It has fewer fancy features than midpriced radar detectors, but tests show that the Beltronics Vector 955 gives drivers plenty of warning about most radar speed traps. The downside? You'll be on your own with speed/red-light cameras -- only a GPS-equipped or smartphone-compatible detector can warn you about those -- and you'll have to deal with lots of false alarms.
Adequate warning of most traps -- but plenty of false alarms, too. In tests, the Beltronics Vector 955 detects most radar speed traps in plenty of time for the driver to slow down. Still, you'll get more warning from newer, more advanced detectors -- like the Best Reviewed midpriced model, the Escort Passport 8500 X50 (Est. $320) -- which can sniff out radar at extremely long ranges and do a better job detecting quick blips of instant-on radar. False alarms are another fact of life with cheap radar detectors. Without sophisticated "anti-falsing" technology (like GPS), owners say they get a fair amount of meaningless chatter out of the Beltronics 955.
Missing some useful extras. The Beltronics 955 is missing some truly useful features you'll find on pricey detectors. There's no GPS -- and the 955 won't pair with your smartphone -- so it can't remember false-alarm or speed/red-light camera locations. It's not undetectable to police, either (though that's only necessary if you're going to use it in states where radar detectors are illegal). Still, it's not completely stripped down. The 955 has a few niceties, like optional spoken alerts (as well as the usual beeps and readouts) and City mode (which severely limits X-band sensitivity to cut down on false alarms).
Easy to use and easy to see, but bright trim creates glare. Like all Beltronics and Escort detectors, owners say the Beltronics 955 is plug-and-play. Craig Peterson at RadarTest.com finds its red text display particularly easy to read in various lighting conditions -- better than Whistler's monochromatic LCD or Cobra's multi-color graphics. Only the bright trim on its case is a letdown: "In direct sunlight it can generate a substantial amount of glare and you'll be staring at its mirror image in the windshield all day long. (The obvious solution: Mount it off-center a bit.)"
After a thorough test, Craig Peterson declares the Beltronics 955 the best under-$199 radar detector for "balanced, all-around performance." It easily beats the Cobra XRS 9950. It's a closer race with the Whistler XTR-695SE, but the Bel 955 does a better job quieting false alarms.
Review: New Bel, Cobra, Whistler Detectors : Best New Detector Under $199?, Craig Peterson, Feb. 23, 2013
The Beltronics Vector 955 is one of the few under-$200 radar detectors earning a recommendation from "Radar Roy" Reyer, the former police officer who now runs this retail site. Owners love it, too: It earns 4.5 out of 5 stars following more than 150 reviews.
Review: Radar Roy's Product Recommendations, Roy Reyer, Not dated
The Beltronics Vector 955 earns a rating of 3.9 stars (out of 5) with more than 260 owner reviews posted. With such a large number of different views registered by owners, readers can get a good overall idea of the Vector 955's real-life performance.
Review: Beltronics Vector V955 Radar Detector, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of September 2013