There's a certain degree of poetic justice in the notion of countering speedtrap technology with yet more technology. There's a long history of this, beginning in the fifties when traffic radar first appeared.
Drivers flashed their headlights to warn others of radar traps. Low tech, but it worked. In the mid-seventies the arrival of the CB radio created an instant community of smokey spotters. But that craze soon diminished, overwhelmed by mindless chatter and useless reports. Something better clearly was needed.
That may have arrived, thanks to the exponential growth in smartphones and Internet availability. That combination has been harnessed by Escort Live, compatible with most Escort radar detectors.
Newer Escorts including the Max 360c ($649), Redline EX ($599), Passport iX ($399) and X80 ($299) have built-in Bluetooth and can pair with smartphones without the special power cord. The Max 360c also has Wi-Fi and once the detector is paired to a vehicle's Wi-Fi, it can connect automatically to the app without using a smartphone or Bluetooth.
Nearly all smartphones work on Escort Live but one category is an exception: the pre-paid phone. Most of the Live functions work correctly but one is MIA—the posted speed limit isn't displayed.
Escort engineers are working on a fix but for the moment, this hiccup remains. During the meantime, many won't find this to be a deal-breaker since the same information can be gained with an occasional glance at passing speed limit signs.
Two types of Escort Live power cords are offered: a coiled SmartCord that plugs into a power point and a Direct Wire version that links to the car's electrical system. The latter's thumb-size control module mounts in the cockpit. Versions of both are available for iPhone and Android phones.
To make everything work, the Escort Live app must first be downloaded to the smartphone. (On iPhones it's available via Apple iTunes.) With app installed and running and detector powered up, the final step is Bluetooth pairing of phone and Escort Live.
We followed this sequence using an iPhone 6 (Escort Live is backward-compatible from the latest iPhone model), also with a Samsung Android smartphone. Downloading was simple in each case; creating an account with user name and password took slightly longer. Once logged in, Escort Live quickly paired with the phone, confirmed when a flashing blue LED turned solid.
High Performance Escort Models with Bluetooth
Opening the Settings screen displays information about the duration of the user's Escort Live subscription, alert settings and radar detector settings. One menu item is a tutorial to explain the system's basic functions.
Two screens are offered, Dashboard and Map; the graphics of both are attractive and coherently laid out. Most staffers preferred the map screen, finding the real-time distance-to-danger graphics more useful.
Sharing X- and K-band alerts is the user's call, requiring a press of the Report button. X-band alerts are rare, almost always generated by radar-controlled automatic door openers.
K-band alerts are equally likely to be false alarms, mainly from Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) radar systems on nearby cars. These use radar in the rear bumper to spot adjacent vehicles and warn when a lane change is dangerous.
A Ka-band alert nearly always means police radar and for that reason, these alerts are automatically broadcast without the user having to take action.
We found Escort Live to perform as promised, giving Escort and Beltronics users the benefit of real-time warnings of enforcement activity. Considering the price paid for a speeding ticket, Escort Live is a cost-effective antidote.