It pains me to say that I am nearing the end of this series of reviews. The radar detector market may be jammed packed with products, but the vast majority of them are low quality, hardware only affairs with little utility. The ones that I have gone out of my way to get my hands on are the cream of the the crop. Even the dirt cheap models I have reviewed are a cut above. The Max II HD from Escort might be my favorite in terms of ease of use and feature set, Escort pulled out all their tricks for this one, and sadly that is reflected in the price. I can easily recommend the build to those with the money to throw down on a top of the line product, but for the more fiscally conservative consumer there are a few other options to consider at lower price points.
One of the most fascinating things I’ve discovered over the last few months is the radar detector hardware fact. For the last couple of decades the core tech that folk are buying hasn’t changed. Valentine has been selling the V1 unchanged for a long long time. That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been any improvements made, by no means. The software is where the value is, and the best companies have sorting algorithms and integrations par excellence. The cheaper models cannot compete with them in terms both features and intelligence.
There is really only one bad point to the MAX II, and that won’t be touched on for a fair few paragraphs, not in detail at any rate. The price, so best I mention it now. On average you are looking to drop about $600 on this model, so if that is out of your league then please take a look at my other reviews, I am sure there is something in there to interest you. For the rest of us, let’s break this one down.
Escort Max II HD Radar Detector Design and Build Quality
Always good to be writing about a top of the line model. In this section it means there is little bad to say about it. Lowers my word count a bit, but that’s a minor trade off. In short the MAX II HD is a long range machine, with excellent software, and a gorgeous design. Let’s start with the look of the build.
This is far from the most important section in my reviews, but I feel like it can become something a a tie breaker section, when you are torn between two similar products. For much of the Escort series reviews I have been more than a little unimpressed with their designs. The Feature set might have been on point, but the vast majority of their builds look like clock radios circa 1986. The MAX II HD is finally looks worthy of that expansive feature set. It is a streamlined, sleek build, with a display so clean and clear I could not believe it is in the same line as the rest of Escort’s builds. HD is an apt name here, the display is clean and easy to read at a glance, very little clutter on display too. The feel of the build is excellent as well. It has a nice heft to it, long time readers will know I like a good solid weight behind the products I review, makes it feel durable.
One area where the MAX II shines is in the alert sound. So many models out there hit you with a death screech of frankly garish proportions, liable make you want to take your hands off the wheel and clutch your head in aural agony. Not so here, the MAX II HD is a more subtle machine. A few plangent beeps, and a crisp clear voice telling you the info you need. No need to look at the box, excellent design overall here.
The range of the detection system is impressive, around 2 miles in bad conditions. that gives you plenty of time to adjust yourself accordingly. It must be pointed out here that it has less range that the Redline. The MAX II HD is perfect for inner city travel, but less so for long haul red eye drives cross country, where range is more important.
Now we come to the APP and GPS integration. The MAX II HD comes with on board Bluetooth, allowing it to connect and update information in real time with the amazing Escort app. It allows the already impressive smart learning function that comes as standard with the MAX II HD to be augmented with real time updated data from all the other folk using the app. You can kiss false alarms goodbye, well the stationary ones at any rate. There is still going to be issues with parking sensors, but that is true of all radar detectors. The app comes with the purchase too, so you don’t have to worry about added costs.
A final word on the Laser detection system. All radar detectors on the market right now are pushing this as a spot light feature, showing that the products are keeping up with speed detection tech, and while it’s cool, and the methods used to detect lasers is amazing, it is far from practical. LIDAR speed testers work on a point to point system, far more often that radar speed guns do. It means that the system can only really warn you if you are hit with the beam, at which point it is essentially useless. It can pick up refraction, but again, that only really works if the car ahead of you is hit, again limiting the utility. Do not rely on this feature, there are better options that I will mention in the legality section.
I love the core feature set of the Escort series. All of their models are a cut above due to the clever app integration, expanding ranges and muting what needs muted. The MAX II HD is one of the best they offer, updating the look and feel of the build to a more modern standard. The range is great, and for those of use who have to travel in cities, and make the occasional cross country journey, this is the best all rounder out there.
Escort Max II HD Radar Detector Legality and Pricing
I am almost bemused by this section at this point. I have had to come up with around twenty different iterations of it, and for all and intents and purposes it’s a disclaimer, tell you, the consumer to be aware of the law regarding radar detectors. There are a few places in the US where they are straight up illegal, Virginia and DC, as well as any US military base. In addition both Minnesota and California have restrictions on what you can and cannot have attached to your windshield, covered under the obstruction of vision act.
Be sure to mount it in an alternative position if traveling in those states. Across the world they are, for the most part, illegal. Be careful when crossing the northern border, as they are also illegal in Canada. Finally, a brief word on Radar jammers, they are illegal everywhere, but LIDAR jammers are not. RADAR detectors come with LIDAR detectors, that’s the laser system I mentioned earlier, but they have limited utility, often warning you only hen you are hit with the laser. LIDAR jammers are both legal and far more effective. For best results combine both LIDAR jammers with RADAR detectors.
And now we come to the only real black mark on an otherwise superb product. The price. I feel like I have been ragging a little too hard on the price this review, but it has been in my mind from the beginning. I am by no means a wealthy person, and so how much I am spending is always in my head. On average you are looking at a price tag just north of $600 for the MAX II HD. By no means the most expensive model on the market, but still a hefty fee that needs to be fairly considered. That said you can usually find a pretty good deal at Amazon.com by clicking here to view the price with all current discounts automatically applied.
Now to the warranty. I review products for a living, and so have gotten to know a wide variety of warranties, I can spot a lemon a mile off, which is lucky considering what Radar detectors are for. The standard Escort warranty is for one year, covering only factory faults. I think it is easy to argue that any hardware or software failure that crops up during less than a year of use under normal conditions falls under that, so so far so good. They offer an extended warranty, covering an addition 24 months for $30, but I can;t see much value in it. Odds are pretty good that if it doesn’t fail after a year then you’ve got it for life, barring any major accidents. There is one nice service offered by Escort, one unique to them in the industry. The Performance Guarantee. I love this policy, they will pay for the first ticket you receive after buying any Escort model radar detector. There are a few restriction, for example the ticket must be fro speed, for some unknowable reason. It speaks volumes regarding their faith in their product, something other firms could stand to emulate.
Overall this has turned into a mixed bag. The price is a bit high, and the warranty could do with an extension. I mean, you are spending top dollar here, would be nice if the warranty was a touch more robust. The performance guarantee is a bit of an ace in the hole though, every time I write about it it makes me laugh, it endears the company to me, and that is important, makes it more likely that I will become a repeat customer, and recommend them to my readers.
Escort Max II HD Radar Detector Conclusion
You know the downsides by this point. The price is high, and the warranty is stingy, but beyond those two issues we are left with one of the most accurate and feature packed models on the market. I can think of only a few others that match the Max II HD, and they lack the integrations, while still being priced similarly. At the end of the day, if you are in the market for a new radar detector, and want the very best, then the MAX II HD from Escort is one that must be seriously considered.
To check out the current deals and discounts on the MAX II HD click here. I recommend pulling the trigger if you can get it under $600.