- Red light camera protection
- Superior radar range
- Locks out nuisance alerts
- Least expensive in this class
- No AutoLearn feature
One of the best-kept secrets in the radar detector industry is the Beltronics Pro 500. Overshadowed by its heavily-hyped corporate siblings, few know that the Pro 500 is a cloned Escort.
Its housing is of a unique matte-black, soft-touch material rather than the glossy polycarbonate used by many Escorts. The rubber-like texture makes the Pro 500 feel like upscale hardware and more important, it doesn't reflect a mirror image of itself onto the windshield during daylight hours.
BEL added GPS to this high-performance detector to reduce false alarms generated by roadside sources, many of them radar-controlled automatic door openers. These operate on the same X- and K-band frequencies used by police radar and set off conventional detectors whenever they're encountered.
The Pro 500 will lock out these nuisance signals if the driver taps the Smart Cord mute button three times. Escorts do this automatically, a feature called AutoLearn.
Threat Display mode tracks up to nine separate radar signals simultaneously, displaying the band and relative signal strength of each. While doing so it warns audibly of the menace, saying "Multiple signals detected" and inviting the driver to take action while there's still time.
GPS lets the detector know how fast the vehicle is going, enabling the use of a second strategy to limit false alarms: speed-variable sensitivity. Exclusive to this BEL and a few Escort models, the strategy lowers sensitivity significantly at lower speeds common to rush hour traffic, the reasoning being that police radar is hardly a threat under the circumstances. As speed rises, sensitivity increases proportionately.
The Pro 500 displayed better range at our Hill/Curve test site than competing models and performed almost identically to its twin, the Escort Passport 9500ix.
The BEL was also very resistant to false alarms, with industry-best protection against red light and speed cameras and excellent detection range against radar.
Otherwise equal in every way to the Escort GPS-enabled models, the lack of AutoLearn may sway some to opt for an Escort model instead.