The boffins at Whistler have also generated some unique acronyms in recent years. To its credit, Whistler of late has concentrated on features to enhance the performance and utility of its high-end models. Rather than lavish development money on cosmetics and marketing hype, instead the engineers have quietly pumped-up the radar-warning range and added features that give a sharp driver a better chance of surviving encounters with radar traps. Among others:

"Ka Max"

This one is self-explanatory and, refreshingly, accurate as well. The current models comprise its best-performing units in memory, well documented in our reviews and tests of the Whistler CR85 and the Whistler CR90, the latter being the best of the GPS-enabled models in its price class.

Feature value: High

"Laser Signature ID: displays Pulses Per Second (PPS)"

Cobra introduced this feature to legitimize its use of different models of laser to create additional "bands". But while Cobras frequently incorrectly identify laser signals, Whistlers usually get it right.

Feature value: Low, except to a tech-savvy nerd

"Radar Signature ID - RSID displays known Ka gun frequencies"

Whistler CR90, a GPS model, displays a legitimate Ka-band signal that should be heeded.

RSID is the Whistler equivalent of BEL's Spec Display and Escort's Tech mode but it's easier to comprehend and for the average driver, more effective. The BEL and Escort display a five-digit frequency, e.g., 34.358, leaving it up to the driver to gauge its significance.

Whistler simplifies the process. It knows that a signal in the neighborhood of 35.5 GHz is home turf to several models of police radar and reacts by displaying 35.5 Ka. Time to stand on the brakes.

Had the frequency been too far from 35.5 to be legit, the Whistler would have displayed a simple Ka band , plus the digital signal strength—9 in this instance—instead. This is a very elegant way to convey an important, although sometimes puzzling bit of information.

Feature value: Very high for attentive drivers

"Stay Alert"

The Australian government requires auto makers to equip new cars with audible/visual warnings that automatically remind drivers to take rest stops. Naturally, these irritating warnings are universally ignored. Well meaning perhaps, but both dumb and intrusive. Offering the same feature in a radar detector elicits similar reactions. Worse, it's easy to accidentally engage this feature and without the owner manual, nearly impossible to disable it. This means you'll be subjected to a woman's voice endlessly issuing periodic warnings to get some rest, just like having your mother-in-law in back.

Feature value: Some narcolepsy sufferers may find it useful.

"Three Filter Modes: provide extra filtering"

The term filter is a good way to describe this feature's purpose in life. It passes incoming signals through an additional set of filters that help to weed out spurious signals from other radar detectors. Most useful in town, it works as promised.

Feature value: Fairly high

"Total Band Protection"

This is Whistler's nomenclature for selective radar band deactivation. Those who don't have to fret about X-band radar can shut it off to limit urban false alarms, for example.

Feature value: Fairly high since it keeps the detector quieter.

"Vehicle Battery Saver"

A radar detector doesn't draw much power but if left on, eventually it will drain the battery. The process may take two weeks with a healthy SUV battery, but unless you can arrange for an exemption from Ohm's Law, you can be assured that it will happen. This feature switches the detector off after a period, giving the car battery a rest.

Feature value: Low, unless you often leave your vehicle parked at an airport or elsewhere for weeks at a time. But it can't hurt.

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