Review: BEL Pro 100 Radar Detector
Entry-level model with street cred
by Charles Bauer
Last updated: 2015
BEL (Beltronics) Pro 100
"...best-performing model under $180"
- Good feature set
- Simple controls
- Voice alerts
- Class-leading performance
The Beltronics (BEL) Pro 100 is the entry-level Pro-Series offering, replacing the stalwart BEL Vector 940. Its upmarket siblings include the BEL Pro 200 and the excellent BEL Pro 300.
The BEL Pro 100 housing is of a unique matte-black, soft-touch material. It has the same satisfying heft and businesslike appearance of its Pro-Series step-up brothers; they differ only in features, price and, particularly, in performance.
The BEL Pro 100 housing's rubber-like texture not only makes it feel like upscale hardware; with a glare-resistant finish and black buttons it's significantly more resistant to windshield reflections than many competing models.
BEL (Beltronics) Pro 100 showed class-leading range against all types of radar guns
The BEL Pro 100's red digital display is the same quality piece found on BEL's high-end models and we found it to be far more readable in sunny daylight than the competitions' LCD, LED or the OLED display found on higher-end Cobra radar detectors.
Display brightness is adjustable in three steps, full-bright to dark mode; the latter displays only a tiny, dim icon to confirm operating mode, stealthy for low-profile nighttime operation.
Unlike the BEL Pro-Series stepup models, the Pro 100 doesn't come with the clever coiled SmartCord whose power plug has built-in status and alert LEDs plus an audio mute button, allowing that function to be handled remotely. But the BEL Pro 100 is compatible with the full range of SmartCord models, which on BEL radar detectors, also permits audio volume to be adjusted remotely using the mute button.
Primary operating modes are Highway (maximum sensitivity, longest radar-warning range) and City. Six user preferences are offered. These include fast power-up, which abbreviates the self-test ritual upon each startup; voice alerts on/off, and two city modes. City Standard leaves X-band sensitivity unchanged, City LoX lowers sensitivity to better resist interference from automatic door openers.
Upgrade to the BEL Pro 300 model and there's an optional method of gaining freedom from false alarms—the BEL Pro 300 is compatible with Escort Live, which uses a special power cord with Bluetooth to link to a smartphone app. With GPS now available, the BEL Pro 300 lets the user lock out static sources of false alarms, making it a model citizen in town.
Although equally effective, this combination isn't as sophisticated as that found in the Escort Passport Max or the Escort Passport 9500ix, both of which have GPS. But it's a substantially less expensive alternative.
In performance the BEL Pro 100 turned in very class-competitive scores, nearly identical to those of its forebear, the Vector 955. It lagged far behind on X band, not a big concern for anyone who doesn't drive in Ohio or New Jersey, where X-band radar remains in use by state police.
It also trailed the Pro 200 by 20 percent in K-band range and by 12 percent in range against the commonly used 35.5 gigahertz (GHz) radar. The gap narrowed to 8 percent against the deadly Stalker Ka-band (34.7 GHz) radar where it delivered about half the range of the higher-end entries including the GPS-enabled BEL Pro 500 and the non-GPS Escort 8500 X50.
The performance gap increased another five percent when it squared off against the other dominant Ka-band frequency, 35.5 GHz, used by over 90 percent of the remaining Ka-band radar guns deployed nationwide.
The Pro 100 makeover gives it a thoroughly contemporary look and feature set, a worthy improvement over its Vector 955 forebear. Given its budget-priced nature, we're impressed by the BEL Pro 100's competitive feature set, radar-warning performance and user-friendly operation.