Best Radar Detector of 2018

Cops are tricky nowadays. We're seeing more undercover police cars, human-less speed vans, etc. It's not a good time to be a speedy driver.

You can get around these traps, or at least slow down before them, with a radar detector.

But which one? Are they even legal in your state? We've got those answers, how they work, and a list of the best radar detectors below.

Speed read on!

What is a Radar Detector?

A handy device that keeps you from getting speeding tickets and mounts to your dash. Some models clip to your visor or suction cup to your windshield.

Like the name says, these detect radar signals like the kind cops use. It picks up the radar guns and some other gadgets used in cop cars to catch speeding drivers.

People use them to make sure they don't get pulled over and that they can go the fastest possible. We're not talking 10 miles over the speed limit here, more like 20 to 30.

We're not here to lecture you about legality, but be careful! We'll talk about the legality of radar detectors in different states later on.

How Do Radar Detector's Work?

They work by intercepting the waves that speed guns use.

To use a speed gun, a cop shoots a beam of x, k or KA radio bands across the road. When a car comes through that band, it interrupts the frequency.

Based on the frequency interruption, the algorithm inside the gun determines the speed. These are frequencies just like AM and FM on the radio, but only cops use them.

That doesn't mean only cops can find them though. Truckers use a very similar system to communicate with each other. Anyone can tap into either system, listening in on cop radios is a past time of crime lovers.

A radar detector listens for the cop radio waves and can alert you with enough time to slow down.

There are different types of radar guns that your detector can detect.

Regular Radar Guns

These emit a radio wave. The waves move at the speed of light and when they hit an object, they bounce back. How long the signal takes to return is part of the equation.

That part makes it a lot like sonar. Unlike sonar, a radar gun finds things in motion.

When something in motion interrupts the frequency wave, it causes the waves to move faster. By calculating the change in wave speed, the device knows how fast you're going.

Pop Guns

These radar guns emit more waves, more quickly. It's almost a strobe-light type pattern.

Laser Guns

Unlike radar wave guns, some cops use laser guns. They're faster for the cop, but they're very precise. They have to aim the laser at a specific vehicle for it to work.

Methods of Using Radar Guns

You may be wondering why we're going into all this detail. It's because the different ways and types of radar guns cops use to mess around with radar detectors.

We want you to know all the ways cops can get around you trying to get around them before you buy.

Instant On

Radar detectors aren't a secret to cops, they know they exist and that makes them want to catch you even more.

Some cops take extra measures to make sure your detectors won't work, like the instant on technique. To catch more people, they only turn on their radar gun at the last minute.

That way people don't have time to detect the waves and slow down.

Quick on

There's also a manual method of speed detecting, called the quick trigger.

Instead of the pop gun sending short spurs of waves, the officer clicks the trigger on and off. This confuses cheaper radar detectors and lets the cop catch the speeder.

Legality of Radar Detectors

You may be wondering if it's legal to bend the rules of speeding like this. Is it legal to speed? No.

Is it legal to have a radar detector? That depends on the state. In Washington DC, Virginia, and any military bases detectors are 100% illegal.

If they catch you with one in these states, they'll confiscate your detector and hit you with a fine.

Otherwise, regular drivers may have a radar detector. Cops won't like it, but they can't stop you.

Before you get a radar detector, look up the law in your specific area. Laws change and different counties can have different rules.

Qualities to Look For in a Radar Detector

There are different levels and qualities in a radar detector, like anything else. A high-quality radar detector is more consistent and efficient but costs more.

Here are some things you want your device to have.

Modes

Your radar detector needs city and highway modes. When you're driving in the city (or suburbs) there are other devices that your scanner can pick up.

These can be anything that emits waves, like garage door openers or even microwaves. Having a device that knows where to be more picky about finding waves is important.

This way you don't think there's a cop around every corner and your neighbor's garage doesn't set your scanner off.

On highway mode, your device can be less picky, alerting you whenever it finds something.

Voice Alerts

You want a high tech device that will enhance your driving, not distract you.

Some of the newer models have apps that work with your phone and can vocally tell you when a cop is nearby.

Others have a mini speaker and a recorded voice in the device.

GPS

No, not like the maps on your phone. There are radar detectors that can tell where you are and if you're speeding. That way you don't get a notification if you're going the speed limit and pass a cop.

These features are more expensive, but helpful and work along with modes. By the speed you're going, a GPS enabled device can switch from city to highway mode on its own.

Smartphone Capability

Some detectors come with apps that connect owners of the same device. Instead of you finding the speed trap and keeping it to yourself, your device can report it across a network.

If you don't want the noise or lights that come with the detector, you can set it up as alerts on your phone. That way you won't wake any sleeping babies or see flashing lights in the dark.

The Best Radar Detector

We never think it's a good idea to put your faith in something before you understand how it works.

Now that you have the base information, there was a lot of it, we know, you can look at models.

Choice #1 - AI Learning

So, remember how we talked about false alarms setting off the detector? This model has an artificial intelligence component to help catch that.

As you drive it around, it learns the normal triggers. It goes off a lot at first but learns where to be more or less sensitive.

Pros of the Escort Passport 9500IX

  • Auto-learns to filter out false alarms
  • Has a disregard feature for specific waves
  • Downloads traffic camera locations
  • Very sensitive
  • Laser detection
  • Comes with mounting equipment
  • Detects direct targeting

Cons

  • Doesn't work with Apple systems
  • Subscription fee for updates
  • Cost

It's on Amazon right now for $344.90 with Prime shipping. Prices change and you can track them with online chrome extensions.

2. Best Seller: Cobra ESD7570

This guy is a lower price point than the first one, but it has most of the features. It won't download and tell you about traffic cams, but otherwise, it's in the same class.

Pros

  • Well priced
  • Targets detector-detectors
  • Adjustable volume buttons
  • Safety warnings
  • Tells you types of radar frequencies

Cons

  • No GPS capabilities
  • No traffic camera options

You can pick up this Cobra detector on Amazon for under $70.00, give or take. Prime shipping!

3. Uniden R3

This unit is a windshield detector you don't mess around with. It has the best performance out of any on our list, though that comes at a big cost.

It's super picky at picking up radar beams, as it should be for $400. It's filtering process throws out any non-police waves better than others. It has GPS so you're covered in traffic signals too.

If you get a few speeding tickets, that can add up, so $400 might be a good investment.

Pros

  • GPS
  • Good filtering
  • Picks up lasers
  • Undetectable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Often sold out or waitlisted

You can pick up this model on Amazon, for $399 with free shipping. Specify that you get the R3 since there's another version on the market.

4. Whistler CR90 Speed Camera

Want a detector that speaks to you? Literally? This one can. It works with laser and radar and has GPS!

It even plugs into your cars audio system so you don't miss any warnings over the music.

Pros

  • Verbal alerts - computerized voice
  • Different radar information, type & frequency
  • Speed warnings in certain zones
  • Plugs into stereo
  • Works for traffic lights (GPS)
  • Picks up laser detections
  • Works in all directions

Cons

  • Expensive

You'll pay around $225 for this, at the time of this writing. Prices on Amazon change, so don't quote us on that price. It can go up and down $10 depending on demand.

5. Uniden DFR6

This is a cheap version of the $399 option on this list. It's made by the same company, so you know they have an idea what they're doing.

It doesn't have the extreme filtering system as the more expensive model, but it works.

The only thing it doesn't have (other than the higher quality of all the features) is GPS.

Pros

  • Laser detection
  • Filtering
  • Undetectable
  • Different types of radar
  • Under $200

Cons

  • No GPS
  • Touchy

You can get this model on Amazon for around $249, lower than it's retail $299 price tag. Check to see when it's on sale to get the price cut.

6. Valentine One

This is another costly choice, but you get great integration for the $500 price tag.

It's not for those scared of tech since you have to really work to integrate the systems. Once you get it figured out, it hooks to your phone and its GPS system.

It gets complicated, with lock modes and different connotations for different radar wave types.

If you can figure it out, you'll be more than thrilled with the results.

Pros:

  • GPS
  • Phone integration
  • Multiple types of radar
  • Detects in all directions

Cons:

  • Complicated setup
  • High price point

You can get this $500 model on Amazon, but make sure to download the driver app as well.

Make sure you buy the one with the Bluetooth module if you want that capability.

The Best Radar Detector for You

Knowing what unit you need varies, probably on the budget you have.

If you want smart monitoring when you're in the city vs the highway and better filtering, choose a GPS unit. It'll jack up the price, but you get more features, like light camera warnings.

If you're using your new best radar detector sometimes when you feel like going fast, you can get a base model.

Listen to loud music? Spring for a model that plugs into your audio system so you don't miss any alarms.

Now, we have to say this - speeding too much is dangerous for you and everyone around you. If you're going fast enough to need a radar detector please pay extra attention to the road.

Need other devices, like Bluetooth headsets for talking on the phone in the car? We've got you covered with our extensive archive of guides. Check it out!

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