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Radar Detectors: What Features Do You Need?

Jan 26, 2008
When you've decided to invest in a new radar detector, either for the daily commute or just day-to-day errands, buying a radar detector can seem a bit daunting. There's a whole host of scientific breakthrough specs and technical industry jargon to weed through. Do you need a laser detector or a radar detector? What sort of bandwidth should you look for? Visual or audio alerts? Vg2 shielding mechanisms? Mounted or concealed? More than likely, you are just the average consumer, looking for an effective and reliable radar detecting unit to alert yourself to your own speed, as well as who and where you are being monitored for it. After having done a lot of research on the subject for my own interests, I have broken down all the tech specs and necessary features here, to save you the trouble of both unearthing unnecessary consumer headache, as well as buying the wrong radar detector for your individual travels.

First off, there are basically three types of radar detectors as far as form is concerned: corded, cordless, and remote mount; each with its own set of pros vs. cons depending on your needs and lifestyle. The corded typically mounts to your windshield, and because of its location offers an aerial less-obstructed detection. Cordless is just that, and offers portable convenience. Lastly, the remote mount variety of radar detectors are mounted permanently to your vehicle, hidden from sight.

What is the difference in laser vs. radar detection? Though radar detection has long been the chosen method of both drivers and traffic patrol, laser radar detection technology has been adopted by the latter. Police patrol will use laser radar for more accurate detection of closer-range vehicles, and standard radar detection for longer distance detection. Though it is more expensive to find a detection unit with both, it lessens your chance of being ill-prepared on the road. Moreover, you should only buy a laser radar model with 360 degree laser detection; otherwise you will only have the unit detecting in one direction, not from every angle of the vehicle, as is needed.

City modes? They are basically, the blanket term for precise radar and laser detection in heavy radar frequency zones. The city mode will turn down the range of detection on your unit and perceive less interference or false alerts from external electrical mechanisms as well as other radar detectors in your immediate area. There's much more of this technical buzz in the city...hence the term. So, if you live or drive in more metropolitan areas vs. rural ones, this would be a good choice for you.

VG2, Spectre, and Invisible shielding technology. The VG2 alert is the basic technology that allows you to know when the police in your vehicle's vicinity are using radar detector detectors or VG2 systems, to discern whether you are using a radar detector or not. Police officials adopted the Spectre system for detecting radar detectors on a broader and more precise playing field, and so the Spectre alert on your new radar detector will let you know when it is in fact being used. This allows you time to shut off your own radar detector, when alerted. The Invisible technology you may want to look for in a higher-end radar detector will be virtually undetectable to the above mentioned police-controlled devices, so you will never have to worry about shutting it down. All of these mechanisms are fairly new and will add expense to your radar detector, but again, it depends on how effective and reliable you need the radar detector to be.

Bandwidths. Really, the only bandwidth you should have in your radar detector is the X bandwidth. Most frequencies operate on the X, and to incorporate any of the others (K, Ka, Ku), will just be asking for interference from unrelated mechanisms and external electrical stimuli. The result: less focus on what radar detection you should be picking up, such as police radar.

These are the basic necessary components in any reliable and accurate radar detector. You will find many more features available in these systems, but they are cosmetic in relation to the significant ones listed here. Start with these terms/tips for form and function, and then move on to whether you'd like luxury components such as voice alerts and enhanced LED displays.
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