The modern motorist has to contend with a range of law-enforcement and speed detection devices, from speed guns used by highway patrol units to red-light cameras at intersections to mobile photo radar vans. A variety of "GPS-enabled" radar detectors are on the market, with Escort and Cobra two of the most popular brands. One of the most recent models from Cobra is the XRS R10G; while the current high-end Escort device is the Passport 9500ix.
The two units are comparable in price, with the Escort Passport 9500ix retailing for about $499.95 (2010 pricing), while the list price for the Cobra XRS R10G is $469.95 (2010 pricing). The detectors are also available for less through discount-electronics, auto-parts and wholesaling Internet sites.
Ease of Use
The Passport's blue LED display along with backlit controls makes it easy to read and use under different light conditions. The Passport also offers customizable screen styles. The Cobra offers an on-board compass as well as latitude and longitude readouts, helping navigation, while the Passport lacks this handy feature.
The Passport allows the driver to tag radar locations known to be speed traps, identifying which type of enforcement device is in use. The Cobra has the same feature, giving an alert when you return to the location, but does not differentiate between different devices.
"Nuisance signals," created by automatic door openers and other radar-enabled devices, can also be locked out by the Passport unit with the AutoLearn feature, adding the GPS location to its database. The Cobra lacks this feature and as a result gives more false alarms.
The Passport warns of camera radar and identifies it as either a red-light or speed trap. The unit also notes if a red-light camera is also measuring your speed through a green light or detecting forward movement before a full stop in a right-turn-on-red lane. The Cobra simply reads out "Photo Enforcement Area" and does not differentiate between different red-light devices, so the driver cannot be sure he is not dealing with a "Speed on Green" camera. For the Cobra, you have to download current database information on the company website to be assured of having complete information on current red-light photo devices. The Passport's flash memory is constantly updated with a camera-location database known as the Defender, making it a more reliable detector of red-light traps.
The Passport displays an arrow pointing to the location of the camera, then gives distance to the camera in 100-foot increments, which allows you to slow gradually rather than slam on the brakes if the distance is unknown. The Cobra has a three-phase visual alert in the form of a small camera set in a circle. The circles change from green to orange (at 1,200 feet) and then to red as you approach the radar device. At 65 miles an hour, the maximum range to the radar is about 2,900 feet. While driving the freeway in urban areas, the device will pick up surface-street signals that pose no threat. The Passport does better at ignoring surface-street cameras.
Fields of Vision
The Cobra detects conventional K and Ka-band police radar, but its field of vision is restricted to straight ahead, making it more difficult to detect the narrower K-band radar that may be well off the road and positioned at a wide angle to the road. With the Cobra, radar signals are easily blocked by intervening cars. The Passport has a more wide-ranging antenna and does better at detecting law-enforcement radar-detector systems, which will award you with a ticket for having a radar detector.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of dave conner
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