Review: BEL STi Driver
Last updated: 2012
Note: This model has been discontinued, replaced by the Beltronics STi Magnum. Learn more...
The BEL (Beltronics) STi Driver, is a unique model designed for drivers of large commercial vehicles and those who drive in areas where radar detectors are banned. Both groups are at risk from radar detector detectors—primarily the Spectre (Stalcar) RDD—used by police to ferret out illicit detectors. The BEL STi Driver was the world's first undetectable model. Recently it was joined by the world's long-range champ, the Escort RedlineXR and the Escort Redline, both of them immune to the RDD.
The BEL STi Driver is all business. Its robust magnesium case is matte black to keep it stealthy and to resist windshield reflections. The three front-mounted control buttons are red-backlit—an industry first—to make nighttime operation easy. Its Smart Plug adds an audio muting button with LEDs for status and alerts, letting the driver conceal the detector and operate it remotely. A small touch, but vital when eagle-eyed lawmen are looking for illicit detectors.
A high-intensity red text display is adjustable in four steps from all-dark to maximum brightness; it also auto-adjusts. Visual alerts depict the radar band—X, K or Ka—accompanied by a bargraph that shows signal strength, or proximity to the radar gun. With experience, a driver can use this to tell if the radar gun is an imminent threat or only a potential problem far up the road ahead.
Spectre (Stalcar) radar detector detector (right) can ferret out every radar detector on the planet--except the BEL STi Driver, three Escort 9500-series models and the Escort Redline.
Four operating modes—highway, city, City NoX and Auto—maximize sensitivity (radar warning range) while also limiting false alarms. (Most urban false alarms are generated by radar-controlled automatic door openers that share X and K band with police radar.)
There's an audio jack to link the BEL STi Driver with a powered external speaker, useful in overcoming high ambient noise levels.
The BEL STi Driver is plug-and-play but it also offers several user-selectable options. One is voice alerts. These make threat identification nearly idiot-proof and speed the process of getting acquainted. Those who prefer alert tones can opt out with a few seconds' worth of button-pressing.
Another unique feature is selectable band defeat to deactivate any radar band, particularly X band, and further heighten the Sti Driver's resistance to false alarms.
On the open road, the BEL Sti Driver has good resistance to false alarms, many of them caused by older Cobra radar detectors in nearby vehicles. It also has Tec 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.
The BEL STi Driver holds the world record for long-range radar detection—nearly 12 miles—at its price point. Only one contender has elipsed that feat, the Escort Redline, at a staggering 14.2 miles of warning range. Those records were set on flat desert roads and range elsewhere is less. But with performance to burn, this translates into detection of radar coming from beyond a distant hill or curve, when conventional detectors will remain silent.
If lasers pose a threat, the Escort ZR4 laser-jamming system connects with one wire and uses the BEL STi Driver's display. A separate remote muting switch will turn off the laser shifters with a double-tap. (Advisable, since it allows the officer to finally get a speed, even if it wasn't quite what he'd hoped for, and allays any suspicion that you're packing a laser jammer.)
With its solid array of features and sparkling performance, the BEL STi Driver remains the tool of choice for commercial-truck drivers and those who drive where detector use is banned.
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