You know the feeling you get when you hear sirens behind you and see blue flashing lights? It might mean you have just been caught speeding and there’s nothing you can do about it. You feel sick to the pit of your stomach.
What’s worse, you didn’t even see it coming. It would have helped if you knew that the highway patrol was on your tail. Is it possible to get at least some warning? With a good radar detector and added functions, you can be more prepared for speed traps on the roads.
You may have heard about radar detectors and ignored them as gimmicks. Or perhaps you know about them and desperately want one.
These state-of-the-art devices can pick up police patrols’ radar devices. By detecting the radio waves emitted from the police radar gun, your radar detector can let you know when there’s a chance of you being spotted for speeding.
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How does a radar detector work?
Radar beams can be compared to flashlight beams. When shining a beam at an object, the light beam becomes wider and less intense as it travels away from the flashlight. When the light hits an object, the light bounces back and shows the holder of the flashlight where the object is.
Radar also works like this. Because the radar beam gets wider, it creates the possibility that you can pick up the radar beam before it hits your own vehicle. At 500 ft., a radar beam is 67 feet wide. This makes it possible for you to pick up the radar and react before you’re caught speeding.
How does a radar detector help you?
The reality is you can’t be alerted of police or highway patrols sitting and waiting a few miles ahead of you. The only way for your radar detector to pick up on their activities is to pick up their radio waves bouncing off objects near you.
If your radar detector picks up radar activity a few cars in front of you, there’s a chance you can slow down quickly enough. If you’re picking up radio waves bouncing off your own vehicle, it’s unfortunately too late. A radar detector warns you about the presence of radar guns, but it doesn’t stop them from functioning.
What makes a good radar detector?
You ideally want your radar detector to warn you as early as possible. Quality radar detectors have a wide range so radar guns used by police are picked up as soon as possible. You don’t want to get false alarms, because then your driving will constantly be interrupted.
Items such as automatic door openers emit the same type of waves as radar guns. These objects are everywhere and will alert your radar detector in busy traffic areas or parking lots. Your radar detector needs to pick up the right waves for you to still have driving pleasure.
The other factor you can look out for is different types of installation. Each has its own benefits so you should decide on the type that works for your vehicle setup:
- Corded detectors are mounted on windshields. They have a very good range.
- Cordless detectors can easily be moved even to other vehicles.
- Remote-mount detectors are permanently installed and can’t be easily seen. This gives you some security in the case of a car break in.
What else do you need?
With evolving technology, police continually involve more state-of-the-art systems to track down speed offenders. This means a detector that only picks up radar won’t be of much worth. You need additional functions to pick up other speed traps such as:
- Laser speed guns
- Red light cameras
- Photo radar
- Speed cameras
You need to move with the times to be optimally informed about the sensors present on today’s roads. Therefore, many radar detectors are already fitted with laser detectors as well a few other features.
One feature is a great help is GPS. Through enabling your radar detector’s GPS function, you can download information about speed monitoring cameras. GPS specifically is not available on all brands and models because the patent for this technology is held by Escort.
When you’re looking for a radar detector you should keep in mind that you will need to link your smartphone via Bluetooth to your radar detector to achieve similar results. It’s all about what your budget is because GPS features increase prices.
What is the most important?
If you’re new at this you should keep it simple. Maybe you’re just tired of being caught speeding all the time. Or perhaps you simply want to play around with some great technology. Whatever your reason, you only have to look for three major features when you go shopping for a radar detector:
- Great range for radar detection
- Great features in terms of picking up cameras and other devices
- Low number of false alarms
With technological advances, it’s now possible to buy a radar detector for a relatively inexpensive price. We put together a few of the best radar detectors to give you some insight into your options. Review our list before you make a final decision. Don’t go out on the highway before you’ve strengthened your defenses!
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When referring to radar detection, reliability is the key factor. The aim is to avoid false alarms that could hinder your progress on the road. Intended for the driving enthusiast, the Passport 8500X50 offers superior protection.
- This unit picks up on a wide range of radar bands including X-band, K-band, and Superwide Ka-band.
- It picks up on these bands over long distances.
- Apart from good radar detection, you’re also warned of laser speed guns through its Quantum Limited Video Receiver.
- You can switch it to AutoSensitivity Mode when driving in busy places such as city centers. This lowers the chances of false alarms because the Escort picks up when waves are emitted by devices other than speed radar guns.
- It adds to your luxury experience by giving you the option of switching its display to different levels of brightness. This is ideal when you’re driving at night and dashboard lights may bother you.
- The Escort Passport has many features that can be modified to your preferences, such as meter type and which bands to concentrate on. For the beginner user, it’s ready to use the moment you buy it so you don’t have to be concerned with setup challenges.
- This unit is one of the pricier options on this list.
This is one of the great models that unfortunately doesn’t come with a GPS features. While this is unfortunate, it’s easy to use. This makes it ideal for first-time users.
- A range of modes to assist in different traffic scenarios ensures that there are very few false alarms. Modes include highway, autoscan and city.
- Apart from radar detection, it also offers laser alerts.
- No GPS features to assist in picking up traffic cameras.
This Cobra Electronics radar detector is their most technically advanced and affluent radar detector to date. The Cobra DSP 9200 BT is definitely a high-end option. It’s designed to offer higher levels of sensitivity due to its digital signal processing.
- This is an affordable option, so it’s great if you’re new to radar detectors and want to test one out to see its value to you.
- It’s a compact device which makes it easy to put in your vehicle without cluttering the surroundings.
- Cobra’s iRadar application is available to use with this device. iRadar offers real-time information about traffic, police presence and cameras. Information is produced according to reports of other iRadar users.
- No GPS function. You need to connect it via Bluetooth with your smart phone.
- There are only a few options to customize its functioning. These options are for volume control.
This is another detector that covers many bases, and it is unfortunate that GPS isn’t one of them.
- It picks up various bands such as X, K and Ka.
- It offers you two modes applicable to different areas: highway and city.
- This unit isn’t visible to certain radar detectors, so you can use it without the police knowing about it.
- No GPS feature means you can’t be informed about cameras in your area.
This is definitely one of the most innovative laser and radar detector available. The Escort Passport S55 offers you real-time warning on all laser and radar bands.
- This is one of the most advanced units you’ll find on the market.
- It has various settings to adjust its sensitivity. This cancels out the possibility of false alarms:
- You’re alerted to upcoming speed limits while you drive as well as traffic information. This is done via Escort’s great network called Escort Live. This information is consistently updated by other users of this network.
The Escort brand units stand out as one of the best in the crowd because of their accuracy and range of information made possible by the GPS features.
Though you can activate these features on other brands via your smart phone, your phone’s signal strength determines whether it will help. Make sure your option of a radar detector is applicable as many states have banned the use of these devices.