Sunday, October 05, 2014

Deep dive review of the V1, Part VII: Conclusion

Deep Dive Review: Valentine One with V1connection, PART VII



Wow, am I thrilled that I made it this far!  I've got other articles and reviews to publish that I've put on hold.

It's hard to believe that it has taken me more than three months to pen this bad boy.  I didn't expect that when I set out to cover the many subtle and intimate details of the Valentine One.  But, as you can see there was a lot to cover and I seriously doubt that you will come across a more complete and thoroughly detailed review.

V1 Versus...

I often get questions from drivers considering a radar detector as to which one they should acquire.  As such I have written this review about the V1 in the context of not only its individual performance and characteristics but also how it compares and contrasts to other notable detectors. As I wrap-up this deep dive review of the V1, I will summarize what I believe are the most notable similarities and distinctions between the V1 and certain other detectors.

Choosing the right detector for your individual needs

When it comes to choosing which radar detector is right for you, you must take into account many different things.  Yes, the purpose all radar detectors serve is the same--to protect your driving record and make you a more attentive and safe driver.  

Though, in my mind, the Valentine One really has only two other windshield-mount radar detectors that are most closely related to it's technical nature.  The first one, is the lower-performing and value-priced Whistler CR90.  Although technically similar and a wonderfully inexpensive detector serving many drivers well, the Whistler does not (attempt to) play in the same league as the V1.  That is reserved for the Escort Redline.

You will find comparisons being made to the Passport Max and at first blush, these comparisons may seem logical, but upon closer inspection, they are entirely two different sorts of detectors and as a consequence, serve two different masters.  The Passport Max/Max2 are more appropriately compared to the Passport 9500ix and Beltronics GX-65--essentially as the evolutionary model of both models.

In my opinion, the Escort Redline is the only serious alternative to the V1.  Not just because of their similar performance characteristics but because of their similarity in nature which makes the comparison most apt.

No nonsense performance 

Both the Redline and the Valentine One are pure radar and laser detectors--geared to the most technically proficient and knowledgeable drivers.

Neither have built-in GPS capabilities nor include internal GPS redlight and speed camera databases.  These enhancements can be made to either unit with the use an optional Bluetooth module which integrates into a smartphone.

Only Escort provides the comprehensive and class-leading Defender database along with its Escort Live app.  Valentine on the other hand has what many regard as a superior smartphone app--called YaV1 (available only on Android phones)--written by an exceptionally talented RD forum enthusiast.  For those that wish to have a similar (and better) GPS crowd-sourcing experience, there is Waze (from Google).  This happens to be my most preferred setup.

Both models are comprised of two radar antennae.  The V1 has one forward and one rearward facing which gives it superior detections from the rear as well as imparts it with the unique ability to indicate direction of detections thus enhancing a driver's situational awareness while providing advanced muting, something that can not be found with any other detector.

The Redline, without a doubt, utilizes the most sophisticated dual-horn forward facing radar antenna design ever to appear in a consumer radar detector.  It's alerting range and off-axis capabilities, in certain notable instances, remain unmatched.

Off-axis detections can be a great thing for those who drive on secondary windy roads surrounded by heavy foliage.  It can also be a draw back on more densely populated highways and urban areas and tends not to provide for significant alerting advantages in areas of open (desert) terrain.  The decision of which capabilities prove more important remains a highly personal and subjective one.

While both detectors provide class-leading performance in their out-of-the-box standard configurations, both can be taken to unimaginable levels of performance when tweaked for responsiveness coupled with minimal filtering overhead.

The Redline has excellent laser sensitivity, however, the V1 is beyond sublime--being able to see both front and rear laser shots from the newest, most advanced, and hardest-to-detect guns currently proliferating in the wild.  As the inventor of Veil, my preferred choice, should be pretty obvious.

The Redline and its M3 brethren remote mounted radar detectors, the Beltronics STi-R+ and the Escort Passport 9500ci, remain the only detectors that are completely undetectable by radar detector detectors (RDDs) leaving the Virginia, District of Columbia, Military, and CDL drivers only one viable option.

Both models have the ability to filter to one degree or another K-band lane departure systems and traffic monitoring systems, but I have found the V1 handles these systems most effectively (although it does come with some reduction in range and responsiveness--as all of these K-band filters do).  The V1 also does a better job at filtering and muting than the Redline and its overall alerting behavior remains the very best.

Both models are built to the highest levels of construction quality and either one will provide years of service.  However, my hunch is with Valentine's approach of no-planned-obsolescence, the V1 will age better than the Redline as new challenges appear, leaving a V1 owner less compelled to purchase a new detector every year or so.  That appeals to my nature.  I tend to keep things for a long time.  I don't have a leasing mentality.  The last car I purchased was a 1999 Dinan 5 series which currently is sitting in my garage with an odometer indicating an excess of 255,000 miles.  It's still an awesome sports sedan, perhaps BMW's best ever, so why mess with a good thing?

In terms of customizations, the V1 has it down, in spades.  Many different performance profiles can be created and easily selected with a single push of an app "button."  A profile can be chosen when one is driving in NJ for example where X-band, 33.8Ghz & 34.7Ghz Ka, and Laser rule the day but can quickly be changed for use in driving in neighboring PA, where only K is used.  With any other detector, including the Redline, a time-consuming complex set of menu changes would have to be performed to accomplish the same thing.  The V1 even allows its owner to import and export these profiles.

Suggestions for Improvement

It would be nice to see a V1 having its Bluetooth function built-in and compatible to both the Android and iPhone.

I would also welcome the incorporation of a USB jack to allow for connection of a smartphone directly to the power cable. Whistler, Cobra, and Escort offer cables with this capability, it's high time that Valentine gets with the decade with their cables.

Speaking of cables, now that a smartphone can act as a remote display, a more compact cord option with a push-button mute and/or other quick control functions, and a two USB jacks would be the hot-ticket.

How about a stealth V1?  Years ago, an Aussie friend of claimed to have custom-modified V1 that was undetectable by RDDs (that was more than nine years ago!).  Hell, if he could do it, why not the wizards of VR?

Improved documentation both in the package on the website would be most welcomed.  Why make it so difficult for owners to tweak their detectors?

An improved display and control front fascia is an obvious area that could benefit from an update.  I think you guys have extracted as much as you can from a single digital display digit!  There's a lot more to tell an informed driver than just a bogey count, general bands detected, and direction.  (Note: This may finally be addressed in a forthcoming model).

Perhaps incorporating a USB data connection into the detector directly as does Escort and Whistler to allow for some firmware updates or, even better, incorporate the ability into the V1Connection app to push new firmware via Bluetooth.  On the other hand, it's very nice when one sends a V1 back in for an update, that VR extends another one-year warranty as if it were a new purchase as part of the upgrade fee.

Update your ad copy and your website!  Both look essentially unchanged from their original forms.  Enough about the arrows already and the same tired testimonials about them.  A lot has changed from the early nineties and we drivers have many more challenges to overcome. There are so many other fine attributes to the V1 and leaving both virtually unchanged, serves to only perpetuate the narrative of some (competitors) that the V1 hasn't really changed in years.  Hire a marketing guy for goodness sake (they're not all bad), and proclaim how so very well the V1 handles them!

I am sure there are other things that I would like to see, I just can't think of them at the moment. 

Conclusion

In the final analysis, whether or not the V1 is the detector most appropriate for you will remain rooted in subjectivity--no "objective" alerting range chart will suffice.  I have done my level best to lay out, in complete and unvarnished detail, the subjective nature of not only the latest V1, but of a number of other radar detectors which rightly merit consideration as well.


Utterly meaningless chart

To be sure, the V1 isn't for everyone; it is perhaps the most technical of all radar detectors and requires a high level of sophistication and commitment from a serious owner, for it to be fully appreciated. Don't ever expect to see brightly colored V1s mounted upon other windshields of cars you will surely pass.

There has been quite a bit of expectation that Valentine may be forthcoming with a major enhancement which many of us expect to propel it definitively ahead of its competition.  Whether or not this proves to be the case or when, rest assured, VR will surely provide an upgrade path (to it).

So, no matter which path you ultimately choose to take, I want to be explicitly clear on these two parting thoughts:

The Valentine One represents a towering achievement and comes with my highest recommendations.

Drive safe and smart.

Veil Guy

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