One type of radar detector few notice is the custom-installed remote or built-in model. It escapes scrutiny by thieves and curious lawmen and some include laser jammers, the only proven defense against the light-based technology.
Aside from the stealth factor, for some drivers the remote radar detector is the only option. Most Blind Spot Monitoring systems use K-band radar transmitters mounted in the rear bumper. These set off radar detectors up to 1,000 feet away, including a detector in the offending vehicle.
The only solution we've found to date is offered by the Escort Passport 9500ci. Its radar antenna is low to the ground, helping to shield it from errant microwaves. The 9500ci also automatically dials back sensitivity at lower speeds to reduce K-band false alarms. Escort calls this speed-variable sensitivity.
The 9500ci's thumb-sized control unit is backlit, making the buttons easy to locate at night. The module can be surface-mounted or concealed, often tucked away in the ash tray or console.
Information is shown in an LED text display, also designed for surface-mounting. Replacing this with the kit's bi-color LED results in a cleaner look, but the flashing LED delivers no information about threats. Instead the driver will need to monitor the voice alerts from the powered external speaker.
A compromise is to have the display built-in to the rear-view mirror; not cheap, but an elegant way to minimize cockpit clutter without affecting the detector's information-delivery. See details
The advantage of using GPS to limit false alarms becomes apparent after a few days of driving with the feature called AutoLearn. Drive three times past spots where you get false alarms from roadside sources and it automatically stores them to memory. Next time you drive past, it won't alert.
In our test of red light camera databases, Escort's Defender camera database proved significantly more accurate. It's also updated more frequently than the competitions'.
Due to Escort's control of the patents, other companies may tout GPS in radar detectors, but they can offer none of the technology's most valuable features.
Competing models, including those from K40, for example, can't lock out nuisance signals like radar-controlled automatic door openers. Drive past a local Walmart on a daily commute and the K40 alerts every time.
In previous reviews we've noted drawbacks in the K40's reliance on a wireless remote control that always seemed to end up lost under the seat. Other observations mentioned a clunky user interface, slow-witted auto-muting, weak radar performance and abundant false alarms. We also found K40 laser jammers to be ineffective. Learn more.
Compared to windshield-mounted models, the Escort Passport 9500ci has significantly better performance than anything we've tested—with one exception. The Escort RedlineXR slightly betters the Escort 9500ci in radar-warning range.
The Escort Laser ShifterPro laser jammer system worked equally as well, jamming some of the guns down to point-blank range and doing almost as well against the others. Learn more.
On the highway it rarely false-alarms and is nearly as quiet in town. Small wonder that we rank it at as the best custom-installed radar detector.