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Monthly Archives: November 2018

  • The pros and cons of cordless radar detectors

    Cutting the CordThe age of mobility brought about the concept of cord cutting, and manufacturers of radar detectors were early adopters. For a time, there was a healthy selection of cordless detectors, and it was not uncommon to find them mounted to the windshields and dashboards of many vehicles. Today, however, the number of cordless radar detectors has dwindled significantly. In fact, at the time of this article, there is only one cordless model from a major brand currently available, the Escort Solo S4.

    Does this mean cordless radar detectors are relics of the mobility age? Not necessarily. What it does mean is that the priorities of the average modern driver have possibly shifted, and their requirements may be different than they were at the beginning. When it comes to cordless radar detectors, they do have their pros and cons.

    The Pros and Cons of Cordless Radar Detectors

    Features vs. Portability
    Pro: Cordless detectors are extremely portable, easy to carry around and can be quickly moved or removed as needed. For instance, it is often advised to remove valuables from your vehicle to deter theft, and a radar detector is an attractive enticement to thieves. A corded detector needs to be disconnected from power before it can be removed. With a cordless detector, simply grab it and go. Some driver even operate their cordless detector from a shirt pocket! You can't do that with a corded detector.

    Con: Cordless detectors tend to have fewer features than corded models, or some features may be scaled back. This is often done for power considerations, because cordless detectors operate on batteries. The more features a detector has, the more power it may consume to activate and manage them. This can affect battery life.

    Power Requirements
    Pro: Cordless detectors have lower power requirement, and thus consume less power than corded detectors.

    Con: Lower power consumption means the detector has a lower range of detection. In some circumstances, range may only be one factor to consider, in others, especially on the highway, it can be the most critical to avoid a threat.

    Operability
    Pro: Cordless detectors do not need power from a vehicle and are not dependent on a vehicle to operate. This can be a considerable advantage when power options are limited or a corded option is simply not feasible.

    Con: Battery life limits operating time on longer trips. When the batteries are drained, the detector stops working, and if it happens while on the road, the driver must pull over and replace the batteries or face the risk of threats while the detector is out of operation.

    Power Save Features
    Pro: Cordless radar detectors usually have built-in power save and auto shutoff features to conserve battery life and extend operation.

    Con: The reliance on battery power requires frequent battery replacement, resulting in down time to replace batteries and higher costs to purchase new batteries.

    Accessibility
    Pro: Cordless detectors can serve as secondary units or backup detectors. Some drivers have more than one detector on the dash or windshield, but don't want too many wires in the way. A cordless detector can serve as an effective secondary unit without adding to the clutter. Also if the primary detector goes down, simply stick a cordless detector up there and turn it on, without having to stop and wire it up. It can definitely help in a pinch.

    Con: Cordless detectors generally have lower performance than corded detectors due to lower range and built-in power save options. This can also reduce their effectiveness as a replacement for a primary detector.

    Convenience
    Pro: Cordless detectors are a convenient option for temporary use in a second vehicle or rental car. If you switch vehicle often or are renting one for a day or two, a cordless detector can be setup quickly and easily without intrusion.

    Con: Few cordless models are available on the market. At this time, the only cordless radar detector on the market is the Escort Solo S4. This severely limits the choice of a cordless option.

    Versatility
    Pro: Cordless radar detectors can easily be mounted or used on motorcycles. Without the need of wiring coupled with simple mounting requirments, the cordless detector is a natural choice for use on motorcycles.

    Con: Except for the limitations already listed above, when it comes to using cordless radar detectors for motorcycles, is there a reason not to have one?

    Do you need a cordless model, or is it better to stick with the standard corded, portable, windshield mounted, detector? To make the decision easier, This handy chart lists the pros and cons of cordless radar detectors.

    Cordless Radar Detectors
    ProsCons
    Portable - easy to switch from one vehicle to anotherFewer features than a vehicle powered portable
    Low power requirementsLower power consumption means lower range
    power save optionsrequires frequent battery replacement
    Great as a secondary detector or backupLower performance due to lower range and power save options
    Great for temporary use in a second vehicle or rental carfew cordless models available
    Not dependent on a vehicle to operatebattery life limits operating time on longer trips
    Can easily be mounted or used on motorcycles

    Based on the this chart alone, one would think that the pros outnumber the cons. But, do they? The truth is, it depends on what you need in a radar detector, and how you plan to use it. If performance is imperative and portability is not important, it's probably best to go with a corded model. You'll get reliable power, greater range, and higher performance overall.

    However, if you need ultra portability, ride a motorcycle, need a backup unit or you just don't like wires hanging down your dash, then a cordless radar detector may be just the thing. Either way, it's your choice.

    For more information on cordless radar detectors, watch our Escort Solo S4 Video Review with the Veil Guy!

  • The best place to mount a radar detector

    Where to mount a radar detectorIt's the universal question, discussed frequently in forums and social media groups, and is usually the first concern after someone purchases one to install in a vehicle for the first time. Where is the best place to mount a radar detector?

    We covered this over a decade ago in our article Where Should You Mount Your Radar Detector? But times have changed. Technology has advanced, and there are new rules of the road when it comes to traffic enforcement and countermeasure strategy. Considering this, does placement even matter anymore, or do the old guidelines still apply? Where is the best place to mount a radar detector today? Or is there one?

    Why is placement important?
    Placement of a radar detector is critical to its performance. Detectors operate by line of sight, meaning that the detector needs to be able to "see" the signal in order to detect it. Any obstruction can potentially diminish, deflect or block the incoming radar signal or laser beam entirely from the detector's view. It also needs to be aimed in the general direction of the signal to pick it up. This is important if it's a radar signal, but is even more important if it is a laser beam. Radar signals are rather broad, but a laser is very narrow, so the detector must be positioned to pick it up directly. Remember, if the detector can't see the signal, it can't tell you where it is, or if one is even there. Therefore, correct positioning is vital to the performance of any detector.

    Is the type of radar detector important?
    Before we go any go further, it is important to note that the answer to the mounting question depends somewhat on the type of radar detector used. There are two distinct types of detectors, portable and installed. The portable detector, also known as a dashmount or windshield mount detector, is exactly as these terms imply. It mounts somewhere on the dashboard or windshield of a vehicle, and is aimed through the windshield, over the hood toward the front. An installed or concealed detector is one that is actually installed or integrated into parts of the vehicle itself, with sensors usually concealed below the hood and around, on or behind the front grille. Additional sensors can be placed on the rear of the vehicle as well.

    Installed detectors
    The sensors for an installed detector are usually placed somewhat low. Since they are usually situated directly at the front and (optionally) rear of the vehicle, they have a clear line of sight for a broad, unobstructed view of the perimeter around it. This allows a lot more latitude for discreet, low mounting options.

    Where to place a dashmount detector
    Portable or dash mount detectors are a different story. Since they are typically situated behind the windshield, their line of sight is somewhat limited by the frame of glass around it, plus the obvious obstruction of the front hood. However, there are other obstructions that affect performance. Tinted windshields in the visor area at the top can greatly reduce detection. The angle of the windshield can also be a factor. Inspection, parking or other stickers can get in the way. So can windshield wipers. Built-in defrosters, sensors or coatings in the glass can also effect performance. Some states even have laws to regulate where you can or cannot place items on your windshield or dashboard. These are all important factors to consider, and some may greatly limit your mounting options. Consider them all before you mount the detector.

    Go high or go low?
    Ten years ago, the low or high mounting question depended largely on the type of signals your radar detector detected. If it was primarily radar, conventional wisdom was to mount high, preferably attached to a rear view mirror or visor. This was advised so the detector could see over the hood of the vehicle to maximize line of site for detection of radar signals. If it was primarily set up for laser, the general rule of thumb was to mount low, closer to the hood, to pick up the edge or scatter from laser beams aimed at the headlights or front plate of the vehicle. But that was ten years ago. Although police laser certainly existed, it wasn't widely used, and some radar detectors had limited capabilities for laser detection. Some had no laser detection at all.

    Today, radar guns are still the standard, but use of police laser for speed enforcement is on the rise. Fortunately, all of the domestic brand radar detectors marketed in the US today are capable of both radar and laser detection and it is now quite advanced. Many detectors offer multi-angle or 360 degree detection of laser. This changes the optimal position just a bit, because the detector needs to be low enough to get the laser beam from the front, yet high enough to also catch it from the rear of the vehicle. However, the general rule still applies. Mount low for laser, and a little higher for radar detection only. If detecting both, aim for the sweet spot.

    The sweet spot
    This may vary depending on the design of your vehicle, including the length and and height of your hood. It will also depend on the other factors mentioned above. The general rule though, is to mount your detector low, either from the the windshield or dash, and if it's dash mount, try to get close to the windshield to maximize peripheral line of sight and minimize obstructions. Although low mounting will shorten radar range, it should still be acceptable, and it will significantly increase detection of laser. Also, be sure the detector is level for a straight view through the windshield, and adjust for the angle of the glass if it is mounted to it. Don't let it point upward or downward, keep it even with the road ahead.

    Any detector can only alert you to the threats it can detect. To maximize its performance and value, the best place to mount a radar detector is from a similar vantage point to that of the driver, one that gives it the clearest, least obstructed view of threats on the road.

  • A closer look at the Escort EZ Mag Mount

    Escort EZ Mag MountRadar detector suction cup windshield mounts come in various shapes and sizes. Some are designed for specific models, others for a specific series of models or an entire brand. One can even find a universal radar detector windshield mount. No matter the mount, all perform the same basic function: they attach a radar detector to the windshield of a vehicle using the power of suction.

    The basic technology behind the suction method was always relatively simple, and while somewhat reliable when properly applied, it wasn't perfect. Then Escort introduced the Stickycup Mount, a heavy duty mount with a suction cup coated with a sticky gel. This was a game changer. Suddenly, the reliability of suction cup mounts rose dramatically. Radar detectors equipped with a Stickycup Mount stayed put, and fear of a detector suddenly falling on the dash diminished greatly. While still not completely hassle free, the Sticky Cup was definitely a step forward. For a fair comparison of the pros and cons, read Escort Sticky Cup vs. the standard windshield bracket.

    Now, Escort is taking the "sticky cup" concept to the next level, adding an instant, quick connect-and-release option for the radar detector itself. The result? It's the Escort EZ Mag Mount™.

    Designed exclusively for three specific Escort radar detectors, The EZ Mag Mount is essentially a Stickycup mount, but with an added twist. A traditional mount attaches to the radar detector using a metal tongue or bracket that slides onto or into the device and locks it into place; a button on the detector must be pressed to release it from the mount. The EZ Mag Mount has a "stubby like" bracket equipped with a magnet. The detector slides onto the bracket and the magnet holds it in place. Since the magnet creates the grip, release is instantaneous. To remove the detector, simply pull it off the mount!

    The EZ Mag Mount is a quick and easy way to mount your detector, and it works very well. The suction cup is easy to attach and is quite powerful, yet is surprisingly easy to remove from your windshield if necessary. Traditional metal bracket mounts required the user to bend the bracket to adjust the angle of the detector while on the mount. The EZ Mag Mount uses an adjustable tilt mechanism with a locking knob, allowing faster and easier angle adjustment with great flexibility.

    The unique magnet mount design currently limits compatibility to three Escort radar detectors, the MAX 360C, the Escort IX and the Redline EX. If you own one of these models, the EZ Mag Mount may be the windshield mount for you.

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