Radar Detector Comparison '05
Unabridged - 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!

Packaging – What’s Included

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.

Overall, the packages were complete. We would have liked to see the European adapter included in the Beltronics package as the detector has Ku-band capability. The adapter was included with the 8500 X50 even though it doesn’t currently provide for Ku reception.

The manuals of both the Escort & Bel were almost identical. Perhaps a little too similar as we caught a couple of items in the Bel manual that only applied to the Escort detector. The Valentine’s manual appeared somewhat stale and outdated. It would be nice if they included a quick reference/programming guide like the ones provided by Bel and Escort especially when you consider that programming changes on the V1 are a bit more complicated to perform than either the Bel or Escort. The Valentine doesn’t come with any sort of travel/carrying case – it is offered as an option.

Packaging –Cost Equivalencies (USD)
Bel RX65 Pro      Escort 8500 X50 (Red)      Valentine One v1.8 w/POP2
Base Package $329.95    Base Package $299.95    Base Package $399.00
Visor Bracket $9.95    Visor Clip $4.00    Visor Clip  INCL
Escort Direct Wire*  $10.00    Escort Direct Wire* $10.00    Direct Wire Kit INCL
Dark Mode/Cord** INCL    Dark Mode/Cord** INCL    Dark Mode/Module $39.00
Escort Euro Adptr*** $2.50    Escort Euro Adptr*** INCL    Escort Euro Adptr*** $2.50
Travel Case**** INCL    Travel Case**** INCL    Travel Case $29.00
  -------   -------   -------
  $352.40   $313.95      $469.50


The purpose of the above section is to demonstrate rough equivalencies of packages in terms of cost.

* Escort Direct Wire more closely approximates the direct wire kit provided by Valentine and is available only from Escort. Both Bel and Escort offer a direct wire kit that includes a remote display module inline for $29.95.

** Power Cords of the Bel and Escort were noticeably longer than the standard coiled-cord of the Valentine which tended to place less strain on them when mounting high on the windshield.

*** The European Adaptor is an Escort product - available online.

*** The Travel Case is not as diminutive as the Valentine case. Escort offers a soft leather carrying case for $12.00 and Bel offers their carrying case for $13.95. The supplied case from Escort appears to be somewhat higher in quality than that of the Bel, although it was larger in size.

We especially liked the Valentine carrying case. It is a zipped hard-shell design and has a curvaceous shape that lends itself to easy storage and it is a highly recommended if you are interested in providing protection to your investment regardless of the brand detector you purchase – it serves equally well – although the Escort’s longer length makes for a tight fit.

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 the electronics.


Brightness Levels

Of the three radar detectors tested, the 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.

The Bel Rx65 Pro and Escort 8500 X50 each had three brightness levels (min,med,max) in addition to a dark mode which proved to be very convenient when we intended to reduce unwanted attention to ourselves at night.  The X50’s display has the additional ability [programmatically] to be completely turned off during operation.

Bel RX65, Escort 8500 X50 (Red), V1 v1.8 /w POP2, K40 On Steering Column

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

Both the X50’s and RX65 lighter adapters have an alert lamp built-in that illuminates during an encounter regardless of the display settings.

The Valentine One only offers a "dark" mode when used in combination with its accessory remote display unit which is not included although this detector has an auto-dimming function on the primary LED which varies brightness in different lighting conditions.

Information Conveyed

The Valentine One is limited in its display (relative to the other two) because of the utilization of a single LED, whose primary purpose is to display the number of "bogeys" (concurrent radar sources) that one encounters.  Band identification is performed by four single LEDs that alert to four bands, X, K, Ka, and Laser.  Personally we think the band identifiers are somewhat superfluous given the superior audio tone quality and that clear visual identification is only possible during the day and only after close scrutiny.

Both the RX65 and X50 allow for three different display modes - two of which are virtually identical in nature – radar band id, followed with signal strength bar meter in standard mode and radar band id, followed by actual frequency (although we' re not completely sure of their absolute accuracy, as they never agreed).

The third display mode approximates the behavior of the V1 in that the detectors can display multiple radar sources concurrently along with their relative strength levels.  As we got comfortable with the operation of both the RX65 and X50, we preferred using this mode as multiple radar sources are easily identified at a glance.


The displays of both the RX65 and the X50 allow for very easy programming without reference to a manual.

The RX65 has the additional capability to quickly familiarize its user with the majority of alerts and signal gradients both with audio and visual demonstration - a very nice touch, indeed - through the use of a tutorial mode that is entered during the power-up sequence.

We believe both the Escort 8500 X50 and the Valentine One do not lend themselves as well to right-hand drive usage as the display is angled somewhat to face the left requiring proper placement to be to the right of the driver (center windshield) for easiest viewing.

In right-handed drive scenarios, if the radar detector were mounted at this location, the display would face away from the driver making it harder to view at a glance (more so with the X50).  If one were to place the detector to the right of the driver, it would have to be mounted on the extreme right side of the vehicle which would likely undermine rear sensitivity to both radar and laser given the likelihood of an obstructed line-of-sight to the rear.

As the Bel RX65 Pro has a flat face, it would work equally well in either a left or right-hand drive scenario.

Video/Audio Clips (DivX Codec):

Tutorial Mode of Beltronics RX65 Pro (Hi Bandwidth)
Tutorial Mode of Beltronics RX65 Pro (Med Bandwidth)

Alert Volume

The Bel Rx65 Pro had the best (loudest) volume as compared to the other two detectors.  The Valentine One was a very close second and the Escort 8500 X50 trailed in this regard even when its volume level was set to “Loud” (maximum) programmatically.  Both the Bel and the Valentine had the greater ability to cut through the music we were playing.

If you are driving to music with the Escort 8500 X50, you’ll have to be a bit more attentive. We prefer the simplicity and the effectiveness of the RX65 and would like to see the X50’s two volume ranges combined and then expanded upon to be more in line with the other detectors.

The older Valentine V1.7's volume was similar in level to the Escort 8500 X50.

The Beltronics RX65 Pro has the ability to have its volume changed remotely through the use of its power-cord so changes can be easily made without reaching or even taking your eyes off of the road.

Video/Audio Clips (DivX Codec):

Remote Volume Adjustment of Beltronics RX65 Pro (Hi Bandwidth)
Remote Volume Adjustment of Beltronics RX65 Pro (Med Bandwidth)

Alert Tone Distinction / Band Identification

We believe both the V1 and the RX65 excel in this regard closely followed by the 8500 X50.

Perhaps it’s due, in part, to the history I have with driving with the V1 over the years, but I feel that the distinct tones are one of the really strong attributes of the V1 - it’s very simple and easy to remember.

Beep – X
Braap - K - Band
Braap-Braap - Ka Band (I personally love this tone, but not the source of it!)
European Siren - Laser

The Bel RX65 Pro also had nice tonal quality and the added ability of voice band-id supplementation – which we warmed up to.

Whirl – X Band
High Pitched Beep – Ku Band
Rasp – K Band
Gurgle – Ka Band, POP
High Pitched Gurgle – Laser

Along with the tones, the volume levels obtainable with both, allow for rapid communication to the driver.

After we got used to the RX65's alerts, we actually found that 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.

The X50 had similar tones to the RX65 but was somewhat muted, in comparison, making its audio a little less distinct relative to the other two radar detectors.  Both the Bel RX65 Pro and the Escort 8500 X50 have the ability to alert to POP K/Ka with a separate alert/display.

The Valentine does not specifically identify POP radar usage - alerting, instead, with standard K/Ka  band warning tones.  This is somewhat unfortunate, as Mr. Valentine has historically voiced concerns as to the reliability of the MPH Bee III in POP mode.  It would be nice to provide that extra bit of information to Valentine owners who are targeted by the MPH Bee III, even at the expense of an occasional POP false.

Video/Audio Clips (DivX Codec):

Order: Valentine v1.8 /w POP2, Escort 8500 X50, Bel RX65 Pro

Power On Self Test Comparison Without Music (Hi Bandwidth)
Power On Self Test Comparison With Music (Med Bandwidth)

Power On Self Test Comparison Without Music (Hi Bandwidth)
Power On Self Test Comparison With Music (Med Bandwidth)
of Freddy Fender

Beltronics RX65 Pro

Power On Self Test (Hi Bandwidth)
Power On Self Test (Med Bandwidth)

Escort 8500 X50 (Red)

Power On Self Test (Hi Bandwidth)
Power On Self Test (Med Bandwidth)

Valentine One (V1) v1.8 w/POP2

Power On Self Test (Hi Bandwidth)
Power On Self Test (Med Bandwidth)

Alert Gradient (Audio Signal Strength Meter)

The "alert gradient" as it is described in the V1's manual is the audio equivalent of a signal strength meter.

Here, both Valentine Ones excelled, with the best audio gradient ramp-up / ramp-down followed very closely by the Escort 8500 X50.  When approaching a radar source, it is essential that the driver be accurately alerted to the strength of the source.  This way the driver will know whether or not they're actually in position that their speed can be determined by the radar operator.  When either the V1 or the X50 is really close to a radar source, the detectors will alert with a solid tone - the equivalence of having the signal strength meter pegged to the max.

The Bel unit never reaches a solid tone - making it more difficult to ascertain the severity of the threat level when up close to the radar source by audio tone alone.  The standard and threat display modes, however, offset this behavior, with clear visual signal strength meters.

Alert Tone Muting

Both the Rx65 Pro and the 8500 X50 had an auto-muting capability that was entirely satisfactory and we felt no need to make any changes.  The Valentine provides two volume controls so that its owner can establish the preferred muting levels.  I must tell you that after owning three Valentines (v1.6, v1.7, and v1.8) over the course of more than a decade I have yet to really figure out how to set the muting levels.  I would much prefer that they adopt an approach like Escort and Bel - simple and effective in operation.


In this instance size does matter [and smaller is better, in our opinion] and the Bel excels in this regard as compared to the other two as it has a very nice diminutive shape that is streamlined in its appearance.

We felt the 8500 X50 was a bit long (in comparison) which impacted, somewhat, the ability for placement - particularly with windshields that have a pronounced curve to them (like that of the BMW Z4) and it tended to bounce a bit more when traveling over uneven road surfaces.

The Valentine One, although shorter than the X50, felt bulkier given its dimensions which are more like a small brick. When compared to earlier versions of itself (V1.6 & V1.7) , its reduced size was more apparent.

Although compact is nice, in deference to the Valentine, the larger sizes allow the V1s to house, what appears to be, somewhat larger antennae than the others.  This likely enhances the V1s' ability to see off-axis weak signals more readily as well.  (More about this later)   Ultimately, though, we're not talking huge disparities here.

Adhesion to Windshield / Suction-Cup Bracket / Clip

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 dual-suction cup mounting bracket had an occasional difficulty in attaching itself or staying completely attached to the windshield in cold temperatures (like winter mornings in PA).  And this occurred without the detector mounted.  The mounting / dismounting of the detector [to the bracket] required a bit more care as compared to the other two detectors. The Valentine was the only detector, though, that was supplied with a visor mounting clip.

Programming Ease / Capability

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.

Programming can be easily performed during operation with a push-button combination, both detectors auto exit the programming mode and return to normal operation after about eight seconds of being left untouched.

We came across an undocumented programming tip with the Bel RX65 – if one presses the pwr button, programming mode can be exited immediately and the detector will return to normal operation.  The speed at which one can program the RX65 is impressive along with its responsiveness.  In comparison the 8500 X50 feels a little sluggish when stepping through the programming. The RX65 also retains the ability to alert to a threat during programming as well, a nice feature, indeed.

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.  I would not recommend programming this unit without reference to the programming manual, which can be inconvenient if one is on the road.  Further, the manual (as of late December '04) did not contain a reference to the latest programming feature - the "J" function nor was it documented on the website.

We had to place a phone call to tech support to get the info on this latest feature.  We would like to see the Valentine come with a quick reference / programming guide and/or the programming procedures printed on the bottom of the detector to simplify programming in the field.  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.

In the meantime, we recommend printing the online programming guide provided online at Valentine’s website at this URL: http://www.valentine1.com/lab/MikesLabRpt3.asp.  Be mindful that it does not contain, as of 07 Feb 05, any reference to the new “J” function which turns on/off the POP features.

Video/Audio Clips (DivX Codec):

Programming the Beltronics RX65 Pro (Hi Bandwidth)
Programming the Beltronics RX65 Pro (Med Bandwidth)

Programming the Escort 8500 X50 (Red, Hi Bandwidth)
Programming the Escort 8500 X50 (Red, Med Bandwidth)

Programming the Valentine One v1.8 w/POP2 (Hi Bandwidth)
Programming the Valentine One v1.8 w/POP2 (Lo Bandwidth)

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!

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!

Of course, we applied VEIL to our rental vehicle lights in the event we inadvertently stumbled upon a laser speed trap and fortunately for us, the car did not require a front license plate.

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 Route

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

Test Day #1 – 09 JAN 05 - (Las Vegas, NV to Phoenix, AZ)

We departed one day early from the international Consumer Electronics Show - where we show-cased the VEIL product-line in conjunction with Blinder Xtreme's M-20 & M-40 laser jammers and Xtreme Motorsportz -to begin our test drive.

veil gal demonstrating both veil and blinder laser jammers extreme motorsports of pittsburgh veil guy's dad

VEIL & Blinder CES Crew

Our trip originated at Michele's French Country Cottage, the only bed & breakfast, of which we are aware in Las Vegas, NV.   Michele was a wonderful hostess who prepared fabulous breakfast cuisines every morning for us during our stay for CES.  If you are looking for a quiet stay in Vegas, this B&B is a must stay.

veil gal & michele
Veil Gal & Michele

We got on the road at 0930 and proceeded south on Route 93 towards the Hoover Dam on our way to our first destination – the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ for a meeting with Craig Peterson of RadarTest.com, a leading radar detector authority and automotive journalist.

cruisin south on rt93 stop at hoover dam
Route 93S on way to Hoover Dam

On this initial testing day, we placed all three radar detectors equally spaced across the windshield.  Our reason for doing this was not to really compare the radar detecting performance of each - in an absolute sense - but more to get a feel for the ergonomic differences that exist between all three.

During this part of our trip there were no encounters worth mentioning and again all with three detectors all running concurrently, we would tend to discount absolute performance in this environment.

We actually began to carefully examine the performance capabilities in the subsequent days of this comparison.

Overall they seemed to get along together quite nicely - a testament to the advanced shielding employed by these radar detector designs.

During our visit with Craig, he gave our set-up a look over and recommended, for our driving route, to set the Ka operation of the RX65 to USA mode. Who were we to argue?

Test Day #2 – 10 JAN 05 - (Phoenix, AZ to Tombstone, AZ)

We set off on the second leg of our trip at 1345.  At the time, it was raining slightly and 57F.  Our trip odometer read 370 miles.

north phoenix embassy suites
Rainy Morning in Phoenix, AZ

Our first heads-up comparison was the Bel RX65 Pro versus the Valentine One v1.8 /wPOP2. There were no noteworthy encounters other than a couple of “falses.”

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

We caught up with Radar Roy of Radar Busters at Wickenburg, AZ and got the tour of his operation and met the “crew.”  Roy had provided us with some useful directions which included an incredibly scenic route towards southern Arizona and our second destination.

enjoying the sunset on vulture mine road vulture mine road - typical beautiful scenic road
Dusk at Vulture Mine Road - South of Wickenburg, AZ

At a trip odometer reading of 431 miles, we compared the RX65 (low driver side mounting) to the 8500 X50 (low center-passenger mounting).  As we were heading East on Interstate 8 the RX65 alerted Ka for about 2 seconds then alerted with two distinct POP alerts and then another Ka alert at greater strength around the Palo Verde Road exit.

No visual ID of officer was possible given the fact that it was dark, but it did feel like a real instant-on trap.  The X50 remained silent during this encounter.  Given the fact that we couldn’t make the actual ID, no decisive conclusion could be made.

Later, traveling I-10 East approaching stationary K-band at 24ghz speed monitoring sign located on far side of crest on highway located at the perimeter of a road construction area and facing us, the RX65 alerted approx 1-2 seconds before the x50 at 70-75mph.

We then switched out the X50 with the Valentine One v1.8 w/POP2 to once again compare it to the RX65 Pro.  Our trip reading at the time of this switch was 708 miles at the intersection of Route 80 and I-10E at the Benson exit #303.

Approaching a small town with light traffic at night, we visually identified a police car on our side of roadway quite a ways a way with its lights flashing.  Shortly thereafter, the V1 alerted to Ka about one second prior to the RX65 Pro at a reported frequency of 35.507Ghz.  During the encounter the V1 briefly lost the signal while the RX65 continued reporting to Ka band radar.

When got close enough to make a valid ID, we saw the that the patrol car was facing away from us and situated behind a pulled-over vehicle.   As we passed the patrol car, the V1 continued alerting to Ka about 5-6 seconds longer from the rear than the RX65 at a speed of about 35mph.  This behavior was in keeping with the fact that the V1 has an additional rear-facing antenna.

Since we knew we had a legitimate radar source, we turned vehicle around a ways down the road and proceeded towards the police car from the other direction.  The officer was out of site as the road had a fairly sharp left bend to it.  This time, the RX65 alerted about one second prior to the V1.

Our conclusion from this encounter was that the detectors were equally quick in alerting to this source and the slight differences were likely attributed to placement and field-of-view of each of the detectors.

We turned around once more and continued to our next destination for the evening – the Tombstone Sagebrush Inn located in historic Tombstone, AZ.

no gunfight tonight  at the sagebrush inn rog and sue of the sagebrush inn
Roger & Sue of the Sagebrush Inn - Tombstone, AZ

Roger and Sue are the proprietors of the Sagebrush and, as always, were a real pleasure to stay with.  Roger provides personalized tours of the area and is a good source of the local history and the locations of real ghost towns that are located in southern Arizona, like Gleeson.  Don’t forget to inquire about directions to the John & Sandy Weber's  rattlesnake crafts store and museum – run out of a trailer on the outskirts of an authentic ghost town.

We personally prefer staying in the Doc Holiday room, although every room has its own distinct personality.  If you ever visit Tombstone - site of the famous gun fight - we recommend staying here.  It has a great western feel to it.  Roger & Sue serve hot coffee and Danish every morning, outside by the pool, as well as interesting conversation. The mornings are comfortably cool even during the dead of summer and the air quality is great.  We make it a point to stay there every time we visit the area.

arriving late at the sagebrush inn

Test Day #3 – 11 JAN 05 - (Tombstone, AZ to Sasabe, AZ)

We pulled up stakes at 1615 and headed towards our next destination.  The temperature was 65F and it was somewhat overcast.  Trip miles at the start of this segment were 736.

We continued with the comparison of the RX65 (left middle) versus the V1 v1.8 (center-right middle)

On Route 82W towards Nogales, Mrs.Veil Guy learned to drive a stick while I took the notes.

At mm44, the RX65 briefly alerted to POP radar.  The V1 remained silent and there was no sighting of a police cruiser at a trip odometer reading of 763.3.  Shortly thereafter, the V1 alerted to very weak K-band radar from the rear then to the sides for a couple of cycles while the RX65 remained silent.

Approaching the small town of Sonita, AZ and a precipitous drop in the posted speed limit we were alerted to an approaching police cruiser ahead on the opposite side using steady K-band.

The V1 alerted about 2-3 seconds before the RX65 Pro at ~45mph.  This was a real trap.  As we left the city limits, the V1 alerted twice ahead and once to the rear with very weak K-band at mm30.  At mm27, the V1 alerted to a very weak K-band from the rear for two cycles while the RX65 remained silent.

Later, as we approached the town of Patagonia at a speed of about 75mph, the V1 alerted about five seconds prior to the RX65 on steady K-band at a reported 24.176Ghz.  The source was an approaching unmarked police car in the opposite lane.  The town speed limit was reduced to 30mph, which we obeyed.

In both of these proceeding encounters, either detector would have provided sufficient time to safely slow down.

Two miles out of town, the V1 alerted twice to a very weak K-band ahead while the RX65 was silent.  Followed by a brief weak alert on K-band on the RX65 while the V1 remained silent.

As we were approaching the city of Nogales, the V1 alerted K-band at a strength of three for about three seconds.  The RX65 did not alert and no police officer was spotted.

dusk in southern arizona
Dusk somewhere in Southern Arizona

Leaving the city limits of Nogales on I19N traveling at about 60-70mph we got a Ka alert at 34.708ghz on the RX65 six seconds prior to the V1.  We eventually spotted the source which was a police cruiser hiding in the median dividing the highway just in front of an overpass and facing us.  Time of day was 1820 and it was dark. Even though the RX65 alerted prior to the V1, either provided plenty of time to slow down.  To put this into some context, the total warning time we received to the trap location was about 24 seconds traveling at 60-70mph.

Continuing on I-19N, we received a K-alert on the V1 followed by a K-alert on the RX65 by about one second while we were traveling at about 75mph.  The source turned out to be a speed sign located at a border patrol checkpoint.  Again, either detector provided plenty of time to react and slow down.

us border patrol check point jose of us border patrol
Security Checkpoint, I-19N North of Nogales - Jose of US Border Patrol, Sasabe, AZ

Later we met up with Jose, one of border patrol officers working the seam of the US and Mexico. He provided us directions to our final destination for the evening. At this point, we were in a very remote part of the state. No cell phone coverage here.

Even here, the V1 alerted (falsed) with brief weak K-band alerts while the RX65 Pro remained silent. We turned off the RX65 to see if it was contributing to this behavior and although the V1 didn’t report any additional K-band the remaining couple of miles to our destination we weren’t convinced that “crosstalk” was the reason.

Note: We investigated this further (running the V1 solo) and we still encountered a relatively frequent “false” rate of K-band.

At the conclusion of this day of driving, it appeared the RX65 had a slight edge over the V1 1.8 w/POP2 on Ka-Band (in Ka USA mode) while the Valentine appeared to have an edge over the RX65 in K-band (at the expense of more frequent K-band “falsings.”)

Again, in reality, either would have provided plenty of time to safely react and slow down to all of our encounters today.

We arrived at our destination, the Rancho de la Osa of Sasabe, AZ at about 1930. It was very dark out and quiet. Our dinner was waiting for us in our room and we started a nice fire in the room as the temperature in the desert this time of year gets quite cold in the evening.

another spectular sun set in southern arizona nice fire in our adobe style living quarters
Sunset at Sasabe & Cozy Warm Fire in our Adobe-Styled Room.

Respite, 2nd Honeymoon - 12 JAN 05–14 JAN 05 (Sasabe, AZ)

We stayed at the ranch for three days of enjoying absolute piece and quiet. This place was simply fabulous and we were fortunate to have it all to ourselves – no other guests were staying here at the time.

We experienced awesome horseback rides in this isolated part of the West. We couldn’t help but feel a little like a couple of City Slickers, but our two female (Kim & Melanie) wranglers were much more pleasant to ride with than the two characters in the movie and although Curly wasn’t around, Mike was every bit as good as the lead wrangler - he's definitely a genuine Marlboro man!

cowboy and cowgals curly or clint eastwoodesque
mountain lion tracks michelle & mike mike carefully prepares a fire for lunch
A Day on the Range of Southern Arizona

Every day we were treated to three square gourmet meals by expert chefs. The staff was a real pleasure to stay with and Veronica (the Ranch owner) was delightful.  If you’re looking for a place to stay away from the crowds; want to “untwine your knots;” and get a taste of the Wild West, we highly recommended a visit.  Be forewarned, though, there’s no TV and no cell-phone coverage.  Come to think of it - it's just what the doctor ordered...

veronica and veil gal sacred mountain range
Veronica & Veil Gal - Sacred Baboquivari Mountains


Test Day #4, 14 JAN 05 – (Sasabe, AZ to Las Vegas, NV)

If was Friday, sunny and the temperature was 66F, our final leg of our trip out West started at 906 miles on the trip odometer. We set out towards Vegas from the small town of Sasabe at 1325.

dawn at rancho de la osa

us mexico border
sasabe mexico

sasabe general store

We began our comparison of both Valentines - v1.8/POP2 versus v1.7. They were separated by about 26 inches the left-side was occupied with the v1.8 and the right side was occupied with the V1.7. Both were mounted high on the windshield, but below any tint-strip.

While traveling on Route 86W the V1 v1.7 alerted about three to four seconds prior to the V1 v1.8 to what turned out to be an approaching cruiser operating steady K-band although both offered plenty of time to slow down to avoid speed detection.

Later on this route the V1.8 alerted prior to the V1.7 on Ka-band radar which turned out to be a cruiser approaching on the left opposing side of the road.

We encountered one more police cruiser on this road.  This time the V1.7 alerted first to K-band at a signal strength of two to three followed by the V1 v1.8 at level one.  Again, this turned out to be an approaching cruiser operating with steady K-band radar.

We briefly visited Kitt Peak National Observatory but couldn’t stay as they were closing at 1600 and we had a lot a miles ahead of us.  At 1620 we turned around before reaching Ajo and headed back east on Rt-86 towards Tucson, AZ.

kit peak national observatory
Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Later on I-10W the detectors falsed simultaneously to laser twice as the sun was setting – once at 1700 and once at 1720.  During this section of our comparison, the V1 v1.8 falsed with very weak K-band radar quite a bit more than the V1 v1.7.

On I-10W approaching Phoenix, both detectors alerted to a very strong blast of Ka from the rear during a lane changing / passing maneuver immediately after an overpass.  Fortunately for us, there was some traffic, otherwise we would have likely received a citation as we were traveling at about 90mph at the time both detectors went off.

Had it not been for the other traffic, we would have been dead-meat. Neither detector provided us with advanced warning to what was obviously a speed trap and no detector would have likely provided us with advanced notice as these officers were discriminating and patient with their operation of radar.

rainbow north of phoenix
Something We Did Not Expect to See in Southern Arizona

Even though the X50 and RX65 weren’t in operation at the time, given the strength of the radar, we are certain they would have sounded their alerts as well.  The V1 with its arrows, did allow us to quickly identify the source of the threat, although it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference as we immediately slowed down even before we actually noticed the arrows.

Roy later confirmed that pulsed-Ka is operated from the rear around Casa Grande on I-10.

We then changed up the detectors and mounted the V1 v1.8 on the left high side and the 8500 X50 on the high right side separated by about 26+ inches.  Time of day of the change was 1830. Temperature was 63F and the evening was clear. Miles accumulated so far were 1134.

In our first real radar encounter with this match up, the X50 alerted 1st to Ka-band radar at a reported 34.737Ghz by about a second before the V1 v1.8 did.  We felt the V1 v1.8 had the advantage as it had a better line of sight to the approaching vehicle on the other side of the divided interstate even though it alerted after the X50.  Our speed was about 80mph at time of contact. Both provided ample notice to slow down without detection.

We later received a brief false K alert for two-three cycles on v1.8 while the X50 stayed silent.

In the next real encounter, the V1 V1.8 alerted to Ka at 35.491Ghz about 0.5 seconds before the X50 which turned out to be a police cruiser operating steady Ka radar facing us with a car pulled over on the opposite side of the highway.

During this part of test, the 8500 X50 and the V1 1.8 performed virtually identically and both offered impressive performance.

As we made our way back towards Wickenburg, AZ north on Vulture Mine Road (and located in the middle of the desert) the v1.8 “falsed” multiple times to very weak K-band while the X50 remained silent.  We had a good laugh – even when we were in the middle of the desert, the V1 alerted to K-band.  What on earth was it listening to?  An overhead satellite?

At 2000, we switched up our detectors.  This time we positioned the 8500 X50 left and high and the RX65 right and high with about 26+ inches between them.  The temperate was about 50F, weather was clear and the miles accumulated to this point was 1226.

We called Roy, who promptly ordered us a pizza!  Thanks man, we were hungry!  We ate dinner with Roy and shared some of our experiences.

We left Roy's place at 2137 on to our final leg of our Western route.  Miles at the time of our departure were 1251.

On Route 93N back towards the Hoover Dam, we received a K-alert on the RX65 at a reported 24.138Ghz about 0.5 seconds prior to the 8500 X50.

Shortly afterwards, the X50 alerted 1st by a tick on K-band at 24.132Ghz.  The RX65 indicated the same source to be operating at 24.122Ghz (they routinely differed by 10mhz.)  Turned out to be a speed sign operating steady K-band radar facing the opposite direction on the other side of the road. After passing the sign, the RX65 continued to report a little longer than the X50.

Later the X50 alerted 1st to K-band at a reported 24.132Ghz briefly before the RX65 which indicated K-band at 24.122Ghz.  As we suspected with our previous encounter, it was another speed sign this time facing us.

As we got closer to the Hoover Dam the RX65 alerted 1st to K-band, at a reported 24.140Ghz, by a tick before the X50.  This source too turned out to be another speed sign facing the other direction.

hoover dam in the evening

This back and forth repeated a couple of more times as we continued north toward Vegas on Route 93.

Shortly after we entered the state of Nevada and continuing on our northerly track to Las Vegas, both detectors alerted to Ka-band simultaneously.  No visual confirmation could be made of the source. Was this a case of instant-on/pulsed radar? Perhaps.

Just before we exited off of Route 93 in Vegas, we received a K-alert on the X50 for two cycles while RX65 remained quiet.

We then received a false laser alert for approximately 8 cycles from the RX65 while the X50 remained silent.  We attributed this last behavior to the Vegas Skyline.

Conclusion of this match-up based upon our experiences – the RX65 Pro and 8500 X50 provided nearly identical performance in alerting to K and Ka radar.

Total miles accumulated at end of our trip in the West were 1497.

Total speeding tickets accumulated were zero!

Way to go and a job well done with all three (four) detectors.  Up to this point, we would have been entirely happy with any of the three brands.  They all demonstrated that they were, for all practical purposes, equally adept in their primary function – to provide enough advanced warning to radar so as to allow their owners the time needed to safely slow down.

The following morning we washed and returned our rental vehicle and flew back home to the Keystone State of PA.

Up to this point we had encountered some instant-on and steady K and Ka radar speed-traps and no one detector consistently performed better than the others.

We knew however, that our radar detector comparison test was somewhat incomplete as we did not test for X-band sensitivity and/or laser performance.  Before releasing the results of this test we wanted to accumulate as much experience as possible with these detectors so we decided to hold-off on publishing our findings so that we could get some additional results with X-band speed traps. And there is only one place to go to get 'em…

Test Day #5, 05 FEB 05 – (PA, NJ, and NY Route)

We set out to examine the performance of each of these detectors on X-Band so we headed to the only place where not only is instant-on/pulsed X-band radar used, it thrives and it is lethal! That place is the Garden State of NJ.  We selected a route that would take us through some of the most heavily patrolled areas in the entire state, Interstate 78 in the north-western part of the state.

We initially compared the Bel RX65 Pro to the Valentine One v1.8 (w/POP2) at 28 miles into our trip both radar detectors alerted about the same time to a sign with stationary K-band radar above Quakertown, PA.

We proceeded on I-78 east towards NJ. At 31 miles into out trip the Valentine One alerted to K-band about one second sooner than the RX65 as we were traveling about 85mph.  The source was another steady radar sign located in the median around a left bend in the interstate that was facing us.

Within three miles both the RX65 and the V1 alerted K-band almost simultaneously to another sign located in the median facing away at the opposing lanes of traffic after passing the source, the V1 alerted to rear K-band for about 2-3 seconds longer than the RX65.

When we reached the NJ state line, we enabled X-band radar on both detectors and re-confirmed that each were set to Highway sensitivity mode.

During this portion of our test, we drove a little more cautiously as compared to the West because we knew we were swimming in shark infested waters.

About six miles into the state on I-78E the Valentine One briefly alerted to a weak X-band signal about two seconds prior to the RX65.  We were traveling at about 75-78mph at the time and could not confirm the source although it was likely a pickup of pulsed X-band radar usage.

These extremely well-trained radar operators prove the adage that it is not the equipment that counts – it’s how you use it.  NJ state troopers operate an older (but still made) radar unit from MPH Industries – the in-car K55 moving radar unit.  It operates on X-band in either steady or pulsed-modes; when either moving or stationery.  The K55 has been in use in NJ for more than two decades!   No doubt this equipment has been paid for several thousand times over!

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

MPH, happens to be the maker of the [relatively] new POP killer BEE III.  Don't let the marketing hype throw you, though - radar detectors will not be obsolete as it must be operated in normal mode as legally required to obtain your vehicle tracking history and thus, alerting radar detectors in typical fashion.

The technology is pretty cool, but as you will read, a well-trained radar operator - regardless of technology/radar band used - is more of a threat than a "casual" or carefree POP user.

While driving on this interstate, a radar detector will often alert to X-band, but it can be very difficult to locate the source and we eventually found out the reason why.  We had come across a state police barracks located just off the interstate that had a patrol car that had left a K55 unit on.

During one of our approaches, we watched and followed a trooper leave the barracks and drive to what was, obviously, a preferred speed trap location.

In this particular trap, the trooper positioned his vehicle on a very short on-ramp to the interstate that was obscured from view, from approaching drivers, by an embankment and overpass (see picture).  You’ll notice that the officer is actually pointing his radar unit on a slight angle to the road thus directing much of the low-power radar across as opposed to following the roadway.

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.

Although this limits the actual targeting distances (by design), it also makes it much more difficult to detect the signal regardless of the direction of travel.  When this targeting method is combined with an instant-on, pulsed mode, it makes for extremely difficult detection even with the best radar detector.

Bottom line: be very mindful of your speeds when driving on this interstate -especially when you consider that the fines are doubled in [the state maximum of] 65 mph speed zones in NJ.

Having found a legitimate X-band source, we began an extensive comparison of the radar detectors traveling both directions, east and west-bound, on the interstate.

In a heads-up comparison, the V1 alerted between 0.5 to two seconds before the RX65 to the radar source.

The surprise came with the Escort 8500 X50 / Valentine and Escort 8500 X50 / RX65 Pro match-ups.

On a westerly approach to the barracks, the V1 alerted a full five seconds prior to the X50 while we were traveling at about 40mph.  We ran this test several additional times to confirm this outcome.

At highway speeds of about 80mph on I-78E the X50 didn’t report the presence of the radar where the V1 did.  On the return trip I-78W (the barracks was on this side of the interstate) the V1 alerted about 0.5 to 1 second before the 8500 X50.

We repeated the test between the RX65 and the V1 and both alerted almost simultaneously when the orientation of the radar detectors was similar.

In an RX65 versus 8500 X50 match-up, the RX65 alerted about nine seconds before the X50 at 65mph.

Just to be as complete as possible, we compared both versions of Valentines v1.7 versus v1.8. The v1.7 consistently alerted about 0.5-two seconds prior to the v1.8 on this X-band radar source.

Having compared all of the detectors to a known legitimate X-band radar source, we continued on our planned driving route towards the great state of NY.  Our route took us North on I-287 to the I-87 North (the New York Thruway).  We proceeded to Exit 17 (Newburgh) in the Catskill region as our farthest point traveled today.

On our return on I-87 South the V1 alerted first by about 0.5-1 second to a state trooper’s steady Ka radar unit in-car unit facing our direction as we approached exit 16.

Once back in the state of NJ we decided to change our return route to include I-80 west towards the Delaware Water Gap in north-eastern PA and lucky for us, we did.

At 1730, it was dusk and getting quite dark and with 23 miles to go before reaching the PA state line, we thought we spotted a state trooper positioned in the median.  As I was expecting a radar shot, I nearly suffered a heart attack when both the RX65 and V1 alerted simultaneously to Laser! Targeting occurred at approximately 1000 feet from the trooper.

I was traveling about 75-78 mph at the time of the alert and immediately slowed to about 65mph.

Fortunately, the vehicle I was driving had a thorough VEIL treatment!  I felt reassured that we were able to safely slow down without being ticketed!

I thought we had to drive to Ohio to test the laser function of these detectors, but found out the hard way - that despite its inauspicious beginnings in the state legal system, laser is now alive and well in NJ!

I proceeded to the next exit, turned around to go through the laser speed trap again – this time with the 8500 X50 in place of the RX65.  By the time I got back to the trap, the officer had a vehicle already pulled over.  Too  bad, he wasn’t using VEIL!

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

I should point out that neither the RX65 nor the V1 provided any advanced warning to the laser speedtrap – not surprising given the nature of laser.

We completed the remainder of our return-trip with no subsequent radar/laser encounters.

Miles accumulated today were 500 bringing the total of our test to about 2000 during five full driving days and through five states and having faced all forms of radar / laser bands currently in use today in North America.

Test Day #6, Evening/Early Morning of 19-20 FEB 05 – (Philadelphia to Atlantic City and Back)

At the last minute, Mr. & Mrs. Veil Guy got a hold of a pair of front row seats to a Brooks and Dunn concert at the Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino located at Atlantic City, NJ.  Since our route was going to take us on the Philadelphia corridor to the shore - the Atlantic City Expressway - which is also replete with NJ state police, we figured we update our report to include any additional radar encounters.

We set-up [what turned out to be] our favorite pair of radar detectors - the Beltronics RX 65 Pro (low and center) and the Valentine v1.8 (low and left).

We set out at around 1830 local time and proceeded to our venue without any noteworthy
incidents; it was on our return trip when the "fun" began.

At 0045, we were headed east and north back towards Philadelphia approaching the end of the AC expressway at the point the expressway merges into Route 40 North.  At this time, both detectors alerted at the same time to X-band and then both went silent.  A few seconds later, both alerted again for several more seconds and at a somewhat greater signal strength. On and off they went several more times in unison as we made our way onto Route 40 towards the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Our expectations of an approaching instant-on radar trap were confirmed about 20 seconds later when we spotted the trooper in the median facing us and selectively targeting on-coming vehicles.   During the last eight seconds of the trap, both detectors alerted with strong signals. We were traveling at about 75-80mph at the time of our contact and slowed down to a more reasonable 65mph as we passed the speed trap.

An interesting observation was made concerning the Valentine: for some finite period of time, it indicated that the source was coming from behind us.  Which is to say, that the directional arrows can sometimes be "wrong" or misleading at indicating from where the real threat is coming.  This was most likely due to a rear reflection of the radar beam from the trailing traffic/objects.

This experience demonstrated, once again, that the Valentine requires a bit more driver involvement to properly interpret what information is actually being conveyed.  Something one gets used to doing, after living with this detector for an extended period, and am in no way being critical of this behavior, either - merely pointing out a fact.

Within another minute of passing this trap both detectors again briefly alerted simultaneously with another X-band alert.  We initially though this was coming from the trap we just passed only to find that both detectors again alerted with a stronger X-band signal and the Valentine correctly identified the source as from being ahead.  This suggested that we were approaching another radar source which turned out to be another real speedtrap.  This time, facing away from us - the trooper was again in the median targeting the opposing southbound traffic.  Total time to trap from initial alert was about 10 seconds at approximately 78mph.

Wow!  Two traps back-to-back within the time span of about a minute.  Both were instant-on pulsed types, and both detectors essentially dead-heated and provided us with plenty of time to to safely slow down [to either one] to avoid yet another speeding ticket!

Schuylkill Expressway Leaving the "City of Brotherly Love"

We felt these good experiences merited an addition to our travel log.  We racked up another 200 some odd miles to our drive.


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 detectors and their respective fields-of-view.

Most windshields have a distinct curve to them   When we compared two 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.  Detectors mounted on the driver’s side tended to face to the left, detectors mounted center tended to face straight, and 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 detector] had an impact upon the alert quickness of each.  That’s 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 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 detectors weren’t up to the task of providing the maximum level of protection that a detector is capable of providing today.

The days of Valentine’s sheer dominance, in this regard, are history and that’s really straight talk.

This is not to say that we didn’t 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 that’s 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 V1’s stellar performance was somewhat diminished by a greater propensity to “falsing” [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.  An answer to this behavior may be coming from the manufacturer and we will keep you posted, if and when it does.

We should also note that the Valentine falsed the least on Ka-band relative to the other two 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 detectors.  It is also important to point out the K-band falsing didn’t 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 don’t know – but it was the one noteworthy surprise.  If your driving doesn’t take you to NJ and you know that X-band isn’t used in your area then this is a non-issue.

We still love the arrows, on either Valentine in assisting with identifying a passing “threat” 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 aren’t 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 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 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 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 your looking for the maximum sensitivity and are willing to tolerate a noticeable increase of K-band "falsing" rates - with this particular version - 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 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 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 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.  This too, applied to our match-ups of the V1 and 8500 X50.

Taking everything into consideration - factoring both performance and ergonomics - 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 Beltronics 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

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Epilogue I - 08 FEB 05 -Remaining Questions / Possible Explanations

Escort 8500 X50 (Decreased X-Band Sensitivity)

We were a little baffled by the apparent diminished X-band performance of the X50 so we decided to set out late one evening to try to ascertain the reason as to this detector’s behavior.  I am pleased to report that I think we found it.

We located a verifiable source of X-band and K-band radar and we spent a considerable amount of time making approaches in both directions to these sources with all three detectors and this is what we came up with:

We found that when the Escort 8500 X50 has its Ka-band circuitry enabled, the detector’s apparent sensitivity to X-band radar noticeably diminished.  K-band performance did not appear adversely affected, though.  When we disabled Ka reception, the detector appeared somewhat quicker overall to alerting weak radar signals.

To be complete, we tried all of the Bel RX65 Pro ‘s Ka settings – USA, International, OFF.  As with the X50, the performance of K-band didn’t appear adversely affected by any of these settings.  But, we may have noticed a very slight (and we do mean very slight) reduction in X-band sensitivity when Ka was set to either USA or International modes.

We went a step further with the X50 and we repeated the approaches a number of times again - with Ka enabled -  but at very slow speeds and we were able to detect the X-band source at almost the same distances when having the Ka function disabled completely.  This led us to believe, that perhaps the X50’s sensitivity wasn’t really affected, but the speed in which the detector may report an initial weak X-band source, may be.

We got to thinking, since a radar detector is essentially a specialized scanner and as Ka-band radar is quite wide, perhaps the X50 is favoring or is pre-occupied scanning this region at a slight expense of weak initial off-axis X-band detection.

We say this because once the X50 locked onto the X-band radar source, it tended to hold onto it even if we came to a complete stop and reversed backwards past the point where the detector initially alerted (and farther from the source.)  The difference in speed was less apparent when the detector had a better line of sight to the source.

Again, if you don’t drive in the state of NJ or any other place where X-band is known to be operated, this is merely academic.  We did want to get to the bottom of it, though and I am pleased that we did.  We believe that Escort can likely program this behavior anomaly out.  The firmware version indicated, on the detector during the reset operation, was 5.

Epilogue  II - 10 FEB 05 -Remaining Questions / Possible Explanations

Valentine One (V1) v1.8 w/ POP2 (Propensity to K [and X] Falsing)

Shortly after we conducted the series of X-band sensitivity tests on the X50, we got to thinking about the propensity of the new Valentine to “false” on both X-band and K-band relative to the both the RX65 and X50 even when they were set to highway mode.

During our real-encounters, we did not see a consistently appreciable difference in quickness to alerting to approaching K-band (or X-band) radar than either of the other detectors.  We got to thinking about what would contribute to the increased alerts from the latest Valentine unit and then formulated an idea that we may have been able to confirm in the field.

On 10 Feb 05, we set out to the same X-band source we used to identify the effect that Ka-band enabling had on the Escort 8500 X50.  Once again we made our approach very slowly with both the RX65 and the V1.

The V1 alerted just a little before the RX65.  We immediately stopped our vehicle and then slowly panned the RX65 from about 45 degrees off-axis to the left of our car to about 45 degrees to the right of the vehicle.  At about 30 degrees to the left, the RX65 alerted to X-band.  This suggested to us that there may be more than sheer sensitivity contributing to this phenomenon.

We repeated this test several times which led us to this conclusion: what we may be dealing with is the equivalence of a greater field-of-view of the V1 versus the other detectors and not just a sensitivity / filtering issue.

It appears the V1 considers a wider field-of-view, of off-axis weak radar signals as potential radar threats, than do the other detectors.  This added ability, may be contributing to the greater alert / falsing rates of both X and K bands.  Since the V1 has two antennae and is able to alert to weak radar from the side this may serve to compound this tendency.

In our opinion, during highway driving, this “extra-wide” field-of-view may not be completely practical as distant radar signals from speed traps farther ahead, tend to come within relatively more narrow fields-of-view, front or rear – of course we are not considering rare legitimate radar side-reflections.

If our analysis is correct, perhaps Valentine would consider developing an operating mode which would selectively narrow, somewhat, their detector’s field-of-view to cut-down on the initial alerting to radar sources from the more extreme angles.  This additional mode could behave somewhat like the X-band Advanced Logic mode but with K-band.

Once locked on to any given radar source, the detector could alert, as it normally does, to the sides and rear during the passing of the source.  This may be accomplished without actually decreasing sensitivity and / or modifying filtering algorithms.

On the other hand, providing the ability to selectively decrease sensitivity to K-band falsing (like the advanced-logic mode) may result in the same outcome.  In either event, it would be the equivalent of taking an ultra-wide angle lens of 14mm and zooming to a more “normal” 40mm or, at least, bring the behavior more in line with the previous 1.7 version.


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.

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

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Beltronics Manufacturer of the RX65 Pro and other electronic equipment.
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