Friday, May 24, 2024

Whistler XTR-265 Radar Detector Review

Last week I took a look at the middle of the road candidate in the XTR series, the 145, and today I will be talking about the big boy in the series, the 265. There are a fair few differences, and unlike the jump from 130 to 145, the changes here to function are well worth considering. The XTR series is a legacy product, so that means huge savings can be made if you buy through the correct channels. The key selling point with a Whistler build is the combination of low price and goo customer service, and while getting an XTR 256 second hand might preclude you from the warranty, you will find if you read on that that does not matter all that much in this industry.

The key thing to remember when buying any radar detector is the fact that the hardware has changed very little in the last gods know how long. The V1 is still a V1, and is still a viable build to this day. When you buy expensive you are buying hardware integrations and software upgrades. Now, as a fan of simplification I think the high end builds are well worth the price, but the skinflint in me has to tell you, with a few tweaks, and a little knowledge you can get even an old XTR build running smoothly no matter where you are. It might lack GPS, a dedicated app and even decent modern radar filtering, but when you are saving hundreds of dollars then those can be less of a concern to you.

Let’s jump in, starting with the aesthetics of the build. Whistler really know how to make low tech look great. The XTR series might lack the modern bells and Whistlers, no pun intended, but their models are stylish across the board. Not a huge concern for some, but I feel it can make the difference when caught between similar models.

Whistler XTR 265 Radar Detector Design and Build Quality

Glad to be at the end of the XTR series, as there is only so many ways I can say I love the molding. Seriously, the casing on these things looks great, and the step up in terms of quality materials with the 265 can really be felt. We have two colors here, unlike the cheaper builds which use an all black deigns, the 265 has a nice grey accent. The screen is excellent, and while the use of large LEDs is a touch retro, the fact that we have a different color for each signal band goes a long way to modernizing the display.

The 265 is a little heavier than the 145, and it makes the whole build feel a sturdier. It’s not a huge change, but one that really makes a difference. We still have the older clock bracket style mount to contend with though, and I have never been a fan. They work, but not quite as well as the newer mag lock style mounts. I recommend you take a look at the third party options. The 265 is pretty cheap, so you should have a fair amount of cash left over to spend on add ons, like a better bracket, an app or the intellicord.

Speaking of the Intellicord, the XTR series as a whole is compatible with it. I love the things, they are essentially chargers with buttons on them. It allows you to change modes and mute without having to lean over to the windshield, a far safer option overall.

The XTR series’ software is far from top of the range, but it gets the job done. I have always said that false positives are part and parcel of the whole radar detector experience, and while it is true that the more advanced models from the likes for Escort are better able to filter the incoming signals, no firm has been able to perfectly remove false signals. The 265 has decent range, around 2 miles in good conditions. There are three city modes to choose from, depending on the signal density in your area, be sure to tool around with them to figure out which is the best option for you. A quick search should tell you what kind of bands are in use in your local area as well, with many jurisdictions phasing out the older X-Band detectors switching off that band an save you a fair number of headaches.

In terms of bonuses there is the VG-2 mode, to protect against radar detector detectors. Whistler have their own in house software for this, and they still offer the best out there. There is also a pop protection mode, and I am very happy to see it here. The lesser XTR models lack this mode, and while it is not a huge deal, as Pop radar can be picked up by regular scanning, it is better to be assured of pick up with a dedicated mode.Beyond that there isn’t much, so now we have to talk about the features this build lacks.

XTR 130 1 e1500660214707 The most glaring one is the lack of app integration. Firms like Escort and Cobra have been integrating their models with community based app add ons. The added functionality is amazing, allowing even the legacy builds from Cobra to compete with the flagships from modern Escort. They can increase the effective range, and mute false alerts for you, based on real time community feedback. The XTR 265 is not able to connect to any app, but you can still take advantage of one, just buy a subscription. It can be useful for verifying the validity of your alerts, and the price is not that high. iRadar might have the most folk using on the road right now, and it’s a little cheaper than Escort Live as well, so that might be your best bet. Know that you will not be able to use any of the more advanced features going in and you’ll be fine.

Ever since LIDAR speed guns entered general use the radar detector market have been trying to find an answer to the new tech. The one being used by all the big firms is the laser eye. Laser eyes detect LIDAR, much in the same way that radar detectors detect radar, but the are far less useful on a day to day basis. The issue is the way that LIDAR works by comparison to radar. When a radar speed gun goes off the refracted signals bounce for miles, making them easy to pick up. Even pop style radar works like this. With LIDAR the signal has very little range. So if your laser eye goes off the odds are good it’s ecause you were hit. Now, it can pick up close range refraction, but we are talking line of sight. you do not have much time to course correct. There is an alternative, a LIDAR jammer, they give you time to correct, and are highly effective. For full coverage you might be better off getting a LIDAR jammer and a radar detector. Do not confuse those terms, as radar jammers are very illegal.

The feature set here is fine, nothing to write home about. The design is great, but then that is true of most of Whistler’s builds. The added pop radar mode is nice, but the lack of app integration, or at least a GPS map is glaring. The laser eye is lackluster too, but then that is hardly unique to Whistler’s builds. Overall this is a very basic model, the kind I would write off entirely were it not for the excellent price you can get it for.

Whistler XTR 265 Radar Detector Legality and Pricing

There are few things you should know regarding the law and radar detectors. They are legal to own for the most part, but if you are in Virginia or Washington DC you are not allowed to use them. Nor can you use them in a commercial vehicle. If you travel or work in Minnesota or California then you have to mount them someplace else, as you are not allowed to obstruct your view with anything in either state. Other than that you should be fine.

The XTR 265 is amazing value for what you are getting. Buying new is more expensive, at $30, but I have seen second hand models go for less than $20. Considering the feature set here, and that the 265 is the high end XTR, this price is amazing. I get that the model is old, and lacks much of the pomp and circuitry of more modern builds, but it makes up for it here, and as I have said, if you know what you are doing, and you know your area, you can get a comparable experience with this old school cool build.

Warranties that come with radar detectors tend to be a little underwhelming. there is no equivalent of the warranty arms race that we saw in the mattress industry here. A real shame, as a quality warranty can really save a build. Whistler, and everyone else, offer a 1 year limited warranty. it means it only covers factory faults, but I tend to use the argument that any product that breaks within a year of normal use has a factory fault. Be sure to remember that argument, as it has worked well for me in the past. I think when it comes to the older builds like this, where you have to spend a little more on extras to get the experience up to par with the big boys, that you should ignore the manufacturer’s warranty, buy second hand from Amazon and use their consumer protection policies in its place. Amazon have the best customer protection on the market, and sometimes the folk you are buying refurb machines from offer their own warranty as well. You will still have access to Whistler’s wonderful repair service, though you will likely have to pay for the privilege. They have an in house repair shop, and that at least guarantees a working model no matter what. Considering that this model is in the sub $20 price point second hand I would find it very hard to justify buying it new.

Know the law regarding these things, I cannot overstate the importance of that. It’s no use getting a radar detector¬† to save you a bit of cash, only for it to end up costing you far more. An mentioned, anything with communications in the name coming from the state government will likely have a paragraph or two covering radar detectors. The price here is amazing, and it compliments the relative lack of features well too. Whistler have a great repair service that anyone can use, but their warranty is less than amazing, best I think to go with the method I listed above. Overall, this is a fine model, and well worth considering.

Whistler XTR 265 Radar Detector Conclusion

This might not be the most impressive build on the market right now, but I feel i makes up for that with the low price new, and the shockingly amazing price second hand. it’s not a patch on the $5 detector that is the 130, but those few extra features help keep the XTR 265 competitive on the road today. It looks good, it feels good, and the feature set is good too.

The fact that this is cordless by default is not something to be overlooked, as there are many folk out there who want a radar detector they can move from one vehicle to another, with minimal fuss. This really hits the nail on the head in that regard. The warranty might not be great, but so long as you pay a little attention to who you are buying it from, and where you are buying it, you can keep yourself covered. If you want a radar detector to test the waters, or want something simply you can pick up and use, then the XTR 265 is certainly one to consider. When you are ready to get something a little more impressive give me a shout, or read my forth coming top ten.

Barry W Stanton
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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