Thursday, March 24, 2011

Whistler Pro-3600 Review: Whistler's New Over-Achiever

Whistler Pro-3600 Custom Installed Remote Complete Package

Whistler Pro-3600 Review: Whistler's New Over-Achiever

Updated: 23 Apr 14, By Veil Guy


This past weekend was very special.

It was special because three things happened—two astronomically and one terrestrially. During its course we experienced the vernal equinox (start of Spring) and a rare lunar orbital perigee, but perhaps even more special was that I finally managed to have a productive opportunity to experience Whistler's new remote, the Whistler Pro-3600, in the real-world, after an additional 1100+ mile five state extended road-trip.

I attempted this several weeks ago, but after driving through three states (PA, NJ, NY), and 300 miles, I did not accumulate enough encounters to allow me to learn the personality/performance profile of this new Whistler. All that has changed and I now believe I have a very good feel for the new Whistler Pro-3600 remote installed radar detector.

This is not Whistler's first remote, as they have offered them for some time, it is however Whistler's first remote based on their currently highest-performing "78 (SE)" platform that has appeared in Whistler's dash-mounts including the Whistler Pro-78SE, Pro-695SE, and Pro-690SE.

This product marks an important milestone for Whistler, because if someone is going to go through the trouble and expense of purchasing and installing a remote radar detector, then it is only natural to do so with a manufacturer's highest performing design within their budget.

The Whistler Pro-3600 is a significant offering, because it is their first detector that provides advanced GPS & photo-enforcement capabilities in one integrated package while providing a ton of features that serve the driver more than the manufacturer's own marketing/sales literature.

The core unit is sold without GPS, for those that are on a more limited budget, with a street price of under $350. The RLC-360 module can be purchased at anytime for an additional C note, that adds all of the advanced GPS capabilities.

So, what does $350 really get you?

Deep Dive

In my experiences, the performance of the Pro-3600 is what I expected: excellent performance on Ka-band, fair performance on K, and somewhat lacking on X-band, although I suspect X and K-band reception performance will be sufficient for most of us.

Whistler Pro-3600 vs CO 24.1Ghz K Source

Whistler Pro-3600 vs 2 CO 34.7 Ka Sources Facing Away

The Whistler's effective response on Ka-band, like all SE models, is quite remarkable, often lagging my benchmark dashmount units (Escort Redline, Beltronics STi Driver) by relatively small margins and on other occasions by wider margins, but all appeared sufficient to provide enough advanced warning.

Whistler Pro-3600 vs 2 IO 35.5 Ka Threats

Granted, where I primarily drive in the North East (PA, NJ, NY, DE, MY), the terrain is such that one doesn't always benefit, as much as one would expect, from having a detector with much greater sensitivity. This subtle reality is often lost on many of those preoccupied with performance only in terms of absolute sensitivity observed on long unobstructed straightaways. Depending upon your specific driving routes, your results may differ if the terrain allows for it.

When approaching radar from around multiple curves and/or with heavier amounts of traffic, one typically does not cross into radar beam-dispersion patterns until well within the detection range, resulting in alerts that begin with a signal strength that is higher than level one (1). In many of my instances, radar detectors have immediately jumped from not alerting at all to alerting with an initial signal strength of 4 or 5.

And, as is often the case, brief reflections of radar (as it bounces around and reflects off a objects and moving vehicles ahead) will create short-lasting windows of opportunity for spotting radar.

In such circumstances, a quicker reacting detector can and will tend to out-alert one that requires longer durations of radar before alerting. This will create the appearance of a detector having greater sensitivity than the detector that chooses not to alert, even one with [much] higher-levels of sensitivity.

There is a critically delicate balancing act happening here, as this alerting behavior is a double-edged sword. Being too quick can lead to excessive false alerts, being too slow can lead to missing an opportunity at an advanced warning when another car is being targeted ahead of you. (The primary purpose of a radar detector's function).

Fortunately, Whistler's "reactivity" is user configurable—an especially useful and unique feature to Whistler. (more on this later)

During my travels, I only experienced one laser hit and that was from behind (on highway I-78 in northern NJ) and the 3600 did not alert to it, as it was mounted solely in the front of the vehicle, as all remotes are, with the exception of the Escort Passport 9500ci, which includes an integrated laser shifter ZR4 that includes a rear-facing laser transponder.

This "deficit" can be mitigated, since the Pro3600 can accept an optional rear-facing radar antenna/laser sensor—the only other remotes to have done this, are the less-than-stellar K40s. The über high-end Beltronics STi-R+ can also optionally take a rear laser transponder.

SpeedInfo's pulsed K-band traffic sensors can wreak havoc with the 3600, very much like many other brands in the market. Escort and Beltronics have since introduced a feature known as TSR to quiet their detectors to these pulsed K-band traffic flow sensors and when invoked makes driving with them much more enjoyable, to say the least.

Pro3600 Filter-mode Reactivity vs. Short-Pulses of K-band
Since the reactivity/responsiveness on the Pro3600 remote can be tweaked, the driver can choose the responsiveness that is best suited for him/her (as is the case with its Whistler dashmount counterparts).

I have determined the combination of POP OFF and FILTER 2, does indeed filter out the vast majority of false alerts to these problematic sensors. The selection of FILTER 3, serves to completely eliminate them and with a minimal amount of responsiveness "penalty"—leaving you at less risk at missing bonafide radar shots ahead of you.

With respect to the Pro-3600's GPS and photo-enforcement capabilities, I must first admit that during my drive in Virgina, Washington D.C., and Maryland, the Pro3600 failed to alert to any RLC monitored intersection! I began having some serious reservations about this feature.

What I failed to realize is that the RLC-360 photo-enforcement database is not loaded by default when the GPS module is added to the 3600—my bad! After a quick call to Whistler, I managed to successfully load the database on to the system.

This is a two-step process initially, followed then by one recurring procedure each month to update the database.

The Pro3600 has a wonderfully unique capability in this regard.

Instead of requiring the remote to be tethered to an Internet-connected PC, the Pro3600 updates its firmware and database requiring only a USB key-drive (no PC required!)

This is the easiest and most elegant solution I have yet seen.

The process is simple but a bit lengthy as it currently requires a person on the other end to send you the files. I am told that this may become automated upon the next website update. You must register the RLC-360 online at Whistler's web-site and wait for them to send you the files during business hours—an updated firmware and the current photo-enforcement database file.

Pro3600 USB Interface Dongle

First, copy the firmware file to the USB key-drive and make sure it is the only file placed on the drive. Second, connect the key drive to the USB dongle of the Pro3600 while the power is OFF. Then, power the unit on.

During the power on sequence, the Pro3600 will identify the file on the drive, and prompt for accepting the update to the system. Once approved, the system will automatically apply the file update. This process is repeated for the database file update. Once the firmware has been applied, subsequent updates to the database can be applied without the need for another firmware update.

Being armed with this new capability, I set off to Delaware where I knew photo-enforcement was being utilized. What I found is that Whistler's Verilight database appeared to do a good job at alerting to the presence of redlight cameras located in the two cities I drove in Delaware, Newark and Wilmington.

Whistler RLC-3600 vs RLC of Newark & Wilmington, DE

While it is very difficult to provide a thoroughly accurate assessment of the overall quality of a photo-enforcement database without driving on a regular basis around the entire country to check every location, the 3600 appeared to turn in a respectable performance and did appear to offer a somewhat higher level of accuracy (where I drove) as compared to Cobra's Aura database, found in Cobra's top-of-line models and iRadar smartphone application.

So I'll instead focus on the operating nature, I observed, of their system. The Pro3600 appears to be using a "hybrid" (for lack of a better term) vector and proximity based alerting mechanism. This appears to provide for a more stable distance countdown to photo-enforcement areas (especially around curved roads) and reduced false-alerting. But, it does not appear to be in the same league as the industry-leading Cheetah Trinity database (that has been essentially re-branded as the Defender database by Beltronics and Escort).

However, just being alerted to the fact that a general area is utilizing photo enforcement (at least in the form of redlight cameras), I believe, is sufficient for most drivers (including myself) as I tend to scan intersections whether I am being alerted or not, just to be on the safe side.

Also, just knowing that these scameras are around, I tend to be especially cautious when following other vehicles particularly when lights turn yellow for fear of the tendencies of drivers to nail their brakes often in an overreaction to even shorter-duration yellow-to red-light timing transitions specifically designed to pop that rate of these money making tickets for the for-profit companies that implement them.

Pro3600 Alert and Security LED

Beyond its performance, the Pro3600 incorporates a number of cool features (some completely new), such as user-configurable variable speed filtering (ie; reactivity) modes, configurable over-speed alert, customized user-marked GPS locations, GPS clock, announced direction of travel, GPS compass, outside temperature gauge, additional filter mode (totaling four), two ramp-rates, and an additional heads-up alert LED with a faux-security blinking feature when the vehicle is parked and powered off.

Pro3600 Connection Module

The Pro3600 provides a well-marked connection module with RJ-type connections and an integrated display and control module. The module provides more useful user-customized programming features than any other detector that I have ever encountered (exceeding those of even the V1).

With respect to some of Whistler's unique and especially useful additional features:

The proximity based alerting nature of the photo-enforcement marked locations can be changed from a larger to a smaller radius (which can be useful for heavily monitored city streets, like those found in Washington, DC.) User marked locations can be deleted as a group within a user-selectable radius, or be removed from memory in their entirety.

Another very useful capability, again unique to Whistler, and will be absolutely essential to international drivers, is user selectable and configurable laser pulse sequence windows that enable the Whistler to be able to additionally see and alert to a plethora of European lasers that have pulse-sequences outside the scope of U.S. made lasers. In fact, Whistler appears capable of detecting the Traffipatrol XR, an incredible feat for a radar detector, regardless of brand or price.

One feature, I very much appreciate is the Whistler's ability to obtain live time and date using the GPS NMEA protocol and selectable time-zone and DST offsets. I am not aware of another GPS-enabled detector, that offers this. Having that ability could pave the way for Whistler to offer a lot of interesting new capabilities in the future...

Currently, the 3600 does not automatically account for daylight savings time, and I have already made a request to Whistler's engineering team to consider a firmware update that would enable this capability. This was a timely discovery, as we just crossed into DST. As it stands currently, one must manually enable DST from the menu.

Another aspect of the Pro-3600 I appreciate is the cabling/power fault detection circuitry. When the unit experiences an electrical fault or connection issue of some kind, it alerts with a high-pitched tonal sequence and displays the fault message on the integrated display/control module.

The one-piece display and control module can be mounted in the most-flexible of positions, as the display read-out can be inverted or made to read sideways (for vertical mounting).

The unit has the a GPS odometer and an elapsed travel time log that can be reset, at a push of a button—a handy feature for extended long-distance multi-state trips.

A design element, I don't particularly care for is the speaker attachment. I find its use, to be a distracting element to an otherwise clean and factory-looking professional install. As it currently stands, the speaker module is designed to attach to the A-pillar and comes with an integrated volume control. I generally regard it as an unsightly component, in my particular vehicle.

Separate Volume Controlled Speaker

Furthermore, the speaker never seems to get as loud as the more conventionally designed dashmounts or the high-end remotes from Beltronics and Escort and depending on placement, the visor can be blocked from opening and closing.

My preference would be for the addition of an external speaker box that can be mounted below the dash and out of sight, that has sufficiently high levels of volume to really overcome ambient in-cabin sounds and whose volume can be changed simply by the press of a button located on the main control/display module. Having an extra audio output to feed into car stereo systems could be a nice touch, as well.

I would also prefer to see some improvements made to the audio signal ramp in two areas. Firstly, the audio alert ramp-up to approaching radar sources appears, by comparison to a dashmount SE, to be a bit lethargic. Secondly, the level of urgency of the 3600's maximum alert-rate also appears to lag behind the dashmounts.

Other than these little gripes of mine, I believe the Whistler Pro3600 is a thoroughly thought out and refined package, replete with features and capabilities, not found elsewhere, whose subtle utility become more and more apparent (and appreciated) with each passing day.


Some of you have asked me whether or not, I believe, it is worth upgrading to the Pro 3600 from one of their windshield-mount SE detectors. To this question I must offer a nuanced answer.

I say "yes," if you care to own one remote that provides GPS photo enforcement capability in one package and have a limited budget.

But I wouldn't suggest doing so, if you are merely looking for increased performance to radar as the detection performance of the Pro-3600 appears generally on par with Whistler's existing SE dashmount models.

Pro3600 Radar/Laser Receiver Head Grill Mounting

While Whistler's engineering has informed me that K-band detection has improved a little bit over the dashmount SE models (something that I occasionally noticed), the increase in sensitivity to K was generally offset by the remote's lower grill mounting location (having given up a height-advantage that the dashmount SEs enjoy).

For everyone else, I believe the Pro-3600 is a viable purchase offering a lot of value for those desiring a budget-priced fully-featured remote.

Happy and Safe Motoring!

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Laser Ally Lidar Speed Gun: High Tech Police Laser

Laser Ally Police Lidar Unit

Laser Ally DNA

Updated: 23 Apr 14, By Veil Guy

I still have a first generation police laser gun from Laser Technology (LTI) in my possession, the 20-20 Marksman, introduced in the early to 1990s. It's sheathed in metal and sports some serious optics. It's also packs some heft to it.

At the time, it was common to see these lidar guns being operated by the Maryland State Police tripod-mounted, perhaps, in part, because it didn't take long to experience wrist and general muscle fatigue, when hand-held, because they tended to be a bit top heavy. But, they were built like a tank. In fact, not so long ago, I had a conversation with a NJ State Trooper who was still operating one in the field because, according to the office, the later generation models, like the LTI Ultralyte, were not holding up in the field as well as these original designs.

As lidar guns have evolved over the years (now being 3rd/4th generation) from the long-established manufacturers—LTI, Kustom Signals, Stalker, and Laser Atlanta, they have tended to get smaller, lighter, and considerably less expensive than their predecessors.

Laser Ally Spec View

Laser Ally™: The New Kid on the Block

As with any reduction in manufacturing costs, the trend, all too often, is that quality, reliability, and perhaps even performance suffers as a consequence. A good example of this, is Kustom Signal's Pro-Lite series of binocular-style lasers. In my experience, the earlier and more expensively built Pro-III is its superior.

Perhaps bucking this trend is DragonEye Technology and their fresh new laser gun called the Laser Ally, which was on display to the traffic enforcement community at the most recent IACP conference, in Florida, and distributed exclusively by Digital Ally.

While Kansas-based Digital Ally is certainly the new kid on the block when it comes to lidar enforcement, it wouldn't be entirely accurate to think of the the Laser Ally as an "immature" or unproven product.

The Laser Ally is the brainchild of Scott Patterson of DragonEye Technology, LLC. Mr. Patterson has more than a decade of development experience with police lasers, having worked for Kustom Signals along with some other lidar manufacturers.

Over the years, Scott listened to the feedback from the field, collected a list of gripes or suggestions for improvement from the actual users of the different lidar guns, and used this information to develop the new generation Laser Ally police laser designed specifically for the officers and not just some generic RFP.

The appearance of the Laser Ally looks somewhat unorthodox; most notable is the handle, which pitches forward, as opposed to toward the rear or perpendicular to the chassis of other more conventionally designed lasers. This is claimed to improve balance, making it easier to target while being less fatiguing over extended periods of use. We are told by the manufacturer that this will be welcomed, especially by female officers and motorcycle patrols.

From a quality of construction stand-point, Digital Ally has asserted that while compact, the Laser Ally is structurally quite rugged, sporting an internal "floating" internal mechanism that improves accuracy and if dropped or subjected to heavy blows, the die cast, cushioned impact resistant, superimposing elements and HUD projecting display will retain its reticule aiming accuracy without requiring adjustment.

The targeting HUD features a reticule whose shape is wider than it is taller, which assists in easier and more precise targeting at a distance and provides a superior through-the-glass viewfinder experience.

With respect to it targeting abilities, the Laser Ally is capable of successfully measuring speeds through windshields (even those that are tinted) at distances greater than 500 meters (1625 feet) and, as expected, should provide superior inclement weather operation, as well.

Unique to the Laser Ally, is an obstruction mode, which allows for the elimination of stationery fixed sources of reflections, enabling accurate speed/distance measurements from cover and through obstructions that would prevent other lidar guns from obtaining speed readings.

The LaserAlly is designed to accept conventionally-sized C batteries which can also be rechargeable. This promises to be a more cost-effective alternative to proprietary battery/handle inserts of other lasers, such as the Kustom Pro III and Laser Atlanta Speed Lasers.

A very functional sleep mode only requires a single trigger-pull to "awaken" the targeting functions which will also engage the display of the last speed and distance clocking results.

The lidar unit, itself, is lighter than even the diminutive LTI Truspeed while promising to be as quick as the Truspeed in acquisition times, which I regard as one of the quickest in obtaining speed readings.

According to the Digital Ally, the unit incorporates advanced laser-jamming "proof" algorithms, which make it virtually undetectable and potentially unjammable, and is field-updateable via a USB connected PC, meaning no more having to take equipment out of service to load new firmware, threatening the efficacy of all laser jammers today and in the future.

Unlike Laser Atlanta's optional (and for an additional fee) stealth-mode (which has been largely figured out by most radar detector/laser jammer companies), the LaserAlly's anti-jamming function does not require a deep menu selection to enable the feature as it is a standard feature which operates by default. With the Laser Atlanta lasers, most officers were not even aware of their stealth-mode abilities or fully understood how to enable/disable their function.

Since the LaserAlly provides this capability seamlessly, it should prove to be somewhat of a headache to manufacturers and owners of laser jammers (although as a percentage of the total driving population, they are a rather minuscule amount).

As of August 2010, Digital Ally's new lidar gun was certified for speed measurement and now appears on its approved list of lidar guns for traffic/speed enforcement.

We understand that, Digital Ally has yet to be awarded a state-wide contract, but a small number of them can be found in operation in several cities throughout North America, including Boston, Massachusetts.

The lidar unit is competitively priced, retailing at $2995USD.

Although a new comer to the laser speed enforcement market, Digital Ally appears to be offering a mature and thoughtfully designed speed measurement device that has some pedigree to it.

We are expecting to receive a unit on loan from the manufacturer and will publish an accompanying video demonstrating its use and feature set.


Time will tell if Digital Ally can sufficiently penetrate the mature laser speed enforcement marketplace. However, judging by its extensive oft user-requested feature set, ease of use, and elegant design, the prospects may be good.

Official Product Information
Corporate Contact: Digital Ally, Inc., +1 913.814.7774

Online Discussion: New High-Tech Police Laser

Friday, March 11, 2011

Beltronics STiR Plus Review Part I

Beltronics STiR Plus Review: the All-Time Very Best

Updated 22 Aug 11:

Part II of this review can be found here: Beltronics STiR Plus Review Part II

Beltronics STiR Plus Review Part I

For Those Who Believe In A Second Coming

Weeks ago, Beltronics was kind enough to send me the very first production model of the Beltronics STiR Plus for an early evaluation and review, prior to its introduction to the US marketplace.

Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled when they did so, since I have been the biggest fan of their (now discontinued) Beltronics STi-R and, I would assert, am more familiar with the operating nature of the original Beltronics STi-R than anyone else.

Those of you that have subscribed to my blog for any period of time, already know how I have felt about the Beltronics STi-R remote radar/laser detector, a detector I have relied upon up to this time and I consider it my most preferred radar detector.

Early Impressions

It is my assertion that the Beltronics STiR Plus is the very best radar detector ever produced in the entire 30+ year history of the radar detection industry.

I would know, as I have driven with more detectors than one could possibly imagine, dating all the way back to the very first high-end (superheterodyne) detector produced, the original Escort, introduced in 1978.

This is an accolade I don't throw around lightly, using cute semantics or similar wording to describe more than one detector, like other reviewers, who also retail multiple detectors. To me, the very best, means just that, the very best—it is a singular attribution.

Generally, I am more reserved and nuanced in my praise of any given detector. However, my extreme enthusiasm for this new remote, is warranted.

The Beltronics STi-R Plus is based on the most advanced design ever—referred to internally by the company as the M3 platform. Not only do I regard it as the most sensitive detector design ever, it is also undetectable by RDDs such as the Spectre...rendering them obsolete.

The M3 has been incorporated into three other detectors manufactured by Beltronics and Escort (which are sister companies): the first dash-mount M3 radar detector, the Beltronics STi Driver, the Escort Passport 9500ci remote radar/laser detector/jammer, and their latest high-end dash-mount from Escort, the Redline.

While all of these detectors share the M3 design, the Beltronics STiR Plus (like its predecessor, the STi-R) has the unique ability of allowing certain operations to be turned OFF. As with any über-performing design, it is often the case that less is more.

To use a car analogy, as good as the Porsche 911 Turbo has been (equate this to the Passport 9500ci), the Beltronics STi-R Plus is the Porsche GT3 RS of radar detectors.

Like any "stripped" down ultra high-performance car, performance often goes from merely spectacular to the sublime. And the Beltronics STi-R Plus is no exception. The difference, though, with the STi-R Plus, its owner has the ability to operate it in either configuration. Something that you can't do with either of these two different cars. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Unfortunately for Beltronics (and their fans, like myself), Escort has been the brand that is generally the more widely promoted and as such, differing performance characteristics between both brands may be lost in the process. Don't misunderstand me. The Escort Passport 9500ci is a fabulous model in its own right. But from my driver's seat, I believe the Beltronics STi-R Plus has the ability of being even better.

I base my opinion upon having driven with both models in my vehicle for a good number of years. And, it was I, who first observed and commented about the perceivable enhanced performance levels of the Beltronics STi-R (relative to the Passport 9500ci) as a consequence of employing these advanced configuration tweaks—narrow-band Ka segmentation and RDR (detection processing/qualification) disabling.

In original STiR's marketing literature the potential beneficial impact that these configuration tweaks could have with real-world encounters were never articulated (promoting them primarily as a means to reducing excessive Ka falsing).

Today, Beltronics does now specifically acknowledge and promote the benefits of an extremely quick-to-react and sensitive detector [to brief radar reflections or quick-triggered (QT) radar] that can still operate without excessive falsing as a consequence; and in addition, if the stationery false radar-lockout function works without flaw, this could be the holy grail of radar detection.

To be clear, I don't believe that this new remote is actually more sensitive, per se, than any other M3-based detector including the Passport 9500ci or the Redline. I do believe it is merely quicker in alerting to brief radar signals, that theses other models also detect, but are programmed to require a longer duration and/or more qualification before actually alerting to them.

This can give the appearance to the driver that the detector is more sensitive, but technically I don't believe this is the case and depending upon the nature of the initial encounter this behavioral difference will not always manifest itself. But, when it does, it is a beautiful thing to behold!

This is one of the reasons why my unique real-world testing and reviewing format provides insight into perceived performance variations that are not observable at staged/controlled test-runs in some remote desert. Such nuances are only observable in the real-world of driving over extended-periods of time.

Despite my very vocal proclamations of the value of these enhanced radar detection features, the sales of the STi-R in the US market were apparently not sufficient enough to prevent Beltronics from discontinuing the model. Those who did listen to my original review of the STiR and purchased one, appreciated it for the additional configuration capabilities it possessed, and some of those who didn't, later regretted missing out when it became no longer available for purchase.

Fast forward about a good number of months (not just three days), Escort and Beltronics have finally seen the light and have resurrected the STi-R in an even more capable form as the Beltronics STiR Plus.

The Plus means that Beltronics has incorporated all of the wonderful features of the Passport 9500ci (advanced GPS functionality: auto-learning/false lock-out, red-light and speed-camera geo-alerting and computer connectivity to allow updates to its firmware and geo-coded database) while preserving the distinctive user-selectable filtering features of the original STi-R. This results in an absolute killer combination and is something I had hoped for from the beginning when both remotes were originally introduced to the US marketplace.

Even with its user-configurable responsiveness, I never found the original STiR at all punishing (like the sensitive and quick-to-react V1 can often be). But for those that may, the Plus promises to be even less so, given its new ability to permanently lockout stationery false locations, like X and K-band door openers and radar drones, automatically, something the 9500ci has had the ability to do since its introduction.

What's more, Beltronics is offering the STi-R+ without the ZR4 laser shifters (bundled with the Passport 9500ci) at a lower price point than the ci—$1199 versus $1599 for the 9500ci, allowing its owner the option of subsequently adding the ZR4 ($449) or enabling its pairing with another laser jammer from another manufacturer of choice, if desired. *Note: Due to the devaluation of the U.S. dollar, as of May 1st, 2011, the price is expected to increase to $1299.

When you consider that the original STiR retailed at $1099, you'll understand how much of a value the new STiR+ is now. For merely $100 more, you get the same advanced GPS capabilities of the 9500ci.

One of the developments of both Escort and Beltronics products is that over time the distinction between their models have blurred somewhat. While there are, indeed, performance differences in the varying models based upon the more widely sold conventional M4 platform detectors from both companies, the configuration of filtering changes like those of the RX-65 or the two STiR-based remotes can not be found on other Beltronics models (such as RX-65's successor, the GX-65) and so the personality differences resulting from these different filtering mechanisms are not as pronounced as they used to be. (This same kind of thing has happened to BMW, where the current 3, 5, 6, and 7 series are not as distinctive as they have been in the past).

Therefore. I am thrilled to see that Beltronics has imbued the STi-R Plus with its unique filtering tweaking ability. Personally, I would not like to see these features appear with other Escort detectors, including the 9500ci— it's what makes the Plus such a special detector, in my opinion, and so distinctively Beltronics. That's the real appeal to me. To be clear, I am in no way taking anything away from the 9500ci. They both are spectacular.

Using another car analogy, think of the STi-R Plus as the Bentley to the 9500ci's Rolls-Royce. Each superlative examples of automotive design of similar origin, but each providing a unique ownership experience.

In addition to having the combined features of the original STi-R and 9500ci, Beltronics has added another goody: quick radar deactivation, further distinguishing itself from the 9500ci. This novel feature allows its user to completely disable radar detection—restricting its function to merely red-light and speed-camera alerting.

This could be invaluable in traffic-stop situations in areas where detectors are expressly forbidden. This feature was imported from down under, where the STiR Plus has been available for some time.

As it stands now, the detection ability has to be re-enabled via software tools, which is not optimal, in my opinion, as driving on an extended trip would cause the driver to remain blind to radar until access to the computer software would be possible to re-enable radar detection.

I have suggested to management that the radar detection functionality be re-enabled by repeating the button-pressing sequence that disables it, a firmware revision for which they appeared receptive.

Another feature that I would welcome on STiR+ is the ability to tailor the alert-decay rate (for lack of a better term).

Compared to other detectors, the trailing duration of alerts (after the radar transmission has ceased) of the remotes approaches nine seconds. While I can understand the reasoning behind such a design element, I personally would prefer the ability to shorten this duration to something on the order of only two to three seconds (more along the lines of Valentine and Whistler models).

The reason for this is that I believe it would enhance the ability of the detector to communicate more precisely an approaching instant-on radar trap. As it stands now, when trailing alerts last for such long duration, I believe alert textures can often be lost in translation. By giving the driver the choice of alert-decay rates, I believe, it would further improve its utility.

At some point, I hope Beltronics considers packaging this entire feature-set into a dash-mount version—call it the STi Driver Plus. At what would have to be a higher price point (than even their halo dash-mount detector, the Escort Redline), like this new remote, it would still be the value of the century. I asked for this quite some time ago, perhaps we're closer to this reality, now. I still believe, if you build it, people will come...


Any one considering the installation of a high-end radar detector in their vehicle would be well advised to consider the only viable alternative to the 9500ci. If you find it's back-ordered, don't fret. It'll be worth the wait.

It is the greatest radar detector of all-time, bar none.

Happy and safe motoring!

PS: I will be following up with a more thorough real-world examination as I accumulate miles and traffic radar encounters with this unit in part ii of this review.

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Online: STiR Plus Discussion

Veil Guy