Can the Beltronics Pro 500 Protect Against Red Light Cameras?
Last updated: 2016
The Beltronics Pro 500 conveys information visually by a red LED text display that auto-adjusts for intensity, or it can be manually dimmed in four steps. The display can also be minimized to a small, pulsing red dot for ultra-low profile nighttime running.
We liked the ability to tailor it to a user's preferences and found its messages to be easily read in varied lighting conditions. Red backlighting for the controls is likewise adjustable and makes them easy to locate at night.
Audible alerts are by tones or voice. As a red light camera is approached, an alert sounds: "Caution, red light camera ahead". The message changes to "Speed camera ahead" if the red light camera also clocks speeds. We found these added details helpful.
The BEL Pro 500, like its corporate cousins, the Beltronics GT-7 and Escort Passport Max2, allow the user to manually lock out nuisance signals, most of them generated by the automatic door openers common at retail stores. For a commuter, this unique ability makes for a significantly quieter driving experience than with the Cobras.
A second strategy to limit false alarms is speed-variable radar sensitivity, something not found on non-BEL or -Escort models. With this, sensitivity drops significantly at the lower speeds common in rush hour traffic, the reasoning being that neither door openers nor police radar represents a big threat under the circumstances.
The Beltronics Pro 500 proved to be standout performer against photo radar. In detecting ATS radar, a Ka-band unit, it trailed the Escort Passport 9500ix by 20 feet while delivering a useful extra 165 feet of warning range over the Cobra XRS 9960G and 59 feet more than the Cobra XRS R10G.
Against the more elusive Redflex photo radar the BEL Pro 500 led the Escort Passport 9500ix by a few feet, triple the range of either Cobra. Along with the Escort, the BEL Pro Pro 500 is the only GPS-enabled radar detector we've tested that offers protection from the most common types of photo radar.
The BEL Pro Pro 500's Defender database is shared with other Escorts including the elegant custom-installed Escort Passport 9500ci and the latter's clone, the BEL STiR Plus. Here it demonstrated best-in-class accuracy, reliably keeping us informed of cameras, including those recently activated.
Equal in performance to the Escort, the BEL Pro 500 would have led this pack but for the absence of AutoLearn, the automatic location-marking feature. But it's priced much lower than the Escort 9500ix and similar models, giving it top-dog status at its price point.