Saturday, November 03, 2012

Escort SmartRadar Mystery Solved

Twenty years in the business and I still couldn't get my head around the Escort SmartRadar. 

I got the part about its compact dimensions, small enough to mount it high on the windshield, behind the dark tint common on nearly every vehicle except rentals. 

And it wasn't hard to grasp the advantage of powering it from the rear-view mirror—a fix for the inevitable problem that arises from such a mounting location. (Why bother to hide a radar detector if its power cord dangles in mid-cockpit, announcing its presence to the world and creating a visual distraction for the driver?)

I've  fabricated similar power cords for customers, many of whom drive in Virginia and want to conceal their Escort Redline or BEL Sti Magnum. Both are undetectable by the Spectre RDD used by lawmen there to ferret out illegal detectors. But remotely mounting either detector exacts some compromises.

In many installations the controls can't be reached, for example, nor can the display be seen. We routinely supply custom-length Direct Wire SmartCord power cables for these applications, whose tiny remote module delivers basic status information and visual alerts; its audio mute button handles that task remotely as well. 

But these are large detectors and not every car has enough windshield real estate to hide them in the preferred location, to the upper right of the inside mirror.

After driving with SmartRadar in half a dozen vehicles, I finally began to grasp its mission statement. The compact dimensions are crucial; it fits in spots where others won't. The remote control/display module, borrowed from the Escort Passport 8500ci, can be mounted on the upper edge of the mirror.

Integral Bluetooth lets it communicate with Escort Live, allowing the driver to control it remotely with a smartphone,  Once coupled to Escort Live, SmartRadar is transformed, gaining the considerable advantages enjoyed by the GPS-enabled Escort Passport 9500ix and BEL Pro 500.

During this period we performance-tested SmartRadar, expecting results similar to those from its corporate GPS-enabled cousins. Wrong again; it was way better.

DirectWire SmartCord module in Lexus IS350
The Escort's radar/laser receiver isn't much to look at, just a small, unadorned box, its housing sporting a couple of buttons and a row of telephone-style jacks for various attachments. 

I wasn't keen on the mirror-mounted control/display module: too easy to spot, particularly at night. Although it can be dimmed or run full-dark in stealth mode, I always use Spec mode and needed the display visible.  

Escort Live and my iPhone could have filled that need, but there are occasions when I have other uses in mind for the iPhone—like making phone calls. 

This issue was solved by lengthening a Direct Wire SmartCord. Using some 3M double-sided tape, next I mounted the remote alongside the console; the display fit nicely on the center stack. Thus configured, nothing was visible from outside the vehicle.

SmartRadar is a hybrid, a specialized piece falling somewhere in between windshield-mounted models and custom-installed remotes like the Escort 9500ci. Not for everyone, but it has some unique capabilities that make it a viable alternative to the conventional radar detector. For more, see the complete story.


At 9:08 PM , Blogger Thomas Yoder said...

So the smartradar works with the remote button and display on the directwire cord?
I contacted Escort about it and the sales rep didn't think it would.

At 6:24 AM , Blogger Craig Peterson said...

I've tried it and it works. But don't be too hard on the Escort call center minion. Few have any experience with the products they tout.


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