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Not Enough!
Summary (Abridged) Report

1. Introduction
2. The Equipment
3. The Drive/Ride
4. Conclusions
5. Credits
6. Useful Links

Full (Unabridged) Report

1. Introduction
2. What's Included
3. Costs
4. Build Quality
5. Display (Video)
6. Alert Volume (Video)
7. Alert Tones (Video)
8. Alert Gradient
9. Alert Muting
10. Size
11. Adhesion
12. Programming (Video)
13. The Drive/Ride
14. Test Day #1
15. Test Day #2
16. Test Day #3
17. Respite
18. Test Day #4
19. Test Day #5
20. Test Day #6
21. Conclusions
22. Epilogue I
23. Epilogue II
24. Credits
25. Useful Links

Ultimate
Radar Detector Review '05
Unabridged Version
Updated:27 MAY 07
 

Valentine One Escort 8500 X50 Beltronics RX65

Conclusions

(Until we publish our next comprehensive real-world review, you can continue keep-up with the latest info about our continuing long-term comparisons and driving experiences (frequently updated) by visiting the VeilGuy blog. Be sure to opt-into our mailing list, so you don't miss the action!)

Placing your trust into a radar detector takes time and requires a lot of driving time behind the wheel and a proven historical track-record with a variety of different speed trap encounters.

If you skipped to this section without reading the detailed findings, you may have missed an aspect of particular radar detector that you may find especially appealing.

We concluded that small differences (a second or so at highway speeds) were not statistically significant and were more likely attributed to the actual placement of the radar detectors and their respective fields-of-view.

Most windshields have a distinct curve to them   When we compared two radar detectors we often spaced them apart about 20 or more inches to minimize cross-interference.  This had the effect of subtly changing the field-of-view of the antennae.  Radar detectors mounted on the driverís side tended to face to the left, radar detectors mounted center tended to face straight, and radar detectors mounted on the passenger side tended to face to the right.

The location of the radar source and curvature of the road [relative to each radar detector] had an impact upon the alert quickness of each.  Thatís why we often turned around and tested them again on the return, when we encountered known legitimate radar sources - to confirm this phenomenon.  Throughout this comparison, we mixed up the relative positioning of each the radar detectors on the windshield vertically and horizontally.

That being said after six days of driving, the accumulation of about 2300 miles and a very good number of speed trap encroachments in five states - one fact can safely be asserted: Bottom line - all three of these radar detectors are truly stellar performers and we have yet to encounter a real speed trap that any of these radar detectors werenít up to the task of providing the maximum level of protection that a radar detector is capable of providing today.

The days of Valentineís sheer dominance, in this regard, are history and thatís really straight talk.

This is not to say that we didnít have our preferences. We did.

For the most part, though, these preferences were more tied to an individual radar detector "personality" than merely performance differences.  Our preferences may not be the same as yours and thatís why we went into such detail about the many different aspects of each radar detector so that you could arrive at your own informed opinion/conclusion.

False Rates / Alerts from Unconfirmed Sources

The Escort 8500 X50 appeared to false the least during our drive, followed closely by the RX65 Pro which was also quiet, overall, and then the Valentine v1.8 /w POP2.  As we already mentioned, the V1 tended to false on K-band even in rural areas.  The V1 v1.7 was devoid of this behavior and falsed only somewhat more than the RX65.

All were tested at maximum sensitivity during the duration of this entire test and were configured to alert to the following - K, Ka, POP, Laser.  Other than in NJ, X-band was disabled on all three (four) and Ku band was disabled [on the RX65 and newer Valentine One] for the entire duration.

Our venerable V1ís stellar performance was somewhat diminished by a greater propensity* to ďfalsingĒ [particularly on K band].  We originally thought it was attributed to greater sensitivity but later felt that this tendency may be rooted in software because the V1 did not consistently demonstrate superior performance [to either the RX65 or X50] when encountering real K-band radar threats.

*UPDATE: 19 NOV 05 This issue has now been resolved with an updated version (v3.25) and the detector now is now one of the quieter ones! In addition, the newer Valentines have a "J" [for Junk] feature which will automatically identify some Ka-falses as bogus LO leakage and auto-mute them out - a very nice touch, indeed. We will address the additional capabilities and features of our updated model when we release a follow-on to our report.

We should also note that the Valentine falsed the least on Ka-band relative to the other two radar detectors and in the summer season - Its been suggested to us - that this may become more pronounced as there will tend to be an increase of "cheap" radar detectors on the road as people do more vacation traveling.  We'll have to wait and see...

The fact that it has two antennae - one front and one rear - tended to increase the falsing rates.  It should be noted that the older V1 was much quieter and more in line with two the other radar detectors.  It is also important to point out the K-band falsing didnít appreciably diminish when POP - the "J" function - was disabled, either.  At any rate, we hope this behavior can and will be programmed out, in time, by the manufacturer.

Performance / Alert Quickness to Bona-fide Radar/Laser Sources

All three brands offered very similar performance in alerting to bona-fide speed traps.

There was one exception to this and that was X-band sensitivity during the NJ driving route.  Here the Valentine V1 and Bel Pro RX65 performed virtually identically.  For some reason, the Escort 8500 X50 seemed to lag a bit as compared to the other two.  If we drove routinely in NJ, this may become more of an issue and we would feel a bit more secure with either the RX65 or V1.

Perhaps it was a production variance; too aggressive filtering/signal rejection (remember they were all set to highway mode); the fact that we operated two detectors in the vehicle (even though they were spaced far apart), we donít know Ė but it was the one noteworthy surprise.  If your driving doesnít take you to NJ and you know that X-band isnít used in your area then this is a non-issue.

*UPDATED: 19 NOV 05 We have lived with a later model of the 8500 X50 for several months now and have found that its X-band performance appears to be more in-line now with the RX-65. Furthermore the detector appears to be quite a bit more sensative to Laser than its cousin the RX65. Based-upon our updated experiences, we would tend to favor the 8500 X50 [over the RX65] if laser was our primary concern. *More on this subject in the near future.

We still love the arrows, on either Valentine in assisting with identifying a passing ďthreatĒ and we have been accustomed to them for well over a decade.  But, we did not specifically encounter a speed trap, during this test, where they would have made a substantive difference - which is not to say that there arenít specific conditions, where they may have.  And on occasion - as evidenced on our driving route of day six - they may be misleading, requiring proper interpretation.

The older model has aged especially well and continues to dazzle us with reliable top-shelf performance.  Other than not having the newer POP nor Ku capabilities, this radar detector is still an incredible performer and we really wouldn'tfeel any less protected driving with it [in the states] as compared to the newer radar detectors.  "No POP," you say?  "So what," we say - troopers should be using the standard operational mode of the BEE III anyway so that they can legally issue tickets and until the day that POP can be used in that manner (we doubt that'll ever happen) its more about marketing hype than a real threat.  Is POP capability nice?  Sure, but this radar detector still remains a benchmark by which [all] other radar detectors (including the V1 v1.8) are judged.

*UPDATE: 19 NOV 05 We have now lived with an updated version (v3.825) for several months and believe that despite some small glitches in the "J" programming, that this detector has become our new reference.

**UPDATE: 17 DEC 05 VR has recently informed us of an updated model (v3.826) that is now shipping which has had some programming updates to address the aforementioned glitch. Existing owners may update/upgrade.

This older model only slightly lagged in Ka-band sensitivity to its younger brother, the V1.8 and appeared just slightly quicker with X and K-band radar, , and provides superior laser detection [even compared to the newer models of Bel & Escort] - an incredible accomplishment given that it's almost two decades old!  No doubt, that's why they continue to fetch a premium on E-bay.  For its time (come to think of it, for all time), it truly is an engineering marvel!

If you're looking for the maximum sensitivity [particularly with laser] and/or require directional information about the radar source, then the Valentine One still stands alone In our opinion, Valentines aren't really designed for the casual radar radar detector user - requiring more involvement from its owner to interpret its behavior.

Other than the X-band performance, the RX65 Pro and 8500 X50 were essentially interchangeable.  So any decision would have to made on your perceptions of the findings reported here.

A tremendous amount of thought has gone into the design of the Beltronics RX65 Pro and it shows.

Ergonomically, the Bel RX65 was superior - we loved the quick re-programming ability, the volume levels obtainable, band audio clarity, its smaller size, the overall quietness of operation [lack of falsing] even on highway mode, that it can be operated in Dark Mode, provided remote volume adjustment with audio assistance -at a touch of a button [on the lighter plug] and that changes to operation are accompanied by textual/tonal confirmation and most importantly that is was consistently quick at alerting to approaching threats regardless of the radar / laser used.  The fact that is has the added capability to detect Ku radar - which has been in use in Europe for quite some time and may soon be making its appearance stateside, is a real plus.

Each radar detector has its own distinctive flavor and each has its rightful place in the marketplace.

Our Overall Preference

Throughout these tests, we found ourselves favoring the comparison of both the RX65 Pro and V1.

And, in fact, although itís not practical for most, we enjoyed driving with both radar detectors in operation Ė they appeared to get along quite nicely.  If one alerted while the other remained silent, we would feel more assured that we could disregard the alert.  If both alerted, we were more inclined to react immediately.  This too, applied to our match-ups of the V1 and 8500 X50.

Taking everything into consideration- if we had only to pick one radar detector to take with us on our trip, it would be the Beltronics RX65 Pro.

If laser was our primary concern, then we would opt for either the Valentine V1 or the Escort 8500 X50. 

Now, what's your preference? Purchase These and Other Radar Detectors with Confidence at these Trustworthy Purchasing Sources:

Related Reading:

Beltronics STi Driver Review
Escort Passport 9500i
Valentine One
How to Avoid Speeding Tickets with your Radar Detector
The Ultimate Radar Detector Review
The Ultimate Laser Detector Review
Summary Radar Detectors Buyers Guide

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Beyond viewing this site, you can continue keep-up with the latest info about our continuing long-term comparisons of the top performing models and our real-world driving experiences (frequently updated) by visiting the VeilGuy blog. Be sure to opt-into our mailing list, so you don't miss any of the action!

Now that you are considering arming yourself with a good detector, learn safely how to avoid speeding tickets!

When paired with a good detector, VEIL provides you with precious additional reaction time - time you wouldn't otherwise have - and enables you to avoid speeding tickets.

See how VEIL improves all detector performance in these cool videos!

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We have invited each of the manufacturers to provide commentary in response to this article and will include them in our review as we receive them.

We will discuss our findings, with our readers, on the radardetector.net forum.  Your participation is welcomed and weíll provide updates when deemed appropriate.

We wish you safe motoring!

Bob & Lisa (aka: The Veil Guy & Veil Gal)

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