Three Top Radar Detector Picks
Do you want to start avoiding more traffic traps and the dreaded speeding tickets that can bump up your insurance? A radar detector may be the way to go – and we’ve got several top models if you are considering this eyes-on-the-road upgrade.
First, a little about radar detectors: Passive detectors (those that don’t interfere or try to jam the signals themselves) tend to be legal, and active jammers tend to be illegal – however, this varies a little from state to state: Virginia, for example, is particularly strict and bans all radar detectors. This can be aggravating for cross-country drivers, but it’s worth some research.
Radar detectors essentially use receivers that pick up specific types of radar or laser rays. There’s a bit of escalation here – detectors pick up one frequency, police switch to a different frequency, detectors add that frequency too, and so on. Currently there are X, K, and Ka frequencies used in the United States, along with laser systems. The more frequencies that your detector monitors, the better – and you should try to find one that monitors them all, obviously.
Another key concern is false positives: There are a lot of various radar and infrared signals used in our technology these days, especially in busy, highly-populated areas. That makes it easy for radar detectors to “think” that there’s speed trap or similar obstacle when there really isn’t. Modern detectors use algorithms, GPS, and online features to compare results with other detectors, map out areas, and generally keep false positives as low as possible. Now, onto some of the best radar detectors that we’ve found!
If you are looking for a more professional radar detector that can do a little bit of everything without trouble, the Max 360 should be the next component you add to your vehicle. We’re not joking about the “everything” part either: It comes with an extended range, GPS pinpointing, five different types of filtering including custom and app-based, crowd-sourced alerts and warnings, voice alerts for when you are busy driving, directional arrows showing where threats are, and a whole lot more. The readout includes both a small on-screen LCD and the Escort app for your phone.
The downside to all these rich features is that 1) unless you are doing a whole lot of driving, preferably on the professional level, you probably don’t need so much and 2) it raises the price to a serious investment that may be beyond many drivers and their budgets.
The 9500ix cuts back on a lot of the features from the Max 360 while leaving some of the most useful intact for more amateur customers interested in keeping an eye on the road. The voice alerts remains, although the screen gets a downgrade. There aren’t five filters, but there is a GPS filter and algorithms to help analyze signals for more accurate results. Both these Escort models track on all bands, so that’s not something to worry about. This model is ideal for someone who doesn’t want to spend much time messing with features or customizing responses, but instead wants a small device that reliably chirps up when a speed trap is close by.
This detector comes with X, K, Ka and wideband Ka detector, plus laser detection. It also has Ku band detection (used more in Europe and Canada), which could be useful based on your plans. With a rear radar detector and directional arrow indicators you get a good idea of just where threats are. The readout, however, is highly simplistic and there aren’t the same filtering options that the Escort models have. This is a very powerful device with complete coverage, but it’s more suitable for experienced drivers who don’t really want any modern frills.