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Are the Beltronics STI-Driver and Beltronics STI-XR AUS-NZ the same detector?

Beltronics STI vs. Beltronics STI-XR AU/NZ radar detectors.

Beltronics STI and Beltronics STI-XR (exclusively Australian market) appear identical in every way, including performance, visual, hardware, software and factory default settings.

This is a common topic of discussion.  Is there any real difference between the Beltronics STI sold worldwide and the Beltronics STI-XR AU/NZ sold only in Australia and New Zealand by one particular distributor? Or is this just a masquerade to inflate pricing and control a shrinking market? Given there are no documented or even stated differences, it seems very unlikely there are any differences. It has been conveniently stated that the modifications are simply "top secret." If there are in fact genuine differences we are happy to stand corrected providing they can be justified. On initial observations, the original Beltronics STI comes from the factory shrink wrapped.  Beltronics STI-XR sold in Australia appear to have been opened, had stickers attached and the box closed again with another paper sticker printed on a bubble jet printer. Both radar detectors appear identical in every way apart from a paper label attached to the top of the STI-XR covering a logo that is also identical to the original Beltronics STI logo. What is even more bazaar, is that some Australian retailers of the Beltronics STI-XR go so far as to claim "Consumer Warning, watch out for FAKE Beltronics STI-XR." What is "fake" about an original factory direct product? It appears that the Beltronics STI-XR may actually be the fake! It also seems unusual that there is no independent review specifically of the Beltronics STI-XR. If the radar detectors are in fact different, it is not appropriate to draw comparisons of performance or other capabilities relying on evaluations of a Beltronics STI - unless of course they are actually the same product.

Both Beltronics STI and Beltronics STI-XR that we have evaluated here were current A4M9 versions.

Beltronics STI vs. STI-XR packaging comparison

Main packaging components appear identical in every way.  Minor differences are noted in the user guide and retail box primarily to do with warranty registration.  All differences seem to be on printed paper only, no actual hardware differences at all.

Beltronics radar detector storage case.

 

Beltronics STI vs. STI-XR metal case comparison

Pictured left is the US Beltronics STI and pictured right is the "Australian" Beltronics STI-XR. You will notice that the XR NZ-AUS sticker is paper and not even attached straight. It is easily removed to reveal an identical design as the US model on the left, see below. Beneath this paper sticker is the American STI logo.

Identical Beltronics products. Beltronics STI and Beltronics STI-XR

 

Beltronics STI vs. STI-XR metal case comparison, NZ-AUS sticker removed

Here are the same two detectors with the paper XR NZ-AUS sticker removed. It is reasonable to expect a custom product would also have a custom screen print design. Screen printing is relatively inexpensive and easy to produce even for short manufacturing runs. So far it appears the only differences are two paper stickers.

Beltronics STI driver radar detector photographs

 

Beltronics STI vs. STI-XR internal component examination

Both units are based on Atmel 8 bit processors with separate flash memory. A careful examination of ALL mounted components show NO apparent differences in the design.  We have previously inspected inside the antenna and also found no noticeable differences.

Beltronics STI radar detector internal photograph.

 

Beltronics STI vs. STI-XR serial number sticker comparison

Even a cursory examination of the serial number and compliance sticker on the bottom of each 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 design had been modified it would be reasonable to expect a different FCC approval number. However as the Beltronics STI-XR is exclusively sold via Australia, there is actually no point even having or mentioning FCC approval.  It appears that the required Australian C-TICK N671 label is attached "after manufacturing" for Australian electronic device compliance. It seems this label has been attached by hand as it is not even straight.  It is also reasonable to expect that had the Beltronics STI-XR been "manufactured specifically for Australia" that the MANDATORY C-TICK logo would have been included on the FACTORY compliance sticker? Even $19 kitchen appliances sold in Australia have the C-TICK logo on their main compliancy labels. Take a look at the toaster or kettle in your kitchen right now!

 

Beltronics STI vs. STI-XR default programming and operating mode

Recommended operating modes and programming are different for USA and Australian conditions.  Each of the Beltronics STI and Beltronics STI-XR radar detectors tested here is capable of being configured for either use in the USA or Australia via the user menus. These settings are as follows;

 

Beltronics STI:  Auto Scan, All bands on (X, K, Ka, Laser, POP etc,) SWS off.

Beltronics STI-XR: Highway, X band Off, K, Ka and Laser On, Pop Off, SWS on.

 

If each detector is RESET to FACTORY defaults, strangely the STI-XR reverts to the exact same PROGRAMMING and OPERATING MODE (Auto Scan) as the original Beltronics STI. Both radar detectors report the EXACT SAME software revision number of A4M9. Other than a paper sticker, how could even the manufacturer tell these units apart if there is no permanently affixed label and the reported software version numbers are identical?

 

NOTE: There appears to be a common misconception propagated on internet forums that the Beltronics STI-XR somehow has X-band permanently disabled via default software settings. This is explicitly not the case and are false statements. Software versions and default programming and operating mode are all identical. Click the link below to see our reset video.

It is reasonable to expect if a product has been specifically "enhanced and manufactured for Australian conditions" as claimed by the Australian distributor, that the default programming would actually be for Australian conditions and not for the USA. When each unit is RESET they also report the brand and model as "Bel STI" there is plenty of room to include "Bel STI-XR" in a customized product for Australia.

 

Beltronics STI vs. STI-XR performance and detection comparison

We extensively test drove a Beltronics STI and a Beltronics STI-XR in both side by side and individually and could see no difference in the operation, warnings and quantity of false alerts. We tested against the same camera twice and each detector performed fairly much identically, in the second test the beeping is just about synchronised showing identical detection capabilities. Other radar detector brands such as Whistler radar and Valentine One with specific Euro / Multanova detection have been reported to perform up to 20~30% better.  We observed no difference in a Beltronics STI-XR that is claimed to be specifically manufactured for Australia.

Beltronics STI vs. STI-XR comparison conclusions

From the evidence gathered above, we can make the following conclusions and assumptions. If any person can provide justifiable evidence to the contrary, we are more than happy to update this evaluation. We will soon provide a similar comparison between Beltronics 995 and Beltronics XR-70.

  • Packaging is nearly identical.
  • Beltronics STI-XR Australian packaging has apparently been opened.
  • Support telephone number on base of Australian model are American phone numbers.
  • Default programming and default operating modes appear for American conditions.
  • Default programming for Australia simply appears to be reprogramming for Australia.
  • Software version numbers appear identical.
  • All hardware components appear identical.
  • X-Band is NOT permanently disabled in Australian model as commonly believed.

From the above evidence we can safely make the following assumptions. Beltronics STI (world wide) and Beltronics STI-XR (exclusively Australian market) appear identical in every way, including performance, visual, hardware, software and factory default settings.  Performance has also been independently rated at being identical. It appears that Beltronics STI-XR are opened in Australia, have labels attached and programmed for Australian conditions. It is highly unlikely that any of these customisations are made at the "factory" level, nor do they constitute any real difference (other than user selectable settings or printed text) to the US Beltronics STI radar detector. From our inquiries, there is no evidence to suggest Beltronics STI-XR is "designed and enhanced for Australian conditions" appears to be false and deliberately deceiving.

 

It would be interesting to observe if the Australian Beltronics distributor is able to identify their own "unique" product from a line up of original Beltronics STI detectors. We are currently sourcing an Atmel processor test board to extract and compare software checksums on these two units.

 

Whistler PRO-78SE radar detectors. The best radar detector for Australia.

 

Radar Detector Superstore

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info@radars.com.au (+61) 08 9370 4038 (+61) 08 9271 4305