Radar detectors -- and their reviewers -- brew controversy
Although manufacturers and users may say otherwise, most people buy radar detectors for one reason: to avoid speeding tickets. It's not surprising, then, that there's a bit of an outlaw mentality among the people who review radar detectors -- including two who have become trusted sources in the industry.
Several years ago, Craig Peterson of RadarTest.com was accused of sabotaging a radar-detector field test by the editors of the now-inactive GuysOfLidar.com, who post a video on their website to back up the claim. (Peterson doesn't respond to the accusation on his website.)
Roy Reyer, a former police officer and proprietor of RadarBusters.com, is a prominent expert and tester of radar detectors. He has had legal problems in the past, although not related to the use or review of radar detectors. Reyer pleaded guilty in 2001 to felony solicitation to commit computer tampering in connection with a satellite-TV fraud case, according to records from Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona. Reyer's sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay restitution to DirecTV.
Cases such as these can make it difficult for shoppers to figure out which radar-detector reviewers are trustworthy. Ultimately, we did choose to consult testing data and ratings put forth by Peterson and Reyer, but only in conjunction with reviews and test results we found elsewhere.
To find the very best radar detectors, we looked for common threads within multiple tests, recommending radar detectors that perform well across the review spectrum. We checked the meticulous tests by the East Coast Countermeasure Testing Group and Speed Measurement Laboratories (both made up of devoted radar-detector fanatics with excruciating attention to detail) as well as mainstream reviews at Autoweek and CNET, and plentiful owner reviews at Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. We name the best radar detectors based on performance, of course, but we also consider factors such as added features and ease of use.
This report covers three broad categories:
Radar detectors. You can get a good detector for about $200. Pay more, and you'll get a more sensitive detector that can sniff out radar from farther away -- giving you more time to slow down.
Top-of-the-line, $400-plus radar detectors often have GPS, which lets them remember (and remind you) where speed and red-light cameras are. GPS can also mark false-alarm locations, cutting down on annoying, pointless beeps.
"Invisible" radar detectors. Radar detectors are illegal in a few areas (including Virginia and Washington, D.C.) and for commercial truck drivers. "Invisible" radar detectors can't be seen by police radar-detector detectors (RDDs), and they're great long-range detectors -- perfect for highway driving. They're expensive, though (about $500 or more), and they lack "smart" features like GPS.
Laser jammers. Every radar detector in this report can also detect police laser guns -- but by the time they notice laser's pinpoint beam, you're probably already nailed. But you can legally jam police laser guns in most states (unlike radar jammers, which are illegal).