Looking for info on radar detectors?

WayneS

Auditioning
Joined
Nov 8, 2001
Messages
4
I'm looking into purchasing a radar detector, but never owned one and am not particularly up on the subject. I was just looking for some insight into some good manufacturers and particular specs to keep in mind. Also in the $150 range. Thanks.
 

Shawn Sefranek

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 30, 1998
Messages
258
Well, it’s not in your price range, but the best RADAR detector made is the Valentine One.
They can be purchased only from the manufacturer directly here: Valentine One
I’ve been using the V1 exclusively in my cars since 1992 and recently upgraded to their most recent model.
My logic - One ticket will more then make up for the price difference.
Shawn S
 

Kevin P

Screenwriter
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Jan 18, 1999
Messages
1,439
In radar detectors, there are only two reasonable price ranges: the under-$80 ones, and the over-$300 ones. The ones in between aren't as good as the top of the line ones and aren't worth much more than the sub-$80 ones.
The best detector, bar none right now, is the Valentine One. I have one and it's been a godsend. It has "multiple bogey tracking" so that police radar doesn't get masked by false signals such as door openers. It also tells you which direction the "bogey" is coming from--ahead, behind, or to the side. The V1 costs $400 but it's the one to beat. Check it out at http://www.valentine1.com. They were great at detecting radar, but they are lousy at keeping quiet when there's no cops around.
Typically all detectors nowadays detect all the major police radar bands, X, K, SuperWide Ka and the better ones also detect laser (lidar). Features to look for are a good city mode (reduces falses on X band), or better yet, the ability to turn off unused bands such as X (K is the most commonly used radar band), a mute button, and an easy to read display. Some detectors have "safety alert" systems, which aren't used in most areas so don't waste your money on those. Some detectors will detect the strobes on emergency vehicles used to override traffic lights and sound an alert, but chances are by the time it goes off you'll be able to see the vehicle in your rear view mirror anyway.
Hope this info helps you out a bit. Definitely check out the Valentine One though, before making a decision.
KJP
 

WayneS

Auditioning
Joined
Nov 8, 2001
Messages
4
Thanks Shawn. I've actually seen the advertisements for those in Autoweek. $150 was my target range, but I have no problem spending more with pros/cons to support it. I have also heard of K40 and Bel.
 

Kevin P

Screenwriter
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Jan 18, 1999
Messages
1,439
The latest V1 offers improved Ka and laser performance over older models, such as the one reviewed in the link above.
They offer upgrades too, and when you upgrade, you basically trade in your existing V1 for a brand new one, so you're always getting the latest hardware as well as software. I might even send mine in for an upgrade in a couple months.
KJP
 

Shawn Sefranek

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 30, 1998
Messages
258
radartest.com
Important FYI
It has been proven that the above mentioned website was actually PAID FOR and advertised by ESCORT, the winner of the so called “test”.
I don’t have proof of this handy right now, but I have read it on several auto forums.
Someone did a check and actually found the website was run by ESCORT.
They may have since changed this to cover their tracks.
ESCORT actually refers to this website in their advertisements sometimes.
Most, if not ALL, of the tests done by others including Car & Driver magazine show that no one comes close to the performance of the V1.
I have no financial interest in Valentine One, but I would only recommend the BEST because I have been using their products for the last 9-years.
Shawn S
 

Michael St. Clair

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 3, 1999
Messages
6,001
Maybe radartest.com is an ESCORT fraud. If so, you'd think they would not put the BEL model (which streets for a hundred dollars LESS) just a hair below their own. It makes the BEL look like a value!
As far as the V1 goes, I borrowed one for a cross-country trip a few years ago. I found it to false a lot. However, I liked it and V1 is definitely on the list of models that I would consider!
 

Shawn Sefranek

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 30, 1998
Messages
258
Yes, the V1 does tend to FALSE on its most sensitive setting, but there are two other modes that offer less protection and fewer FALSE alarms.
Also the newest models are much improved over ones that are a few years old.
I only use the HIGHEST setting when on long trips on the interstates otherwise automatic door sensors or alarms will set it off in town.
The “bogey counter” & directional arrows help in these situations to distinguish where an alarm is and how many RADAR sources are present.
Last month I drove 2,600-miles from Pennsylvania to Florida & back and it performed flawlessly.
I may have exceeded the speed limit once or twice.

Shawn S
 

John Miles

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 16, 2000
Messages
236
The radartest.com story is a little more complicated than that, and a lot sorrier to tell. Basically, Craig Peterson, the creator of the site, markets himself as a self-employed "paid consultant" to the radar detector industry. His opinions (and probably his test numbers) appear to be for sale to the highest bidder(s), and have been for years.
Peterson's unique brand of objective journalism first surfaced in an Automobile Magazine detector review several years ago (December, 1995). In it, he picked a Bel model with dramatically inferior specs and features as the #1 finisher ahead of the Valentine One, which was then so far ahead of the industry in every respect it wasn't even funny. Mike Valentine delivered a rebuttal of the technical points of Peterson's review (also see Valentine's own page on Peterson here.)
Although the V1's design has been upgraded numerous times since it came out, one or two other models such as the Passport 8500 have begun to give it some serious competition in the RF department. So, although I'd stay far away from Bel, you might want to have a look at the 8500. Its owners seem very happy with it, but as for me and my house, we will follow Mike Valentine. The V1's user interface is a work of art compared to everything else I've seen.
 

Ryan Wright

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 30, 2000
Messages
1,875
As far as brands to avoid, I'd stay away from Bel.
So would I. I had (actually, still have, but haven't used in years) a Bel that worked great for a few months. Then it started falsing nonstop with full-on alerts. I'm talking every 3 to 5 seconds, no matter where I happen to be. A buddy had two Bels that did the same thing.
I'll never buy a Bel again...
------------------
-Ryan (http://www.ryanwright.com )
Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.
 

Don Black

Screenwriter
Joined
Dec 11, 1998
Messages
1,480
Let me start off by saying that I am a Valentine 1 owner....
I am also thinking of selling my V1 in order to get an Escort 8500. It's cheaper, has better customization features, and either matches or exceeds the V1's performance on Ka/K/X.
The V1 on the other hand has directional arrows. Now, we can debate the merit of directional arrows until we're blue in the face. Some people swear by them, others think it's just nice. Personally, I always slow down when a Ka signal goes off. I don't care if it's coming from my left, right, top, or bottom. This also assumes that the directional arrows are accurate (they generally are).
I've been reading the Escort 8500 vs. V1 debate for over a year now (Bell 980 is pretty nice too). Imo, the V1 is simply dated and $100 too high.
So, whatever you do, either get a V1 or an 8500. The others aren't worth the money. Radar detectors are one area where you really do get what you pay for.
For some semi-objective reviews, checkout MotorTrend Magazine's 2001 round-up:
http://www.motortrend.com/july01/radar/radar_f.html
-D
P.S. Avoid K40 and all radar jammers.
 

Jeff Kleist

Senior HTF Member
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Dec 4, 1999
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11,267
Just remember if you drive down to Virginia they're illegal down there. If they catch you with it operating you'll get HEAVY fines
 

Lisel

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Nov 7, 1997
Messages
53
I'd read that a new, smaller (and I hope cheaper) V1 was in the works -- any word?
Thanks,
Lisel
 

Philip Hamm

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 23, 1999
Messages
6,874
I have a Bel 945im which I've had for about 4 years. The biggest reason I have it is that it's predecessor was top rated by Motorcycle Consumer News and I need a battery powered detector with an earphone for the bike.
I have never gotten a single ticket with this detector in use.
Yes, I get a lot of false alarms, but I also get legit ones, and usually in time to slow down. Since I live in VA I can only use it on out of state trips, but it has saved my ass many many times. Plus, the fact that Bel specifically addresses the unique needs of motorcyclists gives them a lot of points in my book.
------------------
Philip Hamm
AIM: PhilBiker
 

Dan D.

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Aug 29, 1999
Messages
215
I come from a family of devout radar detector owners who have been using them since the original Fuzzbuster in the '70s. Mike Valentine earned our loyalty with his original Escort, which for years reigned far above the competition in R&T and Car & Drivers's tests like the Valentine One does today. After Mike Valetine left/was ousted from Cincinnati Microwave, the quality of their product went through the floor. Models changed every six months, the housings were made (poorly) from plastic rather than metal, and most critically, their performance suffered substantially. Initially I was eager to upgrade to the new, cool-looking models, thinking the talent lay with the company and not with Mr. Valentine, but I soon found that they were not performing nearly as well.
Fortunately, Mr. Valentine returned with the incredible Valentine One, which has already received much praise in this thread. Consider this another enthusiastic vote. We have five of them in the family now, and four of my friends have switched. It's performance is outstanding. The signal count and direction arrows not only work as advertised, but are incredibly valuable. On several occasions, I have avoided getting caught by police who set up second speed traps a bit further down the road from their buddies hoping to catch the folks who speed up thinking everything is clear. The signal selectability feature is nice too. Either you can hear all signals the detector receives, just the ones it perceives as threats (Full Logic mode), or all signals with the questionalble ones at a lower volume (Half Logic mode). The detector's descriminating capability is solid enough that I always leave it in Full Logic mode.
I've let skeptical friends do side-by-side comparisons against their radar detectors (generally the sub-$150 store-bought range) and I've never had one deny that it is clearly superior in range and accuracy, as well as false signal elimination. The only issue is generally the cost. However, consider that one ticket will usually set you back over $100, plus hit your insurance for at least three years, and the Valentine pays for itself with one save. From what I have personally experienced, I feel confident saying that the Valentine is going to get you that one save better than anything else out there.
FYI, no, I don't work for Valentine or any other radar detector company. I'm just a fast-driving gadget nut like the rest of you.
 

Kevin P

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 18, 1999
Messages
1,439
Stealth Mounting a Valentine One
For those who are concerned about (a) their radar detector being visible to thieves, cops, or anyone following you; (b) hate the ritual of mounting the detector on the windshield and plugging it in every time you drive, and then taking it down when you're finished, or (c) just want a stealth installation, this is possible with the Valentine One. To do it, you need the following items:
  • A Valentine One (obviously)
  • The V1 hard-wiring module and straight power cord (included with the V1)
  • The V1 remote display module (available from Valentine)
  • A visor pouch that the V1 can fit inside--look for one with a plastic, not metal, zipper to avoid interference
This is how I did the stealth install in my Saturn.
First, I decided on the location of both the V1 and the remote display. The V1 should be mounted high up where it has clear sight both ahead and behind. The visor is the best place for this. The remote display should be mounted where you can see and reach it, but where it's not visible to cars behind or to thieves. In my car there's a pocket above the aftermarket stereo where I installed my remote display.
Next, run the wires. The hard-wire module consists of two wires going to a block that has two modular (phone) jacks on it. The red wire goes to a power source in the car (I used the radio circuit, since I could easily get to it and it shuts off with the ignition). I suggest installing a switch inline with the module so that you can shut off the V1 without removing it from the pouch, which may be handy in a heavy falsing area or when you get pulled over in Virginia.
The black wire is connected to ground. I mounted the hard wire module underneath the dashboard. Then you run two phone wires--one to the location of the V1, and the other to the location of the remote display. The V1 comes with a wire, as does the display. Both wires plug into the hard-wire module. For a professional, stealth look, try to run the wires underneath trim or the dash whenever possible. I pulled the windshield pillar trim and removed the visor so I could run the wire underneath and have it come out between the visor and the roof.
Next, prepare the visor pouch. The pouch serves two purposes: it keeps the V1 in position, and makes it nearly invisible/unidentifiable from outside the car. For laser detection, you'll need to cut two holes in the pouch so the front and rear laser sensors have a clear view front and rear. You'll also want to cut a hole for the power wire to enter the pouch. Before cutting the holes, unzip the pouch and place the V1 inside the pouch in the correct position for normal operation when the pouch is attached to the visor. Make sure that you can fully zip up the pouch with the V1 inside. Also, make sure you can easily get to the V1's volume knob by unzipping the pouch. Then cut the wire and laser sensor holes.
For the final installation, plug the wires into the power module, insert the V1 into the pouch and connect the wire, zip up the pouch, align the V1 with the holes in the pouch, and then attach the pouch to the visor. Turn on the ignition and the V1-- you should see the display on the remote module. Adjust the volume on the V1 by unzipping the pouch and adjusting the knobs. Turn off the ignition--the V1 should shut off. Zip up the pouch and make sure the laser sensors are aligned with the holes. You can use an infrared remote to test the laser sensors (bet you didn't know that!!)
 

Shawn Sefranek

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 30, 1998
Messages
258
I'd read that a new, smaller (and I hope cheaper) V1 was in the works -- any word?
The “Smaller V1 Unit” rumor has been floating around for the last year or so.
Actually they did just reduce the size by about 3/8” in thickness.
On the model I have there is a small bulge on the bottom of the case that houses the lens for the rear LASER detection eye. On the newest models this “eye” has been incorporated into the front display somewhere.
The photos on the V1 website reflect the newer unit.
Mike Valentine was once quoted in a magazine article that he wouldn’t compromise the performance of the unit just to make the case smaller like others have done.
Kevin P, Great instructions on the “stealth” mounting.
I have a similar install in my Acura CL Type-S.
I also have the remote display, which allows the readout display to be mounted lower on the dash for easier visibility and more “stealth” operation at night.
The main receiver unit can stay mounted up high on the window for best detection.
The main unit stays completely dark and all display information is routed to the remote unit, which I have mounted on my steering column. That way if a cop is behind you in the dark he won't see the display light up and have another reason to pull you over.
Shawn S
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