Veil Guy's Definitive V1 Review

picture of v1 valentine one radar and laser detector Porsche 911 GT3 image

  Updated: June 9, 2012

Valentine One Current Version Watch: v3.892

Several years ago, when VEIL was exhibiting at a CES show in Las Vegas, I met up with a vistor and had a brief discussion about radar detectors. At some point during our conversation the topic shifted to Valentine Research and their sole product offering, the Valentine One (V1 for short). This individual suggested the Valentine One had essentially remained unchanged since its inception and asked me if Valentine ever made a V2 would it only be half as good?

I thought about this tongue-in-cheek question and concluded, by using the same logic, that a V2 would actually have to be twice as good. A V0.5 would be half as good (of course, there was never such a unit produced). The more I thought about it, the more I felt that this individual had missed the actual meaning of the Valentine One's packaging.

Yes, the Valentine One's appearance has remained virtually unchanged since its original appearance in the early nineties. But that doesn't mean - not by a long shot - that it hasn't changed since then.

When I think of the Valentine One, I can't help but think about another automotive icon that also has had its appearance change very little over its long and fruitful life - the Porsche 911.

Like the 911, the Valentine One has steadily improved over its long 15 year history. But its changes have come slowly and methodically. Fortunately for us, Valentine Research has resisted trendy fads that have made their way into lesser detectors (that have come and gone) and instead has stayed absolutely focused on consistently providing the highest levels of detection across all bands of RADAR and all forms of LIDAR.

Anyone who has ever lived with a Valentine One for an extended period of time appreciates the consistent manner in which it alerts to approaching threats with very clear and immediately identifiable tones which remain, to this day, the quickest route to your brain. The LED band indicators which provide visual confirmation feel much like the cupholders that don the interior of my BMW - A "concession" likely made by Mr. Valentine to address the casual observations made by those who don't appreciate or understand the subtle and understated manner in which the Valentine One informs its owner to the threats that lurk about.

I don't think the Valentine One would be any less without them.

It is true that Valentine's competitors have managed to just about equal or exceed in some cases the performance of it RADAR detection performance, at times, but it has taken more than a decade to do so. Laser detection performance remains the platinum standard and no other radar/laser detector has yet to obtain a such a performance level and that's not a subjective opinion, that's a documented fact (see our laser detectors review).

One of the real strengths of the Valentine One is that it has virtually no weakness across any of its reception abilities. RADAR sensitivity and signal ramp is the most consistent of any detector, past or present, regardless of the band. This enables its owners an intimate connection with the detector. Like the handling of the 911, it enables its owner to feel "connected" to the road and to know exactly where you stand within its limits.

In my opinion, the arrows aren't the primary reason to own this detector, as the tones do a splendid job of allowing its user to accurately measure the severity and proximity of the threat. They do provide a real benefit by allowing owners to establish when an alerting source has passed them by. When one drives on the interstates in the high density population areas of say, upstate NJ, the arrows do their job in assuring that the X or K alerts that stem from the countless strip malls and shopping centers routinely adjacent to the highway can be safely disregarded.

Even though it doesn't happen much, particularly if you routinely cruise at a steady 85-90mph, the Valentine One with its arrows has the unique ability to immediately identify and convey to its owner an approaching smokey from behind with his/her radar engaged to nail motorists in the rear.

Some have criticized the Valentine One as being heavy and bulky. I personally care for its solid construction, although it's lighter than other more streamlined appearing detectors. Valentine's convey a sense of being chisled out of billet steel (actually the case is magnesium).

Whenever I see a Valentine One mounted in the windshield of another vehicle, I know the driver is a serious one. When I drive with the Valentine One, I notice I tend to get followed/flogged more by would-be freeloaders on my tail than with any other detector. There is a reason for this and I understand the desire of Valentine owners to want to hide their detector from view with the optional remote display.

Shortcomings? Sure. A couple of minor ones. I still struggle with the suction cups losing adhesion (it seems to alway be one or the other) from time to time. An automuting capability would be nice or at least a push button (a la Bel/Escort) on the power adaptor to spare me the reach to the windshield every time it goes off in city driving and its bogey counter counts up to 7 when I pass a shopping area. And to be completely honest, I have come to like the additional display capability of either the Beltronics and Escort top models - primarily to see what radar band frequency is the source of the alerting (Ka has three distinct ones, 33.8ghz, 34.7ghz, 35.5ghz). The ability to separate POP detection from the J[unk] filtering function would also be nice along with an ability to quickly reset programmed settings back to factory default as one can do with the Beltronics and Escort radar detectors.

Unless heavily programmed, the V1 can quickly become tiresome during city driving because of its extreme sensitivity from both the front, back, and side to all bonafide radar sources, and that includes door openers and the like. I would sure like to see some more filtering modes, like minimizing the intial alerts from the side with weak signals, which routinely come from door openers (X & K) or the passing of other vehicles which have a cheap (ie; leaky with Ka) radar detector.

Like the 911, the V1 comes into its own during long highway drives. It's here, on the open highway, that the levels of excellence achieved are truly appreciated.

The 911 is unique in having its engine hang-over its rear-axle. The V1e is the only detector which uses both a front and rear facing antenna to provide its owner with the location (front/rear/side) of a threat.

The interior of the 911 is somewhat austere; so it is with the V1 - not many bells and whistles. Programming can be tricky (I carry a photocopy of the programming guide in the V1's carrying case) but is rarely needed.

The V1 has a manual feel and a minimalist philosophy to it (and it's all about sheer performance) in the sense that the manner in which it alerts to potential threats, where the decision is intentionally left to the driver to be the final arbiter. Advanced signal processing can serve to filter out some falses, but too much can have a negative impact on a detector's ability to report very brief and weak radar sources that are routine with instant-on radar that is used down the road. Valentine's error on the side of alerting detected sources to the driver. The other top models which have more signal processing tend to error on the side of not alerting to minimize false potential. That may mean that even though a detector has the detection range to pick up a radar source, if it's a brief enough radar blast down the road, the time to process/analyze that source may exceed the duration that the blast of radar is detectable. Which means, less chances of being alerted to the instant-on trap down the road at the outer reaches of the detector's range.

The downside to the Valentine's propensity to alert to even the weakest radar sources is that, in certain circumstances, a fatigued driver may begin to discount the alerts altogether, which may lead to the ignoring of a bonafide radar threat. But, the consistent manner in which the Vqalerts helps its owner offset this potential somewhat. In otherwords, with a little effort, most falses can be immediately identified as such.

This is simply a difference in design philosophy. It's ultimately up to the owner which one is more appropriate for them depending on specific driving circumstances. If one opts to maximize their chances of receiving such alerts, one most be prepared for the increased number of brief alerts ("falses") from sources that are not bonafide police radar traps such as X & K door openers and Ka emissions of poorly insulated and designed radar detectors.

For those not willing to accept the higher false potential that the V1 may provide in certain circumstances, there are a number of other fine top radar detectors that provide very nearly the same level of radar detection performance with an arguably better balance of filtering resulting in a generally quieter detector (particularly the Beltronics RX-65 Pro, Beltronics STi Driver, Escort Passport 8500 X50, and potentially the Escort Passport 9500i with its speed sensitive sensitivity filtering mode). The advantage that these alternatives provide is that they tend to alert to a higher percentage of bonafide radar threats than to false ones. Some newer ultra high performing radar detectors now actually outperform that V1 on sheer sensitivity, namely the Escort Redline and the Beltronics STi Magnum. I personally am an advocate of owning several radar detectors and using each them in their most appropriate driving circumstances. I equate this to situation to using dedicated ultra-performance summer and winter tires versus all-around high-performance all-season radials.

During its development the 911 became, should we say, "twicthy" in the late eighties with its Turbo version. The V1 also had a short period of "twitchy" behavior post its incorporation of POP reception ability. In both cases, these idosyncrocies have been thoroughly sorted out. Specifically in the V1's case, its 'chicken little' days are largely in the rear-view mirror.

The 911 has gone various platform updates like the 996, 998 as has the Valentien One with its V1.6, V1.7, V1.8 underpinnings which have had a modest impact on its appearance. The good stuff can't be seen without opening the case. Within the confines of the 911, you'll find some the nicest expressions of automotive mechanicals. Within the V1, you'll find some of the highest levels of electronic circuitry to make it in a consumer device. The V1 is no Seiko in a Rolex housing.

As with any brand that has such a long evolutionary development history, some groups of individuals may actually have preferences to an earlier platform/version or a specific period of a production run. While both the 911 and V1 have improved all around, preferences of these individuals to an earlier model may be more tied to the intimacy, familiarity, and trust bond that has formed from extensive driving experience between them and a particular model year or platform/version.

If you are going to consider acquiring an earlier version through the likes of an Ebay query, I would first suggest you scan the forums to get feedback from other existing V1 owners before placing a bid on any one auction. Remember, the upgrade cost that the company provides tends to be lower with the more recent models, than the older ones, so be certain to take that into consideration before you place your first bid. Valentine Research provides a cost estimate for upgrading previous versions here.

Like 911s, V1s have garnered a faithful band of followers (myself included) that appreciate the detectors for what they are. On paper some models may appear to have it over the V1, just as the Corvette may appear superior to a 911, that is until one actually gets behind the wheel and drives them both.

Some long time competitors to the 911 have recently been endowed with some new technical innovation (the Corvette Z06 comes to mind) and both Beltronics and Escort have presented their tour-de-force units with the STi Driver's Spectre RDD immunity and the Passport 9500i's GPS enabled capabilties. But like the 911 (culminated in the current GT3), the V1's evolution has been marked by slow and steady progress and continued refinement. In both cases, sometimes the best things in life, take time.


Does some journalistic bias against this detector exist? 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: Biased V1 Reviews?

To be clear, all the top performing detectors (V1, RX65 Pro, 8500 X50, STi Driver/STI XR, 9500i, 9500ix, 9500ci, XTR-695, XTR-650, Pro 78) perform admirably and I own and will happily drive with any of them. Both the Beltronics RX-65 Pro and the Beltronics STi Driver are also at the top of my favorite list. Why? Because they are user-friendlier versions and the most Valentine-like of all the other detectors, and both are bit less taxing with which to drive around town or heavily traveled highways.

But, especially on long trips, I find myself returning to my faithful companion time and time again and it remains our reference detector to this day - 15 years and counting.

Will VR ever produce a V2? Perhaps...perhaps not, perhaps no more than I think Porsche would make an 1822 as a successor to the 911. I would expect, though, continued updates to the platform, like Porsche. Besides, I couldn't possibly imagine how they (or anyone else for that matter) could make a detector that's twice as good any more than I could expect Porsche to make a new 911 that is twice as good as its current 911. (Perhaps we may see VR produce an RDD-immune V1).

I think it's safe to write, however, that I would expect to see continued refinement and steady improvement - which has been the hallmark of both brands.

I may never be able to own the likes of 911 GT3, but fortunately, I can enjoy the performance of another automotive icon.

Does this make me a 'V1 Zombie'? Hardly.

But, like the Porsche 911, the V1 does re-affirm my faith in the miracle of evolution.

Whenever I get behind to wheel, I quietly repeat the following chant to the speed gods:

Long live the 911 and long live the V1...Amen.

Happy and safe motoring!

The Veil Guy

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