Sunday, January 29, 2023

Beltronics Vector V995 Radar Detector Review

Beltronics builds tend to either be amazing or terrible. For every GT-7 there is a low end Pro to drag my estimation of the firm down again. It doesn’t help that their online presence is so bad, navigating their site is an exercise in confusion. The V995 is one of the mid range machines, and it lacks a few key features that you find in other builds from the firm. The combination of a cut rate feature set and a less than impressive pri9ce makes this particular model hard to recommend. Beltronics do not make their own app, but a number of their models are, for some reason, compatible with Escort live. The V995, despite being an upgrade over the V955, does not feature said compatibly. Last month I was able to check out the Escort Max, and even that older model puts the V995 to shame, a pity, because there is nothing I like more than competition on the market, and frankly Beltronics are unable to keep up.

I spend most of my time reviewing products. I get a lot of one off items, but my preference is with the product lines. Looking at a market, trying to find out the most important features, comparing the different manufacturers with each other, and most interestingly, researching the history of the tech involved. With the likes of mattresses and robotic pool cleaners there has been a rich history, a series of advancements I can point to, but with radar detectors the core tech has changed very little in the last few decades. Esteemed firm Valentine has been selling their V1 largely unchanged for a long time now, and the price is in the upper mid range. So how can some companies justify the large prices? The answer is in the software. Taking the same signals and filtering it ever finer. Differentiating between false and real alerts, increasing the effective range, and even spotting the newer POP style radar guns. The highest priced items are now adding new hardware to the builds, retaining the old functions and adding Bluetooth to expand feature sets with phone integrations, and even in build GPS modes, with static position hot spots updated online. The Beltronics V995 is a lower mid range build, so it lacks many of these features, and unfortunately the price is still in the upper mid in many locations.

So let’s move onto the actual review. For all of the negative things I have to say in this starting section, there are a fair few positive things to say about Beltronics builds in general, and the V995 specifically. To start is a look at the build quality and the aesthetics.

 Beltronics Vector V995 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

The Vector range all share the same core look. Reminds me of a mid nineties CD player, and they were hardly lookers back in the day. The overall design is a shame. Beltronics have the best looking build on the market, with the GTi 7, which was the the first build of theirs that I reviewed. I expected the rest of their models to match the pure aesthetic sublimeness of that build, but it wasn’t the case. The display is the older big LED style display, and while I’m not a fan, I do appreciate that it is less of a power draw and it is easy to read, but there are ways of making even this style of display look sleek, adding an extra color or two for the different bands, like Cobra’s builds.

Beltronics builds tend to at least be build pretty well. The parts are fit flush, and there is no moving parts, so longevity is not an issue. The heft of this build is quite nice, which is something I like, but the mounting bracket that comes as standard is far from perfect. Don’ get me wrong, it will work well enough, but the older click bracket and regular suction cup design is less stable than the newer mag lock and sticky cup design. There are plenty of third party brackets that you can look into, but this is a Beltronics build, so I cannot recommend you spend more money than you have to, with Cobra models you save so much on the build that you can buy up to three accessories and not break that magic $100 mark. not the case here.

There are not many differences between the V995 and the V955. Hell, the name threw me when I say it, honestly I thought I had already reviewed the build. The core feature set is pretty good, the range of the build is impressive on both highways and in the cities. There are three city modes to choose from too, depending on the amount of interference in the area. You will have to tool around with it for a while to dial in the correct one for your area, as their is no app integration, and thus no real time community to let you know what is best for your area. If you can find it, the Beltronics Smartcoil is well worth the money. It’s a power cord with buttons on it, allowing you to mute and switch modes on the fly, far safer than leaning to the windshield. Only three firms make a cable like this, and it really is a god send. The Automute feature is great too. We have out usual hidden modes, protection against Spectre and VG2 detector detectors. Features unique to the V995 are the aforementioned Smartcoil, a built in Volt meter, a tech display mode, and a nice travel case. In other words, nothing that changes the inside.

There is little here that goes out of its way to filter the false signals. The software on the inside does its best, but without an app or an auto learn algorithm you are always going to be hit with false positives from passing cars, or even stationary doors. Learning your area can go a long way to fix that, but when you can spend less money on a build that has those features it makes it a little hard to be impressed by this.

The laser eye is standard with the V995, as it is with the vast majority of other radar detectors these days. i understand why it is being pushed by everyone. Speed detection tech is moving forward, and the radar detector needs to remain relevant, but the laser eye is not the way to do it. I just don’t think the tech is sensitive enough yet. When a LIDAR speed check is done the beam is narrower, quicker and has less refraction than a radar check, even the finer POP radar checker. It means that usually the Laser eye only goes off after you are already hit with the  beam, rendering the warning useless. There is some refraction from LIDAR speed checkers, and the laser eye can pick it up, but it is usually in line of sight, making the warning more useful, but not great either. There is an alternative that I feel is much better from a day to day perspective, but that comes with its own issues. Legal issues, so let’s leave it for the legality section.

This has been disappointing, and I haven’t even gotten to the worst bits yet. The V995 just does not pack the features in, and in the here and now that makes it impossible to recommend to most of us. I guess it might appeal to the bare bones user, someone who doesn’t want to fiddle with settings and set up a phone, but even those people had best get used to false signals.

 Beltronics Vector V995 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

Radar detectors are legal to use ion non commercial vehicles in 49 states. The only states that have law forbidding them are Virginia and Washington DC, so be sure to not use or buy them if you live or work in either state. They are also not allowed on US Military Bases, for pretty obvious reasons. In both California and Minnesota there are obstruction of vision laws that limit what you can and cannot place on your windshield, so be sure to find alternative mounting locations should you live, work or travel through either state on a regular basis. Sorry to all international readers who stumbled onto this page, I am afraid that for the most part radar detectors are illegal elsewhere. You can’t even use them in most Canadian provinces, so be wary those who travel north of the border often.

I am not a fan of the laser detector function of any radar detector. If the 30 reviews that all have a bit deriding the feature didn’t tell you that already. The alternative is the Laser jammer. Now, radar jammers are against the law pretty much worldwide, so do not buy one. Laser jammers in the US are not yet covered by any legislation, so you can combine one with your radar detector for full protection. They hide your information for a few moments, giving you enough time to correct your course, before going into sleep mode. A fair warning though, in the UK they have begun bringing obstruction of justice charges against those who use them, hopefully we won’t follow suit, and I have been unable to find any record of people being hit with fines due to owning and using a Laser jammer, but that might change.

I do not understand the pricing here. The feature set is pretty standard, and the build quality is okay, but it lacks so many bells and whistles, and Beltronics cannot even boast the best customer support to shore up the difference in price. The V995 can be found online in the $200 bracket. I have seen it cheaper at Walmart, so there’s that, but it is still far more expensive than such a feature lite build should be.

And now we hit the real low point. The price might leave me a little perplexed, but the warranty situation leaves me enraged. The firm offer a 1 year limited warranty, which, to be fair, is the industry standard. But a warranty is only worth as much as your trust in the firm offering it, and frankly, the state of the Beltronics site leaves me less than enthused over this warranty. Go there when you have some free time and find, well, anything. It’s a mess, and it means that until they address the website issues, I cannot recommend this build at all. A real shame.

As per usual, know the law regarding these items. This is not an innocuous purchase, and while they are mostly legal, you should still be aware of where you stand where ever you are. Laser jammers are a bit of a grey area, and I fully expect some kind of act to come out concerning them soon, if it says communication then it is a good bet the jammer is in there. The price here is unfortunate, and the warranty leaves me cold, a major miss from Beltronics. If you have to go with one of their builds then the GT-7 is the better option. Leave this one alone.

 Beltronics Vector V995 Radar Detector Conclusion

The Vector V995 may have been a competitive product on release. I don’t know, I wasn’t around, right now it is a joke. The firm have priced themselves out of the market, there are better builds from their rivals at lower prices, and that is not a situation that any firm wants to finds themselves in. Of course, that assumes Beltronics is in it for the long haul,  a look at their site tells us that there is not much money going in there. I can list off a dozen models in lower price brackets that match this build, and twice that that surpass it, if you want something bare bones this might be an option, but if you want a little more peace of mind, you have other options. Check out my other reviews for them, and keep an eye out for the up coming top ten, the most comprehensive article on radar detectors in the world.

The V995 could have been amazing, were it not for a few legacy issues, it does not meet the challenge of the current radar detector market. If you can find it cheap, then it might be a viable option, as it stands right now, it really isn’t.

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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