Saturday, May 26, 2007

How (I Think, in Part) my BEL STi Drivers Occasionally Outperform my V1s in RADAR (not LIDAR) Reception

I continue to notice, that on occasion, my Beltronics STi Drivers outperform my Valentines and I believe I have formulated a possible reason for this that may go beyond simple model to model variance that is inevitable in production.

While my V1s tend to consistently outperform my STi Drivers from the rear and extreme sides (likely due to the antennae [one rear-facing] and their relatively large/wide shape(s) that uniquely are housed inside a Valentine's casing) my STi Drivers appear to occasionally alert sooner to police radar sources that are farther down the road which more directly face my vehicle front. (These are the kind that I am most concerned about when I drive on the highway).

And I think that this is probably due to the actual design and shape of the STi Driver's front facing horn antennae. It almost feels like these radar detectors "look" at [frontal radar sources] objects with a 600mm telephoto lens versus the Valentine's 550mm lens. At least that is the impression I am forming after many many thousands of driving miles with each.

While the V1's dual antennae arrangement and radar/laser locating arrows are awesome and unique, this design also tends to create a higher initial false rate from the side or rear, as well, so it is to some degree a double-edged sword.

The STi's somewhat "narrower" field of view appears to naturally assist in spotting radar slightly bit farther out, in some cases, while at the same time tending to false a bit less to other radar sources which emanate from shopping centers and outlet stores that are routinely adjacent to the highway. This is true even in "highway mode" and has nothing to do with the advanced radar signal processing that this radar detector is capable of.

It appears the both the Beltronics STi Driver and Valentine 1 provide stellar reception sensitivity in controlled test chambers, however the performance, to which I am writing, goes beyond mere lab numbers and these differences may only be observed in actual use with all the signal-reception-imperfections that real-world environments provide over an extended period of time -- which don't occur in a "vacuum."

This is why we pioneered our unique approach to long-term radar detector testing against real police radar speed traps. Some aspects, of radar detector performance, can not be revealed with mere performance charts.

Next week, we will be driving to and from Atlanta, Georgia, along I-95 and continuing our long-term evaluation of the top-performing best radar detectors.


Speedtrap Hunter OH said...

Keep up the good work Bob. Your hard earned $$$$ that you are spending on these tests are appreciated by us.

Anonymous said...

Which one do you prefer as far as city driving? about highway driving?..i dunno which to get. V1 or STi. I dont need the stealth mode, since i am not going to travel to VA, Canada, etc, but i want one that performs awesome.

Veil Guy said...

They are both very very fine and sensitive radar detectors.

Personally, I find some of the enhancements to the behavior of the STi driver to be preferable when driving around town.

On the highway, I tend to prefer the behavior of the V1...the arrows are certainly very much valued and the sensitivity that the V1 has to police laser is unmatched by any other radar detector.

I feel equally protected by either when I drive with them individually, however, I prefer to drive with BOTH of them in operation, getting the best of both worlds.

Together I get the best radar and laser reception possible (STi & V1), directional information (V1), and band identification (STi).

When used in this manner, I will often turn the volume of the V1 to a low level and let the STi do the alerting for me (with automuting) while getting the benefit of the visual directional and signal strength levels from the V1.

Furthermore, they each serve as a check-and-balance to one another in the event there is a technical fault with either (which has happened twice to me, once with the V1 and once with the STi).

Yes, I know, the we're talking about $850 in detectors (not counting the cost of laser countermeasures) however, I believe it is money very well spent when one considers the cost of just one speeding ticket over a three year period.

In that context, they're a bargain and will serve your driving interests well over a very long period of time (longer than most other consumer electronics) and will pay for themselves many times over.

Veil Guy

Anonymous said...

I am very confused about one major issue not discussed about detectors other than the V1 Other manufacturers and various reviewers and reviews speak to the fact that other top rated high end detectors also have rear facing antena. How are we supposed to know that bogey is behind us without the benefit of "ARROWS"? Also,one thing that drove me wild about the older Escorts was there constant falses. It seems that the V1 will false much more (Leaking cheap detectors Shopping Centers and Garage door openers,Etc). Is there any way to adjust the V1 to not false as you can with the 9500?

Veil Guy said...

While not as "full-proof" as the V1's arrows (which, incidentally, may on occasion incorrectly indicate the actual source of police radar) one can generally get an idea as to the location of police radar, without arrows, by the nature of the audio/visual alerting signal-ramp (ie; signal strength) behavior.

When one drives enough with any given radar detector, one can generally learn to identify the source location by how the radar detector alerts.

While certain reviews and tests correctly point to the stellar sensitivity of the Valentine 1, one must also take into account the propensity for 'falses' with or without arrows which can also lead to 'driver fatigue' [in the real-world] and the discounting of alerts by the driver whether they are from bonafide police radar sources or not.

The appeal of radar detectors like the Beltronics STi Driver, the BEL STi Remote, the Escort Passport 9500i, and Escort Passport 9500ci is that they strive to maintain the highest levels of sensitivity while at the same time attempt to minimize the occurrence of 'false' alerts (ie; maximize selectivity).

It's been my experience that the sensitivity [to the rear] of the dual LNA design (of the STi Driver, STi Remote, 9500ci) is, for all intents-and-purposes, every bit as good as the V1 with its rear-facing antenna.

Other than police laser reception sensitivity (where the V1 clearly dominates every other radar detector), I love the performance capabilities of these other top-performing radar detectors and feel equally protected with their operation.

In so far as "quieting" the V1, there are ways to program this venerable radar detector to be somewhat quieter. This quieting can be achieved with the use of logic and advanced-logic modes that can behave differently than their default setting when their use is coupled with the advanced programming of the V1.

Advanced programming, with logic and advanced-logic modes, can reduce the audio alerting of unwanted X and K alerts.

Futhermore, if you are absolutely certain that X-band (an older form of police radar) is not used along your driving routes, you can simply turn-off X-band reception which can eliminate a lot of 'false' X-band sources.

Here is an informative post on RD.NET about programming:

Advanced V1 Programming

And, I have found the Ka can also be quieted a good degree by the disabling of POP reception, (ie; the J function).

Don't get me wrong, I love the utility of the arrows, no doubt, but I also realize that other aspects of radar detector performance/behavior are also [just as] important.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with acquiring two radar detectors. You could use the V1 for the open highway and the Beltronics or Escort models for everything else.

In my opinion, the Beltronics STi Driver is an exception all-around radar detector that performs well in either environment.

Veil Guy