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Escort Tablet-style Radar Detector for Nerdy Drivers

Spend any time in the middle of America, where population density is low and cities are separated by jillions of miles of highway, and you're guaranteed to end up talking about evading speed limit laws and the watchful eye of the local Highway patrol. It's a cold war of sorts, with local constabulary investing in powerful radar and laser tech or aerial surveillance, and the citizenry spending thousands to foil those efforts. That's where companies like Escort Radar come in. A 30-year veteran of the speed limit wars, they were on hand at CES Unveiled Sunday night with a few of their latest devices, two of which offer novel, if exceedingly expensive, means of navigating the highways and byways and possibly evading Johnny Law.

The SmartMirror GPS is the kind of device that sounds incredibly cool, at least until you consider how difficult the majority of drivers find it to remember that texting while driving often results in sudden existence failure. The left 2/3 of the SmartMirror is a standard rear view mirror, while the right third is a touchscreen interface boasting GPS capabilities, a map and route finder, and a traffic conditions alert system. Drivers will sacrifice some visibility, thanks to losing such a huge chunk of their rear view, however the ease of use (it also responds to voice commands), and the optional rear video camera compatibility, promise some mitigation of the problem. Naturally, this doesn't come cheap, clocking in at a pricey $899.99. But if you have the cheese, and don't mind losing a third of your rear visibility, it's a cool way to make your SUV a little geekier.

A more promising (and slightly less expensive) device is the Passport IQ, a tablet-like device roughly the size of a Samsung Galaxy Note. It combines a GPS navigation system, a map and the ability to manage a radar detection system on a compact 5-inch screen. But it isn't featureless, operating on 4 different bands, offering compatibility with numerous radar or laser detection systems, and the ability to draw power directly from your car's electrical system. While only a single app can be in managed at any given time, it gives priority to your radar detection system, meaning that if you're receiving directions and the detector picks up a laser or radar, the Passport IQ overrides the GPS navigation in order to alert you.

The catch is that it's going to feel terribly clunky for users used to elegance of smartphones and tablets. Though small, it's thick, almost resembling something from 1990s-era Star Trek rather than a modern tablet, and it has a crummy 480 x 272 resolution. It also isn't cheap, coming in at $649.95 for the basic unit. Frankly, it isn't suited for people who live in congested regions, or for experienced tech users who aren't obsessed with getting one over on the local cops. However, for people who do care about such things, it makes for a decent auto accessory.

  • house70
    The Passport IQ is NOT a tablet; it is a stand-alone GPS system with built-in radar/laser detection. As simple as that. Portraying it as a tablet is akin to saying a netbook is a desktop-replacement laptop (and even so, that comparison would be even more appropriate for the netbook, given that it runs same OS as a regular PC). This is not a fair portrayal of this device.
    People who use a stand-alone GPS unit in their vehicles (Garmin, Tom-Tom, Magellan) will recognize the add-on benefit of a radar detector added to that, because it cuts down further on the clutter and you can display it without cops taking immediate note that you have a radar detector in your car. That alone makes it worthwhile, although the price is a bit steep (however, a standalone radar detector from the same company can run up to USD400, so you get what you pay for).
    The author's skewed view of this device as a tablet (implying that it should be what other tablets are), along with his opinion on radar detectors, makes one believe that he has a beef with radar detectors themselves; this is OK as his opinion, but be frank about it instead of hiding it in a "review".
    Reply
  • jgutz2006
    This is actually a very nice idea, though as house70 said, this is no tablet but a GPS system with Radar Detector. I absolutely love my K-40 undetectable system with laser diffuser because if you do get pulled over with a radar detector in the dash you've basically admitted to the cop that you speed all the time and just got caught, at least this is more discrete, especially the rear-view mirror but i would like to see a little more effort put into the touchscreen because at their price premiums, come on.
    Reply
  • sactownbwoy
    The Japanese have had rear view mirror radar/laser detectors forever. I had one when I was over there and it saved me many a times. It had GPS to give you an estimate of how far the cop is away from you and would pick up the cameras they had on the highways too. It only cost me about $250. This is a nifty product but for the price I wouldn't buy it.
    Reply
  • freggo
    Why not make a screen-less base unit with all the sensors installed in the car, and than let the customer slide in his favorite tablet in a custom adapter, maybe blue tooth connected ?
    Reply
  • classzero
    house70The Passport IQ is NOT a tablet".
    No kidding the author states:
    a tablet-like device
    Reply
  • jgutz2006
    freggoWhy not make a screen-less base unit with all the sensors installed in the car, and than let the customer slide in his favorite tablet in a custom adapter, maybe blue tooth connected ?
    Thats exactly what i mentioned in my first post. I have a K-40 with Laser Diffusers

    http://www.k40.com/rl-series---new----pages-20.php

    Though a bluetooth phone interface would be very interesting/appealing
    Reply
  • house70
    ClasszeroNo kidding the author states:So, what's the point of this:
    "The catch is that it's going to feel terribly clunky for users used to elegance of smartphones and tablets. Though small, it's thick, almost resembling something from 1990s-era Star Trek rather than a modern tablet, and it has a crummy 480 x 272 resolution.".
    Keeps comparing apples to oranges and complain that they don't look/feel like oranges. Got my point now?
    OTOH, nevermind. You can read the article however you want.
    Peace to you.
    Reply
  • masterbinky
    The thickness I'm sure is in relation to the backlighting. I know on a five hour drive my garmin get's hot in the back but it has never had issues with being washed out.
    Reply
  • rosstradamus
    Tablet-like. I said tablet-like. And it's a touchscreen interface shaped like a tablet that has multiple applications. Hence the comparison. Apologies for any confusion. -Ross
    Reply