Can the Cobra XRS R10G Protect Against Red Light Cameras?
Last updated: 2016
The Cobra XRS R10G is a hybrid design: a windshield-mounted radar/laser antenna, a plug-in USB-connector GPS module and a wireless remote control with a large OLED color display.
In an earlier review of its identical predecessor, the Cobra XRS R9G, we noted that while the OLED display earned high marks for style, it proved to be less than ideal for this application in mobile electronics. Among other negatives, during daytime it can't be read while wearing sunglasses and is scarcely more readable without them. At night on the open road, it's enormously distracting, like having a miniature TV screen staring in your face.
Fortunately, the factory default setting extinguishes the display after 30 seconds, replacing it with a tiny, slowly blinking amber LED, which is also generally invisible. There's no way to know if it's working without pressing a button on the remote, which briefly reenergizes the unit. Then it goes dark again.
Operating a piece of mobile electronics with a wireless remote control entails some other compromises. The Cobra XRS R10G remote's slick membrane surface offers no tactile differentiation between functions, meaning it has to be studied closely and the correct spot must be pressed with accuracy. That can be difficult, since the unit is designed to be placed in a cradle that clips to an A/C outlet grille, a wobbly mounting location and one that's generally out of the driver's line of sight.
Like the other Cobra in this test, the XRS R10G claims to detect the Spectre Mk IV-Plus radar detector detector (called Stalcar outside the States) and also claims that it can't be detected by the Spectre. These capabilities could be of interest to drivers in Virginia and Washington, D.C. and places outside the U.S. where detector use also is prohibited. So we tested both features.
Unfortunately, we found that while the XRS R10G and XRS 9960G can indeed detect the Spectre Mk IV-Plus RDD, neither could do so from more than 15 feet away. The RDD, however, could ferret out either Cobra at more than 290 feet.
We also verified that—under one condition, at least—these Cobras can be immune to detection by the Spectre. By using the IntelliMute Pro menu option, the detection circuitry shuts off at vehicle speeds in excess of a user-set engine-rpm threshold that corresponds to a slow canter. The unit remains powered-up, but it detects nothing. This rather perilous status is denoted by a small arrow on the display, oriented either up or down. Like other visual information, it's usually invisible during daytime and always at night, leading us to concur with Cobra that IntelliMute Pro is intended for experienced users only.
The unit ships with Spectre RDD-detection alerts shut off and for all but the insatiably curious, we'd recommend leaving it that way. Once activated, the Cobra not infrequently shrieked warnings of Spectre radar detector detectors when we know for a certainty there's but a single Spectre in use by lawmen statewide. The Cobra XRS R10G (along with its sibling, the XRS 9960G) is also very prone to detecting other radar detectors, even with X-band disabled and its most restrictive filtering mode, called City X+K, engaged. Cobra's frequency ID feature not infrequently displays these as 33.8 GHz signals, eliciting some concern since that would indicate the presence of a type of MPH radar with its deadly POP mode.
The XRS R10G, like other Cobra GPS-enabled radar detectors, comes with a free lifetime subscription to Cobra's Aura camera database. The small, detachable GPSL module is a cinch to connect to a PC with the supplied cable and updating it proved to be a quick, user-friendly experience.
The Cobra XRS R10G turned in superior scores in detecting most types of conventional police radar and also the ATS Ka-band photo radar. But it was unable to protect us from Redflex K-band photo radar and its GPS database often failed to warn of photo enforcement cameras.
We were impressed by this Cobra's stylish appearance and applaud its good sensitivity against most radar guns. But some unfortunate ergonomic issues and a few significant performance gaps against photo enforcement threats served to somewhat lessen its appeal.