Escort's Passport 9500ix sits near the top of the radar detector industry's totem pole, at $500. But to the extent that detectors are an object of desire, the 9500ix is certainly "the good stuff," judging by its feature set and by professional reviews of the product. Inside, the design contains a measured approach to logic implementation, but its RF circuits are a veritable work of art, if you're into that kind of thing.
Radar detectors have evolved steadily in the cat-and-mouse, measure/countermeasure relationship between traffic law enforcement and drivers. Along with the obvious application of sparing speeders from paying for their misbehavior, detectors arguably help with awareness for those who lose track while making good time.
Perhaps because of that "bright side" argument, detectors are still legal almost everywhere in the United States (sorry, Virginia and D.C.), but there are limits. Laser jamming is illegal in a number of states that allow passive radar detection (it seems strange that it's allowed anywhere), and radar jamming is uniformly outlawed in the United States. Worldwide, laws on detector use vary widely.
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Today's detection environment has grown decidedly complex. Traditional roadside and mobile human law enforcement comes armed with multi-band microwave radar, lasers/lidar (light detection and ranging) and instant-on systems. Some public roadways sport those same technologies in autonomous detection setups for speeding and red-light cameras. License plate recognition enables autoticketing.
With so many RoboCops on the road, Escort and its competitors promote the notion that a little electronic assistance is in order to level the playing field.
Even before a screwdriver was taken to its case for the teardown, the 9500ix made an impression based on its presentation. Escort probably spent as much for box-out as on some of the unit's key components, but appearances matter when your customers are shelling out big money. A suction-cup mount, high-quality coiled 12-V "smart" power cord and extensive documentation all join the detector in a leatherette-clad clamshell case.
The 9500ix provides coverage of all in-use radar bands (X-band 10.525 GHz ± 25 MHz, K-band 24.150 GHz ± 100 MHz, Ka-band 34.700 GHz ± 1,300 MHz, Ku-band 13.425 GHz ± 25 MHz) and monitors for lidar laser at 904 nm. Addition of GPS brings location-aware features such as known-threat position warnings and markings, false-alarm suppression and adaptive learning. A dot-matrix LED display provides text feedback of detection events, joined by speech capability and a host of other bells and whistles.