Friday, June 2, 2023

Whistler XTR 145 Radar Detector Review

I had a look at the XTR 130 last week, and came away moderately happy with the thing. The price was low and the feature set, while not nearly expansive enough for me to recommend wholly, still able to keep up with the current speed tech. Now I will be looking at the XTR 145 from Whistler, and the more expensive still XTR 265. The differences are pretty small, and it is a real shame, as it means that the two technically more impressive builds are worth less to you as a consumer.

One of the most interesting facets of radar detectors on the current market is the relatively little change in hardware that has been seen. Valentine have been selling the same hardware mostly unchanged for a little over a decade at this point, and still charging a premium. There is a very good reason for this. the real advancements have been made under the hood, in the software and external integrations. The XTR 145 lacks many of these modern advancements, like GPS systems or app integrations, and the software is getting on in years at this point. It is still able to filter the false signals, it is just less able than the high end modern machines. There are a number of tweaks we can do to alleviate these issues, but most of my personal settings are tailor made for bargain basement models, taking the cheapest of the cheap and getting your money’s worth. It is less applicable with models like the XTR 145, where you are spending a touch more than I would like at the end of the day.

So let’s get into the review, starting with something that I feel Whistler consistantly get right. the look of the build. There are few firms out there that can boast the aesthetic qualities of a Whistler build. Not the most important thing in the world, but ti does tell us a little bit about the firm in question.

Whistler XTR 145 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

The XTR series all use the same molding for the case, and it is one of my favorites. A sleek look, all in the one color, with a nice level of symmetry. It’s a pity they stopped using this look. The decals are, as I have mentioned in the past, not the nicest looking things in the world, but they are easy to overlook. The display uses the old school big LEDs, and normally I hate that, but here they use the same solution as Cobra, rather than using just the one color for everything, using multiple colors, each assigned to a band, making it easy to see what signals are incoming at a glance. Be careful though, as some of the XTRs come with only the one color of LED, be sure to get confirmation form the seller.

The plastic is not he highest quality int he world. You can feel it in the weight of the build, a touch lighter than I would like. The fit of the parts is up to snuff though, with no rattler out of the box. The biggest physical issue I have with the package is the use of click style brackets and regular suction cups. It is always better to go with a mag lock. There are third party brackets that use the better, sturdier, tech, and if you can find a 145 cheap enough then it might be a good idea to invest in one. From my perspective the whole model is marred by the one below and the one above. The price difference is small, making this middle of the road option less attractive.

The XTR series as a whole can be fitted with the intellicord, and I highly recommend you get one. Like Escort’s Smartcable, the Intellicord comes with a few buttons on it, allowing you to change modes and mute alerts at the push of an easy to reach button, a far safer option to my mind.

The XTR 145 is not a top of the line ultra modern build, but it is still able to hold it’s own on the road. The range of the build is standard, a little of 1.5 miles in most conditions, giving you plenty of time to course correct. The city modes are good, but not great. I have gone on record saying that no radar detector can filter false signals perfectly, but most build made in the last year or so will filter better than this one by a wide margin. The XTR series is battery powered, so you can p[lug it in, but you do not have to. It expands the user base I think, allowing you to switch from car to motorcycle on a whim. A good selling point, and it goes a fair way to write off the downsides of the build. There is the usual VG-2 mode, though Whistler can at least boast the best VG-2 protection, with their in house coding. It defends against radar detector detectors.There is no pop radar detection mode with the lesser XTR models. It is a feature on the 265, but not here. I admit though, it isn’t a huge issue. Pop radar can still be picked up by regular radar detection modes most of the time. Not much else to say here, the difference between the 130 and the 145 is in the addition of some blue LEDs that flash when a signal is incoming.

So the downsides, the biggest one is the app integration. or the lack thereof. Usually I cite the app integration as the cut off point. If a model has it then it is worth considering, and if it does not then you might be better off looking elsewhere. The exceptions are the builds that are so cheap that the lack of the app is mitigated. I would have liked to see even a rudimentary app for the XTR series, but even without direct connection you can buy a subscription to the iRadar or Escort Live, you just won’t be updating the map with your alerts. You can still read other peoples. It’s a nice alternative, you lack the auto mutes and the peace of mind, but you gain the extended vision and the hotspot update. When the price of the build is as low as it is here the idea of dropping the extra cash on a few things becomes reasonable.

Oh, there is one more feature here that I have to talk about, but it is not one that I would call a major selling point. Ever since speed detection tech started experimenting with LIDAR, or laser, rather than radar the big radar detector firms have been thinking of a solution. Most of them have gone for the laser eye, a form of LIDAR detection tech. I cannot argue that it does not work, but I would at least argue that the feature is a little under developed in its current state. The difference lies in the way LIDAR works by comparison to radar. With radar the refraction bounces everywhere, and travels fro miles. This is not true of LIDAR. the refraction range is so small that if you are lucky enough to pick it up it is usually from with eyesight of the person who was hit, assuming the person hit was not you. There is an alternative tech, LIDAR jamming. They are a separate piece of tech, and they simply scramble the outgoing signal giving you time to correct your speed before switching off. They are not covered by any legislation at the moment, unlike radar jammer which are entirely illegal. Full coverage in terms of current tech means getting both a LIDAR jammer and a radar detector.

Not the best build in the world, almost goes without saying when it comes to legacy builds like this one. The feature set is far from expansive, but it gets the job done. So long as you are willing to put the time any of the XTR builds are more than up to the task of day to day use.

Whistler XTR 145 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

So, quick run down here. Radar detectors are legal, but there are a few things you need to know. If you are driving a commercial vehicle then you are not allowed to use a radar detector. If you are driving in either California or Minnesota then you can’t put it on the windshield. They are banned for all vehicles in Virginia and Washington DC. Other than that you’re fine. Keep any eye out for any new laws with the word communications in them, they tend to cover radar detectors.

The XTR 145 is extremely cheap. Getting one of these legacy builds new can cost as little as $45. If you opt to go second hand that price can drop as low as $30. The fact that we are not getting that many features is really mitigated by the price in my opinion. With the 130 and the 265 being cheaper right now, the 145 does not look like a great option, even with this objectively low price.

The radar detector market does not have a warranty arms race going on. It means that all the warranties for all the models from all the firms are unimpressive. It’s a real shame, as I love a good warranty. a standard Whistler offer a limited 1 year warranty on all of their products. It covers factory faults, but as I am so fond of saying, if a product breaks within a year of normal use then the factory is automatically at fault. Press that point where you can folks. Now, seen as the warranty is a bit on the naff side it might be better to just bite the bullet, get the model second hand and forfeit the warranty. Whistler builds tend to last a long time, so I don’t feel like you’re losing much. The third party you buy from has to offer protections by law anyway, and if you go with an Amazon FBA you gain access to all of their consumer protections at the same time. Whistler have one of the best in house repair shops on the market, from my perspective, and they offer to repair their builds for all time, so while you might miss out on a sub standard warranty, you save on the initial purchase, and should you need repairs Whistler are still there, able to guarantee you a working model at the end of the day.

Pay attention to any new laws coming down. As I mentioned, anything with communications in the name is well worth a look at, after all the law regarding radar detectors has changed within living memory, so keep yourself covered. The price here is great, and when looked at in a vacuum this seems to be a model worth considering, but the difference between the 130 and the 145 is negligible, and you can get a second hand 265 for a lower price than a second hand 145. The warranty with radar detectors is rarely worth it from my perspective, but at least Whistler’s repair shop is well regarded.

Whistler XTR 145 Radar Detector Conclusion

With the 145 being as cheap as it is, all it lacks is the annoying flashing LEDs, and takes a slight hit to the range. The lower price makes the 145 look a little unimpressive. When we compare it with the XTR 265 the XTR 145 looks even worse. The feature set is fine, and if someone tries to give you one for free you shouldn’t turn your nose up at the offer, but if you are trying to move into the world of radar detectors there are much better first purchases out there, even within the XTR range.

I have never been a fan of the mid range build. I’m more of a bottom of the barrel or top of the range kind of guy. My advice, better to go low or go high. The 130 offers a similar experience at a lower price while the 265 offers a better experience at a slightly lower price.

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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Read