Back in September 2006 we lined up the top four radar detectors against a Multanova 6F speed camera to see which one performed the best. Since then, we've seen the introduction of the Whistler XTR-690 and Pro-78 in 2007, the new Escort 9500i, plus a new software upgrade on the Bel STi, we decided to once again line up four top performing radar detectors against the very difficult to detect; Multanova 6F speed camera.
Earlier in the year, we tested an Escort 9500i against the Multanova with very disappointing results. The 9500i performed so badly against the speed camera, that we decided not to recommend them for Australia until Escort have tweaked their software.
On the subject of poor multanova performance, it was very interesting to hear from a new customer of Delonix who thought the Multanova speed cameras only "fired" their radar beam as your car drove past the camera. He had come to this conclusion, because his old Uniden radar detector would only "chirp" on Ka-band pretty much as he drove past the camera.
This clearly demonstrates how poor some radar detectors will actually perform at detecting the speed cameras. The multanova cameras operate by continually transmitting on Ka-band (34.3GHz) but at such a low power level, that only the best detectors will give you any advanced warning. Some, like the Uniden mentioned above will only be able to detect this signal when they are very close - so close in fact that you are almost level with it.
For this test, two passes were made with each of the four radar detectors, both runs coming towards the camera with (it) facing oncoming traffic. Only one radar detector was switched on at any given time to eliminate interference. Here are the results:
We would have liked to be able to make three runs per detector, especially with the Bel and Escort since they had a wide variance, however time prohibited us from doing so. The results for the Pro-78 were consistent with other tests we've done, giving a detection range between 130 and 220 metres in every encounter we have ever videoed. The Valentine was also very consistent with it's two runs differing only by a few metres. It was interesting however, that the Escort X50 and the Bel STi had very different results for their two runs. The first run with the X50 gave a disappointing 152m warning - a lot less than we have seen in the past. The second run with 378m warning was more consistent with previous videos.
The STi showed an awesome result with the new software fix. Previous testing put the STi a fraction ahead of the X50 in 34.3GHz detection, but the new software fix gave it one result up near the Valentine's Ka-narrow scan result. Way to go Beltronics!
After the videos were edited, we decided to go back and view them, and try to mark each radar detector's initial alert points on a Google Earth map. Here is the result:
This wide variance we've seen in the Beltronics detectors for the same camera on the same day is not unusual in out testing. It is frustrating to get 300m warning one encounter, but then 40m on another day, in another encounter. The reason for this is not totally clear, however we must remind readers that (most) Beltronics and Escort radar detectors are made for detecting US radars, and not so much the European photo radars.
To smooth out these inconsistencies with Beltronics and Escort radar detectors, we recommend mounting them vertically - as per this vertical mount bracket we offer.