When Whistler rolled out the Pro 68SE it proved almost identical in appearance to the Whistler Pro 78SE, but priced considerably less. Our past tests show the Whistler Pro 78SE to be a top performer at its price point. Naturally we were curious to see how much performance and utility Whistler sacrificed in the Pro 68SE to get its street price down to less than a C-note. To find out, we spent a few months driving with the Pro 68SE in a variety of environments. Then we tested it at our two desert test sites.
On the road, it's an easy piece to live with. The all-black housing is mercifully devoid of chrome or brightwork, substantially reducing annoying reflections in the windshield on sunny days, an attribute shared with the Whistler Pro 78SE, XTR-690 SE and XTR-695 SE.
Unlike its big brother, the Whistler Pro 78SE, the Whistler Pro 68SE makes do without a text display, using icons of different hues to handle information-delivery chores. Operating modes are depicted by big blue letters while radar frequencies are pale green, red or orange for Ka, K and X band, respectively. Laser alerts are blue. Perhaps not quite as stylish as an LCD display, but just as effective.
Display brightness is adjustable with a dim/dark mode. Dim reduces brightness by about half; in Dark mode the mode indicator remains at this setting but when alerting, the display goes dark for the duration of the encounter, plus another 20 seconds. A pair of blue, laser-bright LEDs also appears during alerts. These can be deactivated or set to flash either alternately or steady-burn.
Audio alerts are by tones that are sufficiently distinct to be easily interpreted. One of the more useful menu options is a pair of filter modes that progressively increases the degree of signal processing done before an alert is sounded. This slows the microprocessor's response time marginally but significantly decreases false alarms.
Three city modes help to reduce urban false alarms. City raises the threshold of X-band alerts to help ward off signals from radar-controlled automatic door openers. City 1 raises the bar another notch and City 2 deactivates X-band.
At our Straightaway/Hills test site the Whistler Pro 68SE displayed a commendable level of performance for a budget-priced radar detector. It detected X and K band radar from 5.4 miles away, the limit of the test course. It showed equal alacrity in spotting both of the most common Ka-band frequencies.
At the Curve test site it was within feet of the pricier XTR-690SE on X and K bands and dead even on 34.7 GHz Ka band. It trailed the high-end Whistler by 18 percent in Ka-band 35.5 GHz detection warning range. It's worth noting that at the same site, it had more range than the $369 Cobra XRS-9970G on both X-band highway and 34.7 GHz Ka-band. Like the Whistler XTR-690SE, the high-end Cobra 9970G gave 18 percent greater range than the Whistler Pro 68SE on 35.5 GHz Ka band.
But this is still the best performance we've seen in a radar detector at this price point in the past decade. Although a no-frills model, there's enough content and performance to make the Whistler Pro 68SE well worth a look by those shopping for decent performance at a rock-bottom price.