Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Whistler CR65 Radar Detector Review – 2018 Update

I’ll be finishing this series up with a look at as many Whistler models as I can get my hands on, they have a fair few, most of which fall into the same price bracket as the Cobra builds, and unfortunately in that head to head the low end CR series, like the CR65, come out looking a little weak. The firm specializes in low cost builds, bare bones, able to get the job done kinda models, and for the most part they deliver, but when we compare and contrast with other builds, you will see the feature list being too small. Now, all that said, there are a number of nice additions that you don’t see everywhere, even if you do have to pay extra to make use of the best of them. This is going to be a harsh review, as while the testing went well, I have grown used to a few bells and whistles in my radar detectors.

I have spent the last few months looking at these products, and in that time I have been engrossed with he tech, the marketing and the feature sets. One of the most interesting aspects of the business as a whole is how largely unchanged the hardware has been since the early nineties. Companies like Valentine are still selling their first build, the excellent V1, largely unchanged since release. So what is it that justifies the astronomical prices we see in some builds? The software. Good software can make a simple radar detector act like a well oiled machine, filtering what needs filtered, learning your routes, and just being all round amazing. You are seeing a fair number of firms taking a different approach though, keeping the prices low, and using external processing to augment basic builds, with the low end Cobra and their iRadar community app. That’s my preferred method, but a combination of the two does lead to a higher quality product.

So let’s get down to it. Whistler have made a name for themselves in my mind with their apparent dependability. Combined with stylish products, and a solid foundation, we are looking at a build that is perfect for some, but perhaps not all of us.

Whistler CR65 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

First a look at the aesthetics of the build. Not the most important aspect of the experience, but something that I feel needs to be taken into account, especially in tire breaker scenarios. Whistler have made a few damn fine looking builds, all sharing the same core design. Symmetry, black and blue. reminds me of the Nautilus series of robotic pool cleaners, tight lines and overall a stylish piece of kit. This display is the older big LED variety, but Whistler have somehow managed to make even that look good. I mentioned this in previous Whistler reviews, using bolder colors removes the old style clock radio vibe you get from a number of builds on the market. It also makes it very easy to see the relevant information at a glance. Great design choices all round here.

It has a nice heft to it, not the heaviest radar detector on the market, but there is enough there for it to feel substantial in your hand, I love that in my electronics. Granted, I know a good weight is a psyche trick to make us think the product has value, but I can’t help but appreciate it. whistler’s mounting bracket is, well, adequate? The suction cups work, and the click lock is fine, but there have been a number of advances in that field, sticky vacuum cups and magnetic locking, that I feel really should be here. You can buy third party, and I recommend you look into it, made more important if you tend to drive down less than straight roads often.

There is no auto mute features, a minor issue, but Whistler is one of a growing number of firms that have a smart cable. They call theirs an Intellicord, not the coolest name in the world, but the added utility, not to mention safety, of the device cannot be overstated. When you run into a false positve, something you will have to accept no matter how much you spend on a radar detector, it is hazardous to have to lean over to the windshield to mute the alert. With the Intellicord you don’t have to, you can also turn the volume down and switch modes on the fly, welcome additions indeed.

There is little in the way of bonus features here. The now standard VG-1 mode is present. Turning that on will allow the radar detector to detect radar detector detectors. That sentence made sense. There is also a new and improved Traffic Flow Signal Rejection system, for filtering out false signals, coming from parking sensors and the like. It works up until it doesn’t, but no firm has a perfect implementation as f time of writing. it will at least alleviate some of the head aches inherent to inner city driving with your radar detector.

This is where I usually talk about the app integration, but with the Whistler models, there is no in house option. A huge disappointment to my mind. there are a number of third party implementations, and of course you can buy into a rivaling firms radar app, like Escorts or iRadar from Cobra, but then why buy whistler if that’s the plan? In this day and age you really need to have one to be competitive.

Now the final feature, and the one with which I always have a problem with. LIDAR detection. Laser speed testing is being implement all over the place, and so the firms who produce radar detectors are doing their best to keep up with the new tech. there are systems in place to detect even short burst radar detection, and now there are systems for LIDAR as well. And while it would be a lie if I said they didn’t work, the way that LIDAR  works renders detection somewhat pointless. LIDAR speed detection is a point to point system. So by the time you are warned of its use, you have already been hit, making the warning moot. Now, it can pick up on refracted beams, but that is far too circumstantial for me to put my faith in it. When you buy a radar detector just know that when it comes to radar speed detection you are covered, but with the laser, you may need something else. I’ll go into the alternatives in the legality section, as there are a number of issues you need to know about before you buy into said alternatives.

There isn’t much here, honestly. The build is pretty good, but I have seen other builds that offer more in this price bracket, and at least one legacy product that offers way more in a lower bracket. Such a shame too, as the Whistler line are lovely machines. Some changes need to be made to what they sell, product as service and all that, if they want to grab a larger chunk of the market. I have to admit, that all reports on their use tell me of their longevity, so if you want to buy a build that you know will last for years, then this is a great option. But without the bells and whistles a year or two of use may have you pining for something a little more impressive.

Whistler CR65 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

Now to the legal section. Not many of these to review, at least to my mind, so I’ll need to do away with the legal section. Such a shame, this was a lot of fun to research. Granted, i didn’t much look outside of the US, but a cursory glance elsewhere tells me that for the most part radar detectors are illegal pretty much everywhere outside the country. Sorry international readers, all six of you, glad to have you here, but radar detectors are likely illegal where you are. They aren’t even legal in Canada, so be careful those who need to cross the border every so often. Within the US there are only two jurisdiction where Radar detector use is against the law. Virginia and DC. They are also illegal on all US Military Bases. Beyond that, so long as you aren’t in a commercial vehicle you are covered, by the 1936 Communications Act. In commercial vehicles they are illegal everywhere again. In both California and Minnesota there are obstruction of vision laws, limiting what you can and cannot place on your windshield, so be sure to have an alternative mounting position should you drive through either of those states.the goal here is to keep you covered. Finally, that working alternative to LIDAR detection. While radar jammers are illegal everywhere, all over the world too, LIDAR jammers are not currently illegal in the US. So for best coverage use a radar detector and a LIDAR jammer. Be careful though, as I do have some reports of folk getting brought up on obstruction of justice charges through using LIDAR jammers. At your own risk people.

And on to the price. The Cr65 does a lot of things right, and the price of the core model is one of them. Considering the features on offer, a price of $70 looks pretty good. Some places are selling it closer to $90, but on average expect the former figure. If I didn’t know about builds on par with this one, in terms of core function, and leagues ahead, in terms of addition features, at prices lower than it, I would find it pretty easy to recommend this build. Another sentence I am either proud or ashamed of in terms of syntax. The price is good, but I can’t recommend it solely on that.

Whistler have a leg up on the competition in the warranty department. They offer the same one year service warranty, with far fewer caveats in the writing for a start. It is only available to those in the US, not a surprise, but the repair service they offer is a round the clock type thing. You can send in your build outside warranty, and they will repair it professionally. The prices vary, but I have found them very reasonable. it’s a lovely offer, and one that I  advise any purchasers to bear in mind in the long term, I did mention the longevity of the product after all. If you want the most comprehensive consumer protections then the best option is to go with Amazon, they have a whole, host of customer policies that I am a fan of, combine it with Whistlers warranty, and if you are very lucky, a re seller warranty as well, and you are golden.

Well you should know the law surrounding these useful and fascinating products, the price is as written there. While the price is good, I know of better value elsewhere, making this a bit of a disappointment. Whistler sell the Cr90 at a similar price, with far more features to boot, so this low end model is doubly unimpressive, even if we restrict to their own stable of builds. The warranty is great, better than most, and the after sale support offered by the firm is a cut above the rest. Consider this an investment in time, and it becomes much easier to recommend.

Whistler CR65 Radar Detector Conclusion

Finally reached the end of this one. Bit of a slog to test and compare to be honest. I feel a little bad for the models I review close to the end of my series’. They are compared to more products, and so my research has shown me better machines already, in almost all cases. What makes it worse is that I am getting the Cr70 next, and all that is is a more expensive Cr65 that talks. That is not going to be a fun read, let me tell you. At the end of the day, the firm is who you are buying into here, Whistler are a wonderful company, they have the best aftercare support on the market, and their customer service is top notch. Add in the fact that if you buy one of their builds you will have a working machine for years, so in all likelihood you will have to talk to them every so often. A build of the man who wants to be treated well by the manufacturer.

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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