Radar Detectors Buying Guide
A radar detector is a device for your car which alerts you of nearby radar. In other words, its a piece of equipment that warns you of nearby police, so you can push the speed limit a bit. However, the detector doesn't just beep for radar guns. Other things on the road (electronic roadside signs, "Your Speed Is.." signs, construction equipment) and even buildings can set off the mechanism. That being said, you can pretty much assume most alerts are for actual radar - it's more likely you'll run into a traffic officer than a radar-omitting office building.
Not everyone needs to have (or should have) a radar detector. If you travel frequently, drive long distances, or find yourself on long empty roads often, one of these may be a good idea. However, young drivers, reckless drivers, and urban drivers shouldn't purchase one. The safety of you and your fellow drivers is paramount - even excellent drivers should exercise extreme caution when using a radar detector.
This nifty gadget is a little bigger than a deck of cards , and adheres to your windshield via suction cups . You simply plug it into your car's power source (or cigarette lighter) and it's ready to go! When you aren't on the road, you probably want to put our radar detector under your seat or in the glove compartment. These can be a bit pricey, and like a portable GPS , easily swiped from your vehicle.
Please note that radar detectors are not legal everywhere; you should check the laws of your area regarding radar detector possession and use before purchasing one.
Choosing a Radar Detector
Radar detectors come in a range of prices for every budget with a variety of features to choose from. For just $30 you can purchase a simple radar detector with multiple modes for city and highway use that scans a 360° radius. While results are not always the most dependable, this might suit the average user. For more reliable quality, opt for a slightly advanced model that will cost at least $70.
If you're a true road warrior, you may be interested in going with one of the high-end models with myriad features, such as multiple modes, band detection and range, and alert types that will help make you virtually invisible while on the road. Mid-range and high-end models will cost around $150 and up, but you can be certain that your detector will have your back covered.
Detection Bands: the more bands the radar measures, the more protection you have.
- Laser - protects you against the ultra-precise laser guns.
- K Band - the most frequent detection type.X Band
- Ka Band - models with a POP alert track this type of band.
- Ka Super Wideband
- Ku Band - for European travel.
Detection Area: The space and angles that are scanned for radar.
- Front - most detect radars coming from the front.
- Front/Rear - this offers more protection.
- 360 degree detection - the ultimate range.
Alert Type: What kind of warning you'll get when radar is nearby.
- Visual - such as flashing lights, bars, or scrolling screen. It's not always easy to see during the daytime unless you accustom yourself to checking every so often. At night, it's usually pretty decent, unless you are distracted by other things while driving (such as passengers, traffic, music, etc.).
- Audio - usually in the form of beeps or series of different pitched beeps. Slightly obnoxious when the radar detector is of poor quality because it will go off all the time. However, this is usually the least distracting and more dependable alert method.
- Voice mode - some of the more expensive models offer voice alerts. It's as good as any audio alert. The only problem is that in some cases drivers become bothered by the style of voice.
Muting: Can you turn off the sound without turning off the device?
- Make sure to get a radar with volume control and a mute button.
- Beeping and voice alerts can get annoying if the radar is picking up false signals.
- Another preventative measure of obnoxious noise is having a mode switch.
Modes: These can be really helpful in eliminating erroneous warnings and annoying false alarms.
- Switchable mode for city and highway keeps from setting of false alarms.
- Emergency vehicle detection is a nice feature that eliminates false alarms of this type.
Wireless Versions: Not necessary if you're always in the same car, but a great idea if you aren't.
- If you change cars often, or are frequently using rental cars, then these battery operated detectors may be the right choice for you.
Top Brands, Pricing, and Highest Ratings
(Compiled from C-Net and About.com)
The brands that produce the most models are Whistler ,Cobra , and Beltronics .Valentine 1 is also highly regarded.