Best Radar Detectors – CNET

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Valentine One Generation 2 was a gadget from a bygone era. With its matte black, slab-sided industrial design, conspicuous lack of buttons and, yes, even a segmented LED readout instead of a full-color OLED display, it looks like it could have been hanging from your sun visor since the early ’90s.

But that’s sort of the point. This Gen2 device has been a long time coming, the first all-new upgrade to the legendary Valentine One product line in nearly 30 years. If you know the classic Valentine One, made famous by its game-changing directional radar detection, then you know exactly what you’re looking at when you see the Generation 2.

Valentine actually calls its device a “radar locator” because when it picks up a signal from X, K, Ka or laser, one of three prominent directional arrows lights up to indicate whether the radar signal is coming from ahead, beside or behind.

Until you start using it, this bit of data may seem trivial, but you quickly realize how helpful it is to know where to look for possible signs of trouble. If the front arrow lights up, police could be around the bend. But, should the side arrows glow red, your “bogey” (as Valentine refers to radar hits) is more likely a false alarm from another car or an automatic door — police measure your speed from the front or behind, not the side.

There’s a wrinkle: Now that the company’s patent on arrows has expired, this is no longer an exclusive feature, and a slew of other mid- to high-end detectors can come with directional indicators. What makes the Valentine One Generation 2 a true stand-out is adding competitive long-range detection, top-notch false positive filtering, Bluetooth and an open API to its already impressive skillset.

Focusing on its built-in smarts, if you’re used to more chatty, inexpensive radar detectors, you may be compelled to ask, as we did, whether the V1G2 is even working. Where other units beep and boop indiscriminately with little indication of where potential threats are coming from, Valentine’s hardware stays pleasantly silent but vigilant, only speaking up when a bogey is a legitimate concern.

Still, most notable among its few shortcomings is a lack of GPS integration. Where other detectors use location tracking to lock out non-law enforcement sources of radar pollution, Valentine relies on its advanced algorithms to do the filtering on the fly. They say the minor advantages GPS provides aren’t worth the extra cost to consumers, and in any case, Bluetooth app integration brings location data and more to the party if you have your smartphone nearby.

Pair the V1G2 with one of the various apps available on Android or iOS, and the unit’s capability and features extend well beyond anything baked into the hardware. This makes for what we think is a winning combination for most drivers.

Let’s go back to that old-school segmented LED we mentioned earlier. As we’ve said, radar detectors are about data. The company kept the LED because it’s much easier to read in sunlight than fancier, multicolor read-outs, and that’s emblematic. The Valentine One Gen2 is all about providing the most relevant information in the clearest, simplest terms — no frills, just well-honed skills.


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