this: If you don’t have the money to pay a bunch of speeding tickets and higher insurance rates but still want to slam your gas pedal through the floorboards then you need something that isn’t as costly as a mail order bride. That means you need the Cr90. At $170 it is about the price of a single speeding ticket so the first time you hear it hoot at you and you pass a speed trap unscathed, it has paid for itself.

It detects X, K, and Ka band, as well as most laser and POP speed checks. You can toggle which bands you want it to detect and you can change from city to highway modes simply and easily so that it knows what to look for. Sometimes you’ll get a false positive from an automatic door running an X or K band, but the filtering is fairly solid. You can get voice alerts if you so desire, and the auto-mute feature means you’re protected without being distracted. It is also a cute little blue color, so it will match your handbag. [Purchase]

Cobra XRS9470

Cobra XRS9470

All right bargain hunters, here’s your pick for the one, the only radar detector under $100 you should have on your dashboard. It can handle all the basic radar and laser signals. It even picks up POP radar fairly well for a cheaper model. You can swap between city and highway modes, and it includes a voice announcement option so you don’t have to mount it in plain sight to know what kind of frequency is targeting your vehicle.

The XRS9470 even manages to avoid detection from Spectre 1 and VG-2, so you get an extra layer of protection. It’s light, it’s simple, and is the best radar protection you’re likely to find for $80. [Purchase]

Escort Redline XR

Honorable Mention: Escort Redline XR

The Redline isn’t the most intuitive detector you can find. It isn’t the easiest to use. It isn’t the slickest. It doesn’t have the most features. Instead, it is like the “Sarah Plain and Tall” girl that is an absolute hellcat in the bedroom. It does one thing better than any other detector: Range. The Redline isn’t for anyone that wants to bop around the city or get to work in record time. It is for the fugitive on the run from the law or the driver that wants to see if they can get to the other coast by dinnertime. It is for long-distance runners chasing the horizon and racing the sun.

It comes with your standard X, K, and Ka-band radar detection. It also hits 904 Nm laser scanners decently, and has great skill at catching sub-second I/O radar bursts, but that isn’t why you buy it. You buy it because it picks them up at an incredible 15 miles away – assuming perfect conditions. While other detectors might reach 13 mile detection on a dead straightaway somewhere in the wastes of Kansas, this can often reach the same level of performance on regular highways. If you’re going to go balls to the wall across country, then spend the nearly $600 for this. If that isn’t on your agenda, this isn’t what you need. [Purchase]

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