Looking for the world's best radar detector? For those to whom the term best means the longest radar-warning range, the Escort Redline shares that distinction. Under ideal conditions the Redline delivered 14.17 miles of range, several miles more than the runner-up. And its sibling, the Escort Redline XR, has even better range, plus faster response and fewer false alarms.
What gives the Escort Redline its long radar-detection range is advanced technology, a clever design and premium components. It has dual radar antennae, for example, both forward-facing. (A rear antenna isn't needed to detect radar coming from behind; the Redline spotted one Ka-band radar 4.1 miles behind us.)
Twin antennae ease the microprocessor's workload, allowing it to spot radar quicker and from farther away. In an interview with MSN.com's Eric Sofge, we mentioned that performance like this pays a big dividend when facing the rolling radars common west of the Alleghenies.
Escort targets the sophisticated road warrior with the Redline. To illustrate that mission, note the matte-black hue of its housing, the lack of brightwork and a near absence of graphics on top. It won't catch the eye on a store shelf like some detectors, but neither will it annoy the driver with windshield reflections on sunny days.
The Escort Redline has an LED display in the same red hue found in upscale performance cars such as the BMW M3. This is inset into the case, shielded from the sun and easily read even at high noon. Visual warnings are made even more compelling by a trio of flashing red LEDs in the lower front case.
The display can be reduced to a tiny, pulsing red dot for stealthy nighttime running. Power-on indication and alerts also are displayed on the coiled Smart Cord's power plug. This has a button to mute audible alerts without having to reach for the detector.
Controls are minimalist: three flush-mounted switches for power, operating mode, audio volume and manual-muting (auto-muting is standard). Depressing the latter two switches simultaneously produces a menu of user preferences. One is called Spec Display. This depicts a radar signal's digital frequency.
Average drivers greet this news with yawns but to the savvy, it offers a significant advantage. Ka-band signals often are non-police radar and can be ignored. Conventional detectors can't tell the difference and merely display a generic Ka-band alert, forcing the driver to figure it out.
The Escort Redline is non-GPS, same as its electronic twins, the Escort Redline XR and BEL (Beltronics) STi Magnum. No GPS means it can't warn of red light and speed cameras, a standard feature found on Escort GPS-enabled models: the Escort Passport Max, Escort Passport 9500ix, Escort Passport 9500ci and the Escort Passport 8500ci.
There's a fix for this, a system called Escort Live. The package includes a special Escort Live coiled Smart Cord with built-in Bluetooth that replaces the standard SmartCord. The other key component is an iPhone or Android smartphone loaded with the free Escort Live app.
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- Quick-adjust windshield bracket
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The system uses the smartphone's GPS and also allows the phone to control the detector and display its alerts. These include real-time alerts by fellow Escort Live drivers of police enforcement activity ahead.
The Escort Redline focuses on long-range warning of radar, and this includes photo radar vans. In several tests against the most common models of these photo cameras—one from Redflex Systems, the other from American Traffic Solutions (ATS)—it led the pack each time.
We also tested against conventional radar at a new desert site. Here the Escort Redline delivered 14.17 miles of radar-warning range, a record eclipsed only by the remarkable Escort Redline XR.
One of the two best-performing windshield-mount models we've tested, the Escort Redline remains a premier tool for the serious driver.