Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Beltronics Pro 300 Radar Detector Review

This is an interesting build. The Beltronics models have come up against the bulwark of my opinion in the past, and fallen hard, but the Pro 300 has something they all lacked, access to a high quality app. The real question then becomes; can the other negative qualities of the build be alleviated by the addition of the app? Not really. If this Beltronics build had the same pricing as every other one I have reviewed then I would actually be able to recommend it, but for some reason this, out of all of them, still sits in the upper mid range price point, while still being a distinctly old school model. It’s a shame, as the app that is compatible with the Pro 300 is Escort Live, to my mind the best first party community app on the market, and the feature set added as a result of the connectivity is fantastic.

I review product lines for a living. It means I had to come up with a process. I can be testing out mattresses, moving onto pool cleaner tech, all while not being an expert at either of them. I spend weeks looking into the industry, looking at the market, and considering who each product is being targeted at, and how well the firm is doing so. My favorite part is the tech research. I love figuring out where the tech comes from, what kind of foam does what, and why a companies decided to go with it. With the Radar detector market the tech has evolved very little in the last few decades. It made me wonder how the prices can be so high for some of these models if, under the hood, they are basically the same thing. The answer lies in the software, and integrations. Better filtering can make the differences, it reduces the false positives, and even increases effect range. The Pro 300 is an older model, so we should not expect cutting edge, though considering the price we probably should.

On to the review proper. I know right now that there is going to be very little nice to say about this one. An older model in this price point is never going to impress, and the use of certain cheaper tech makes the price point even more egregious. Let’s jump right in.

Beltronics Pro 300 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

This is far from an aesthetically pleasing model. There are so many to choose from thee days, so a lot of the more savvy firms are adding a bit of visual flair to the designs these days, but that is distinctly absent from this model. It’s a touch concerning, as I would argue that Beltronics have the best looking build on the market, with the GT-7. This is a dull grey box, and the display tech is dire. It’s that old big LED display. Simple, easy to read and low cost, sure, but you are spend a few hundred dollars on this build, you want a HD display, with color. Swing and a miss here.

The build quality at least seems to be pretty high. There is a nice robustness to the simplicity here, and the weight of the build is just right. No moving parts means longevity, less to break down, and the fit of the build is nice, at least the one I checked out. The bracket leaves much to be desired though, it’s one of the older click and suction brackets, and while they work, there are sturdier options out there. Again, if you are dropping this much cash on a radar detector you deserve a little more peace of mind, a mag lock bracket and sticky suction cups. You can buy a third party bracket that has both the tech and will fit the Pro 300, but that is only really a viable option when you by a cheap radar detector.

The Pro 300 comes with the excellent Smart coil cable, and I am a big fan of this. With the vast majority of other options on the market you have to lean over the windshield to change the mode, or hit the mute button. The Smart coil has a number of buttons on it, allowing you change the settings on the fly. The filtering modes seem to work well enough, but you are always going to get false positives. Thankfully there is an auto mute option here. The usual protections modes are present as well, VG1 mode, and spectre protection, from Radar Detector Detectors. The only advice I can give when it comes to using the Pro 300 on a day to day basis is to get to know your local area, know where the static signals are, know what the signal density is, and select a base setting accordingly.

The best thing about the Pro 300 is the app integration. It streamlines a lot of the set up, meaning you don’t have to look up manually where all the static traps are. The wonderful Escort Live Community app updates on the fly, and in real time, with everyone else who is connected. Obviously the utility of the app goes up the more drivers in your areas are connected, but I have looked into the coverage and it seems to be fairly wide spread. The Escort app has the most users, so far as I can tell, and the Pro 300 can be connected to it directly. The Smart coil plugs right into your phone, and you can join the community, and add your own alerts to the system. Unfortunately, due to the fact that this is a Beltronics build, and not a first party Escort build, you will not get free access to the app for any length of time. You will have to pay the monthly, or yearly, fee. It’s not much, and where this any other Beltronics model I would not hesitate to advise you go for it, but this is the Pro 300, and the $300 price tag makes that commendation very hard.

Now we have come to the part of the article where I explain, exactly, why I feel laser eyes are not worth all that much. It;s the radar detector market’s answer to the new speed camera and gun tech. Instead of using radar to test speeds, more and more law enforcement agencies are using laser, and the differences is quite high. with radar tech the waves are fired off, and they disperse all over the place, they travel well, and are easy enough to pick up, even the short blast point to point Pop radar guns are fairly easy to pick up. LIDAR is far shorter ion terms of duration, and the refracted signals are not as dispersed. Meaning, that if the laser eye warning goes off you are probably already hit, or someone within sight is hit. Not all that much time to course correct, if any at all. there are alternatives to the laser eye, and I will go into them in the legality section, as there are a few issues surrounding using them.

The core feature set is here, but it takes more than that to make a goo radar detector these days. The Pro 300 is a step up from the rest of the Beltronics line, aside from the already mentioned excellent GT-7, but that is not enough either. All of this section has been somewhat polluted by the fact of the price, bu there is nothing I can really do about that.

Beltronics Pro 300 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

The law regarding radar detectors is pretty clear these days. there was a time when it was a touch more muddled, but now there are only three or four things to remember. They are illegal to use in commercial vehicles, sorry truckers on the road. For non commercial vehicles you can use them without restriction in 47 states. They are illegal for all vehicles in Virginia and Washington DC, and two other states restrict their placement in the vehicle. In both Minnesota and California you are not allowed to mount them to the windshield, so be sure to find an alternative mounting location if you travel or work in either state. Around the world they are mostly illegal, sorry folks reading abroad, be careful if you travel north of the border regularly, as they are illegal in most Canadian states. Finally, they are prohibited on all US Military Bases as well, so you know, if you find yourself on one for some reason.

I mentioned my distaste for Laser eye features in the core of the review, and I said there was an alternative. Said alternative is LIDAR jammers. Bear in mind that radar jamming devices are illegal pretty much across the globe, but right now in the US there is no legislation covering LIDAR jammers. It means that you can get full protection by combining a LIDAR jammer and a radar detector. They obfuscate your information for a few minutes, giving you plenty of time to course correct, before deactivating. Bear in mind, the law can change, anything that covers communications might have a little clause on LIDAR jammer and radar detectors in it. I know some folk in the UK have been arrested on obstruction charges due to using LIDAR jammers, so please be careful.

The price of the Pro 300 differs depending on where you go to get it, but by and large you can expect to pay in excess of $280 minimum. They are cheaper on the high street, but unless you can get this for sub $140 there are better options out there.

And now the warranty. A warranty is only as valuable as the firm who is offering it, and frankly I am not entirely convinced that Beltronics are a solid firm in that regard. What a company puts out into the world speaks volumes about them, and a look into the official Beltronics site you will find a mess of dead links and spelling mistakes. it does not fill me with confidence. Apparently the warranty is a limited 1 year warranty, standard in the industry, and in general I consider them to be a little less than useful, but here is is below even that. I have had to check out a fair number of Beltronics’ builds, and every time I hit the pricing and warranty section any good will the product might have is essentially removed. it’s a shame, as I really love competition.

Even if you don’t want to go with a Beltronics build the information here is still useful. You need to know the law regarding these things. You need to keep yourself covered, especially if you decided to travel long distance or pick up a LIDAR jammer. The price here is terrible, and the after sales care is less than amazing. Overall a poor showing from Beltronics, which is at least consistent.

Beltronics Pro 300 Radar Detector Conclusion

The Pro 300 could have been so good. It has all the core features we look for in a radar detector. The look of the build might be a little lacking, and the display is less than stellar, but this is a Beltronics build. I was expecting the price to match the other models, be in the $120 or so range, and when you add Escort Live compatibility to a sub $150 model you have something worth buying. Even with the warranty situation it would have been worth it, but somehow the price is more than double that.

Another pass from me for the Beltronics Pro 300. There are cheaper options out there, with more features and a more sturdy warranty. Beltronics models can be great, and the core feature set is there, they just drop the ball in the pricing and warranty section too hard. It colors my opinion of the whole line. If you can find any of their models at an affordable price, then you will have a sturdy, well built, bare bones radar detector, that will serve, otherwise, you’re better off with Cobra.

Barry W Stanton
Irish born writer who drinks too much caffeine and reads too much Terry Pratchett. I enjoy long walks on the server and Korean cuisine.
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