The humble radar detector is getting a technology infusion this year from Cobra and Escort, who are embedding GPS technology in their 2007 models.
Cobra is adding a GPS device to its top-of-the-line detector to locate speed cameras and red light cameras. Escort is using GPS to help eliminate false radar alerts and also to "bookmark" speed-trap areas known to the driver.
Cobra's new XRS-R9G alerts the driver of upcoming speed cameras or red light cameras that snap photos of cars that are speeding or that run a red light. The detector 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. 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 is also the first of two remote detectors from Cobra designed to be permanently installed in the car, and they represent Cobra's entry into this segment. Cobra said its remote models can be installed in a third of the time required by other models.
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.
The Escort Passport 9500i adds GPS to the company's 8500 series-type models to provide three new features. First, if users pass 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 users are stopped at a light or moving, if the detector receives an alert while the car is stopped, it will block it.
Thirdly, 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.