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You are here: DelonixRadar  >  Radar Detectors  >  Radar Detectors Comparisons  >  Bel STi vs Bel XR

Bel STi Driver vs Bel STi XR Radar detector

Is there actually a difference between the Beltronics STi Driver Radar Detector (the model sold in the USA and throughout Europe) versus the Beltronics STi XR (the model sold in Australian / New Zealand)?

Neltronics (in Western Australia) are the sole inporters / distributors for the XR version in AUS / NZ.

No other country has a "specially modified" variation of the Bel STi Driver.

First, let's look at the packaging, and any external differences:

The two radar detector models, the Bel STi Driver and Bel XR both come in an identical hard travel case, and include the exact same accessories. Other than the instruction manual & retail box showing driver and XR respectively, there are no packaging differences between the XR vs driver.

Click on image to enlarge

On visual inspection, the Bel STi Driver has a screen printed case showing STI on the top / front, as well as the printing referring to the product as the STi Driver throughout the instruction booklet.

Click on image to enlarge

The Bel STi XR has a sticker printed XR NZ • AUS and stuck over the same area / section, and all documentation in the instruction booklet although almost identical, refers to it as the STi XR.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge
A close inspection of the "XR NZ • AUS" sticker (that was not even attached straight), upon removal, shows a the exact same screen printed "STi" label identical to the Bel STi Driver. The only other difference is an Australian C-tick label attached (again not straight!) to the underside of the Australian model. The compliance sticker on the bottom of each radar detector shows no differences other than the serial number.

Each sticker has the SAME FCC approval number for sale and distribution in the USA. If a unit had been designed and modified for another country, it would be reasonable to expect a different FCC approval number.

So after determining the only external differences between the Bel STi Driver vs Bel XR are two paper stickers (that appear to be hand applied due to their aligment) the next step was to open the units up and look at their internals:

STi vs XR

The circuit board, electronic components and the antennas appear identical in both models...

So if the hardware is identical, then they must have different software right? WRONG!

It was originally stated on one of our competitor's websites

"The BEL STi XR has been independently tested in both a microwave lab and against the AU RDD Stalcar III used here in Australia. The BEL STi XR comes off a special production run designed specifically for AU/NZ conditions. This includes the improved A4 M9 Software which differs from the US model Bel STi Driver.

However, our competitor very quickly removed this lie (within days) of us calling them out! 

(You can click on the blue underlined link above to see an original screen shot of their webpage before they quickly changed it). Yes it seems, on that occasion, they "did get caught"

As you can see in our video below this is not (and never was) the case. The software versions are identical between the XR and Driver. Beltronics did had some problems with the very first STi models released, with overheating issues and "service required" coming up on the screen. Three earlier software revisions of the Bel STi included the A1M7, the A2M8 and the A3M8. If you reset your Bel STi detector, it will show you which software version your detector is running.

 

The STi driver and the STi XR were reset to show the software version on each, as seen in the video to the left, and both models showed the same A4M9 software.

Click on the image to watch the video

     

Even though the hardware and software appears identical, we took these two models out "on the road" to test their performance and the claim that the Bel XR is "tuned for Australia"

The first radar test challenged a Multanova 6F speed camera (Ka band) and several passes were made with both the STi Driver and the STi XR to see if there were any differences in sensitivity between the two.

     
 

Test One - the STI Driver (on the right in the video) alerted 1 second prior to the XR, and continued alerting about half a second longer. Very little difference.

Click on the image to watch the video

     
 

Test Two - the positions of the detectors were swapped, so the the STi Driver was now on the left. The Sti Driver alerted a few seconds prior to the XR.

Click on the image to watch the video

Test three - on the return trip, (traveling in the opposite direction) the camera was on the opposite side of the road and facing in the opposite direction to travel. The V1 was tested in Euro mode against the STi Driver. The V1 alerted briefly on approach, then paused, and alerted again for a few seconds. The STi was quiet.

Test four - STi Driver vs Valentine One coming towards the camera facing oncoming traffic, the Valentine 1 (not surprisingly) alerted a couple of seconds before the STi. The Ka narrow filter (Euro Mode) on the V1 definitely improves Multanova 6F detection range. Beltronics really needs to offer this in their product. You would expect a detector made "specifically for Australian conditions" (the XR STi) would have this programming feature, given the Multanova 6F speed cameras are used throughout Western Australia??

In the next test (later that same day) the Sti Driver and the STi XR were tested against K-band radar.

 

On the first Run the, STi XR (positioned to the right of the Driver) alerted 2 seconds before the Driver.

Click on the image to download the video

     
 

On returning in the opposite direction towards the K-band radar transmitter, the XR alerted 4 seconds prior to the STi Driver
Looks like there may be some truth the the claim for improved K-band on the Australian model?

Click on the image to download the video

     
 

Third run, the detectors were switched around so the Sti XR was now on the left. The Driver alerted first (about 8 seconds prior), but then stopped. The Driver also continues to alert 7 seconds after the XR finished.
OK, there goes that theory...
Click on the image to download the video

     
 
Fourth run, coming back in opposite direction, the Driver again alerted first (9 seconds prior), but then stopped. The XR began alerting, and the Driver alerted (again) a second later. They both finished alerting at the same time.
Click on the image to download the video
     
 
Fifth run, XR on left, Driver on the right. This time the vehicle was pulled over, off the road, just outside the radar's range, and edged slowly towards it until the detectors alerted (one at a time). Both detectors alerted at pretty much the same time / distance.
Click on the image to download the video
     
 

Sixth run same test as above, but from the opposite direction of the K-band radar transmission. Again there seemed little (if any) differences in performance.

Click on the image to download the video

     
 

Seventh run, drove towards the radar source with the XR on the left and the Driver on the right. Don't really know what happened here, but the Driver alerted 9 seconds before the XR did.

Click on the image to download the video

Most radar detector enthusiasts will tell you if you are going to test radar detectors side by side, you need to do so with only one radar detector switched on at a time. The reason is that the "electronic noise" emitted from radar detectors can interfere with and effect the sensitivity of each other. All previous video tests on this site have been carried out in this method, but if the Bel STi & XR have "zero lo leakage" as claimed, then they shouldn't interfere with each other. It was also interesting to read Bob (the Veil Guy)'s RD comparison between the V1, RX65 and X50 where he wrote that having two RD's on at a time wouldn't make much difference.

But in the interest of "covering all bases", the next tests were run with only one detector powered up at any time.

 

First run, STi Driver alerted approx 13 seconds before the Speed Camera at 60km/h. The STi XR was switched off as shown.

Click on the image to download the video

 
 

Second run, STi XR alerted approx 11 seconds before the Speed Camera, 60km/h. Note: the cameraman was yet to get the hang of "finding the speed camera" each time it was passed.

Click on the image to download the video

     
 
Third run, the Sti Driver alerted approx 17 seconds before passing the camera, but had a pause about 5 seconds after the initial alert. You can see the speed camera hidden in the bushes between the bus stop and the orange pedestrian sign.
Click on the image to download the video
     
 

Fourth run (second for the XR) the STi XR alerted approx 24 seconds before passing the camera, but with two pauses in between. It's very interesting how different runs within minutes of one another can produce such different results. This shows how much environmental factors (such as traffic, wind, perhaps even temperature) can effect the range your detector gives on such low powered devices such as the Multanova 6F.

Click on the image to download the video

     
 

Fifth and final test, both detectors were switched on and driven towards the speed camera. The STi XR alerts 8 seconds before the STi Driver.

Click on the image to download the video

For the final comparison between the two detectors, another Ka-band Speed Camera was chosen. Multanova 6F Speed Cameras have a very low power output, that is very difficult for radar detectors to give any advanced warning. For this reason, it makes an excellent test for comparing radar detectors. All runs were at 80km/h
 

Test one - the Sti Driver gave 11 seconds warning to the speed camera, whilst the Sti XR gave 6 seconds warning.

Click on the image to download the video

     
 

Test two - Opposite direction, approaching the camera with it facing away. In this type of speed camera trap, your detector is relying on the radar beam reflecting off oncoming traffic driving towards you, or from large stationary objects. For this reason, there can often be little advanced warning. Here the STi Driver alerted about a second before the STi XR.

Click on the image to download the video

     
 

Test three - second run from the front, both detectors alerted at exactly the same time.

Click on the image to download the video

     
 

Test four - opposite direction once again, with the camera facing away, again the detectors alerted to within a second of each other

Click on the image to download the video

     
 

Final test - Valentine One versus Beltronics STi XR against the speed camera facing opposite direction. The V1 alerted a fraction over 4 seconds prior to the STi XR, at 80km/h or approx 93 metres before the STi.

Click on the image to download the video

The above test results tabled:

 
Radar
Bel STi Driver
Bel XR
Test 1
Ka-band
Alerted first - by 1 second
Test 2
Ka-band
Alerted first - by a few seconds
Test 3
K-band
Alerted first - by 2 seconds
Test 4
K-band
Alerted first - by 4 seconds
Test 5
K-band
Alerted first - by 8 seconds
Test 6
K-band
Alerted First - by 9 seconds
Test 7
K-band
Both alerted same time
Both alerted same time
Test 8
K-band
Both alerted same time
Both alerted same time
Test 9
K-band
Alerted First - by 9 seconds
Test 10
Ka-band
Alerted 13 seconds before camera
Switched off
Test 11
Ka-band
Switched off
Alerted 11 seconds before camera
Test 12
Ka-band
Alerted 17 seconds before camera
Switched off
Test 13
Ka-band
Switched off
Alerted 24 seconds before camera
Test 14
Ka-band
Alerted first - by 8 seconds
Test 15
Ka-band
Alerted first - by 5 seconds
Test 16
Ka-band
Alerted first - by 1 second
Test 17
Ka-band
Both alerted same time
Both alerted same time
Test 18
Ka-band
Both alerted same time
Both alerted same time

It is difficult to establish any clear winner, and certainly the Bel XR did not "outperform" the USA version against Australian radars.

Real World Test Conclusions:
You would expect a radar detector designed specifically for a particular country or region to have the appropriate settings for detecting the specific law enforcement speed measuring devices deployed in that area. Given the only state in Australia where RD's are legal to own and operate employs 27 mobile Multanova speed cameras, one would expect the Bel XR "Australian version" to include a Ka-band selection (rather than just Ka superwide), since it is widely known the difficulty in detecting this speed cameras.

The older model Bel 990i could indeed be programmed for superior Multanova detection, however the later models RX65 and STi cannot?! Our tests actually show that the older Bel 990i outperforms both the RX65 and the STi (XR or driver) at detecting the Multanova speed cameras.

The fact that both the Sti Driver and the STi XR tested ran the exact same A4M9 software also raises questions.

Furthermore since X-band and POP are NOT used in Australia OR New Zealand, it would make sense that this option is not offered on a "AU/NZ" model. In fact, since there are two antennas in the STi driver (one for X-band and one shared for K-band and Ka-band), why not make one antenna for K-band and the other antenna for Ka-band in the "AU/NZ" model. Now that would be an Australian tuned radar detector!

But even without going this far, why would you require X-band on/off as an option at all, yet as shown in the video below, X-band can indeed be turned ON in the Bel XR model! 

Detecting a frequency (X-band) that is not used in either country seems to be a useless feature.

What also demands an answer is that if you RESET the Bel XR it defaults to the USA settings of X-band being ON!!

On the subject of Ka-band frequencies, In the United States, the Ka-band allocation is 33.4 to 36.0GHz which represents a 2.6GHz range (36.0 subtract 33.4)

In Australia, the ACMA has only licensed 34.2 - 35.2 GHz for Ka-band use - which is only a 1GHz frequency range (compared to 2.6GHz in the US)

We tested this STi-XR AUS/NZ version and found it to detect the full range of USA Ka-band frequencies outside of the ACMA allocation of 34.2 - 35.2 GHz. 

Why would the so called "Australian version" software detect frequencies that could not possibly ever be used in Australia? This could be seen as the "icing on the cake" as far as this claim by the Australian distributor goes, claiming the "XR is exclusively tuned for Australia" when it actually can detect USA frequencies that cannot possible EVER be used in Australia.

Based with these questions, we have sent a Bel STi Driver (US model) and a Bel STi XR (AUS/NZ model) to a laboratory that specialises in EPROM software, to download the software from both models to compare. This will show with absolute proof what differences lie in the software of the two models.

**update** we now have this information available for anyone (including the ACCC) to review...

So why do some websites say the Bel XR and Bel STi Driver are different?

At the time of writing, one of our competitors makes the following claims:

"The Bel STi XR is independently tested in both a microwave lab and against the Australian radar detector detector "Stalcar or Spectre III" used by police here in Australia before we ship the unit to you. This means that when you receive your unit it is guaranteed to have no RDD detectable leakage. The Bel STi Driver has not been tested and does not come with an undetectable guarantee".

Actually this is completely false. On the retail packaging of the Bel STi XR a sticker is placed over the boxes' seal with Neltronics (the Australian importer / distributor) logo on the top. The sticker (as shown in the image below ends with the following sentence:

"Neltronics cannot guarantee undetectability due to changing technologies"

neltronics

If you order a Bel XR from any Australian seller (on or off line) you will see this exact label over the box seal.

DelonixRadar is also one of the only (if not THE only) radar detector seller that owns a latest generation Spectre IV+ radar detector detector, of which does NOT alert to either the Bel XR or the Bel STi Driver, so yes, the Bel STi Driver HAS been tested against the latest Australian Stalcar mk 4+ model.

The second point one of our competitor's makes is:

"The BEL STi XR also comes off a special production run designed specifically for the Australia/New Zealand territory and conditions. The XR has better heat resistant internal components for the extreme heat levels we get in Australia. Overseas models will burn out quickly as their components are designed for extreme cold weather that occurs in the USA and Canada".

Whilst we cannot prove to you this claim is false, we would like to point out that the internals (pictures shown above) of the Bel XR and the Bel STi Driver seem exactly the same, and both the "Guys of Lidar" testing group and Carl Fors from Speed Measurement Labs in the USA, conduct their tests in Arizona and El Paso, Texas respectively. In fact when Jeremy from Delonix Australia attended the Speed Measurement Labs' annual radar detector test in El Paso Texas back in 2006, the temperatures were around 40 degrees every day!

We also were given this "Australian temperatures and road conditions" story many years ago, but given the USA has a wider range of temperatures (from snow to the Arizona desert) than most Australian capital cities, we find it a hard statement to swallow. Perhaps they are referring to Australian's driving on the other side of the road, maybe they flip the antenna over backwards (no they don't, that was a joke).

Our competitor's final statement:

"The Bel STi XR is a big investment, buy from an authorized Australian business today or you risk having A) no backup support B) no authorized warranty support C) a very expensive paper-weight".

Yes, the Bel STi radar detector is a big investment, but does that justify the huge differences in price between the model retailing in the US for $460 USD versus the $800 - $1000 AUD price tag in Australia?

Or are these simply scare tactics and BS to try and convince you to pay the higher price they charge?

WE GUARANTEE that you will get the FULL WARRANTY with any purchase off this website, as well as the backup support and out-of-warranty repairs. Delonix has been an Australian GST registered business since 2002

So why is there a huge difference in price between the US model and the AU model?

Whilst we cannot give you a definitive answer, we can present you with some more facts:

In the USA, the supply chain is as follows:

  • Beltronics manufactures' the product
  • They then wholesale the product to their network of retailers (both online and offline)
  • The retailers then sell to the consumer whereby the minimum advertised price is $460 USD

However in Australia, there is an extra company in the supply chain

  • Beltronics manufactures' the product
  • They then wholesale the product to the sole Australian distributor; Neltronics
  • Neltronics turns off X-band (in the programming menu), adds their own literature, and then sells to their network of retailers (both online and offline)
  • The retailers then sell to the consumer for around $800 - $1000 AUD

So you can see there is an extra company in the supply chain...

Could this account for the extra cost being levied on to the Australian consumer?

Are these so called "differences" between the Bel STi XR and the Bel STi Driver (stated by our competitors) fabricated BS in an attempt to justify the added cost?

We'll let you be the judge.

Thankyou to all those involved in providing Delonix the above videos.

Have a read of the following thread on Radar Roy's Forum for more discussions from customers.

And also from one of our competitors: http://www.radars.com.au/beltronics-sti-xr.php

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