Integrates an internal GPS to identify and record the position of detected radar signals. Can identify different types of laser and radar signatures. Provides a clear signal when detecting a signal. Window mount holds device in place nicely. USB port offers extra charging capabilities.
Laser detection can provide a false detection every now and then.
Compact unit provides 360° vehicle coverage and recognizes current radar and laser guns, including POP. Traffic Flow Signal function reduces false alerts in city driving. Clear readout gives lots of relevant information, including signal type, so you can quickly recognize police activity.
False signal filtering is no better than Whistler’s budget models. No GPS.
Bilingual blue OLED text display. Provides the same set of laser and radar detection features as other premium models. Organizes controls in a simple layout. Front display is easy to read for occupants in the car.
The radar detector doesn't include a false detection limiter.
Extremely small and compact profile is easy to install and use in a wide variety of cars. The detector uses a simple screen to display warnings while driving. Sound alerts help to keep eyes on the road. Quiet mode for added convenience.
Sometimes fails to pick up nearby radar signals.
Unique dual alert display shows the side from which a signal is coming. Comes with different city and highway models to increase detection reliability in different conditions. Vehicle battery saver shuts off detector when not in use. Comes with windshield mounting hardware.
Garage door openers can cause device to detect false signal.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
According to our research, the average cost of a speeding ticket in the United States is now over $150. When you look at it like that, a radar detector isn’t just a convenient device that keeps you from breaking the law (with the frustrating delay that entails) and improves your road safety, it’s also good for your wallet. It wouldn’t take many incidents for a radar detector to save you several times what you paid for it!
Whistler is a household name that has a long association with laser and radar detection equipment. Its products are at the leading edge of current technology, the company has a terrific reputation for reliability, and its extensive range offers something for all budgets. The only challenge is choosing the right model. Should you go for all the bells and whistles, or is a cheaper alternative better suited to your driving needs?
We’ve been investigating each of the Whistler radar detector models and have made a series of recommendations that showcase your price and performance choices. We’ve also put together the following buying guide to explain the details.
Frequencies: Early speed-detecting radar guns worked on the X band, but it is no longer widely used. Since then, K band, and Ka band have been added. Whistler radar detectors give you full coverage in any situation by recognizing all types, including POP radar, which can be difficult to track because it transmits in short bursts rather than consistently.
Location: All Whistler detectors have full 360° perimeter protection. It doesn’t matter whether the device projecting the beam is in front, behind, or at the sides (a weak spot on many competitors).
Drive protected, drive safe
The advanced CR93 won’t just minimize your ticket count with its comprehensive laser and radar recognition, it can also dramatically increase driver safety with its Stay Alert function. There are numerous options to suppress false signals and adapt results to driving conditions, GPS can pinpoint fixed speed and traffic cameras, and the real voice is bilingual. With complete 360° protection, it’s a lot of cover at a very competitive price.
Mode: Alerts can be visual. The LED display can be dimmed (on some it’s automatic depending on ambient light conditions). An automatic “alert priority” function also displays the signal from the device that’s closest if there’s more than one, or the one that’s identified as the most important.
Alerts can be audible, with volume control and the ability to turn the sound off completely if required. Mid-range and high-end Whistler laser and radar detectors also offer real voice alerts. On most models these can be in English or Spanish (the same is true of the display).
FDSR: Whistler radar detectors also have Field Disturbance Sensor Rejection (FDSR), which does a good job of reducing false alerts caused by traffic monitoring or management systems. And modern vehicle blind spot monitors and backup systems designed to avoid parking or reversing accidents also use the Ka band and thus could also be confused with speed cameras. Depending on the radar detector model, you get either three or six city- and highway-specific modes that provide additional filtering. You can quickly select the one most appropriate for particular driving conditions.
Safety: In addition to speed camera alerts, some Whistler models also have useful driver safety features. The most basic of these tests whether you’re attentive by providing a warning beep every couple of minutes. You need to respond, or it keeps on beeping until you do!
SWS: Certain Whistler models can also respond to safety warning signals (SWS) transmitted by railroad crossings, highway construction operations, and emergency services at traffic accidents, alerting you to potential problems so you can slow down well in advance.
Mounting is via suction cups to fix the radar detector to the windshield or a nonslip dashboard pad. Charging is via a cable that plugs into your vehicle’s internal 12-volt DC socket. There’s a vehicle battery saver that will turn the detector off if you forget to do it, so it doesn’t drain the battery.
It’s very difficult to pick up red light traffic camera sensors using normal radar detectors, but Whistler GPS models can provide locations, and you can update them regularly via USB.
The air is full of radio signals from all kinds of devices. Whistler’s advanced filtering is great at reducing false positives, so you’re not jumping at every electric garage door opener!
RSID: The Ka band in particular is very wide, and lots of devices use it. It’s the source of most false warnings, and radar detector manufacturers work hard to filter these out. Whistler’s proprietary Radar Signature Identification (RSID) is one of the best. It provides you with an LED display that either identifies the signal as not from a police radar or gives a more detailed code. After you’ve seen them a few times, recognizing those that you need to pay attention to becomes second nature.
LSID: Whistler also has a unique Laser Signal Identification (LSID) that works in a similar way to RSID but with the handheld laser speed guns popular with traffic cops.
Traffic light cameras are among the most difficult to detect and are often in urban locations with multiple competing signals. Older types of red light cameras (many still in use), don’t use radar or laser at all but rely on pressure-sensitive pads in the road. These are impossible for even the best detection systems to recognize. Whistler’s solution is to use GPS information, which can be updated regularly via a simple USB connection. The same system can also warn you about known fixed-position speed traps, giving maximum coverage where some other radar detectors would effectively be “blind.”
While none of Whistler’s products is truly wireless, the Whistler Intellicord is an alternative charging cable that also offers controls for power, mode selection, brightness, and volume, so you don’t have to reach across to the unit itself.
Whistler radar detectors’ easy portability makes them great if you have multiple vehicles, and several provide alerts in Spanish as well as English.
Inexpensive: The cheapest Whistler laser and radar detectors come in at around $55, and there are several others under the $70 mark. These offer good alert levels for all of the common laser and radar systems.
Mid-range: Pay between $90 and $150 and you get greater sophistication and a more comprehensive feature set, including RSID and LSID, GPS, and real voice communications.
Expensive: These Whistler radar detectors cost from $200 to $270 and provide increased filtering for false alerts and greater detection range options.
Affordable alert system
Offering many of the features of its more expensive siblings, the XTR-135 is an excellent low-budget alternative. It’s nice and compact, there’s 360° protection, and you get different modes to suit your driving style — city or highway. A few owners would prefer louder volume (though it’s adjustable), and the display can seem a little cluttered at times, but you’d struggle to find a better solution for the money.
If the products in our matrix don’t suit, we found a couple more. The Whistler CR68 Laser Radar Detector is the company’s entry-level model, but that doesn’t mean it lacks important features. There’s the expected 360° full-perimeter protection, wide-ranging radar and laser recognition, and false alert filtering for traffic-flow systems.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Whistler PRO-3700 High-Performance Laser Radar Detector. It features all the technology of the other high-end models, but it’s designed to be permanently mounted in your dashboard. Installation is straightforward, and there’s an optional rear antenna for even greater sensitivity.
Q. Are Whistler radar detectors legal?
A. At the time of writing, they are legal for passenger vehicles in all US states except Virginia (where having one in the car is a crime even if it’s off) and Washington, DC. In California, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, radar detectors are legal, but hanging things from your windshield is not! The regulations are more complicated for commercial vehicles, so you need to check state by state.
Q. Is there a best place to put my radar detector?
A. All Whistler models offer 360° protection, so it’s not as important as with some other brands. However, it’s nice to allow them as clear a signal as possible. A good spot is in the center of the windshield, approximately 3 to 5 inches above the dash, so line of sight clears the end of your hood. Alternatively, some models can simply be placed on Whistler’s nonslip dash pad, wherever you feel it’s convenient.
Q. Does my Whistler radar detector come with everything included?
A. It does. You get the detector unit itself, a secure windshield mount (and dash pad on some models), a charger cord for your vehicle’s 12-volt DC socket (cigarette lighter), and, where appropriate, a USB cord for updating GPS information. The only thing you might want to add, where applicable, is the Whistler Intellicord mentioned above.
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