Thursday, September 29, 2022

Beltronics V10 Radar Detector Review – 2018 Update

Continuing with my series on the Beltronics models this month with a breakdown of the V10. Not to be confused with the V1 from Valentine, though the name similarity makes me wonder how they are getting away with it. The V10 is aiming at the lower end of the market, like most of the Beltronics stable, and now, at the tail  end of this run of Radar detector reviews, it does not seem like the fine folk over at Beltronics are able to keep up with the competition.

Five years back the models I am seeing from Beltronics would have impressed, there was not the proliferation of app integration that is so ubiquitous these days, and so the core feature set was small. When combined with the good prices here, and the more obvious web presence I am sure, Beltronics might have once been a real contender. I can usually see a market for even the most basic builds, there are things that some firm simply do better than others, there are parts of the market looking for different things. Here though I know for certain that there are other models, from other firms that do exactly the same thing, and are cheaper.

Over the last two years I have been lucky enough to review a wide range of product lines. When something new comes down the pipeline my pre-review prep is a flurry of information and research, to make sure the testing I do is appropriate. I love getting lost in the tech, seeing it evolve. I bring this up here to point out that the tech on display in the world of radar detectors has been mounting pretty much unchanged since the nineties. Valentine, makers of the V1, have been selling pretty much the same build now as it was on release. So why is the price still so high? The software. That is where the money is spent in house, finer and finer algorithms for sorting the signals that the hardware picks up, allowing the most expensive builds to be as user friendly as possible. Now, I feel it has to be pointed out that with the right set up you can make even a dirt cheap build  can  function very similarly to the most expensive, but doing so requires a fair amount of set up, some patience, and a decent understanding of how your model works, and how your phone works. With any low end Beltronic build, it requires a few other things as well.

Beltronics’ marketing strategy might have been a successful one in the past, but if the state of their website is any indication, I don’t think the firm is considering it anymore. They are being left behind, in a world where even the meanest of Cobra builds can undercut on price, match on core features, and expand on integrations. So let’s start with a look at something Beltronics, by and large, excel at.

Beltronics V10 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

Let’s take a step back from comparing this range to models from other firms. It doesn’t do well in that field. Make no mistake, this is a temporary thing, and the rest of the review will be filled with comparisons. In terms of look, this build leaves much to be desired. it’s a real shame, as I believe the best looking radar detector came out of Beltronics, the GT-7. That thing is gorgeous, this is basic. it can’t even rely on symmetry, it’s lopsided, and the less said about the display the better. Now about that display, it’s one of those older large LED displays, and so looks more like a clock radio than an advanced piece of hardware. A damn shame overall, as I can usually rely on this section to heap a little praise on the less impressive builds. I just finished reviewing the similarly priced Whistler models, and for all the black marks on those builds, they at least look great.

The weight of the build is nice though, a little more heft to it than the similar V955. This I found odd, as in terms of function, and even aesthetic, there is littler to differentiate these two builds. It feels okay in general able to take a hit or two, but not a patch on the CR series or the higher end Cobra models. The mounting bracket is the standard Beltronic bracket, a simple piece of kit that will work, but not quite as sturdy as I would like. There are third party options that are well worth looking into, find one with a sticky suction cup and a nice grounded magnetic lock.

If you go to the Beltronics site with the intention of finding out more on their models I guarantee you will be disappointed. Maybe it was just me, but I found navigating the thing to be a chore, with missing listings all over the place. It does not fill me with confidence, and makes it hard for me personally to trust what i was able to find. There is no smart cable, which is a major oversight. The V10 doesn’t even have an auto mute option, so if you find yourself in the middle of an ear splitting headache you are going to have to lean over to shut off all those false positives, and there will be false positives. Smart cables allows you to switch modes and mute on the fly, both Whistler and Escort stock one for their builds, and I would have loved to see one here.

The core features are all here, the V10 is able to pick up signals at a range of around 2 miles, so nice and average. This will depend a bit on the terrain, and the conditions, but you can bank on 2 miles usually. The band range is expansive, covering all the signals currently in use. I recommend making sure that your local area still uses x-band, as many do not, allowing you to deactivate that band. Bonus features include VG1 mode, to protect against detector detectors, though so far as I can tell here it does not auto shut down on detection. There is also the laser detection system, but I have a specific paragraph where I break that one down. There is no sorting mode either, that can distinguish between dangerous and benign signals. Don’t get me wrong, no firm has got that working perfectly, but they do at least filter reasonable well. Not even a basic filtering mode here is a bit of an issue.

There is no Beltronics app, which puts the V10 out of the running for the top ten list I am compiling by default. Even a basic app can extend the functions of as radar detector ten fold, increasing range by updating lists with other app users. There are a number of third party options on the market, and you can buy into the iRadar from Cobra and Escort’s app as well, but that feels a little weird to me. You cannot use the auto updating features and other advanced settings with a electronics detector either.

From my perspective they are of limited use. The main reason for this is the way laser speed readers differ from radar. Radar speed readers are, for the most part, a far wider band than laser. It means that your detector has many more opportunities to pick up the signals. with laser there is far fewer, seen as it is a tightly focused point A to point B system. Most of the time when the detector goes off citing laser it is because you were already hit with it. It is able to pick up some refracted signals, but the range is very limited, we’re talking a few dozen yards in the best conditions. There are alternative options on the market, and I intend to talk in detail in the legality section, not exactly precisely kosher.

I wish I could have said a few more nice things about this build. At best it would have been seen as a fine option five years ago, but the market has changed. i have seen no indication that the firm is going to be moving with the times, and as a result we have a model that has been beaten in terms of price, features and utility by so many more builds on the market.

Beltronics V10 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

I love the fact that I have to talk about the legality of these things. No other product i have reviewed has fallen into this legal grey area, so never before have I had to look into the law. fascinating overall, I have to say. Got to cut a fair portion of the readers here, as if you are reading this from outside the States, I regret to report that radar detectors are likely not legal in your country. They are illegal in most countries, even Canada, so a minor warning to all those out there who cross the border often. In the United States there are three places where you cannot use your radar detector. Virginia, DC and any Military base.

In addition, if you drive a commercial vehicle you cannot use a radar detector. Everywhere else you are golden. In the States of Minnesota and California you cannot place the detector on your windshield, so find another place to mount your detector and you are fine. Radar jamming devices are illegal everywhere, so ignore them. Laser jamming devices are not though, and in terms of protection they are far better than simple detectors. For full coverage I recommend you combine the features of a decent radar detector and a laser jammer. It must be pointed out that some people have been charged on obstruction of justice due to using a laser jammer, so be careful out there.

The price of the V10 is on par with the V955, making distinctions between them nearly impossible. Both of them work, and both of them fall into the $120 price bracket, but I cannot call that a good deal. At first glance it might appear to be, but I know for a fact that there are around a dozen or so models out there that exceed them in terms of features, and undercut them on price. A shame, really, I like competition in my markets, so seeing a company fail annoys me.

You know, the Whistler line of radar detectors had similar issues to the Beltronics line. Both are a little older, the tech used is lack luster and the software is nothing to rave over. They are priced similarly too. But Whistler could at least boast some of the best customer service in the business. Beltronics cannot boast the same. The state of their site is deplorable, and leaves me feeling less than trusting of the firm. They offer a one year warranty as standard, limited of course. If you must go for one aim for Amazon. You at least get Amazon’s consumer protections on your purchase, and you might be able to get this model at a price I would deem appropriate.

Know what the law is, it’s a big deal in this market, as the law can change at any time, and suddenly you find yourself in hot water. The price here looks good at first glance, but as stated, I know it isn’t, there are models out there that are better, at better prices. Finally, the company does not fill me with confidence, having a site so full of holes, and so the warranty does not reassure me either.

Beltronics V10 Radar Detector Conclusion

There are few things I hate more than having to review a bad product, so it’s lucky the Beltronic V10 isn’t a bad product. It’s just an old one, one that is past its prime, in a industry that has left it behind long ago. At its core it can still function, and if you can find it for $60 then it’s a bargain, but at this price, no, get something else.

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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