Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Escort Passport Max Radar Detector Review

This was a tougher build to get my hands on. The now legacy Escort model Passport Max. Their earlier flagship build, the Passport Max comes with a whole heap of extra features, top of the line software, and access to Escort’s Live app, though not natively, which is a shame. The best part of the build is, as a legacy product, the price is much lower than other high end Escort models. The firm is well known for their quality, amazing customer service, and having one of the most advanced first party apps in the business. I have reviewed a lot of radar detectors, and the high build quality comes through loud and clear with even the cheapest of Escort builds. The downside is the price. While the Passport Max is cheaper than the latter day high ends, it is still double the price of comparable models from other firms. I know who they are aiming for, the kind of consumer who prioritizes after care support and product longevity over short term savings, but I don’t know if that is enough to justify the price to me.

Most of my time is spent reviewing product lines. I get to check out a lot of products in the same industry, comparing their use, seeing what the market wants, and looking into how the actual tech works, and how it has evolved. With every other product line I have been able to track the evolution of the technology, but that hasn’t really been the case with the Radar detectors. For the most part they have remained largely unchanged for the last several decades. I can sort of see why, radar waves have remained largely unchanged since the Big Bang, so the tech behind detecting them doesn’t need to change much. The V1, Valentine’s flagship, has been using pretty much the same hardware since launch, so how are the big companies able to justify all the high prices? Software. The advances made on the software side of things has been astounding. Taking the same data and filtering it ever finer to get more accurate results, removing false positives, and increasing effective range. Adding new hardware, like GPS systems and Bluetooth, keeps the prices high, but they further refine the radar detector experience. The Passport Max has good on board software, but it lacks Bluetooth, meaning we need external connectors to make use of the App.

So let’s move on with the review, with a look at the build itself first. hardly the most important aspect of a radar detector, but buying something you like the look of can be the deciding factor, when you are debating similarly specced and priced models.

Escort Passport Max Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

The look of the Max builds are really something special. Minimalist design, only a few buttons. A crisp clear display, probably the best on the market. The plastic is fit flush, and the overall build quality is up to the usual Escort standard. The position of the Laser eye is an issue for me, from a design perspective. I don’t know why they have to be fit pipped up on the build, but Escort are not alone in this placement. Symmetry could be maintained by putting another pip on the other side, or fitting the eye into the build proper and doing away with the pop entirely, but no one has done so. A minor issue though, and it is unlikely to annoy anyone else. It’s only because I have seen and used so many of these things that it gets to me.

There is some nice heft to the build, not quite the balanced feel of the Max II, or the 360, but there is enough here to belay the value in the build. The mount is the standard Escort mount. This thing should be the industry standard. A combination of magnetic locking and sticky suction cups, it would take the bridge of the Enterprise under heavy fire to dislodge this thing. I suppose when you are spending several hundred dollars on a build you can expect the best, and it is nice to see Escort live up to that.

The Escort Max has so many features. The core features, like the ability to scan all the active radar bands out there, VG2 detector protection and City and Highway modes of course. But beyond that we have a self contained unit that can filter out pretty much every false signal on the road. I love the Escort Live app, and the Max is compatible, but even without access to the app the in build features are tailored to protect. The Defender system is a database that combines with the on board GPS to warn the user of Traffic light cameras. It can be updated online, just plug it in and install the new software. The auto learn feature means that all you have to d is mute a static signal once, and the detector will take care of the rest. It’s a smarter auto mute, and something I feel should be implemented with all builds. We can also plug the smart cable in to access the Escort Live features on top of all that.

The Smart cable is probably the most important add on for any build. It puts buttons on the cable, allowing you to switch modes and mute on the fly, no longer do you dangerously have to lean to the windshield to access the buttons. When you plug into the Escort Live app you gain access to a real time updated list, maintained by other Escort users’ radar detectors, that warns you of all the dangers on the road. When combined with the auto learn function you will never be bothered by false signals again. Well, maybe once a month, but that is still way less than other, less expensive builds.

The laser eye, which I mentioned earler, does more than make the build look lopsided. It also detects laser speed detection systems. The reason it gets its own paragraph is down to my own issues witht eh function. No firm has got it right, and it is not their fault. Laser speed guns work similarly to radar, but with a far quicker and narrower beam. There is less for the laser eye to pick up, so for the most part, it only really goes off after you get hit,. There is some refraction, and the laser eye will pick it up, but it is usually via line of sight, and thus only gives you a minute or so to course correct. There is an alternative to the laser eye, one that works 9 times out of 10, but there are some issues involved with it, so  will leave it until the legality section.

This build is astounding. A lot of thought went into the feature set, in order to give the user as good a time of it as possible. I think it is easy to see why some of the features have been pared back, the GPS system has been replaced with phone integration as the Escort Live app has gotten more and more refined, but I kinda like the external GPS here. While you can use this out of the box with little issue, I feel that you would not be pushing it to the limit, with a few smart changes to the set up, and an active user, you can end up with one of the best radar detector experiences on the market.

Escort Passport Max Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

I’m going to miss this paragraph. The but where I talk about the legality of the item I am reviewing. The radar detector is legal in 49 states, so for the vast majority of us it is fine. Virginia and Washington DC ban their use entirely. They are also prohibited on US Military bases. There is a nationwide ban on their use in Commercial vehicles, sorry to all the truckers out there. Finally, both California and Minnesota have obstruction of vision laws, meaning you are not allowed to put much of anything on your windshield, so be sure to find an alternative mounting location should you live, travel or work in either state. Be careful crossing the northern border, as Radar detectors are illegal in most Canadian provinces.

So I mentioned my distaste for Laser eyes, or LIDAR detectors, due to their circumstantial usefulness. LIDAR jammers are a whole different beast. Remember, Radar jammers are illegal everywhere, so steer clear, but LIDAR jammers are not yet covered by any legislation. LIDAR jammers hide your information for a few moments, allowing you time to course correct, before switching off. For full coverage combine a LIDAR jammer with a Radar detector. There has been some reports of folk being taken up on obstruction of justice charges through using LIDAR jammers, but that is mostly in the UK, be sure to check out your local area before buying.

The price of Escort builds is high. They know they have the highest quality products on the market, and the most advanced feature sets. So you go in expecting to pay a premium. The Passport MAX is cheaper than many of their builds, and considering it functions like a high end machine, the fact that you are paying around $300 for it is amazing. That is the same pricing range as their mid range machines. This is one of the benefits to going legacy, and looking to third part retailers as well. Probably my favorite Escort build simply because of this price.

As I am seemingly so fond of pointing out, I review products for a living. It means that I read a lot of warranties, and have gotten pretty good at spotting the bad ones. The Escort warranty is merely okay. The entire radar detector market is plagued by mediocre warranties, and so there is no pressure to improve the situation. The warranty arms race that hit the mattress market ten years back did not migrate here. You get 1 year of limited coverage, so covers only factory faults. I would argue if the product breaks within that year after using it normally it qualifies, but you have to press that point sometimes. The thing that Escort do right is their Performance guarantee. If you get a speeding ticket while using your Escort model radar detector they will pay for it. It speaks volumes about their faith in their products, and I wish other firms would step up to the challenge. Overall, a well put together package.

This is an excellent build. The price is on point and the warranty is above average, when you add in the benefits of the Performance Guarantee. For the best consumer protection I would advise you get this on Amazon, as they have the best consumer protection policies on the market. So long as you buy from a licensed re seller you will get three fold coverage, the core Escort Warranty, the Amazon protections and whatever coverage the third party offers, all rolled into one. Be careful out there, know the law and look out for any changes that may be coming up, any act that covers communications laws should be looked in to.

Escort Passport Max Radar Detector Conclusion

The Escort Max might be the most well rounded build in the Escort range. A combination of excellent features, a good price and top notch after care support. No other firm can boast the performance of an Escort build, and the longevity of their models is unmatched. I have spent the last month or so with the Cobra line, and while I still love their cut priced options, when I get an Escort the difference is astounding. If you are in the market for a top of the line model, at a cut rate price, then the Escort Max might be the perfect build for you. Keep an eye out for my top ten, this is certainly going to place highly.

The Passport Max is excellent for those who want the best of yesterday. Saves you some money while still providing one of the best experiences on the market.

Barry W Stanton
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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