Radar detectors have been around for decades, with the first ones developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These devices have evolved exponentially throughout the years, keeping up with the technology around us and driver demands. Whether you’re driving around town or down the interstate, a radar detector constantly scans for speed-traps.
They’re all about spotting the police before you get a ticket, but is that really legal? In most US states and countries, radar detectors are legal for use in non-commercial vehicles. Moreover, some countries consider the position of fixed radars or mobile units public information – you can even find out about their location on the radio.
But please do not confuse radar detectors with radar jammers, because that is a completely different story.
- How to Choose The Best Radar Detector
- Valentine One Gen2
- Uniden R7
- Escort Redline 360c
- Uniden R3
- Uniden DFR7
- Whistler Z-19R Plus
- Cobra RAD 480i
- Escort Max Ci
- AL Priority System
- Escort iXC
- Radenso XP
- Radenso Pro M
- Cobra RAD 380
- Escort MAX360C Laser Radar Detector
How to Choose The Best Radar Detector
First of all: we do not encourage speedy drivers or breaking the law. You should always try to respect the speed limits because they are there for one purpose: to keep us all safe. Aside from that, each and every driver should know whether he or she really needs a radar detector.
It might prove to be useful to be aware of the road conditions ahead, such as potential accidents or road works – which is why Waze or Google Maps are so popular today, helping drivers to make informed decisions. Most drivers will feel content with out-of-the-box solutions as well, but there are some people who require a more professional approach. That’s when radar detectors come in handy.
How Much Should You Pay?
It’s pretty easy to decide on a budget for a radar detector, but what do you actually get for your money? Is it really efficient? Is it worth the money? These are some interesting questions and you should decide before finding answers to them: just how much information is enough information for you?
If you’re going for a low-priced device, you won’t end up with much. This begs the question: is it worth paying for something that isn’t really useful? With a poor range and teasing drivers with false alerts, these devices are a waste of time, more than anything else.
By comparison, pricier models will offer directional arrows, as well as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Multi Radar detection. Does that sound better?
Features to Look For
There is a long list of features you will be teased with, once you start looking for that perfect radar detector for you. However, you should focus on what’s really important, such as:
- Range: look out for the best possible detection range and false alert filtering, to make sure your device won’t be there just for show.
- Built-in GPS: the most accurate alerts are delivered by detectors that will use GPS tracking to reduce false alerts from collision avoidance systems or blind spot monitoring systems.
- Software updates: a device that can be easily updated will ensure that you’re getting the best performance out of your radar detector.
Common Set-up Mistakes
Checking your radar detector’s instruction manual is always a good idea, regardless of what electronic device you have recently purchased. Here are a few things you should look at:
Placement – Companies will instruct most owners of laser-radar detectors to place it as low as possible on the windshield. However, to get the best possible radar range, you should mount your detector as high on the windshield as you can without obstructing the sensor and of course, your view.
Aiming – Simply sticking it to the windshield just won’t cut it. Proper detection needs the device to be parallel to the road surface.
Power – Using your radar detector on a regular basis will require a power supply. Have a trained professional help you out with that.
Settings – To get the most out of your device’s functions and optimize its usage, you should take the time to understand what features you get to benefit from and check out the device’s unique options.
From the cheaper portable units to the professional-grade models, here are some of the best radar detectors on the market right now.
Some may believe that the Valentine One Generation 2 is a gadget hailing from another time. Showing off a matte black look, with an industrial design and an unusual lack of buttons, this thing might stand out from a crowd.
The Generation 2 still features the same LED setting as its predecessor for a simple reason: it’s much easier to read in sunlight, and this device was designed to provide relevant information in the clearest of ways.
Valentine’s radar locator will be looking for a signal from X, K, Ka or laser; once it locates it, one of three directional arrows lights up and lets the user know where it comes from – ahead, beside or behind. That may actually come in handy. Valentine’s hardware remains quiet, yet vigilant.
The Valentine One Generation 2 grabs our attention thanks to its long-range detection capabilities, impressive false positive filtering, as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
A lack of GPS integration might make some of you turn away, although it’s worth mentioning that Valentine’s algorithms are perfectly capable of doing the filtering on the fly. The dedicated app – Android or iOS – will allow this device’s features to really come into play.
Moreover, Valentine’s loyal customers have been rewarded by being offered to upgrade their V1 to the new Gen2 tech.
The best radar detector for your average civilian? This is it. The Uniden R7 features a black, angular design and brags about some seriously impressive long detection range – is two miles enough for you? Sure, this means ahead, on a straight, clear road, but that’s still very impressive!
Yes, the R7 will indicate where radar hits are coming from with the help of directional arrows – does that sound familiar? However, these arrows will make it shine on a small and intuitive color display.
In addition to the typical radar bands, the Uniden R7 will also handle MultaRadar and laser radars as well. Add in the voice alerts, and you are sure to be protected by ‘the Fuzz’ each second of your roadtrip.
There is also a built-in GPS, which makes all the difference by allowing the R7 to alert you to known radar locations stored in Uniden’s database. The lack of wireless capabilities will have you, on the other hand, turning to a third-party app such as Waze for help.
If pricing is not an issue for you, the Escort Redline 360c is the right way to go. This incredible radar detector looks stylish and handles its business with ease, with a secure magnet attachment point keeping it in place while in use.
First things, first: the Redline 360c is perfectly equipped to work with common radar bands and adds MultaRadar on top of that. Just as the aforementioned radar detectors, Escort’s system is directional and features four LED arrows designed to indicate where signals are coming from.
A customizable multicolor OLED screen will make sure you pay attention and even offer you a tip or two, such as “Slow Down” and “Caution”. What more could you want? GPS? Sure. Bluetooth? Yes. Wi-Fi? No worries.
Packing impressive false alert filtering and even more so range, the Escort will meet all of your demands. Moreover, the Escort Live app will deliver alerts regarding speed traps and other potential dangerous situations in real-time.
A better choice for those of you a bit careful to your spending budget, the Uniden R3 still delivers best-in-class performance. Sharing many of the same internal components with the brand’s top-of-the-line products, this was the company’s lineup king until the arrival of the R7.
Compared to its more powerful sibling, the R3 displays a lack of directional guidance and a shorter detection range, but it’s still very impressive. The Uniden R3 is no stranger to common bands and supports MultaRadar and laser. This time, there are no directional arrows to talk about, but we should mention the possibility of customizing tones for each band. Yes, GPS is also onboard.
The best affordable radar detector on the market was also developed by the team from Uniden. The DFR7 was introduced five years ago and has become increasingly affordable over time – despite the fact that it continuously receives firmware updates from the manufacturer. A strong competitor and a more than decent offering, the DFR7 handles all the standard radar bands, as well as being able to detect laser.
Selling for less than $300, this is a solid and effective radar detector featuring excellent false alert filtering, making for a pleasant joyride behind the steering wheel. A monochrome OLED display will display all the essential information and voice alerts will help you maintain your focus on the road ahead.
Yet again, a GPS module has been built in, which is always good news.
Yet again, we take a closer look at an affordable radar offering. The Whistler Z-19R Plus does have its limitations, but will easily prove its usefulness. Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: there is no GPS to talk about here. Aside from a lack of custom location alerts, you should also know that range capabilities aren’t impressive either.
This radar detector will alert you of oncoming speed traps, but might also deliver a few false alerts as well. Radar and laser detection are part of the offering, while a green OLED readout will handle the alerts. According to Clint Eastwood, anything is possible – for a few dollars more – and it might be a good idea to save up a bit more and select a detector packing a few more features.
If you’re not sure what’s what in the world of radar detectors, yet are curious to find out on your own, without spending large amounts of money, the Cobra RAD 480i is a good place to start. Selling for less than $200, this unit comes with the most basic of features, which means GPS or directional arrows are off the table. We do have Bluetooth app integration to talk about, which is always good news.
The Cobra radar detector will immediately grant users access to the free iRadar app, which means that you receive Escort’s Live app – both brands are manufactured under the same industrial ‘umbrella’, specifically Cedar Electronics – and, that’s OK. But since these apps have been sharing alert databases since 2018, Cobra users benefit from data gathered in the cloud from drivers equipped with more capable detectors. Cool, right?
Although the RAD 480i lacks built-in GPS features and will not impress with the help of its detection range, the dedicated app will warn drivers of upcoming speed traps. Since Cobra users have the option of reporting police sightings, things are looking better with each passing second.
Easy to use and set up, the Cobra RAD 480i is definitely a good option to consider.
How about a custom solution? Forget about a rectangular device fitted to the windshield, or sun visor, and choose to level up. A remote radar detector could be considered a premium option, and the Escort Max Ci is a good choice.
The Max Ci is an aftermarket solution with integrated GPS, a front radar receiver, not to mention a display and control modules. Thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity, this device will work alongside the dedicated Escort Live app as you enjoy your drive.
For some extra cash, you may also benefit from rear radar protection, as well as front and rear laser jammers – just to make sure. At the end of the day, the Max Ci 360 looks very stylish and delivers everything you need.
AL Priority System
Radar detectors are effective, but foolproof systems should include laser jammers as well. The AntiLaser Priority system is what you should be looking for as it’s considered the best option out there.
Following a custom installation, including at least two sensors at the front, the system will handle as many as six sensors covering every possible angle, ensuring ‘Smokey’ will not be ruining your day.
For some extra cash, Bluetooth and Hi-Fi modules could also be part of the setup and might help with the audible alerts – please note that the manufacturer is also selling a radar antenna.
Yet another success story on the radar-detector market, the Escort iXc will set you back a bit less compared to the Uniden R7, while you benefit from most of the same rewards, such as access to a database of permanent camera locations. With the aforementioned database constantly updated, there are no reasons to worry.
Moreover, the Escort iXc can also access the data of other Escort users, which means real-time updates and information. It is also worth mentioning that the iXc will allow users to benefit from omnidirectional coverage from both radar and laser speed guns, while a bright alphanumeric screen helps with the delivery.
Considering its relatively small size, this device is more than user-friendly. The Radenso XP is ready to go as soon as you take it out the box, and requires no fiddling around or adjustments before being put into place.
As simple as it may be, this radar detector is in no way pointless. A very capable device, the XP will detect red-light cameras and speed cameras with ease. As such, you can imagine why this product is so popular and quite often it’s out of stock.
Radenso offers yet another small and affordable option, this time in the form of the Pro M radar detector. Don’t be fooled by its reduced size and weight, as this device will have competitors worried.
Aside from the fact that the Pro M will easily detect unwanted radar activity from miles away, or will alert you to red lights and traffic cameras, this thing has a cool trick up its sleeve: it will be undetectable to radar detector detectors.
Moreover, Radenso’s device is also known for cutting down on false alerts thanks to a preloaded database, while the amber-colored OLED display will make it easier to use the device in the dark.
If you’re looking for a radar detector under $200, look this way. Usually, for this kind of money, you get a low rating device, but not with Conrad’s offering. The RAD 380 is rock-solid and shows off all the features you look for in the best radar laser detectors.
If you were looking for a non-flashy device, that delivers a solid layer of protection on the highway, this is it. Affordable, this thing offers 360-degree coverage, a more than decent range, as well as anti-false-alarm filtration and updatable firmware.
It might not match up to its more expensive competitors, but the 380 allows for front and rear detection as well as the ability to adjust its sensitivity.
Escort’s Max360C is a quality product it will detect both MultaRadar CD and MultaRadar CT, picking up stationary and mobile-based traffic cams. Impressive on its own, this device may benefit from weekly firmware updates, from official traffic databases and a growing community, which means you will be always one step ahead of ‘the Fuzz’.
Vehicles with built-in WiFi hotspots will most likely enjoy real-time updates and information. The MAX360C is Bluetooth-enabled, while the Escort Live app will most likely put a smile on your face. False alerts won’t be an issue, and this radar detector is ready to go once you get it out the box. Not bad at all.
While we don’t recommend going over the speed limits at all, we totally understand anyone’s decision to get a radar detector, if you don’t want to receive any “gifts” for going just a little bit over the speed limit.
After careful research, these are the best radar detectors on the market right now. Do you recommend any other?