By Lance Holiday
A radar detector is a special device used in an automobile by drivers in determining if their speed is being monitored by local law enforcement officials.
The name in itself actually comes from earlier speed-detection technologies that used radio waves, which were bounced off moving vehicles with a device whereby police could determine if a person's speed was what it should be.
This old technology used a Doppler type radio wave frequency and while it worked, it was not nearly as effective as what officials use today. The radar detectors on the market now have been designed to meet the more innovative equipment used by police.
Therefore, more sophisticated models now use several wavelength bands, making them far more sensitive.
When considering a detector, you should think about the top five factors:
Because technology has advanced over the years, they have also increased in price. Keep price in mind when making your decision.
You could purchase an inexpensive model for around $80 but it will likely not be as powerful, reliable, or include all the bells and whistles you would get with a $400 model. Therefore, start by determining the amount of money you want to spend and then begin your shopping.
Depending on the model of radar detector you go with, some can be mounted quick and easy on a dashboard while other models must be installed by a professional. Knowing the type of installation you want - self- or professionally installed will help you decide on the store from which you would buy.
For instance, if you were to buy from a retail store such as Wal-Mart, you would likely have to install the detector on your own whereas going to a store that specializes in radar detectors, car stereos, and car alarms would offer you a professional installation.
Although you might pay a little more for a brand name, chances are you will end up with a more reliable product. For instance, some of the better brands currently on the market include Whistler, Uniden, Cobra, and Bel-Tronics.
Additionally, try to choose a detector that has the ability of sensing wideband. In this case, the unit should be capable of picking up the entire Ka band, along with K, X, and laser bands.
The best radar detector would have good sensitivity. In other words, you want a unit with a minimum of 110 db so if law enforcement officers are far away or behind a bridge, the unit would still notify you.
Then, even though it might cost you a little more, consider a unit with memory, which means you will not have to constantly reset adjustments each time you turn the unit on.
Finally, you want a detector that has a good display. In addition to brightness at night, you also need to see the display when in bright sunlight, a common problem with many radar detectors. Then, an adjustable volume is a great feature.
In fact, try to find a radar detector with a mute option. The benefit here is that if you have a cruiser behind you in normal traffic, you can silence the detector so it is not constantly going off.
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