If you spend a lot of time driving and like to get to places quickly then you’ll likely be driving at (or above) the speed limit on most days. It’s so easy to get caught nowadays with the huge increase in speed cameras and red light cameras installed along major highways. Most officers carry a handheld device these days too and can take readings anywhere.
Here we compare the six best cheap radar detectors on the market and give a review of the top three in our list.
Things to Consider
When you’re considering a cheap radar detector, keep in mind that there are much more expensive options on the market too. Cheap detectors only have limited functions and are designed to do one job well – detect laser and radar signals around you.
There are two main types of detectors on the market:
- Battery Operated. Detectors have an AA or AAA battery that powers them and are very easy to install in your car as you won’t have to wire them into your electronics. These are great for hire cars, work vehicles and people who just want a radar detector without all the fuss of installation.
- Hard Wired. Detectors have the benefit of never needing a battery change and aren’t that hard to wire in. Most come with a wiring harness or kit to help you plug them into your vehicle’s power source.
*** Note that not all radar detectors have an auto off function and those that don’t can drain the battery in your car if left on. Make sure you check that they are off before you leave your car.
Top 6 Cheap Radar Detectors Chart
|1. Beltronics PRO200 Radar/Laser Detector||Easy-to-read display, fast microprocessor, voice alerts||$$$$||4.3|
|2. Whistler XTR-140 Laser/Radar Detector with Exclusive Twin Alert Periscopes||Complete band coverage, twin alert periscope, easy to read display, 3 modes||$$$||3.8|
|3. Cobra ESD7100 9 Band Radar/Laser Detector||360-degree detection, ultra-bright display, 2 modes||$||3.7|
|4. Whistler XTR-130 Laser/Radar Detector with High Gains Lens||Auto shutoff, 3 modes, auto quiet mode||$$||3.7|
|5. Cobra ESD7570 9-Band Performance||Safety alerts, 2 modes, no frills unit||$$$||3.6|
|6. Whistler XTR-540 Cordless Radar Detector||Battery operated, low profile alerts||$$$||3.3|
Buying the best cheap radar detectors is easy with a few simple tips. Here’s what you’ll need to look out for in your next purchase:
- Coverage. Most modern radar detectors come with 360 coverage, but some low quality and older models only have 180 degrees. So make sure you check the product description before making a purchase.
- Modes. Enable you to change the focus area of your radar detector. This is especially useful when changing from a highway to a suburban road. Instead of being alerted to every radar as you race through built up areas you’ll only be alerted to radars on the highway.
- Display. Detector displays should be bright and easy to read without being intrusive to your driving ability.
Top 3 Best Cheap Radar Detector Reviews
This is on the higher end of the “cheap” category, and the quality difference is huge if you’re willing to spend just a bit more on a piece of technology such as this.
The Pro 200 is easy to read, thanks to the red LED display and you can easily adjust the display brightness based on the lighting conditions outside.
This offers you different operating modes based on the type of road you’re driving on: Highway, City and AutoScan. Within the “City” mode alone, there are an additional three options that allow you to leave the X band sensitivity as-is, lower the X band sensitivity or disable it completely.
Thanks to the 3.5 mm audio jack, you can also link this detector to a headset (perfect for those of you with motorcycles).
The detection range is average and it has plenty of customizable features, and overall, we feel that it’s definitely worth the purchase if you don’t want to spend the money on high-end unit.
Despite the cheap price, this is one of the best radar detectors that you will ever own. It works just as well as more expensive models but without all the frills. Frills that you really don’t need to detect radar signals and most of the time are just distracting whilst you’re driving.
It doesn’t have great filtering ability for false signals but for a cheap detector it performs surprisingly well. The two blue LEDs in the corner of the display are easy to see out of the corner of your eye and prove to be very useful when your car stereo is drowning out the audible warnings from the detector.
The top of the line features aren’t included in this model, but for a basic detector, it works very well. Most users don’t use the voice alerts, text readouts or digital compass of high-end models anyway.
For the most simple and effective radar detector, the Cobra fits the bill perfectly. It warns you early enough so you can slow down and avoid a fine. It comes with two modes, one for the highway and another for city driving which reduces the frequency of false alerts when used correctly.
Distinctively different tones are used for various radar signals and after a few days of use you’ll learn to recognize which sound pairs with what. The tones repeat faster and faster as you approach the radar signal so you can perfectly time your driving to slow down just in time.