Radar Detector Comparison '05
Abridged - Published: 14 Feb 05

© Copyright MMV Veil Corporation.
All Rights Reserved.

Valentine One Radar Detector Escort 8500 X50 Radar Detector Beltronics RX65 Radar Detector

ultimate radar detector test 05

What's unique about this radar detector review and comparison?

The purpose of this radar detector review is to examine the real-world performance and ergonomics of the best windshield-mount radar detectors that are currently being made.

We wanted to compare them in real-world driving situations against actual speed traps which we encountered and to report our findings in a format that is as comprehensive as it is unique; we wanted you to feel as if you were along for the ride.

Many of the conventional reviews extant address the performance of radar detectors in terms of distance.  In keeping with VEIL's philosophy, we reported our results in terms of time - as in, reaction time.

This, we believe, is ultimately what radar detector performance is all about - providing its owner with sufficient reaction time to safely slow down and avoid a potential speeding ticket.

Each of the detectors were retail versions of the products.  No radar detector was provided to us by the manufacturer and our opinions were formulated on these specific samples.  We did not take into account the possibility of production variation, which may exist.

We did not want to write just another editorial and the conclusions we reached here may be entirely different from your own.  That's OK, as a good number of the things we covered are subjective in nature.

We offer two flavors of our findings:

Summary Version  - which leaves out some detail and contains none of our daily travel logs
Full Version -  designed for the "road warrior"

Since different aspects of these radar detectors will appeal to each individual differently, we included an incredible amount of detail in our unabridged version.  In doing so, we provide you the option of deciding whether or not you wish to understand how and/or why we reached the conclusions we did.

With the full version, we broke the report into sections about individual aspects of each either performance-wise or ergonomically - so that you can choose what is most relevant - and included some additional pictures and video clips

Each version contains unique content (particularly, the conclusions)- for you "true diehards" - so you may enjoy both versions!.

The Radar Detectors

We set out to test, compare, and review the three latest high-end radar detectors: the Beltronics RX65 Pro Rev 3.6, the Escort 8500 X50 - Rev 5, and the Valentine One v3.8.18 /w POP2 (aka: V1.8).

All were acquired new, shortly before our trip to CES in late December, 2004.  We added an older Valentine One (V1.7) to the mix for good measure.

We hope the information provided, herein, will elevate the level of knowledge about all of these great radar detectors.

Enjoy The Ride!


How they look together. Note: Detectors not tested this way

Beltronics RX65 Pro

The packaging includes the detector; detachable power cord; lighter adapter with power and alert LEDs and single push button mute and remote volume level adjustment; windshield mount; aluminum travel case; replacement suction cups; manual; and quick reference/programming card.

Escort 8500 X50 (Red)

The packaging includes the detector; detachable power cord; lighter adapter with power and alert LEDs and single push button mute; European power adapter; windshield mount; nice travel case; replacement suction cups; manual; and quick reference/programming card.

Valentine One v1.8 /w POP2

The packaging includes the detector; two detachable power cords (one coiled and one straight); somewhat bulky/pivoting lighter adaptor that comes with user-replaceable modular fuse (nice touch) which can also power the optional remote display head-unit; permanent wiring kit; windshield & visor mount; replacement suction cups; manual; and spare fuse.

Build Quality

The build quality of each of these detectors is impressive - the Valentine One being the most so.  It appears to be the “tank” of the bunch with its “box-like” magnesium case.  Both the RX65 and 8500 X50 are also well built and the controls of all three brands are of the highest quality in feel.

The V1 appeared to be most resistant to scuffs and minor dings and its metal case serves to further isolate/shield its electronics.


Bel RX65, Escort X50 (Red), Valentine V1 at Night

Tthe Bel RX65 Pro easily had the most readable display at its maximum bright settings, followed by both Valentines, and then the 8500 X50.  The display brightness differences only became apparent in a direct comparison and all were more than adequate.

Both the Escort and the Bel had additional brightness levels and an ability to run in "Dark Mode" which minimized unwanted attention during evening drives.   The Valentine offers a dark-mode operation when paired with the (optional) remote display head-unit.

The Bel unit - with its flat frontal face - allows for operation in either right or left-hand driving scenarios where the Escort and both Valentines - with their left-facing fronts - are more suited to left-hand driving situations.



The Bel had the loudest maximum volume followed closely by the V1, v1.8.  The Escort and the older Valentine were somewhat muted by comparison requiring a bit more attentiveness when driving to music.

Tone Distinction (Radar/Laser Band Identification)

We believe both the V1 and the RX65 really excel in this regard followed by the 8500 X50.  The Bel has the additional ability to augment its alert with voice band-id - which we warmed up to.

The tonal qualities and volume levels obtainable with either the Beltronics or the newest Valentine allow for rapid communication to the driver - an essential ability.

Perhaps it’s due, in part, to the history I have with the V1 over the years (almost 15 years), but I feel that the distinct tones are one of the more appealing qualities of the V1 - they're instantly discernable.

After we got used to the RX65's alerts, we actually found that they may be more consistently identifiable - especially at mid-low volumes and/or when accompanied by music.  In these situations, the Valentine's X and K alerts can be confused with one another - particularly when they are brief in nature.  The Bel's tone's remained distinctive even at lower volume levels.

Audio Signal Strength Meter ("Gradient")

Both the Valentines and the Escort had excellent "gradients" followed by the Bel requiring review of the display to confirm the strongest (i.e.; most threatening) encounters.

Audio Muting

Both the Beltronics and the Escort radar detectors provided auto-muting capability which reduced volume levels after the initial alert.

Chassis Size

The Bel is the smallest of the group and has a nice stream-lined chassis.  The Escort is similar in width (to its Beltronics' cousin) but a bit longer.  The Valentine v1.8 (although smaller than its older brother) felt the bulkiest although its somewhat larger size allows for what appears to be larger antennae which may enhance the ability of the V1 to see very weak and distant radar sources (more about this later.)  Ultimately, though, we're not talking huge disparities here.

Windshield Mounting

Both the RX65 Pro and the Escort 8500 X50 have dual-suction cup windshield mounting brackets that really adhere to the windshield in a variety of temperature conditions and allows for ultra-quick detector mounting/dismounting.

The Valentine's mounting bracket had occasional difficulty in keeping its adhesion to the windshield and required a little more effort with mounting/dismounting of the detector, itself.  It was the only detector, though, that was supplied with a additional visor mounting clip.

Programming Ease

Both the Bel and the Escort excel in this area.  Given their ease of use, either of these detectors is easily programmed in the field without requiring reference to a manual or to the little programming card that is provided.  Another nice feature of both the Bel and the Escort units was the ability to perform a quick factory reset with a power-up push-button sequence.

It essential to note that both the Escort 8500 X50 and the Bel RX65 Pro default settings have POP reception disabled. 

The Valentine One, in comparison, feels a little like something from the 70s when it comes to programming.  The single LED display and single push-button knob serve as the limiting factors here.  We would not recommend programming this unit without reference to the programming manual, which can be inconvenient if one is on the road.  To our knowledge, there is no quick reset mechanism available on the V1.  Unlike the other two detectors, the default settings have POP reception enabled.

Real-World Performance / The Drive

Our Test Vehicle (Western Route)

We selected a test vehicle that would serve our enthusiastic driving requirements that wouldn’t break the bank in the process. We settled on a 5-speed sterling silver BMW Z4 convertible for our 1500 mile journey.   The Bimmer was rented from Rent-A-Vette of Las Vegas, NV, an agency that offers high-line vehicles for hourly (ouch), daily, or weekly rentals.

Besides being hideously expensive to rent, we resisted our initial urges to selecting a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo or the "arrest-me-red" Ferrari 360 Modena for the test as we really didn’t want to attract that much attention, considering our expected driving style.  These works-of-art look like they deserve a speeding ticket while parked!

Of course, we immediately applied VEIL to our rental vehicle in the event we inadvertently stumbled upon a laser speed trap - try doing that with a laser jammer!

360 ferrari modena

Driving Conditions/Style

While we don’t condone speeding, we wanted to use these detectors in a manner consistent with their intent - to protect their drivers from would be speeding tickets!

As such we routinely cruised “in excess” of posted limits and sometimes found our speed to be occasionally north of the “century mark.”

Granted, rural areas of western states are a bit more conducive to this sort of driving.  In other words, we wouldn’t necessarily attempt driving as boldly in urban areas and/or more populated states with more heavily traveled roads - but we did want to experience the full potential of these great radar detectors.

Our Western Route

western route
Red - Day 1, Blue - Day 2, Yellow - Day 3, Green - Day 4

Our Eastern Route

We decided to add two additional days of driving to include several eastern states (PA, NJ, NY) since we had as yet to encounter a bona-fide X-band or laser speed trap.  Our "target" vehicle was a late model BMW 540i Sport which had been treated with VEIL for about nine months and was still going strong.  We chose a route that would take us through some of the most heavily patrolled areas of NJ and NY (I-78 and I-87, respectively.)

During this segment of our driving route, we came to realize that the "texture" of traffic enforcement is different, in feeling, than that of the West.  In this portion of the country, there tends to be a much greater likelihood of being targeted with instant-on/pulsed radar.  Although we had encountered some of these kinds of speed traps during our 1500 mile trip out West, they where in the minority by comparison.

We believe, in this driving environment, extreme sensitivity must be balanced with a minimal propensity to "falsing" so as to not dilute the sense of urgency of any given radar/laser alert.

Although the term "false" may be misrepresentative - as any alert is likely from a legitimate radar/laser source - we use it here to mean from a source other than a confirmable speed-enforcement related origin (i.e.; trooper or traffic speed sign).


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.

nj rear speedtrap
Low-power pulsed X-band K-55 from rear - 20+ yrs old technology!
Concerned about POP RADAR?  No need.  Plenty of other lethal speedtraps lurking about.

For this test, we drove almost 2300 miles in five states (AZ, NV, PA, NJ, NY), encountered, without incident, all forms of pulsed/steady radar currently utilized in North America and even unexpectedly encroached upon a laser speed trap in which VEIL allowed us to avoid a laser speeding ticket

You can read, in detail, about all of our actual driving experiences in the unabridged version of this review.

laser pull over
Another hapless motorist who has not, as yet, heard of Veil.

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 detectors weren’t up to the task of providing the maximum level of protection that a detector is capable of providing today.

This is not to say that we didn’t have our preferences.  We did, though, these preferences were more tied to an individual radar detector "personality" than merely performance differences.

Beltronics RX65 Pro, Rev 3.6

Ergonomically, it 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.  Most importantly, though, it was consistently quick at alerting to approaching ALL radar/laser threats encountered

Along with this quickness came a somewhat higher "false" rate -including POP -relative to the Escort and therefore required a modest level of involvement from its owner to properly interpret what the alarms meant.

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 nice bonus.

Think of the Bel as a high-performance sports car that can act as daily driver.  Vehicles such as a late model Corvette or Porsche 911 with SMG come to mind.

Escort 8500 X50 (Red), Rev 5

Overall, the Escort 8500 X50 (Red) was the easiest with which to get along.  It was the most quiet in terms falsing, provided exceptional sensitivity to both K and Ka radar, and ease of programming and/or setting changes while driving.

We did not specifically encounter a laser trap with the X50 in operation, but given the nature of the one we did stumble upon, we are certain it would have behaved similarly.  Its X-band performance did appear to diminish, somewhat, when operating with Ka band enabled.    This fact is purely academic, though, if you don't live or drive in New Jersey or any other area where X-band radar is known to be in operation.

Think of Escort as a nice Grand Tourer (GT) of the three - an automatic E-class from Mercedes-Benz or 5 Series from Bayerische Motoren Werke, if you will.

It should be considered when one desires a very high-level of protection without requiring a lot of driver involvement.  In other words, its low maintenance.

Valentine One, v1.8 /w POP2

The Valentine, as expected, was quick at alerting to ALL radar/laser traps encountered and may provide ultimate performance, but our venerable V1’s stellar performance was somewhat diminished by a greater propensity to “falsing” on K band and required the most involvement of the driver to properly interpret its alerts.   We would prefer it to be quieter [even at the risk of some advanced warning time to a real trap] because, after awhile, we found ourselves ignoring its K-alert anyway which can be just, if not more so, as risky.

This increased falsing was noticeable even in rural [remote] areas of our driving route.  The Valentine falsed the least on Ka-band relative to the other two detectors and in the summer season - its been suggested - 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...

We still love the arrows, that immediately identify the location of a “threat” and 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 aren’t specific conditions, where they may have.   And - as evidenced on our driving route of day six - they may occasionally be misleading, requiring proper interpretation from its owner.

Additionally, the Valentine was somewhat ergonomically challenged as compared to the other detectors from Bel and Escort.

nj traffic stop
An all too familiar site on this stretch of highway.

Think of the Valentine as the pure race-car of the bunch - such as a Ferrari F40.  It has awesome capability, but (this current version) may be a bit fatiguing to take on long-trips. 

Valentine One, v1.7

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 detector is still an incredible performer and we really wouldn't feel any less protected driving with it [in the States] as compared to the newer 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 detector still remains a benchmark by which [all] other radar detectors (including the V1 v1.8) are judged.

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. - an incredible accomplishment given that it's on more than a decade 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!

Thinking of this one as a Lamborghini Diablo VT,  Lotus Esprit, or perhaps (it's been suggested) a Hummer H1.

Our Overall Preference

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

And, in fact, although it’s not practical for most, we enjoyed driving with both detectors in operation – 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.

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

We think Bel has struck a wonderful balance between absolute performance, ergonomic friendliness, and "fresh" packaging.

Now, what's your preference?

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

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 wish you safe motoring!

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

 veil guy's/gal's wedding day
Veil Guy & Veil Gal Renew Wedding Vows in Vegas - 08 JAN 05

If you find this review informative, please provide us a link using the following html snippet:

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<a href="http://www.laserveil.com/en/ultimate-radar-detector-review-05/introduction/">Radar Detector</a> Review 2005.

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We would like to thank Radar Roy of Radar Busters whose company sponsors an informative online discussion forum at RadarDetector.net - a forum, in which we have the pleasure of participating.  Without his support, this review could not have taken place.

radar busters crew
Mr. & Mrs. Veil Guy, Mr. & Mrs. RadarBusters & Crew

Additionally, I would like to personally thank Craig Peterson, of RadarTest.com, for his thoughtful review of our radar detector set-up and configuration and his suggestions for their operation.

Subsequent to this test, I learned that Craig had participated in the legendary Cannon Ball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash races when radar traffic enforcement was at its nascent stages - in the days when men were men.  And to think, I was among royalty and didn't even know it!

If you find the information provided herein worthwhile in assisting you making a purchasing decision, please support Radar Busters or participate in their online forum.

And while I am on the subject, I want to extend a special thanks to certain members of this forum - you know who you are - for their contributions and assistance in proof-reading this review and pointing out any oversights on our part.

The Veil Guy

Useful Links

Independent Review(s) of Veil

Speed Zones A trustworthy source of radar detector, laser jammers, and other equipment reviews.

Professional Reviewers

If you still desire more review information please visit online either of these eminently qualified sources - each presented in their own distinctive manner and with their own methodology.

RadarTest.com Reliable source of equipment and automotive reviews provided by "royalty."
Speed Measurement Labs A trustworthy source of equipment reviews and traffic safety information.


Beltronics Manufacturer of the RX65 Pro and other electronic equipment.
Escort - Manufacturer of the 8500 X50 and other equipment.
Valentine -
Manufacturer and direct seller of the V1 radar detector.

Master Distributor of VEIL products.
Custom Automotive Designer.


Dependable online retailer of Bel, Blinder, Escort, and VEIL laser countermeasure products.
Online forum of all things related to equipment and speed enforcement.

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