I’ve had my Valentine 1 radar detector for about a month and a half and have driven a couple thousand miles (most highway) with it. I’m LOVING it. It’s definitely an information overload appliance – if you don’t like analyzing raw data and drawing your own conclusions, this might not be the unit for you. But if you want the detector that the guys who get paid to drive fast on the highway use, this is it…

If you’re not familiar with Valentine, here’s the short version: Mike Valentine invented the Escort radar detector and worked for many years at Cincinnati Microwave. He left CM and sold his stock for many millions of dollars. He then patented two features that, at the time, were not in radar detectors: directional indicators and digital bogey counter. Then he started a company to build the best detector on the market more or less as a “retirement hobby”… which he’s been doing for about 10 years. The physical appearance of all his detectors hasn’t changed much since he started. But he constantly upgrades the electronics and firmware, and offers an upgrade path for every unit ever sold.

The only kind of test that makes sense between different brands is sensitivity and anti-falsing and how pretty the lights and sounds are. Sometimes the V1 wins these tests, and sometimes other detectors win. But in any test of what really matters – situational awareness – there is only one patented unit that delivers. V1.

Most modern detectors advertise “front and rear protection” – what they really do is use a single detection device and channel signals into it from both the front and rear of the detector. The V1 actually uses 2 separate radar detectors and 2 separate laser detectors built into one box. This allows the computer inside to understand where the signals are coming from – front, rear or both – and light up directional arrows to pass this intelligence along to the driver. The unit also tracks EACH SIGNAL it is receiving at one time, and tells you via a digital readout how many “bogeys” it is tracking at any moment, as well as the location of all of them and the one it believes to be the greatest threat. These patented features make using a V1 quite different than any other detector – it has a learning curve to get the most out of it…

The key thing is knowing where the bogey is in relation to your direction of travel. Imagine being a fighter pilot and the computer says a bogey has radar lock on you and you ask where and the computer says “I dunno – it’s around here somewhere…” That wouldn’t be good. Likewise, it’s quite useful to know where a potential police radar source is coming from…

With most dectectors, if you get a signal and then it goes away, what just happened? Was it a side transient from a door opener off the exit? Was it a weak police radar passing you on the other side of the interstate? Was it instant on somewhere behind you? Or was it instant on ahead – which is the REAL threat…

A lot of people without V1’s say “doesn’t matter – when I get an alarm I slow down just in case”. But in my experience, when the alarm ends, you tend to speed back up. And that’s what that instant on trap is counting on. The additional situational awareness the V1 provides lets you know when it’s best to slow down and stay slow for a few minutes, and when it’s best to SPEED UP. It’s a different animal.

BTW – you’re playing a different game when you install jammers, etc. I’m just talking about standalone radar protection.

Some people claim that the V1 has too many “false positives”…

I’m not sure what a false positive is…

Radar detector detects radar = positive.

Radar detector ignores radar = false negative.

I have seen no indication AT ALL of my V1 thinking there is radar where none exists… it absolutely tells me about every REAL radar source – which includes door openers, etc. I would MUCH rather know about EVERY real source of radar, than have the box more or less arbitrarily deciding what is and isn’t a threat. With most detectors, “city mode” means “ignore weak signals”. Which might include the instant on that zapped on for an instant a half mile ahead of you. “Hey, it’s not illuminating me, so it must be a “false” signal, I’ll just ignore it… “

It’s kinda funny sometimes reading that the V1 doesn’t have good enough X range, then reading that it falses too much… these are, for practical purposes, opposites. Lots of X band here in NC, too. Hell, they still use tin cans with string here.

I DO believe in the personal preference thing. To each his/her own. I’ve read posts by a very small number of folks who have tried V1’s and decided it wasn’t for them – which is cool. But I’ve read a lot more posts by folks who really don’t understand it because they haven’t used it, and they cite review x or y that do the classic range and “falsing” comparisons because that’s the only way you can compare a V1 with other units that can’t do what the V1 does. I’ve driven thousands of miles with “traditional” detectors, and with the V1. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even without this experience. And I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s choice – if you have another unit that’s getting it done for you, that’s GREAT!

One factor that I do think matters a lot is WHERE you’re putting in the miles and using your detector. If 90% of your driving is in the city – or in populated areas with lots of door openers on every corner, and your driving habits in this setting lead you to feel you need your detector on all the time, then I can definitely see how the V1 could drive you batty.

But on the open interstate in rural areas where it’s very much a cat-and-mouse game between you and the Smokeys, the V1 is an awesome advantage…

Update 3/22/07:

I received my customized V1 remote display today – I had someone replace the red band indicator LEDs with green/yellow/red/blue ones (for X/K/Ka/Laser) – so it’s easy to tell what band it is  visually. This is the only thing I think is “lacking” in the stock V1. The remote display is velcro’d to the top of the steering column, between and in front of my tach and speedo. It’s connected with a black curly cord to the wiring tap under the dash. It’s REALLY quick and easy to grab it, yank if off and toss it into the parcel shelf for complete stealth. I also have the remote audio unit in front of my right knee in the parcel shelf, so I can control volume and power there. I TAPED OVER the face and bottom of my V1 with black tape (leaving the windows open) – so you don’t see indicators on the front, or knobs, or anything. And you don’t see any labels on the bottom. And I taped and zip tied up the power cord, so you don’t see that. It’s very stealthy now. If someone is looking for it, they’ll see it. But it does NOT draw attention to itself, and if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it doesn’t look like a radar detector. I’ll post good photos of it in stealth mode later…
V1 - Right side V1 - Left side V1 - Front

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>