Anti-Valentine One Bias?

1 valentine one, (v1) radar detector

  Updated: June, 2012

Is There Bias Against the Valentine One? You Can Decided for Yourself.

Setting the record straight—at least in my mind.

Does there exist some journalistic bias against the Valentine One? I can't say for sure, but here is my take on some things I've read or seen over the years from a variety of different sources.

1) V1 is a pricey radar detector and the difference of $50+ is huge over it's nearest competitors.

Disagree. While the V1 has been at the top of windshield mount pricing market at $399, the Valentine is now the least expensive relative to the other top two premium brands, the Beltronics STi Driver and the Escort Passport 9500i/9500ix, each of which now retail at $499 and $449/$499, respectively. To use this same logic, I suppose that difference is now huge and in favor of the Valentine One. (And, I don't expect to read commentary about how much more expensive these newer top performing detectors are.)

For a serious driver, like myself, whether a detector is $399, $599, $1099, or even $1599 is of little consequence. Compared to the price of just one healthy speeding ticket, the subsequent insurance surcharges, the cost of points, risk of license suspension and the subsequent impact on being able to earn a living, the cost in time to defend oneself or to retain an attorney to fight a ticket in court, the Valentine One, BEL, Escort models practically pay for themselves by saving me from just one ticket. Let alone the scores of tickets I would have received had I not used them over the last 15 years. I often time ask myself, why would drivers consider anything less? It's something akin to putting on the absolute cheapest tires on a high performance car. Who would seriously consider doing such a thing? My recommendation, if cost is a real concern, skip that one dinner out with the wife or the movie with the kids and invest in one of these fine detectors. Your wallet will thank you.

To Valentine's credit, they have held the line on the price of their detector for more than 15 years running! While the price of just about everything else has risen with inflation, Valentine has continued to offer their detector for the same amount, all the while adding functionality and improving performance along the way. Now that's most impressive.

The actual cost of ownership of Valentines, I believe, tend to be lower than that of other detectors. Why? Because Valentine has alway allowed their owners to upgrade their models for a nominal amount. With other detectors one would have to discard the older model to purchase a "newer" model for full retail. Imagine purchasing a 911 back in the eighties and paying incremental charges along the way to recieve the equivalent of the 911 GT3 today, not a bad deal, in my opinion. And if you ever decide that it's time to move to another detector like say the Beltronics STi Driver (particularly in you live in VA or Canada) you can rest assured that you will get much more for your used detector on Ebay than for any other. I know of guys who routinely purchase new Valentine's outright and then sell their used ones on Ebay for nearly what they paid.

Can you see that the Valentine One provides it's owner with a lower total cost of ownership than the others? I certainly can.

Porsche 911's also tend to hold their value pretty well. I once knew of someone who purchased a used 911 and sold it for more than he paid for it a year later!

2) It's not a fair comparison to compare a $540 V1 radar detector model to the $339 Escort Passport 8500 X50, nor the $329 Beltronics RX-65 Pro.

Disagree. First and most importantly, the V1 is not a $540 model. It retails for $399 - not $540, $516, nor $499. Optional accessories such as the carrying case or the remote display are just that - optional - and have nothing to do with the performance behavior of the detector. Using this same logic, would it not be a unfair to the V1 to now compare it to either the 9500i or STi Driver since they cost more?

Car magazines routinely compare vehicles across a wide price spectrum. Why? Because price is a secondary concern to the performance group/class. How many times have a you seen comparisons like those of Corvettes to 911's and Ferarris? It's pretty routine, actually.

This performance group can be considered the ultra-premium group of radar detectors and they are comprised of the Beltronics RX-65 Pro, STi Driver, Escort Passport 8500 X50, Passport 9500i, and Valentine One. The difference in cost between any of these is much smaller in both absolute dollars and percentage between the likes of Corvette, Porsche, and Ferrari.

3) The Valentine One is the oldest detector going at 15 plus years as compared to the average two year lifespan of other radar detectors and has remained largely unchanged since it's inception (the corollary to this of course if you own one of these other models, you'll likely be purchasing a new one—at full retail—every two years to keep with the "latest" features—see point #1).

Disagree. The Valentine One is not an old detector, not by a long shot. I would argue that the V1 has gone through more incremental updates than either of the top models from either Beltronics or Escort. Valentine is good about not hiding this fact as well. The current shipping version as of today is v3.871. My model of last year is v3.826 and V1's have since had some hardware mods and software revisions. To Valentine's credit, however, they feel confident that my unit performs at the same level of the current model which is to say exceptional. However, if I so choose, I can pay a nominal fee to have my detector updated with all of the latest and greatest. It is true that the Valentine is much the same as it was in early 90s in that it's performance continues to be the benchmark in the industry by which all other detectors can be measured. The fact that it's only recently that BEL and Escort have been able to equal, if not sometimes exceed, the sheer radar performance of this detector is a testamant to how darn well this detector was conceived and designed in the first place! I currently own three models of the V1 including the original one from 1992. I would feel comfortable driving with any of them and would prefer even this first model to the vast majority "new" detector models that are less than two years old. Valentines are not old, they are mature. Would any serious automotive journalist consider the 911 GT3 an old car because it is essentially a 911 that's been around for more than four decades? I think not.

When one purchases a V1, rest assured you will always be purchasing the newest model, even if the name is the same or the appearance hasn't changed much over the initial model that debuted in the early nineties. Valentine's philosophy is that this is the first and last radar detector you will ever need to purchase and it's a pretty convincing one at that.

4) The performance value of high laser sensitivity is purely a subjective one.

Disagree. No more than a given detector's sensitivity to any one radar band is. Some reviewers have decided to discount the value of X & K band as well. I certainly don't. I routinely drive throughout NJ and low-powered X-band while very slowly being replaced by Ka-band and laser is still very very prevalent and lethal. X-band performance is critical to me (and to every other driver in the Garden State). K-band reception is also extremely important as I reside in PA - where K rules the day, as it still does in a lot of states. It's the arbitrary devaluing of the reception importance of one band over another that is purely subjective. I prefer to objectively consider the reception performance across all bands including laser.

In this latter case, the V1 has by far the best front and rear sensing abilities as compared to all the other windshield-mount detectors. Nothing else even comes close. Since laser is rapidly increasing in use; it is the most difficult to detect (far more so than even the latest digital Ka radar); and since a laser countermeasure like Veil gives drivers more time to slow down during a laser encounter; the alerting ability to laser is extremely important. In fact, I put this ability ahead every other radar-band. The V1 is the only detector that I have actually experienced that has provided a rare advanced warning to laser (while another vehicle ahead was being targeted); the circumstances were just right and the Valentine has no equal with this nearly impossible feat.

5) The performance added by having two antenna (one front and one back) is purely a subjective one.

Disagree. If the name of the game is keeping 'serious drivers ticket-free', then anything that can serve to that end is welcomed and valued.

Just yesterday on a driving route in upstate NJ and I-287, the V1 with it's two antennae and arrows would have most certainly reduced my risk of getting a speeding ticket. I was testing the STI driver and the RX-65 Pro detectors when they alerted to steadily increasing X-band source. I was initially cruising at 90mph when they first alerted. I slowed down to about 80mph in preparation for what appeared to be an ambush from ahead. These threat level continued to increase to the point that both meters were pegged. Despite this I couldn't find the smokey in the median strip ahead where they often hide. I just happened to notice that someone was on my tail in the rear view mirror which was surprising considering my rate of speed. To my shock and horror, it was a NJ state trooper. He had managed to sneak in my back door. If he had wanted to, he could have pulled me over for going 15 over, but fortunately for me, he passed me on my left as I moved over to the center lane. Just ahead he exited the highway; he was going somewhere and not interested in my transgression. I know that had the V1 been on the windshield instead, I would have instantly known that the threat was coming from behind. This is not a subjective opinion, this is an objective fact. Could it have made a difference? Without a doubt.

6) The Valentine has an anemic feature set.

Disagree. Up until recently the V1 was the only one to have auto dimming in it's display, making manual selection of such a thing superfluous. Although a bit combersome, Valentine's is the most programmable detector ever built. Valentines do have selectable band defeat. Valentine's have two standard alternative city modes - logic mode and advanced logic mode. WIth additional programming, the V1 can be tailored to behave even more differently when either of these modes are activated.

Does a manual 911 have less "features" than shall we say a Corvette Z06 or a BMW M5 SMG? Does it really matter? Each car provides a unique and different experience that will appeal to a different group of performance drivers who seek a different driving experience. I wouldn't turn down a 911 GT3 because it didn't have a Sirius/XM satellite radio installed or a GPS system. Would you? On the other hand, I wouldn't turn down the opportunity to drive with an M5 or Z06 either. They each serve a purpose and appeal to different group drivers. The roads would be less exciting without any one of them.

At the same time, there's no doubt that these other models are way ahead in user ergonomic friendliness and ease of use. However, these aspects are subjective and have little or nothing to do with actual radar/laser detection performance any more than some automotive electronic options have to do with enhancing sheer driving performance.

7) An indirect implication that Mike Valentine is not much of an innovator.

Disagree. While it may be factually correct that much of Escort's landmark products came after Mr. Valentine's departure from Escort, it is also true that they lost their focus for a period time when they got into producing other consumer electronics like spread-spectrum cordless phones and ended up having to go through a restructuring as a result. It was only in the about five years ago that they returned to their roots and along with Beltronics started providing radar detectors that could be considered to be in the same league as the Valentine One. During that same period, Valentine Research has kept it's core focus on producing the absolute highest performing radar detectors starting with their first version of the early 90's. Mr. Valentine and the folks of Valentine Research got it right the first time and have been free from and have resisted the inevitable economic pressure to produce gimmicks or are other unrelated consumer electronics. Anyone questioning VR's innovation, need only refer to the number of patents that have been assigned to the company.

8) Valentine Research is not a major radar detector manufacturer.

Disagree. That may be true when measured in absolute sales volumes compared to Cobra, Beltronics, Escort, and Whistler. However, to suggest that VR is not major detector manufacturer is like saying that Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Porsche are not major car companies because their manufacturing is measured in the hundreds or thousands [of cars] per year (compared to tens or hundreds of thousands by the behemoth car manufacturers). I can't think of one serious car enthusiast who would actually feel that way about any of these top automotive marques.

And so it goes with Valentine Research. The driving cognoscenti know which company has historically established the benchmarks in the industry.

Safe Motoring!

Veil Guy

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