Saturday, February 4, 2023

Beltronics V8 Radar Detector Review

Another Beltronics build that is well worth checking out, and incidentally my last solo review. Next week I’ll be putting out the top ten, compiling a short list, and while the V8 is unlikely to appear, it is still well worth considering, if you can find it. The Beltronics V8 is a discontinued model. Seems to be a bit of a theme with the firm that their discontinued models are better than their more recent ones. It’s all down to the app integration. Latter day Beltronics builds do not have an app, while the older ones are compatible with Escort Live, an app from a different company. No idea how they wrangled that deal, but if you can get access to the excellent Escort Live app for less than $300 you have to seriously consider dropping the cash. The core issue to remember when buying a discontinued model is the lack of warranty, and the fact of second hand. you are unlikely to find a V8 new anywhere. That does have a positive effect on the price though, great for the thrifty, like myself.

I”m at the end of this series of reviews, and I am always sad to see a product line finished. It means all the weeks I spent researching,m looking at the market, looking at wheat was being sold, and of course researching the evolution of the tech, is put away until I get something similar randomly assigned. Valentines flagship V1 is still the same beast it was on release, and it is more that competitive on the current market. So why are the big firms charging so much for their builds? It’s all down to the software and integration. Filtering algorithms have gotten better and better, taking the same old signals and spotting the telltale signs of a false positive, or even increasing the effect range. App integration, GPS integration and laser eye integration accounts for the other side of the tech coin. A well put together app increases the range of a build, allows you to set it up just so, and leave you with a perfect build. So important is proper app set up that you can take a cheap build, like a legacy Cobra, tweak the internal and app settings, and end up with an experience day to day on par with the most expensive Escort model. The Beltronics V8 becomes a great little machine simply because of the Escort Live connectivity.

So let’s get to the review proper. First a look at the least important feature, the aesthetics of the build. I like a smart looking machine, and considering there are so many choices these days, getting something you like the look of should not be very difficult.

Beltronics V8 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

The look of the build is where the legacy Beltronics builds fall flat. A real shame, as the GT-7 from Beltronics is literally the coolest looking radar detector on the market. The CD player look to this, and I mean CD walkman, is a little unappealing to me these days. The display also leaves much to be desired. There are two versions though, one that uses only Red LEDs and and another than uses a few different colors depending on the signal type. The second type of display is harder to find though, all I could only find the red LED build, and while it works, it is far from ideal. That old clock radio look is not amazing, but it has a very low power draw, and they are cheaper to produce, which is why you see them on all the older radar detectors.

The feel of the Beltronics V8 is a little better. The firm might have a few issues these days, but the longevity of their models is near second to none. A sturdy plastic box this, with flush fit materials. The mounting bracket is the Beltronics standard, so less than ideal. Click brackets are fine, but I prefer a mag lock bracket with sticky suction cups. They are sturdier and last longer when mounted. The older style still works though, so short of mounting it to a bike and doing some sweet jumps I think you’ll be fine. The price of the V8 is pretty low, so if you set a $200 price limit, which I think is sufficient in the radar detector market, then you could buy a third party bracket that has the tech I mentioned.

Here”s a confusing point, other Beltronics models are compatible with the Smart coil cable, a lead that has buttons on it to switch modes and mute on the fly. The V8 does come with an auto mute function, but I prefer to be able to manually mute. The auto mute just turns itself off after a few seconds, there is no filtering or algorithms behind it.

Range wise the V8 is pretty standard. There has been no fine tuning to maximize it, like what escort did with the Redline, but the it’s still more than enough for day to day use. In open conditions you can expect around two miles, less in the city. There are a few city modes, and they work about as well as you might expect. barely. Inner city false positive filtering has gotten better over time, but it will never be perfect. There are better solutions to the problem. One of the best things to do is to verify what kind of signals are in use in your area. A lot of jurisdictions are phasing out the older X-band speed guns in favor of laser guns and Pop radar guns. Turning off the X-band alerts removes an awful lot of false positive signals. The usual protection modes are here, VG2 and spectre, hiding you from detector detectors.

While it might seem that the core feature set is no different from other Beltronics builds it does not stop here. The V8, all of the V-series from Beltronics actually, is compatible withthe Escort Live app. The difference this makes to the utility of the build is impressive. Escort Live provides the user with a real time updated map of the area, letting you know about upcoming hazards, even ones that are not usually detected, like traffic stops. The map is updated by your radar detector, and every other radar detector on the road that is hooked up. It means you know where the false positives are, it means the range of the build is technically global.Unfortunately seen as the V8 is not an Escort radar detector you have to pay for an account yourself. It’s pretty cheap thoguh, you can get a year long subscription for $99/ Keep an eye out for deals, as discounts crop up fairly often.

The final feature I ant to talk about is the laser eye. All the big firms are pushing this as the answer to the evolving speed detection tech in use today. It works too, cannot argue with that, but the way laser detects speed is a little different than how radar is used, and it is that that makes the day to day use of a laser eye system a bit useless. You see when a radar speed gun goes off the beam refracts all over the place, and it travels miles. Even the pop style, it’s why your radar detector can give you miles of warning. This is not the case with laser, it does refract and you can pick it up, but usually only within line of sight. It makes the warning you get a little useless.

Overall this is a great little machine. the core feature set is here, and the addition of the app makes it on par with a modern build in terms of day to day utility. The look of the build is a little lackluster, and the bracket is less than amazing, but the price offsets these issues a fair bit.

Beltronics V8 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

It is important to know where you stand with your new purchase. It’s pretty simple. In the US there are only three places you cannot use your radar detector so long as you are not driving a commercial vehicle. Virginia, Washington Dc and any Military base. Commercial vehicles are prohibited from operating a radar detector in their vehicle. Sorry international readers, radar detectors are illegal pretty much everywhere outside the US. Some Canadian provinces do not ban them, but it is best to be careful when crossing the northern border regardless. If not for Mounties pulling you over, then or moose.

The best alternative a to laser eye system is a LIDAR jammers. Now, do not confuse radar jammers and LIDAR jammers, one is straight up illegal and will land you in major trouble, LIDAR detectors are not yet covered by any legislation. They provide you with a guaranteed lead time before having your speed displayed, then switch themselves off.

Here is where it gets tricky. The average price of the V8 is around $90. That’s second hand. I have been unable to find any new listings for the V8, which isn’t much of a surprise, the model has been off the market for a while now. Getting oneĀ  is a matter of scouring eBay and yard sales, hoping to find one. They are well worth it, and the second hand default makes them very affordable as well. the longevity of Beltronics models offsets the risk of finding a model that is broken too. The fact that you cannot find many of them on the market is a testament to their quality.

The warranty is immaterial. this is a second hand only build, so you are not going to get one. Buying from Amazon or eBay is your best option here. They both provide consumer protections in the event of a lemon. thee are few things worse than dropping the cash and finding out the damned thing doesn’t work. Outside of those sites there is little in the way of customer protection.

Knowing the law is one of the most important things I can say here. Communications law changes all the time, I mean we have had new legislation covering radar detectors in the last decade. So expect to see something about LIDAR jammers soon enough. Of course by that time Laser eyes will have improved, so it will be less of an issues. The price here is amazing, the warranty is non-existent, but getting an affordable radar detector that uses Escort Live more than makes up for that.

Beltronics V8 Radar Detector Conclusion

This is such an interesting position to be in. I recommend you buy a V8, but have just got one of the few that are online for sale, thus I make it more difficult for you to follow my advice, haha. Regardless, this comes with all the core features you could want, and access to Escort Live. That app is the real selling point so far as I am concerned. There are plenty of Beltronics builds that work well out of the box, but without the app are rapidly being outclassed by cheaper models from other firms. The lack of warranty works in the V8’s favor as well, what with Beltronics not having a great warranty in any case, combined with the reality of the storefront, it’s a mess of spelling errors and broken links. The quality of this build is great, so if you find one second hand you can rest easy knowing that you’re going to get a few years out of it at the very least.


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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