updated 08:55 pm EST, Tue November 8, 2011
Escort surpasses Cobra in smartphone integration
Many electronic devices now work directly with smartphones, including radar detectors that help users avoid expensive encounters with law enforcement. Electronista had a chance to try out Escort Live, a new service that aims to provide a deeper level of smartphone integration than Cobra's iRadar system.
We had a chance to take a close look at iRadar shortly after it was unveiled around this time last year. The system was a step in the right direction, but it had several drawbacks that kept many users from adopting the new technology. Cobra's system requires users to purchase a special iRadar radar detector, with separate versions released for Android and iOS operating systems.
Escort Live allows users to purchase a special cable to connect their existing Escort radar detector. Many drivers who are serious about avoiding tickets currently rely on proven detectors such as Escort's Passport series and RedLine models. After spending $400 on a radar detector, downgrading to a $150 device just to take advantage of connected features is not an attractive option. Escort suggests there are more than a million compatible Escort and Beltronics radar detectors already on the road that can connect with the Live service.
The power cord connects to a user's smartphone via Bluetooth, enabling the radar or laser warnings to be communicated to Escort's servers. We liked the ability for users to hit a virtual button on their phones, or a physical button on the power adapter, to warn of law enforcement that are clearly waiting by a roadway but waiting until they see a speeder before activating their radar or laser equipment. Users can see warnings from other drivers on the iPhone or Android app interfaces, with red colors indicating the most recent flags.
Escort's filter system for false alerts is also an improvement over Cobra's system. If several drivers pass by a store that uses the same bands as police equipment, the system filters the specific frequency from the building security system rather than blocking out entire bands in the same area.
We were very impressed with the Escort Live system, which enables users to take advantage of cutting-edge radar detectors and the computing power and networking capabilities of the latest smartphones. The company is even working to make its custom-installed equipment compatible with Escort Live, creating a detection system that will be hard to beat in the years to come.
All compatible detectors currently ship with the Escort Live cable, while customers with existing compatible systems can upgrade for just $80 until the end of the year. The only downside is the requirement for a yearly subscription, though $40 for 12 months seems to be a fair price and obviously a fraction of the financial impact from a single speeding ticket.