In reality the BEL (Beltronics) Pro 300 is an Escort Passport 8500 X50 that visited a different tailor (BEL is an Escort division). It's slotted into the line one notch below its upscale GPS-enabled sibling, the superb BEL Pro 500.
The Pro 300 replaces the Pro RX65 as the flagship non-GPS model in the Pro-series lineup. Lower-priced Pro models include the BEL Pro 200 and Pro 100. All three use the same housing and aside from badging, they look identical. The chief differences are price, features and performance, particularly the latter.
Unlike the platinum-hued housing of its RX65 forebear, the BEL Pro 300 case is covered by a unique rubberlike matte finish. While the shiny BEL Pro RX65 was prone to casting a reflection of itself in the windshield on sunny days, the BEL Pro 300 is vastly more resistant to such behavior. This trait alone makes it more endearing than its predecessor.
The BEL Pro 300 is compatible with Escort Live, which uses a special power cord with Bluetooth to link to a smartphone app. As a realtime speedtrap warning system that also eliminates false alarms, we came away impressed after testing it in our notorious First Annual, Every-Other-Year XX Radar Rally.
The BEL Pro 300 is plug-and-play but also offers seven user-selectable options. One is voice alerts, a feature not offered by its electronic twin, the Escort 8500 X50. These make threat identification nearly idiot-proof and speed the process of getting acquainted plus, there's no need to study the display for key information. Those who prefer alert tones instead can opt out with a few seconds' worth of button-pressing.
Unlike its much better known electronic twin, the Escort Passport 8500 X50, the BEL Pro 300's audio can be adjusted remotely via the mute button on its coiled SmartCord power plug. This is useful when the detector is mounted out of easy reach, particularly on a motorcycle or when using one of the extra-long Direct Wire Smart Cords.
The BEL Pro 300 also has Tech mode (a.k.a. Spec mode), a handy
feature that will tell the driver whether a Ka-band radar alert is police radar or another radar detector. Knowing the difference means not having to stand on the brakes in reaction to every alert.
In the Urban False Alarms test the BEL Pro 300 showed class-competitive resistance to annoying false alarms, better than the Cobra and equal to the other non-GPS Escort models
Without integral GPS, the BEL Pro 300 was no match for the eerily silent BEL Pro 500 and Escort Passport 9500ix, both of which remained almost totally mute during our latest Urban False Alarm test.
At our Around-the-Curve test site, against the two Ka-band radars the BEL Pro 300 ranked third, trailing the BEL Pro 500 by an insignificant seven feet.
By a similar margin it was also a near-tie with the Escort Passport 8500 X50 for third-place honors on K- and X band. It did equally well against our stealthy Redflex K-band photo radar unit.
The Beltronics Pro 300's similarity in performance to the Escort Passport 8500 X50 is no coincidence and should dispel any misapprehensions from skeptics who doubt the two share an electronic platform.
In all, this was an unusually well-rounded performance from a relatively modestly-priced radar detector.
For comparison, the BEL Pro 300 sells for a suggested retail of $299.95 versus the Escort Passport 8500 X50's $339.95 tariff.
Even compared to its pricier siblings, the Beltronics Pro 300's additional features and equally stellar radar performance make it one of our top picks among high-performance non-GPS radar detectors.