Two weeks ago I picked up the Escort 9500i from Best Buy to try out. I’m not a radar expert and I wouldn’t classify myself as a radar consumer enthusiast. I have never had a radar detector before either. I was going into this self-evaluation completely blind. First to determine if I wanted to buy and keep a radar detector and second which one did I like best? (I like != best radar detector)
Now my buddy, J Helms…likes cars and so I asked him one evening after I had the 9500i for a week. Which one did he feel is better? He gave me several opinions and suggestions on why they work, why they suck and why the V1 or Valentine 1 is rated as one of the best. As fate would have it, just before asking his opinion I ordered a Valentine 1 on their website to compare against the Escort 9500i I have been using lately.
I have 30 days to evaluate each radar detector!
Originally, it all started when I drove my son to Huntsville, AL. I was on the dual highways with a speed limit of 65. I kept my speed around a comfortable 70 on cruise. The problem I began noticing was if I missed one speed limit sign, I could be in big trouble, because speed on these signs dropped down to 45! And there may have been one or two houses, maybe a gas station around with no intersection!
I began thinking of my latest speeding ticket. Its fair to get a speeding ticket if you are speeding, which I was. I’m not trying to claim ignorance. Or am I? :) I was passing another vehicle that was 10-15 under the speed limit in a dual lane road. I got zapped for 15 over! Its amazing how quickly your car will pick up speed when you punch the gas to get around someone! :-/
After I purchased the 9500i, I drove it on a trip to Huntsville, AL in the evening. Just before it became dark out, I passed through Rome, Georgia and the 9500i went off on Ka band. I looked around and then noticed a pimped out Police Cruiser turned out behind me and proceeded to tail gate me. The 9500i doesn’t block all Radar Detector Detector’s (RDD), and I am guessing he had a RDD that could identify me as having a radar detector. That was fine, I was doing the speed limit there was a lot of traffic anyway. I kept driving through town and he eventually gave up and turned off.
The next alert, I was five miles over the speed limit (70 in a 65mph), and it was pitch black out. This police car was pointing away from me, in the median (grass) between me and oncoming traffic. I was coming up a hill and the 9500i picked him up before I could see him. I was pretty sure he was in front of me, as I was coming over the crest of a hill. I slowed down slightly and passed him while the 9500i kept alerting me of his presence. This was the first time I felt the radar detector was useful. I would never have seen him in time otherwise.
The rest of the trips with the 9500i have resulted in mostly city driving with 15 miles on the highway for work. I drive about 25 miles one way to work in Atlanta, which has one of the worst driving records. One morning, traffic was actually moving on 75 South! (Hey school was out!) I was cruising with the rest of the vehicles at 70. The speed limit is 55mph on the highway near the city. Coming around a bend, the 9500i went off alerting me to radar (which I presumed was ahead of me). It was, a Police Cruiser in a median between an on ramp and near where the HOV lane starts. Its a perfect spot, slight bend in the road, people accelerate when getting in the HOV lane, etc.
I slowed down while cars flew past me, then slammed their brakes on! One of my theories is do radar detectors increase dangerous driving or cause us to be more cautious and aware?
The Valentine 1 arrived. I picked it up at the FedEx facility as it needed a signature and mounted it on my windshield and drove home in my Mini Cooper. Not enough to consider much yet. I did make a few similar passes among a road where there are several stores. The 9500i warned me as my speed increased. I switched it to Highway mode to disable its self adjusting sensitivity while I am driving slow. It picked up one strong signal in front of me.
I took the Valentine 1 through the same route. Wow…this thing was picking 2, 3 then 4 different signatures. I’m not impressed as they seemed to be all stores. I didn’t see any police cars around, which doesn’t mean a whole lot. I’ll have to drive to work for the next two weeks using the Valentine 1 before I make my decision.
Oh and this weekend? I’m taking both detectors as I travel up into the mountains for fathers day. I hope I get to see a speed trap through one of the smaller towns. I would like to evaluate both detectors at the same speed. I hope the family is patient with me turning back around, etc. They will be rolling their eyes with this geek and his new toys! :-p