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Driving Gadgetry - Radar Detector With GPS?

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On: Thu, May 13, 2010 at 4:57PM | By: Clay Ritchings

Driving Gadgetry - Radar Detector With GPS?

Radar detectors and GPS devices have been affixed to windshields for a long time now; each device can be a godsend in its own right—the GPS when you are hopelessly lost in a not so good neighborhood in a not so familiar city—the radar detector when your right foot has gained weight because you are late for a meeting or a show. I recently started shopping for a radar detector to help me stay within the speed limits, but it has been a really long time since I looked at what is available and I must say I was both pleasantly surprised and sticker shocked at what is out there.

A speeding ticket close call jolted my memory about seeing something in Wired regarding the Passport 9500ix—with the growing trend of revenue-hungry localities to implement red-light cameras and speed cameras, Escort has integrated its own proprietary DEFENDER® Database of red-light and speed cameras into its new GPS and radar-detector product.

GPS users are already familiar with this technology using databases imported into their units as POI (points of interest) to alert them of red light cameras and speed cameras. I am a subscriber to Phantomalert.com, which does just that. I have been very happy with the subscription—but recently I had a close call with a speed trap that was not indicated in the database and only by sheer luck escaped without a ticket. That is why I am on this quest.

With the 9500ix you not only have the long-range radar and laser protection that Passport owners have gotten used to, but now you have protection from the RLCs and speed cameras. Imagine this: you're on a stretch of highway where they always sit, or it's a back road that quickly changes from 45 mph to 25 mph within a few hundred feet. You don't always remember, but now your PASSPORT 9500ix will. Escort has addressed the increasing number of "safety" cameras installed throughout the U.S. and Canada by including red light and fixed-position speed cameras.

Each unit is shipped pre-loaded with thousands of these camera locations stored in its memory. As you approach these locations, the 9500ix will alert you in advance, keeping you up-to-date and ticket-free—as long as your unit is on.

Keeping the unit updated is a breeze—using your computer and the power of the Internet. Simply connect your detector to your computer, log on to our website, and download the most up-to-date locations. Ahhhh, nothing in life is truly free—for your $499 you get 90 days of free updates; after that it you will need to dish out $29.95 for a three-year subscription to database updates—not a bad price, all things considered.

Before you shell out any money you may want to investigate what Cobra Electronics has to offer. The XRS 9970G provides total radar and laser protection, plus It comes with a GPS locator and lifetime updates to the AURA™ Database to alert you to verified speed and red light camera locations, dangerous intersections, and reported Speed Trap locations for entire United States and Canada—price $389.95.

While I find this database integration very attractive, it is still lacking the thing that I use most—the GPS navigation feature. I will still need both units—one for protection and one for navigation. If I can get past the initial hit in the wallet, and the fact that I will still need an actual GPS navigation unit for finding my precious Starbucks,I think that one of these units could actually pay for itself. But be aware that while the radar-detecting portion of these units can be easily tested and reviewed for us to read all about, it is far more difficult to rank the databases that are crucial to the speed & red light camera detection.

The colorful acroym GIGO is credited to George Fuechsel, a fifties-era computer programmer. Way back when ENIAC was cutting-edge technology, Fuechsel presciently cautioned, "Garbage in, garbage out", i.e., the quality of the information produced by a computer is wholly dictated by the quality of the information entered into it. Before you shell out any money, you should investigate how the databases are being updated—and how often!

I am surprised that no one has come out with an actual navigation GPS unit with built-in radar detection. Why can’t we have both? Look, I just made one in less than five minutes with Photoshop. Come on, guys. What’s taking you so long?

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


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