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360-degree laser detection
Easy to install and use
False alerts fairly common
No flashy features
If you're hoping to avoid speeding tickets when you're out driving, you need a radar detector that works quickly, reliably, and at long-range. With the high-powered radar and laser detection technology on the Cobra RAD 250, you'll get that all-important on-the-road peace of mind. It rapidly sweeps for and alerts you to police radar signals on the typical X, K, and Ka bands (and the Ku band used in Europe), with 360-degree coverage for laser signals as well. It even warns you if nearby cops are using VG-2 or Spectre types of radar detector detectors (RDDs) in places where radar detectors are illegal (Virginia and Washington DC).
Light and compact, the RAD 250 is easy to handle and to install. Suction cups allow it to be mounted to your windshield, and a long power cord plugs into your car's power supply. Using the device is simple, too. Even without more advanced, flashy features like GPS or Bluetooth, it offers plenty of convenient touches. Three brightness levels include an ultra-bright setting. Alerts can be automatically muted when you're stopped or moving slowly. The ability to switch between Highway mode and City mode helps cut back on false alerts in busy areas, though users note that it can still be overly sensitive to false signals.
Built-in GPS functionality
Occasional false alerts
The Uniden R3 is a workhorse radar detector that offers a variety of features that’ll make it the perfect car companion, whether on long road trips or just driving around town. It offers a 360-degree, full-spectrum digital signal processing that allows for, theoretically, no blind spots (great for detecting even the sneakiest of hiding cruisers). The built-in GPS functionality adds additional red light cam detection, a trap that many fall into even with simpler featured radar detectors.
They’ve included the requisite K False and KA False filters, a feature that will help to limit noise interference from older model cars (such as Cadillacs). That last feature is crucial to eliminate false positive radar detection. Finally, there’s limited voice control, so you don’t have to take your hands off the wheels, and there’s even quiet operation so that the only people who will know you’re using a radar detector are those that you want to know.
Infrequent manufacturer updates
At 1.9 pounds and 5.4 inches long, the Max 360 is larger than most detectors on this list, but with great size comes a greater feature set. With a similar feature set to the Passport Max2, the Max 360 adds enhancements like directional alerts to the display, which tells you the direction a radar ping is coming from. The Max 360 detects all the currently used law enforcement bands: X, K, Ka, Ka-Pop, plus laser detection. The Max 360 includes the “Auto” setting, which expands its detection range based on the speed of the vehicle (so you'll have a longer range on a highway and a shorter range on suburban streets).
As the name implies, the combination of GPS, Escort Live for crowdsourced results and 360-degree protection fills the Max 360 to the brim with features. Extra features include an over-the-speed-limit alert, display lights showing different types of radar detection and Bluetooth connection via your smartphone through Escort Live. The pre-installed Defender Database adds the red-light and speed cameras, though some Escort users have complained that the database is too small and that Escort doesn’t offer frequent updates.
Separate alerts for different bands
Lacks some features present in more expensive models
Backed by the Cobra name, the ESD7570 nine-band radar and laser detector offers 360 degrees of protection at a fraction of the price. Utilizing Spectre undetectable technology, the Cobra helps make you immune to Spectre I radar detector detectors, so you can get by using one without getting caught. The ultrabright display lets you know immediately when a threat is detected and continues to provide you with proximity alerts, so you know when a threat is passed. Additionally, the Cobra provides separate alerts for X, K and KA bands, as well as laser and VG-2 signals. The incorporation of both city and highway modes helps reduce the false alerts and includes a traffic warning system that helps distinguish real threats from false ones. Thanks to Cobra’s proprietary safety alert transmitters, on-board alerts keeps drivers aware of approaching emergency vehicles, railroad crossings or other road hazards that could be dangerous.
Real-time ticket protection
Audible alerts could be louder
Intelligent and high performing, the Escort iX offers some of the longest potential range on a radar detector across the X, K, KA and POP frequencies. Buoyed by its superior sensitivity, the maximum range coverage is a real boost for drivers who are constantly on the road, especially on long stretches of highway where advanced detection can make all the difference. Escort’s DSP technology and its enhanced laser sensors provide one of the earliest warnings of speed-monitoring threats or traps that could be on the road ahead.
Escort’s proprietary false-threat detection combines with GPS to automatically detect and fix false alarms for drivers. Syncing to Escort’s Live community, iX users are afforded real-time ticket protection against photo enforcement, caution areas and live police alerts, thanks to the huge number of users working behind the scenes to protect against threat detection and the 10,000 radar and speed cameras inside the United States.
False signal reports
When it comes to detection range, few radar detectors do it better than the Valentine One. The 10.6-ounce, 6 x 2.5 x 4-inch detector promises excellent range performance, thanks to multiple radar antennas. With one forward-facing and one rear-facing antenna, the Valentine will help identify the signal direction. The Valentine can detect laser, as well as the X, K, Ku and Ka bands. While unconfirmed from the manufacturer, online reviews have pegged the Valentine’s signal reach to almost five miles.
When a threat is detected, Valentine’s auto-mute feature goes to work providing you a full volume first alert, then dialing down the sound with each consecutive alert to avoid annoying the driver. Unfortunately, it lacks up-to-date features like GPS technology that helps avoid many false signal reports or early warning for red light and speed cameras. The interface itself is simplified, although not as digital or advanced as today’s more current options. The main knob turns the Valentine on and off, adjusts the volume and offers just the right amount of information you need, such as the band being detected, strength, etc.
Lacks GPS alerts
Powered by two AA batteries, Escort’s Solo S4 is the lone cordless radar detector on this list, but it separates itself from the pack by adding a convenience factor. Setup is just as easy as its corded rivals, just place it on the windshield or dashboard and drive. If you’re someone who switches cars often or travels frequently, the lack of a necessary power cord makes the S4 an immediate consideration. The S4 can detect the usual spread of radar, pop and laser frequencies, and it even offers a safety signal alerting you to emergency vehicles in close proximity. Unfortunately, while running on battery detection range is more limited, however, it can still provide ample coverage for driving in most city and urban environments.
To aid in battery conservation, the S4 will automatically switch off after a vehicle has stopped for more than 25 minutes. Overall, the battery life of the S4 will be around 30 to 40 hours (even with the battery conservation functionality) before requiring new batteries. Beyond its cordless identity, the S4 offers a standardized feature set in line with its Escort siblings, including a high-resolution OLED display that identifies signal strength, type of threat and four brightness levels. Auto, highway and city mode are available, which enables the S4 to determine the appropriate range to identify threats and reduce false alerts. Unfortunately, it lacks GPS alerts, which means it does not offer red light or speed camera detection. But, if you’re a traveler that moves cars often, the S4 is a great choice that goes anywhere you do.
High-level performance and range
Many programmable options
Design and display look outdated
No GPS features
Certain technologies have been developed to help law enforcement officers counter radar detector use, and one of these is POP mode. Instead of producing a constant detectable signal, POP radar only transmits for a tiny fraction of a second, making it tough for traditional detectors to pick up. That's where a model like the Beltronics Pro RX65 Red comes in, with its ability to alert drivers to POP signals. On the flip side, cops don't use POP radar very commonly due to its reduced accuracy, so you might often end up keeping POP mode off to cut back on false alerts.
The RX65 Red also boasts immunity to VG-2 RDDs, but it does more than get you past police technologies. As its core functionality, the device provides excellent long-range detection for the most common X, K, and Ka bands and includes front and rear laser detection. It offers a wide range of options in terms of sensitivity modes, alert types, mute settings, and brightness levels for the red LED it gets its name from. The display and overall design aren't the sleekest to look at, but where it counts, you get a tool that's both highly customizable and highly effective.
360-degree detection with arrow indicators
Powerful false-alert avoidance
GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi features
Wi-Fi not necessary for many
For those used to more visual gadgets, the Escort MAX 360c's looks are as impressive as they are functional. It not only detects X, K, and Ka radar frequencies and laser signals with 360-degree coverage, but it also uses directional arrows to quickly and precisely indicate where those signals are coming from. These combine with its multicolor OLED display to arm drivers with a wealth of useful information.
Beyond what you can see, there's no shortage to what the MAX 360c can do. Its GPS lets you mark known speed traps on your route, and it learns from false alarms to automatically block them out in the future. This is in addition to already filtering out collision avoidance, blind spot detectors, and other in-vehicle technology (IVT) that might trigger alerts, on top of a pre-loaded database of camera locations across North America.
But the MAX 360c's biggest differentiator is its integration with connected vehicles. It can use a Wi-Fi signal if your car has one, or connect to your smartphone through Bluetooth. You can then take advantage of the Escort Live app (one free year of premium subscription included) and real-time crowd-sourced alerts from its community of drivers. All this advanced tech comes at a price, but there's no denying the level of detection performance and connected convenience the MAX 360c can provide.
Range - The better the range of your radar detector, the more time you’ll have to slow down. Range depends on the number, direction, and quality of the antennas. Some of the best devices out there can score you up to five miles of signal reach.
Design - As mentioned above, in some states it’s illegal to mount a radar detector on your windshield as it may affect the driver’s vision. When comparing designs of radar detectors, consider how you plan to mount yours. Also think about the size and weight of the detector, as a smaller car might demand a smaller device.
Price - Radar detectors can easily run up in price, with some premium models costing as much as $500. You can get a perfectly decent one for less than $100, though the range might not be as good.