Looking to fit your vehicle with a radar detector, but not sure which model to go for? Need a compact, mobile radar device that can move between multiple vehicles? Stuck on a tight budget, and want to avoid any further expenses? Stats from manufacturer Cobra reveal that one in five US drivers will get a speeding ticket this year – at an average cost of $150! Take a look at our reviews of the 10 best radar detectors under $200. You are sure to find something below that meets your needs and won’t hurt your pocket either! Save yourself money and avoid tickets time and again – protect yourself against radar spot checks.
What are radar detectors, and why do you need one?
A radar device is a gadget designed to be used by motorists while they are driving. It picks up on radar signals – such as those emitted by a traffic cop’s speed tracker. By detecting these radar guns early, motorists can slow down in good time – and avoid a ticket!
Not only will a radar detector save you money in speeding fines, but it also serves as a handy reminder about speeding in general. Many radar detectors also have a radar blocking feature, which masks the vehicle, or a signal jammer to prevent accurate readings. However, while radar detection devices are not illegal and can be freely used in any commercial or private vehicle, the law is less lenient over signal jammers.
It is important to note that radar detectors are not legal in Washington or Virginia.
Today’s radar detectors use laser technology to pick up radar signals, although the old-style machines which use radio frequencies are also still available. Some also use GPS technology to provide information about static traffic patrols or fixed cameras.
The 10 Best Radar Detectors Under $200
Cobra Electronics RAD450 Radar Detector
- Size: 4.1 x 2.6 x 1.4 inches; 10.4 ounces
Spanish and English language functions are included, and the device can issue text alerts or audio alerts as preferred. The Cobra RAD450 uses Anti-Falsing Circuitry technology to block errant signals in the environment, such as those from tracking sensors. The voice alerts combine with the LED display to provide information to the driver without causing a distraction. This is one of the lighter devices available, and it will sit comfortably on the dashboard. It can also be attached to the windscreen using a dedicated holder (sold separately). Users say the filter is effective at blocking false signals and that the device has given multiple successful results – potentially preventing those drivers from picking up a fine. The device charges using the cable provided, and provides several hours of use per charge.
Escort Solo S2 Cordless Radar and Laser Detector
- Size: 6 x 2 x 4 inches; 1 pound
This compact radar/laser detector is battery powered, so you will need two AA batteries to run it. This means that the device is truly cordless. At just one pound in weight and featuring a slim, smooth design, the Escort Solo is made to be transported and it can be taken in your pocket. This makes it a top choice for drivers of fleet vehicles who frequently change car or truck and who need to keep the system with them. A narrow but bright LED screen displays signal strength, while lights on the front indicate power status and the unit will alarm in the event of a hit on the radar sensor. The big draws for buyers are the wide range of the signal, and the variation between the full X, K, SuperWide Ka, and Safety Warning System radar capability bands. It is also a good budget choice, with lots of power despite its small size.
Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series Radar/Laser Detector
- Size: 6.5 x 2 x 11 inches; 2 pounds
Beltronics are a popular choice when it comes to radar detectors, and this dual-function RX65 model is no exception to the rule. The device can pick up radar and laser signals from a significant distance and it is effective even on multi-lane highways and other wide roads. An included quick-release holder makes the detector easy to attach to the windshield, where it delivers both audio and visual alerts which are noticeable without being overly distracting. The model comes in its own robust carry case and it is relatively lightweight at just two pounds, so it is perfectly portable and ideal for work use. Stand-out features include the auto-scan function, which ensures you never get caught out, and the multiple bandwidths it can operate on: 10.525 GHz +/- 25 MHz-K-band; 24.150 GHz +/- 100 MHz-Ka-band; 34.700 GHz +/- 1300 MHz-Ku-band; 13.400 GHz +/- 25 MHz-Laser; 904nm, 33MHz.
Whistler CR93 Laser/Radar Detector
- Size: 8.3 x 2.4 x 6.9 inches; 12.6 ounces
Cute, light and compact, the Whistler CR93 is a great choice if you need a quality radar detector but do not have a lot to spend. It retails at under $200 and yet it has all the strength and function you would expect from a more expensive model. The system has dual operating modes, allowing it to detect laser signals in addition to standard radar signals. This means it can track even the most sophisticated speed detection methods, and give the driver a valuable heads-up against potential speeding fines. The simple-looking dashboard gadget also features internal GPS with up-to-date traffic information, speed camera alerts and other vital driver information. The suction cup included attaches the small and discreet gadget firmly to the windscreen, and it will hold securely even over time without creating a distraction in the driver’s eyeline.
Cobra DSP9200BT Bluetooth Digital Laser & Radar Detector
- Size: 10.2 x 8.2 x 6.2 inches; 1.9 pounds
Small and compact, this advanced radar detector also picks up on more modern laser signals used by traffic cops to catch speeders. The device gives a great level of advance warning and boasts an impressive range of operation. Using Digital Signal Processing, the device can differentiate between speed-detecting devices and other gadgets operation on the same frequency – such as safety software and cruise control systems. The device is also designed in such a way that it will not interfere with the driver’s own vehicle, if that has any built-in sensor technology. It also uses Bluetooth to link to the Cobra mobile app, which provides real-time information about traffic jams, police activity on the roads and temporary changes to speed restrictions during roadworks.
Uniden LRD750 Laser Radar Detector
- Size: 7 x 3 x 11 inches; 9.6 ounces
If you want a laser/radar combination detector that can be customised to the way you like it, this Uniden model might be the right choice for you. Switch between X, K, and Ka bandwidths at the touch of a button, or have the device scan automatically across all ranges to maximize detection abilities. The device can also be flipped between ‘city’ and ‘highway’ modes, and the alarm function can be turned on or off as desired. The system features a voice function, which allows the detector to be used while driving without distracting the driver’s attention. It is also completely immune to the detection ranges of VG-2 and Spector I and IV ‘radar detector detectors’ favoured by police today – which means it could be used even where radar and laser detectors are prohibited. Of course, such an action would be at the driver’s own risk!
Beltronics Vector V955 Radar Detector
- Size: 4.8 x 2.8 x 1.2 inches; 2 pounds
The Vector V955 by Beltronics is a cool upgrade on their earlier series of radar detectors, with a host of extra features and a new lightweight design. The internal Safety Warning System can store up to 64 messages safely, and they are displayed across the scrolling digital display which is brightly lit with 280 red LEDs. Through linking with the mobile app or through its own connective technology, users can get direct updates about everything from planned roadworks and fixed speed cameras to police speed patrols and recent road accidents. The controls, alerts, alarms and bands can all be customized directly from the unit, and the Vector switches between city and highway modes automatically. Impressively, the unit has a 360 degree field of vision for both radar and laser signals.
Cheetah C550 GPS Speed & Red Light Detector
- Size: 2.8 x 1 x 1.6 inches; 2.6 pounds
Though the Cheetah dashboard companion is not, strictly speaking, a radar detector, it does offer a lot of the same functions and it is a very hand piece of kit to use as well as, or instead of, a standard radar detector. This is especially important where radar detectors are illegal: the Cheetah does not fall under this category of equipment, and the driver’s aid is perfectly legal on any state’s roads. The tiny device uses GPS and sensor technology to track speed and issue alerts, as well as monitoring for traffic problems and providing early warning for red lights coming up. It cannot tell you where police are lurking through radar sensors, but it can pick them up through online information networks and broadcast the information to the unit. Alert alarms can be turned off or on as desired, and the display works alone or in conjunction with the unit’s audio output.
Escort Passport 8500X50 Black Radar Detector
- Size: 5.3 x 1.2 x 2.9 inches; 2.4 pounds
Slick, cool and compact, the Escort Passport is a portable radar detector with the power and performance of a far bigger unit. The pocket-sized gadget operates across an extensive selection of bandwidths: X-band 10.525 GHz ± 25 MHz; K-band 24.150 GHz ± 100 MHz; Ka-band 34.700 GHz ± 1300 MHz; Laser 904nm; 33 MHz Bandwidth. It also uses state of the art Digital Signal Processing to differentiate between signals across those bandwidths, ruling out parking sensors, safety systems and other radar/laser activated systems. The range is certainly impressive, with field testing showing that it can not only pick up speed guns, but it can also block interstate radar signals that seek out illicit devices.
Bosch LR1G Green Rotary Laser Detector
- Size: 7.4 x 3 x 4.9 inches; 1.2 pounds
This rotary laser detector from Bosch would not be your first thought if you want a piece of car tech – after all, it was designed for hardware purposes and is the companion to power tools. However, the laser detector is also highly effective at picking up signals in the car, including those from modern speed detector guns. Users of the device report it sounding during transit and the alert relating to a police speed gun nearby. The budget device might therefore be a savvy choice, especially if you are worried about using a radar detector.
Using a radar detector: the pros and cons
So, there you have the 10 best radar detectors under $200. But is a radar/laser detector the right choice for you? Let’s weigh up the positives and negatives.
- Reduce speeding fines
- Better speed awareness from drivers
- Prevent distracted driving
- Avoid being pulled over unnecessarily
- Often illegal or restricted
- Can be interfered with by other signals
- Another dashboard device to consider
Overall, these handy detectors are proven to be effective when it comes to providing warning about traffic stops. If you are worried about getting on the wrong side of the law, or if you feel that you need a personal reminder to slow down sometimes, it might be wise to carry a radar detector. Remember to check local laws regarding their use, especially if your drive takes you across state borders or into another nation.
The products above are all verified by users of Amazon.com and tested by tech experts. We have selected them based on their average reviews, on their market impact and sales, and on the range of features they offer. However, if you feel you have come across a better budget device, if you have a story about radar detector use or if you have your own feedback about any of the radar detectors in this feature, please feel free to get in touch with us. Post your comment below and start a discussion today!
Product images sourced via Amazon.com
Product details correct at the time of writing, as taken from Amazon.com
Lead image credit: Steven De Polo via Flickr