Beltronics are an interesting firm, price wise they land a fair number of their machines in the upper mid range, but it seems to me that they fall a bit flat in other areas, notably the app department. I can appreciate what they are tying to do, offer a high spec build at a decent price, with a whole host of integrated features, but I can’t help but feel like something is a little off, something is keeping this firm from sky rocketing to the top, and I hope I can narrow down what that is during this review. The GT-7 is a wonderful little machine, able to detect with the best of them, the on board software is wonderful as well, where it falls down most egregiously is in the external software. App integration.
I have reviewed and tested a whole host of radar detectors over the last few months, and one of the most interesting things about this industry is the fact that the hardware has changed very little over the last twenty years or so. I mean, when you think about it it makes sense, but it is still and auto-shock interesting fact. So why are the prices so high for many of these machines? The software. It has come along in leaps and bounds, building on the tech of yesteryear to give us more refined ignore protocols, allowing even the venerable V1 to distinguish between a parking sensor, an automatic door and a bona fide radar gun being fired 2 miles away. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few machines that innovate in the hardware department, Cobra have a pocket build out now that impresses, and some radar detectors have been experimenting with cordless battery powered designs, but for the most part the tech is unchanged.
On to the review, I think you will find a lot to like here, and unlike the vast majority of the builds I look at and handle, the GT-7 impresses in some way in every section.
Beltronics GT-7 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality
I tend to almost apologetically admit that the look of the build is less important than the functionality. It starts pretty much all of my reviews, and while the added word count is appreciated by myself, even I’m getting a little tired of it. Regardless, the look of the GT-7 is different from pretty much all other builds, for one thing it looks amazing. Sleek symmetrical, two tone black and copper, there is nothing on the market that can match it for looks, and if the aesthetics is important to you then look no further. The display is on par with the Escort Max series, that gorgeous crystal clear display, minimalist by design, allowing you to know hat’s up with a quick glance. I never thought I would find a radar detector this cool to look at, and it sorely tempts me away from my Escort.
The mounting bracket is a match of the Escort in every way. A combination of magnetic locks and sticky vacuum cups. Man I love this set up. there is nothing on the market that is more sturdy than this combination, and while some folk might want to shell out of the mirror mount, I don’t think it will be necessary for the vast majority of us.
There is a smart cord from Beltronics that is compatible as well, but it does not come with the model on its own. I am conflicted here. I know they are expensive, but the added safety of the smart cord makes me feel like it should have been included. I know the margins on these kinds of builds after all. A smart cord powers the device, and has some handy buttons on there too, allowing you to hit the mute button, and thus program it on the fly. Without it you are forced to lean all the way to the windshield, which I consider to be a minor risk all so you can make use of an included core feature. Unacceptable.
Range wise we are looking at average in this price bracket, a little over 2 miles in fair conditions, more on the highway, and less in the inner city. Not bad at all, and it provides you with more than enough time to adjust when warned. There is a smart marking system installed, allowing you to dial in your daily commute on the fly, always a good thing. It can also distinguish between real alerts and false positives, but as is the case with every radar detector to include this feature, it can be a bit hit and miss, so your own desecration if you don’t mind.
Now for the app, or the difficulty I had in finding the damn thing. Beltronics started experimenting with app integration back in 2012, and to be honest I don’t feel like they have pushed it as far as they can yet. It is not as feature packed as the Escort app, nor even the iRadar out of Cobra, and what is there lacks the large social safety net. There are a number of their party apps that claim to work with it, but none integrate directly with the device, merely augment it’s abilities with some longer range info, that again comes with the small user base issue. In order for an app to be good in this arena it needs a large user base to keep the details updated, and direct integration with the radar detector, updating it to maintain new information. None I have tried out on the GT-7 can do both. Not a huge loss, and the long range information provided by any of the apps is welcome, but what could have been, you know?
There is one feature that I have to throw out. One thing that every radar detector is selling with their models, and it is almost entirely useless. The LIDAR detection. I have done the research here, and while it is true that a LIDAR detector will warn you when a Laser speed gun is in use, it will really only do so after you have been hit with one. renders it a little useless as a warning system, if I don’t say so myself. It can in good conditions pick up refracted beams, but again only from vehicles close to you, limiting its utility. Point to point systems are on the rise as well, not only with the new LIDAR guns, but also in the latest radar builds. It does seem that point to point short burst radar speed cameras can already be detected, and the app integration more and more firms are moving towards seems to resolve the issue as well, for the stationary ones at the very least. I will be paying attention to solutions to this as well move forward. There are alternatives to LIDAR detection, jammers. Radar jammers might be against the law, but LIDAR jammers are not yet. There are some risks to using those though, and I will go into them in the legality section.
Overall there is a lot to like here, and very little for me to complain about. The price point contextualizes it a bit, but for the most part this is a fine machine, at a good price. Let’s talk about that in detail.
Beltronics GT-7 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing
It is a constant source of amusement for me that I have to go over the legal issues involved in owning a radar detector, nothing else I review comes with this section, and I had a blast researching it. If you are reading this outside the US I am sorry to say that for the most part radar detectors are illegal. There are a few countries where they are legal, but I am only really concerning myself with the US, but the UK and Canada need not verify, they are against the law there. In the US there are a few laws that cover their use. First of all, both Virginia and DC ban them altogether. As do all Military Bases. For the rest of the country the 1036 Communications act covers you in non commercial vehicles. A mid nineties law prohibits their use in commercial vehicles, so bear that in mind. In addition both Minnesota and California have prohibitions on what can and cannot be put on your windshield, falling under obstruction of vision laws, so be sure to fix it to someplace else when traveling through either state. Finally, LIDAR detectors are a bit lacking to me, remember that LIDAR jammers are legal, unlike radar jammers which are illegal. So for the best protection combine a radar detector with a LIDAR jammer. Bear in mind that some folk have been hit with obstruction of justice charges when using LIDAR Jammers, so at your own risk.
And now the price. On average you can find the GT-7 in the $400 range. A bit on the expensive side, especially considering the app support, and the smaller user base. I think the core functionality makes it a contender, and the look of the build is still leagues ahead of the competition. The app will only get better by people buying into the Beltronics line after all, and getting in now might be a very good idea. I can see ways the firm could improve the app, but most of them involve hiring people to drive around major cities all day, and frankly that’s a bit long term unrealistic. You can find some second hand, but you miss out on the warranty, and the price difference is not nearly enough for me to recommend that. That said your best bet is checking all the current discounts and coupon codes at Amazon.com by clicking here.
Now the warranty. I spend all my time reviewing products, and so I have gotten pretty good and picking a part warranties, it’s a point of pride. When I don;t get a clause I make the firm explain it, though sometimes the companies fail to get back to me, huge black mark that. The Beltronics warranty is fairly basic. It covers you for factory faults within the first year, which is the industry standard for these products. I actually advise going third party for the purchase of this one, as they tend to have a few extra warranty features you can buy into, not to mention if you go for Amazon you get their consumer protections on top. I think it is easy to argue that if the device fails within the first year of normal use then you are entitled to your repair or replacement. I have had to press this opinion in the past, and I advise you steel yourself before calling any warranty line, it will help immensely, believe me.
I am conflicted. on the one hand the warranty options are good, and the price is not exorbitant, but I know what the features are like, I know the lacking app, and I know the price of pretty much every Radar detector on the market. It changes things. Overall this is a good build at a good price, and if you are the kind of person who likes style and function there is a lot to love here.
Beltronics GT-7 Radar Detector Conclusion
This is far from a bad build, but I feel like the industry has left it a bit behind. It’s fairly new too, which makes that statement all the weirder. It has all the modern features I love to see, but the app support, and the community is not there for me yet. Add in the basic warranty and it makes it hard to recommend over a mid range Escort or a high end Cobra. All that said I love how this thing looks, and it tempts me because of that. When I review my reviews for my top ten review it may come out ahead of a fair few detectors, not the number one spot, but certainly up there.