By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Cobra and Escort are announcing the use of GPS technology in their 2007 lines — not for offering turn-by-turn directions but for such features as speed and red light camera location and to prevent false radar warnings.
Escort is employing GPS technology to help alleviate false radar warnings. Its new Passport 9500i adds GPS to the company's 8500 series-type models to provide several new features. First, if a user passes a store that continually produces a false radar alert (because it has automatic door openers, as an example) the user can block that frequency at that location. If a police car is parked at that store, however, the radar detector will continue to pick up a radar or laser signal, said the company.
Also, since the GPS device "knows" when a car is stopped at a light or traveling slowly, it can block alerts that are inappropriate to a slow speed.
Third, if a driver is familiar with certain areas where police set up radar guns, he can bookmark those locations and receive a countdown read-out as he approaches. The Passport 9500i is expected to ship in the first quarter at a suggested $449.
Cobra is adding a GPS device to its top-of-the-line XRS-R9G detector to warn drivers of upcoming speed cameras and red light cameras, which snap photos of cars that are speeding or that run a red light. According to Cobra, 15,000 to 20,000 of the speed and red light cameras are in use now in the United States, and the growth rate is expected to exceed 100 percent per year. The XRS-R9G comes with a separate matchbook-sized GPS locator module with built-in data on camera locations, which mounts behind the car's rear-view mirror.
The XRS-R9G is also the first of two remote detectors from Cobra designed to be permanently installed in the car, and represent Cobra's entry into this segment. Cobra said its remote models install in a third of the time required by other models. They use wireless communication between the detector components so they require only a power lead from the detector receiver, which is hidden in the headliner.
Both the XRS R9G, at a suggested $499, and the basic XRS R7, at a suggested $349, install in 20 to 30 minutes, and both will ship in May, says Cobra. Whistler said it will also debut a new radar detector line at International CES.
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