Escort Passport Max vs. Escort Redline XR
Which is the best radar detector for use in town?
By Radartest staff
Last updated: 2015
In recent years there's been heightened interest in a radar detector's ability to reject signals from non-police radar sources. These include roadside traffic-monitoring radar from Speedinfo and others. Pole-mounted at intervals to monitor traffic flow, their X- or K-band radar will trigger incessant alerts in passing radar detectors.
Automatic door openers continue to be a headache, spewing out microwave energy and generating yet more false alarms. Worse, bogus alerts increasingly are being caused by vehicular electronics like Blind Spot Warning Systems, and adaptive cruise control systems like the Mercedes Distronic Plus. These mobile signals are impossible to cull without axing radar gun detection in the process.
GPS technology has been hailed by some as the solution. Another strategy is to slow radar response, allowing more time for signal processing. Each has a downside however: GPS requires repeated encounters to be effective, and leisurely response means that brief signals common to instant-on radar will sometimes be missed.
We were curious to see how well previous test winners can meet this new challenge. To find out, we gathered two contenders: the Escort Passport Max and Escort RedlineXR. We measured their radar-detection range, speed of response and resistance to false alarms. Here's what we found.
The Escort RedlineXR lacks the GPS that kept some other Escort models exceptionally quiet in previous tests. No GPS means it can't spot many of the red light and speed cameras either.
GPS capability can be added with Escort Live, the crowd-sourced ticket-prevention system. Escort Live links a smartphone (iPhone or Android), to the detector via Bluetooth. With the smartphone's GPS, users can lock out nuisance signals and cut false alarms substantially.
We measured resistance to false alarms by creating an 87.4-mile-long loop in the metro Phoenix area. On an initial lap we set the Escort RedlineXR to Spec mode, noting the location and frequency of each alert, all caused by radar-controlled automatic door openers. Then we repeated this exercise, one detector at a time, and recorded the alerts.
Even without GPS the Escort RedlineXR showed exceptional resistance to urban false alarms. It blurted 217 percent fewer bogus alerts than the standard Redline and surprisingly, easily outpaced the Escort Passport Max as well.
For commuters looking for zero false alarms, the Max remains the better choice due to its ability to lock out nuisance signals. But in this test, the radar detectors were seeing the route for the first time, canceling a GPS-enabled unit's usual advantage.
The Escort RedlineXR was also the quickest to alert to radar. To keep them quiet, the other Escorts are programmed to ignore short-duration signals. The technique is effective, but sluggish response does exact a penalty.
For instance, when we squared off against radar operated in instant-on (a.k.a. I/O) mode, only the Escort RedlineXR reliably alerted to it. The others allowed us to blunder into the radar without warning.
The Escort RedlineXR was able to spot all of our radar guns from nearly 15 miles away. That was under ideal conditions, but even in adverse circumstances it consistently barked an alarm from over five miles away.
This Escort also delivered the best range we've seen against the commonly used Redflex photo radar. This low-powered design is exceptionally difficult to ferret out and most detectors can't spot it from across a six-lane freeway. In contrast, the RedlineXR spotted the K-band radar soon enough for a driver to avoid it.
Blessed with phenomenal radar range, quick responses and high resistance to false alarms, the Escort RedlineXR is the best defense against radar we've seen. Learn more...
With GPS and its Defender camera database, the Escort Passport Max can warn of red light and speed cameras. It will also display the type of camera—red light or speed. That's valuable information since red light cameras are often used to issue speeding tickets.
The ability of the Escort Passport Max lock out nuisance signals, coupled with Speed-Variable Sensitivity, can create a supernaturally quiet radar detector. We've quantified that trait previously with its sibling, the Escort Passport 9500ix, once in an urban false alarm test, the other in a freeway-trip false alarm test.
On this occasion some of the advantage of GPS was lost; we were traveling a route where the Max hadn't yet locked out the abundant radar-controlled door openers. But the Escort Passport Max still benefited from our slow speed over much of the loop, where it automatically lowered sensitivity to reduce false alarms.
The Escort Passport Max showed competitive radar range. More noteworthy was its leisurely radar response, averaging nearly 1.7 seconds on K band, for example. This kept it from spotting our K-band instant-on radar; the Escort Max also proved more likely to miss our Ka-band instant-on radar.
We noted that the Escort Passport Max showed a greater propensity than the Escort RedlineXR to needlessly alerting to out-of-band radar signals posing no threat.
Compared to the Escort RedlineXR, the Escort Passport Max also is more prone to alerting to nearby radar detectors. These often generate K- or Ka-band alerts. This is due in part because the Max was designed for the international market. It can detect Ku band, for example, and has more K and Ka bandwidth than is used in the U.S.
On a daily commute the Escort Max would benefit from its ability to lock out nuisance signals, an advantage lost when traveling a route for the first time.
For this reason a commuter likely would find the Escort Max quieter than the Escort RedlineXR, making it a good choice for drivers preferring a set-and-forget radar detector. But those more focused on quick response and protection from instant-on radar would do well to consider the Escort RedlineXR instead.
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