Monday, March 27, 2023

Whistler CR70 Radar Detector Review – 2018 Update

Last month I came away from the Whistler Cr65 a little less enthused than I would have liked. Had I reviewed it earlier, say six months back, I might have been impressed, but after taking a far closer look at countless other builds, and trying out a fairly large portion of them, I came to the conclusion that there were better options all over the place. This month I’m checking out the Cr70, and I am sad to say that this more than any other build in this product line is a disappointment. They seem to have taken the Cr65, added the ability to talk, and left it at that. That is far too low an additional feature set to be worth even the $10 or so they are asking for it. At its core, this is still a good radar detector, it comes with the basics, and it does the job well. Whistler models are a sturdy bunch too, and the longevity is certain to be useful, especially when we add on the extended customer support that the firm offer to all their buyers. there is a market for this kind of product, but know that you are buying into the Whistler company as a whole, rather than getting the mil-spec tech you might expect.

I am nearing the end of this series of reviews, and I will be sad to see it go. I get these projects every so often, they let me peak into a topic I had no experience in, test out new gadgets, research the tech on display, and, in this case, even read up on the law. Whether it’s pool cleaners, LED light bars or mattresses, there is alwasy something intriguing about how the companies go about putting their products together, and creating value for the consumer. In the world of Radar detectors, one of my favorite discovers was the fact that, when it comes right down to it, the tech used by all these different models, is essentially the same hardware that has been in use for decades.

Look at Valentine, they have been selling the V1 for a long time, with little internal changes. So where are these prices coming from? How can some firms afford to charge $50 and others are charging more than ten times that? It’s all down to the software, the algorithms that sort and filter the signals, Escort are particularly good at funding this side of their business, and the software on display from the firm is some of the most impressive. V1 is the same for that matter. They automate so many processes, and reduce driver headaches with their finely tuned filtering. The low cost builds require a fair amount of elbow grease to tune properly yourself, setting the right mode, knowing where the static false positives are etc. What you pay for with the expensive builds is ease of use, and for many out there, it is more than worth it.

This is going to be a bit of a blood bath, in so much as reviewing radar detectors can become a blood bath. A core model, with few added features over the Cr65, let’s at least start with something Whistler do very well, the look of their builds.

Whistler CR70 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

I’ve had the chance to check out five Whistler builds so far, look out for next months Cr80 review, and one thing they all have in common is the build quality, and less importantly, the aesthetics of the build. Now I’ve stated that the look of the build is less important, but for me it is a key selling point. Shallow, I know, but with so many fine builds out there, all a match in terms of use, the look of the build becomes at least somewhat important to even the least fashionable person. The clean lines are here, the cool blue accents are here, in all what we have is another excellent looking build from the Whistler group.

The quality of the materials seems very high as well, as does the heft of the build. I like a little bit of weight to my electronics, as long time readers will no doubt know, and the feel here is wonderful. The mounting bracket is the standard Whistler mount, and I have stated in the past that i am not a fan. It works, make no mistake, and it will stand up to a fair amount of reckless driving, but the lack of sticky suction cups, to say nothing of the use of a click lock over a more sturdy magnetic lock, leaves me cold. There are third party options though, so if you want to spend a little extra, and with Whistler builds you are always going to be making a saving, here is a good place to start.

I don’t know why more firms don’t offer one, but I am glad to be able to say that the Whistler group sell a smart cable. They call it an Intellicord, but it’s the same thing. A charger/power cable that allows you to access buttons and features on the fly. This is far safer than leaning over to your windshield. Trust me, even with filtering active you are going t get false positives, and want to make use of your mute button. I wish it came as standard, but they don’t ask too much for it, and as already stated, the base price is low enough as it is, you’ll have a bit of cash left over.

I wish there was more to write about this build. The core features, being able to detect radar signals, works well, looking at an average lead in distance of 2 miles in open areas, but it does vary depending on the conditions. There are three city modes, depending the type of radar speed cameras in use, and the now ubiquitous VG-1 mode, for detection radar detector detectors. I really love saying that. The in built false positive filtering, called Traffic Flow Signal rejection by Whistler, works well enough, but none of these solutions are perfect, and you will still be hit with the odd false signal.

Now to the app integration, a key part in extended the utility of cheaper builds, making them, once a little thought and work has gone into them, near on par with their top of the line brethren. There is none. It’s the key reason that the Cr series from Whistler fails to impress, they might be cheap, but that does not make them unique, as Cobra offer builds in the same price bracket, and offer their own iRadar app to augment them. You can buy the iRadar app anyway, and use the community warning system, same with the app from Escort, and I recommend you do, even if you can’t use all the features.

Now I get to wax lyrical about that feature being touted by all the big firms right now. LIDAR detection. Sounds great on paper. Speed detection tech is growing more reliant on the newer point to point laser systems, they are more accurate, even if they are more expensive to make as well. So the radar detector firms are selling LIDAR detection all packed in to increase the utility. Go back and read that. Point to point systems. This means that 90% of the time, when the LIDAR detector goes off, warning you of use, you have already been hit. Not the best warning in the world really. Now, the other 10% it’s picking up refraction, which can be useful, even if you are still only getting a few yards of warning. There are alternatives to this, and I will talk about them in the legality section, as using the alternatives does not come without risks. I sound harsh, but I have researched this thoroughly, and also had to write this paragraph out 30 different ways over the last several months. Color me jaded.

I wish there was more here to be honest. This kind of feature set would have been fine even five years back, but right now, the way the industry is going, it just isn’t up to snuff. The look of the build is great, and the build quality is some of the highest on the market, both big pluses, but the lack of dedicated app, not to mention a dearth of features in general, makes even this cheap model less interesting to me. Add in the fact that the only difference between this model and the cheaper Cr65 is the fact that the Cr70 can talk and it renders the whole thing a touch moot.

Whistler CR70 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

I hope in the future I get to research the laws regarding whatever product I am reviewing, but I cannot think of anything where that might be the case. Radar detectors are in a bit of a legal grey area in terms of use by default, so know that going in. If you are reading this from outside the US, then I am sorry to say that they are illegal, more than likely at the very least. You can’t even use them in Canada, so for those near the border, be careful. So long as you are driving a non-commercial vehicle you are fine in every other state for their use, if not their placement. In both California and Minnesota there are obstruction of vision laws, which restrict what you can and cannot place on your windshield. Now a word on those LIDAR detector alternatives. I am talking jammers. For best coverage you should combine both a radar detector with a LIDAR jammer.

Now for the price, and I am glad to be able to say something almost wholly positive about this. The CR70, on average, will cost you $80. There are some places doing it for cheaper, and the core site lists it closer to $100, but I have not been able to find any one selling it at the recommend retail price. The downside is that I know for a fact that even Whistler themselves sell a product that works identically for less than that. the CR65 isĀ  match for features, what little there are, and costs less. You only lose the talking function, small price to pay. What’s worse is there are other models from other firms that have an expanded feature set, and a lower price.

Now the warranty, and for once the Whistler group is leagues ahead of the competition. They offer the same one year warranty, covering factory faults, but they will continue to repair your build for years to come, and their prices are very reasonable. the firm is going out of its way to please the customer they do have, and so all of my interactions with them have been lovely. From my perspective the best way to keep yourself covered in terms of after care is to buy from a licensed third party, gaining both the Whistler warranty, and whatever coverage the third party offer. Make sure to do it on Amazon as well, gaining three avenues of aftercare, through Amazon’s own excellent consumer protection policies.

The law surrounding these things is so interesting, and not something I would have looked into otherwise. The price is might be great, nice and low, but there are other products, even from within the firm, that beat it. The warranty from Whistler is one of my favorites, covers more than it has to, and the company does its best to keep customers happy. The quality of the Whistler builds means that you are going to be owning it for a long time, and the rare times you do have to use their in house repair service I am sure you will be treated very well.

Whistler CR70 Radar Detector Conclusion

The CR70 is a fine build. Really, it is., It can detect the bands you want, comes with some nice filtering, and at its core is a sturdy build, with an eye towards lasting as long as possible. The price is amazing, in the sub $80, and Whistler offer some of the best customer support on the market, in radar detectors anyway. But, with the benefit of looking at nearly every model on the market right now, the CR70 falls down, hits the ground hard, and comes out the other side of the planet, battered, broken, and beaten by everyone, including it’s own brothers. The Cr65 is better value, the CR90 is more advanced, and both are better than it in general. When we cast our eyes outside of the Whistler product range we are too strongly tempted by the feature set of the upper end Escort builds, or swayed by the excellent cut price models from Cobra. A poor showing from a firm I respect.

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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