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1stRadarDetectors Tests the Escort SmartRadar

July 2012

I attended the annual radar detector test hosted by Speed Measurement Laboratories in late June 2012. There were several SML test goals this year, one of which was to test the maximum distance that a radar detector could detect laser. Another was testing over the hill at 2.2 miles; which I think was a highly needed test, as most drivers encounter hidden speed traps all the time under those driving circumstances. Also tested was photo speed camera alerts and RDD electronic invisibility.

Escort Radar asked 1stRadarDetectors to test their new SmartRadar Detector for 2012 performance evaluations. The SmartRadar is a blend between the Passport 9500ix and 8500ci remote radar detector. SmartRadar combines radar detection, speed camera alerts, laser detection, intuitive Smart alerts by other drivers, WEB downloads for photo locations, and an APPS program that merges your radar and photo speed camera alerts with your iPhone/Droid cel phone, GPS traffic displays.

The radar detector is designed to easily install in the windshield using a vacuum attachment and adhesive attachment. I found the small radar module was quickly installed behind the rear view mirror, and the attached visual display plugged into the radar module with a RJ11 cable that easily reached the corner of the rear view mirror where the display could be attached for quick glances on alerts.

The power cord is also a plug in using an RJ11 cable, long enough to wrap around the windshield and hide from view. Rather than plug the long direct power cord into the ignition fuse box, I modified the cable to plug into the cigarette power adaptor.

The SmartRadar is not designed as an RDD invisible radar detector, but it is completely invisible to the older VG2 and VG4, but can be detected by the newer RDD versions called Spectre, OPP Spectre and Stalcar radar detector detectors.

Over the Hill radar alerts at 2.2 miles was phenomenal on Ka and equally good on K band and X band, which was a surprise to me. I figured the SmartRadar would have been calibrated on Ka frequencies providing the superb Ka "over the hill" response. But I discovered the K band and X band detected equally well at 2.2 miles, OVER the HILL. For those who do not understand the value of "Over the Hill" testing, imagine you are driving down the interstate and in the distance you see a hill. The other side of that hill is a prime location for Johnny Law to sit and wait as people crest the hill, turning his radar on to catch your speed. The Police Officer waits for the top of your car or truck to crest the hill, before you see him. Most radar detectors alert to this Over the Hill radar trap just as you crest the hill or just before the crest, not providing enough time to adjust your speed. But with a full alert by the SmartRadar (all 6 bars of signal strength) at 2.2 miles over the hill, I could have detected the hidden radar trap even at 4 miles and had plenty of time to evaluate the alert as other vehicles crested the hill in front of me. The SmartRadar was nothing short of superb for radar alerts.

What I really liked was the iPhone (and Droid) APPS that allowed the SmartRadar to wirelessly connect via bluetooth to my iPhone, and to my surprise I found my iPhone displaying the GPS maps of the surrounding highways showing where all local photo radar traps and radar alerts were located respective to my location. You have to download the free APP to your cel phone and when complete, when the SmartPhone is turned on and your iPhone (or Droid) is in the SmartPhone APPS mode, the two will link up and voila, your cell phone looks like a GPS Nav display but shows where all the known radar/photo threats are. And the Smart function of the SmartRadar lets you target police car locations as you drive down the highway, letting you mark the location and send (or not send) the alert to the satellite, which then broadcasts to other local SmartRadar users of that police car location. As more SmartRadar users come on board, the function becomes more and more valuable to drivers.

Over all, I found the SmartRadar easy to set up and hide in the windshield. After downloading the free APP to link my iPhone and SmartRadar up, the SmartRadar then voiced alerts to me while displaying Photo locations on my iPhone. Over the Hill and standard radar alerts are superb, not only on Ka bands but K band (and the new sub K frequency at 23.95GHz) and X. You can download photo updates to the SmartRadar too. Over all, for the price of $449.95 and a free iPhone/Droid APP, the photo/radar performance was superb. This radar detector gets a 5 star rating for performance and user friendly operation.