Every so often something new comes down the pipeline that is right up my alley. The next few weeks will be devoted to radar and laser detectors, specifically designed to warn drivers when a police officer is out with the speed gun. The tech behind them is fascinating, and their use is equally so. I have taken the time to do my research, how they work, when you can use them, and what features might land you in trouble, and I feel that, for such a legal grey area, there are clear distinctions regarding all of those things. Now, if you are reading this in the UK or Australia I have some bad news, these things are illegal over there. They are illegal in some states as well, but not all, and it is for those of you out there lucky enough to find yourself living, working and driving in one of the states that allows their use.
The Escort Passport is an upper mid range speed trap detector, and a glance through the features is enough to leave anyone impressed. I have been looking at all kinds of models out there, and the vast majority are bare bones builds. Able to do what you want them to do, but with little in the way of bells and whistles. The folks over at Escort have crafted a whole range of radar and laser detectors that all have app integration, and if you read my reviews of breathalyzers you will know how heavily I weigh that kind of thing.
So let’s get into the the review, see what’s so special about the Escort Passport 9500 IX.
Escort Passport 9500 IX Radar Detector Design and Build Quality
Always start with the least important part of the build, the aesthetics. Frankly, when it comes to radar detectors how the thing looks is of little importance, you don’t have to hold it, so there is no need for it to be ergonomic. All that said, the Passport 9500IX looks fairly amazing. It’s compact, little bigger than a phone, though it is substantially bulkier, all black and comes with a variety of ease of use considerations that you would be hard pressed to find with other models. Chief among them is the position of the mute button, right there on the recharger cable. Most other radar detectors I have been fiddling around with keep the mute button on the box, meaning you find yourself leaning over to your windshield to turn the damndable sound off.
A key thing to verify before buying any radar detector is what sound it makes when it detects a radar gun in use. Some of the models I have listened to use an ear grating modem-like whine that is enough to set my teeth on edge. Glad to say that’s not the case here. I would hardly call the call of the Passport 9500IX pleasant, but it is also not the worst thing I’ve ever heard. The build has a nice heft to it, I like my electronics to feel a little more study, lets me feel the value in it. The on board display is high resolution and very easy to see at a glance, and the mounting bracket is magnetized, leading to excellent stability.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the downsides to this particular model. The core issue is the single detection sensor. A number of other models have a dual sensor system in place, it allows them to receive radar signals generated both in front of you and behind you. Using both of the sensors at the same time even allows the radar detector to estimate the exact position of the source, allowing you, the driver, to make an informed decision on a moment to moment basis. The other issue is the range. Don’t get me wrong, the range on the Escort 9500 IX is impressive, upwards of 3 miles in clear conditions, but if there is any difficult terrain around you can see that number fall to as little as a mile. I wold argue that that is more than enough time to slow down, unless you are in a heavy vehicle, then you might be in for a bad time.
As for the good things, well these is so much to talk about here. One of the major headaches involved in owning and operating a radar detector lies in the false positive. All kinds of things use radar these days, not least of which is automatic doors. It can be a mild inconvenience to have to mute the box every time you drive by a shop, with the Escort 9500IX you needn’t worry. The smart GPS system that comes as standard will pick up on repeated location warnings, and automatically mute a short list of locations it has noticed set it off all the time. You can disable this if you like, but I am a fan.
Escort themselves have a bit of an edge over the competition these days due to cell phone app integration. When you set up your phone with your Escort 9500 IX you automatically communicate with all the other 9500IX’ on the road, updating a library with the location of speed traps. There are more than enough folk on the road right now to keep the app ticking over, making sure you are protected no matter what. A purchase of any Escort branded radar detectors gives you access to the app for free, or you can go buy it now to test out the features.
Overall I came away from the Escort 9500 IX very impressed. Granted, this is the first such device I have tested, but I am reasonably sure that in terms of features this is the limit. All other radar detectors will be compared to this one in my mind for the foreseeable future.
Escort Passport 9500 IX Radar Detector Legality and Pricing
This is a bit of a tricky area. I have been reading up on the legality of these devices and for the most part ownership is not illegal, use is more of an issue. For most people in most countries they are flat out illegal to own sell or buy. For some they place prohibitions on the secondary function of the detectors, the laser detection systems, and for others you face fine only when using them in commercial vehicles. In the US the Communications Act of 1934 covers you for non-commercial use in a moving vehicle, unless you are in Virginia, DC or a US military base. If you are in Minnesota or California you are not allowed to affix them to the windshield, under obstruction of vision laws. If you buy a build that jams, not merely detects, then you can land in hot water. Radar jammers are illegal, though not laser jammers oddly enough. Please be careful out there.
Now we come to the price. It tends to be a deciding factor for me, money is very much an object for myself. You can find the Escort 9500 IX in the $450 to $500 range. I did a bit of shopping around and did find it in the low end of that, non discounted, and I imagine you can find an even better price when on sale. Broad spectrum, it lands in the middle. I have seen more expensive builds, and I have seen less expensive builds, but it is hard to fins less expensive builds, with as impressive a feature list out there. The best price we found online was via Amazon.com which you can get with all discounts applied by clicking here.
In terms of warranty we find a factory standard 1 year warranty. This covers faults, but not damages. There is an extended warranty available for $29.95, but I cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone would want to get it. It covers the same things as the core warranty, and if you have a factory fault that remains undetected for a year I don’t know what to tell you. There is one unique little deal here. The Escort Radar performance guarantee. if you get a ticket, they will pay for it. Pretty gutsy move, but it seems to be paying off.
Overall, the price is on point, and the warranty is exactly what I expect it to be. Be sure to check the legality of use and ownership wherever you are, and remember they are illegal in Canada.
Escort Passport 9500IX Radar Detector Conclusion
At the end of the day you know better than I do with regards to your needs. I think the Passport 9500IX does a good job of packing in the bonus features, far more so than the other builds I will be looking at this week. The core tech is impressive, though it has clear issues. Know the limitations of the hardware, that’s what i say. If you can live with a minimum of a one mile warning, again, in the worst of environments, then you literally cannot do better than the Passport 9500XI.
To get the Passport 9500XI at the discounted price from Amazon.com you can click here.