BEL Pro 300 Review
Better than the Escort Passport?
by Radartest staff
In reality the BEL (Beltronics) Pro 300 is an Escort Passport 8500 X50 (now discontinued) that visited a different tailor. BEL is an Escort division and the two share models. The Pro 300 slots into the BEL lineup one notch below its excellent GPS-enabled sibling, the BEL Pro 500.
The BEL Pro 200 is one of two lower-priced Pro models. It's positioned one notch below the 300; for value shoppers the entry-level BEL Pro 100 is also available. Each uses the same housing and aside from badges, all 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 RX65 was prone to casting a reflection of itself in the windshield on sunny days, the Pro 300 is vastly more resistant to such behavior. This trait alone makes it more endearing than its predecessor.
The BEL Pro 300 is plug-and-play but also offers seven user-selectable options, one of them voice alerts. These make threat identification nearly idiot-proof and speed the process of getting acquainted. Alert tones are also available.
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
There's a solution for this, however. The BEL Pro 300 is compatible with Escort Live which uses a special power cord with Bluetooth to link to a smartphone, either iPhone or Android. Once paired, the free app and the smartphone's GPS are used to axe false alarms while delivering real-time warnings of roving cops and speed traps ahead.
By a similar margin the Pro 300 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 the stealthy Redflex photo radar unit.
The BEL Pro 300's lavish array of features and long radar range make it our top pick in the under-$300 price class.
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