Wednesday, May 17, 2006
If you were wondering whether the Bel Sti Driver was going to ultimately replace their current flagship the RX-65 pro, the answer is no. As we expected, Beltronics will continue offering the RX-65 as their flagship "conventional" radar detector.
As indicated in our initial review of the STI driver, the stealth radar detector is going to be primarily directed towards "professional drivers" (eg: truckers - with an initial focus on truck-stops throughout the US). This appears to be a correct assessment of their strategy.
Expect a thorough performance examination of this unique radar detector in the coming months and a report on our findings in the follow-on to our very popular radar detector review of last year.
Friday, May 12, 2006
This year we are expecting to compare: The latest versions of the best radar detectors currently being produced: Beltronics RX-65 Pro, Beltronics STI Driver, Escort 8500 X50, and the venerable Valentine V1 radar detectors.
Instead of using our 2005 Black Dodge Viper, we wanted to mix-up the American muscle with the latest that Chevy has to provide. All accounts is that this vehicle is as refined as a Porsche.
If that is really true, we are really looking forward to tooling around the roads of New Mexico, rural Arizona and Texas.
Even though petrol is north of $3/gallon, I don't think I'll be worring about that...a speeding ticket still eclipses these prices by a signficant margin...Hope we fare as well as we did last time out...Zero tickets...but hey, we weren't tooling around in a bright red vette!
We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed! We should have a full report available for your reading pleasure, mid-July.
According to a source close to the acquisition process of traffic monitoring departments around the country and abroad, sales of police laser is growing at an ever-increasing rate.
This is likely due to the following key factors:
1) Older police radar guns may be replaced with newer police laser guns as they rotate out of service.
2) Police laser is getting much cheaper to own and operate. To wit, two new police laser guns from Kustom Signals have broken the $2000 mark and are now priced competively with some police radar units. Other manufacturers will likely follow trend to preserve market share.
3) As traffic density continues to climb in many areas, police laser provides inherent advantages in being able to track single vehicle single lane speed better than police radar.
4) Police laser is more flexible in a wider variety of targeting situations than police radar.
5) Traffic departments are finally getting acclimated to police laser.
6) Challenges in court/post-citation are less frequent than their radar counterparts as laser speed acquisition is more precise and less prone to operator error.
7) Court approval for police laser usage is now widespread.
8) Police laser guns are lighter and easier to operate than they used to be and are now very easy to operate.
9) Only the top performing laser detectors provide any useful warning to police laser usage.
10) Without countermeasures (VEIL/laser jammers) the top radar detectors provide little useful advanced warning to their owner.
Bottom line: Your chances of encountering a police laser speed trap is going up this driving season...Be prepared for it.
PS: Missed a previous article? Check out the veilguy's blog to get caught up.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I mounted the radar detector low-midway on the windshield left of center and in clear view of my right eye.
I love to drive with music (I was listening to a mellow CD by David Sandborn) at a pretty decent level. I have sometimes been burned by having the music drown out the sound of the V1 even at maximum level. Can you imagine explaining to the citing officer the reason you were caught speeding was you were listening some musical score and not your detector! Trust me, I don't believe you'll find many sympathizing police officers.
If you have my reviews of the Valentine V1 radar detector , you know I am a huge fan of their audio capability...I believe they are the standard by which all other detectors should be measured.
We'll now I have found a new way to have my cake and eat it too.
However, as I already stated, I have been burned by relying on the sound when I listen to music at elevated levels.
Valentine also has class leading light indicators on their detectors. Between the arrows which clearly indicate the direction of the radar(s) source, the visual signal strength meter also provides incredibly usable and accurate signal strength indication.
By mounting the detector low or low-mid, I have found that I can actually react quicker by site than by sound. When I am on the highway, especially in the evening, I don't particularly care about which band of radar I am being pelted with...only that I can slow down before being nailed.
This setup allows this...and enables me to enjoy my music.
I have now come to appreciate the Valentine 1 in a whole a new way...Really good stuff!
When I came into town, I found the radar detector alerting more often to the ever-present door openers. We'll with the radar detector in this configuration, the alerts were instantly "muted" because the volume was all the way down...what a relief!
Try it, next time you find yourself in the evening on some highway (or going across town).
You just may like it...a lot!
Happy and safe motoring.
Friday, April 14, 2006
I had an interesting conversation with Craig Peterson today of Peterson Publishing.
For those of you who don't already know it, I am a huge fan of Craig's literary work...He has a natural talent for writing stories that are not only fun to read but are also very informative.
I have read his book entitled Fast Driving (Without Tickets) and have found it one of the most enjoyable and illuminating works on the subject. At any rate (no pun intended), you may also know I have been encouraging Craig to write a follow-up to that great book.
Well today, Craig has informed me that while a sequel is in development, he has written some smaller "articles" on specific issues related to ever advancing sophistication of traffic enforcement and what we can all do to mitigate it - that he can publish more quickly than a full-length book. That's a good thing because I would like to hear what new experiences has that can benefit us as enthusiast drivers.
I will share more details with you guys (gals) when I get it.
If its anything like his first book, I can't wait to read what he has to share with us.
Wishing you all a safe and prosperous Easter!
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
New Police Laser/LIDAR is Coming to a Road New You
It's nice that mild weather is finally upon us...although I have no complaints about the "warm" winter we just had.
Now that we are approaching the "drop-top" season, it's good to know what new forms of threats we will all be facing this driving season:
Laser Atlanta has made some recent improvements to their police LIDAR gun line-up. The have recently implemented "jam" detection on the latest iteration of their guns which display "JA3" to inform the officer that their gun is being actively interferred with.
As usual, we don't expect VEIL to generate such "jams error codes" as VEIL's doesn't "jam" but simply prevents/reduces the ability of laser gun's to see their own reflection. This exploits a phenomenon that happens normally with different colored vehicles so driver's using VEIL shouldn't be concerned with this new feature.
...Besides most states don't have laws against the use of active laser jamming anyway (regulated by the FDA for "eye-safety"), unlike jamming police RADAR (which is regulated by the FCC).
Laser Atlanta apparently has made some software updates to their stealth-mode operation which was supposed to render the one shipping laser jammer series that has demonstrated that it is capable of defeating stealth mode - the Blinder M20 and M40 Xtreme series - ineffective.
However, at a recent test, Blinder apparently still thrwarted the ability of the new gun as well and still provided jamming. Kudos to Blinder for being resilient! If you have been following VEIL's history, you already know that VEIL does especially well against stealth mode anyway so if you already own one of the other top rated laser jammers, just get VEIL and you should be set.
Laser Atlanta remains the long-distance champ and I have seen it produce accurate readings approaching 10,000 feet (one through a windshield, at that!)...That's nearly TWO MILES, folks! Simply breathtaking performance from a police laser gun (and is still one of my favorites because of its engineering prowess). They conservatively under-rate their gun's capability to merely 4000 feet! Nice touch guys...you're a class act.
Kustom Signals has some exciting new police laser guns called the Pro Lite and Pro Lite+ which is pricing less than $1500 and works like a pair of binoculars which can be worn about the neck.
Some officers who have worked with the new gun, love it for its ease of use and ergonomic friendliness. Since Kustom is the first gun to be priced competitively with RADAR guns AND is a pleasure to work with, we expect them to become quite popular indeed...Is this the beginning of the end for RADAR? Only time will tell (I seriously doubt it). But, police laser popularity should continue to grow...and at an even greater rate, which is a good thing for them but can be for you as well, if your are equipped with VEIL!
Stalker has a made some recent software updates to improve upon their performance, but may have some "issues" to work out with it.
I don't know specifically what's up with the guys from
Laser Technology (they probably prefer it that way!) - the original inventors of laser speed detection and measuring equipment, but we can be sure they're not sitting on the laurels with their impressive LTI UltraLyte series of police lasers. LTI produces variations of the laser guns, including some of which are protecting our men and women in combat and our friends in black on the street...thank you all for your service in keeping us safe every day.
The LTI UltraLyte series of police lasers have the capability of manned or un-manned operation tied into a digital imaging processor which allows for the capture of vehicle motion data from 50 to 170 meters away and automatically records a high-resolution full-color image of a violator's plate...their exact speed...for evidence. (I'm paraphrasing).
LTI's systems are multi-lingual (cool stuff) to cater to markets abroad that deploy photo lidar. LTI also has solutions for enforcing multiple speed limits on the same carriage-way and HOV lanes as well as monitoring stop-sign runners. A pretty deversified bunch of innovate high-tech equipment, indeed.
Photo LIDAR and is also coming in the form of laser drones...if you thought automated red light cameras and photo radar cameras were bad enough, look out. Automated photo laser may soon be "issuing" speeding tickets all on their own...we'll keep you posted on this developing story...
Even more the reason to invest in countermeasures like VEIL and Blinder.
That about covers it for now. Until next time...safe motoring!
Saturday, April 08, 2006
MPH's POP RADAR
I recently noticed MPH industries' website was updated (actually the update occured a while ago, but hey, the Net is a big place):
"MPH recommends that the officer obtain a tracking history of a speed violator by operating the radar in normal transmit mode after determining with POP mode that the vehicle is speeding. This is because most radar case law is based on tracing a vehicle in normal radar operation. The information obtained in POP mode is accurate and reliable, but may not be supported by case law in court. "
What's interesting is what isn't included on that page any longer:
"For this reason, MPH does not allow the information derived in POP mode to be locked into the unit. By not allowing the speed measured in POP mode to be locked in, the evidential nature of locked target speeds is preserved and radars with POP mode can take advantage of the existing radar case law. The POP mode signal does not provide the evidence being used to uphold the officer's visual evidence, speeds determined by traditional radar methods do."
That paragraph was excised from that page.
This is an interesting development, I believe, as the manufacturer originally indicated that POP RADAR was not designed specifically for issuing tickets. The above paragraph leaves the door open for legal precedent to possibly allow such action. Notice the words "may not be supported."
Does this really mean anything substantive. I am not sure, but, I can't help but think: "give 'em an inch and they'll take a..." Maybe
Mr. Valentine was on to something afterall...even though he relented and did provide superior POP detection is his class-leading radar detector, valentine 1.
At any rate, at least most top radar detectors are able to sniff out POP now - the Valentine 1 being the most adept. If only they would come up with reliably detecting 16ms POP that is four times quicker than their "conventional" already blistering 67ms POP RADAR.
For my money, police laser remains the threat with which to be most concerned - especially with the sub-$2000 price-barrier recently being broken by Kustom Signal with their binocular-styled police LIDAR guns.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
They are called the Pro Lite and Pro-Lite+ and will supplement the Pro III.
According to KS site (which was offline at this time):
The Pro-Lite is a single-shot version that includes a heads-up-display for quick and easy targeting and viewing of speed information for range applications up to 1,500 ft. The Pro-Lite has a full menu of functions and features easily accessible by the operator.
The Pro-Lite + equals the targeting speed of the Pro-Lite, and uses the same HUD technology with speed or range for easy viewing by the operator. The Pro-Lite + is available for departments who want the addition of full speed tracking history and longer shooting range for multi-lane traffic situations, while still maintaining a simple, easy 4-button format. "
These binocular style, handheld devices offer easy "point-and-shoot" operation that is ideal for motor officers and even foot patrol officers. Weighing less than 1 lb., these units allow for hours of operation without physical stress and since both eyes can be kept open, eye strain is virtually eliminated. Both versions include a neck strap/lanyard, as with binoculars, they can be easily carried or worn around the neck. Additionally, these units operate on two standard AA batteries and can be used in the field for over 30 hours before the batteries need to be replaced.
The environmental mode minimizes the range-limiting effects of poor weather conditions as well as eliminating problems with shooting through obstructions such as fences and trees. Additionally, the selectable direction mode prevents displays of unselected traffic direction. This mode prevents the operator from inadvertently obtaining a speed from an opposite direction vehicle. It also has the capability of setting minimum and maximum target ranges—great for areas such as school and construction zones where you need a beginning and end mark to target vehicles inside a specific area.---
Years ago, european Jenoptik, released its Laveg model which was also a "binocular type" with superior optics. However its solid construction (MILSPEC) made it heavy and difficult to handle for extended periods of time.
Kustom promises to be much easier to operate for longer duration.
As of 2/16/06, the IACP has already approved both of these units for use.
My understanding is that their performance should be similar to that of the Pro III meaning that countermeasures should perform similarly.
Only time will tell.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
We have noticed that the performance of majority of these radar detectors varies depending upon the police laser gun used to target our test vehicles.
We were curious to investigate more closely and have prepared a report which chronicles these differences.
We pitted these radar laser detectors against all currently available generation 3 (Gen III) police lasers:
Kustom Signal Pro Laser III
Laser Atlanta S
Laser Atlanta S - stealth mode
Laser Technology Ultralyte 100LR
Read the following to see what we found out:
Laser Detectors Reviews, Tests, & Comparison
Saturday, February 11, 2006
On one test drive cycle I travelled from I-78 east to I-287 south and ultimately to the NJTP and I-295 in New Jersey during evening rush hour.
What I noticed, was that the latest V1 was indeed quiet and when it did alert to Ka several times, it almost immediately followed with the "J" alert tone and then edited out further Ka reporting entirely.
It did this as I was in the midst of a fair amount of traffic.
At this time, I am inclined to believe that the latest Valentine's provide some of the most advanced filtering [of "falses"] currently available and I would suggest that owners of previous software versions to get their detectors flash upgraded.
The V1 is the only model that has this advanced capability and further ensures that this detector remains on my short list of must-have auto electronic accessories.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Bel STI Driver Preview
I am refraining from undertaking a complete and thorough review until the production of the STi Driver radar detectors picks up in the coming months.