Friday, March 31, 2023

Whistler CR75 Radar Detector Review

So Whistler have this thing where the core models in the CR line are intertwined with middle models. The CR70 is a nice build, the CR80 is a great build, and in between we have the CR75, which is an interesting build. It lacks the core benefit of the CR80, and adds a feature that I just cannot get my head around. The firm in general are pretty good. The builds are of high quality, the core functions are top notch and the price is decent. Their real forte is the customer support. Only one firm beats them here, and they charge thrice as much for their models. The CR series is a a good option for those who want something basic, that will get the job done, with minimal set up time. The downside to that is the number of false alarms, and the fact that there are a number of advancements in radar detector tech that I feel have become somewhat necessary.

I love getting product lines to review. I get to spend time really getting to grips with the tech, researching the markets, the consumers and the feature sets that the big firms are pushing to differentiate themselves from the competition. When it comes to tech timelines I get a real kick out of researching the evolution, how the consumer market becomes more and more advanced. This was not all that true of radar detectors. The core technology behind the radar detector has remained largely unchanged for the last few decades. The V1 from Valentine has seen few hardware changes since launch. So why are some firms able to price their models so highly? the answer is in the software and integration. the best of the best all have advanced software filtering, taking the same old data and filtering it ever finer, picking up signals from longer ranges and removing more of the false positives. Hardware integration is adding app support, and community filtering, further increasing range and reducing the false signals. The CR75 lacks many of the latter day enhancements, and this is reflected in the price. There are a number of tricks we can d during set up to improve the day to day use of the model, but know at the start that it takes time to get an optimally running CR75.

Let’s start with a look at the aesthetics of the build, and the overall quality of the model. Whistler have a good track record here, their focus on product longevity and excellent after sale support, when combined with some good design choices, make this middle of the road model feel like a high end one.

Whistler CR75 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

The CR75 uses a cool blue and black color scheme, and I am a fan of this look. The complexity makes it a tad cluttered though, but they maintained symmetry with this build, something that lots of other firms overlook. The display is one of the low end large LED displays, and for the most part that is a black mark. The use of blue LEDs, over the cheaper red ones, adds to the aesthetics, and makes the display super easy to read. It is not a patch on Cobras multi color big LEDs, and I think it is best we don’t compare it to the high end HD displays seen with the Escort builds, but it get the job done and looks cool doing it.

The CR75 is a light weight build, but not so light as to feel cheap. The fit is perfect, no rattle, and the casing is flush. Whistler are well known for their build quality, and it is on display here. The mounting bracket is a bit low quality though. The price of the build means that should you go for this one you can spend a little extra on a high end bracket without breaking the bank, which is always nice. The click bracket and reg suction cups is not as stable as the mag lock bracket, with sticky suction cups. There are a number of third part options that will fit the build and I recommend you look into them. The core bracket is good though, not likely to come loose at all, but I still prefer to er on the side of caution.

The core feature set is small, pretty much just the band detection with decent range. In open terrain you can pick up faint signals near three miles out, while in the inner city we can expect around half of that. there are no city filter modes, so expect to have to get to know the static false positives on your regular routes. The unique feature here is the digital compass. I touched on it briefly in the opening paragraph, but I cannot for the life of me see a use for this feature. The CR75 is functionally identical to the CR70, except for this feature. Doesn’t seem worth the added expense to me.There is also the usual VG2 filtering mode, to protect against detector detectors. Another glaring omission here is the lack of intellicord compatibility. Whistler are one of the few smart firms that offer a smart cable style option, adding buttons and switching modes to the cable itself, so when you hit a known false positive you can immediately mute the alert. Doing so without a cable can be dangerous, as the radar detector is one the windshield, hitting mute requires you to lean over to the windshield, usually while moving. I do not recommend you try that.

I have mentioned it twice so far in this review, but the lack of app integration really is a bit of a deal breaker for me personally. I know the benefits, i have reviewed so many of these things over the last few months, so trust me when I say that having an integrated community app with any radar detector is a must. It allows you to update everyone else using a radar detector on the fly, and you too received updates from them. It means that 9inn reality you have signal source information from miles and miles away, false positives are known in advance, and other hazards not detectable radar detectors is displayed cleanly. There is one thing you could do. While the CR75 is not able to interface directly with any first party apps you can buy a subscription to one anyway, and keep an eye out for hazards while it is running. You don’t gain access to the more advanced features, like auto muting, GPS updating and smart learning that you see with other brands, but it will at least augment your experience by a fair bit. The Price of the Whistler builds is low enough for this to be a viable option too, even when we add in the price of a new bracket.

And now a word on my least favorite feature of all radar detectors. The laser eye. All the big firms are pushing this feature, it is the radar detector market’s answer to the growing number of laser based speed cameras and guns out there today. The problem with this is how it works. LIDAR guns and radar guns are similar, in that they send out a beam or wave that hits the vehicle then bounces back. The amount of refraction and dispersion from radar is substantial enough to be picked up miles away, even with the more focused pop radar guns. With LIDAR there is far less refraction, so when the alert goes off you tend to be within sight at best, and already hit at worst. There is an alternative to laser eye, but it comes with a few legal caveats, so best to wait until that section of the article before talking about it.

At the end of the day you know what y9ou are buying. the CR75 is a low end build with a low end price, buoyed by the excellent customer service. you can spend the time to make it run better, with a combination of local knowledge and external app information, but even with that you will be hit with false positives a lot. The core feel of the build is great though, and if durability is a concern for you the Whistler models might be what you are looking for, but even they have models better than this.

Whistler CR75 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

Radar detectors have a long and storied history with the law. No other product line I have got to review has me researching the legality of the product, so this was fun to research. there are a few things you have to know before buying. There are only two states that ban the use or radar detectors outright, and that is Virginia and Washington DC. They are also banned in all commercial vehicles and on all Military bases, so bear those in mind. In non-commercial vehicles you are good to go pretty much everywhere. California and Minnesota have obstruction of vision laws, that limit what can and cannot be place on the windshield, so find an alt mounting location should you live, work or travel through either state. Around the world radar detectors are mostly illegal, even in most Canadian provinces, so be careful when crossing the northern border.

I mentioned an alternative to the laser eye feature in the feature set section, it’s jammers. radar jammers are illegal pretty much everywhere, so avoid those, laser jammers are not yet covered by any legislation. They hide your details for a short time, guaranteeing you some breathing room to course correct should you be hit. Be wary though, as there are reports that some folk are being taken up on obstruction of justice charge through using a laser jammer. So far as I can tell this is only happening in the UK, but it is still best to be informed. New laws get passed all the time, so keep an eye out for any act with the word communication in it, usually covers this kind of product.

The price of the build is pretty good, sitting in the $90 range. A sub $100 price is excellent, and makes this attractive despite the issues I have listed out so far. Whistler products do well in this area, and while I think it might be more cost effective to go for a legacy Cobra build, they are being phased out, and won’t be an option for very long.

The core warranty from Whistler is fine. The radar detector market has it set at 1 year, and I feel this is a mistake. Granted, it only covers factory faults, and they are likely to rear their head well within a year, but is a solid three year repair warranty too much to ask? Regardless, Whistler have the edge here with their excellent in house repair shop. They charge after the first year, but the fact that it is in house means you are guaranteed a working radar detector after you send away from it. I have gotten in contact with the firm as a consumer in the past and had a very pleasant experience.

Know where you stand with regards to the law. I cannot overstate the importance of that. The law can change, but so long as you keep yourself covered you will be fine. The price here is the main selling point, at sub $100 all of the shortcomings in the feature set can be overlooked by some. Whistler customer support is top notch, and well worth the asking price of the CR75.

Whistler CR75 Radar Detector Conclusion

This is far from my favorite build. The feature set is far too low, even at this price point. What you get from Whistler is a build that will last, and if it breaks a firm that can repair it quickly. The ease of use makes it attractive for the consumer who wants something bare bones, but considering I have checked out the best of the best in the radar detector market, the whole build leaves me wanting.

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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