Escort Max 360c HIgh Performance Radar Detector
Radar Detection for the Connected vehicle
Busted or Not
A while back, I had occasion to test and review Escort’s Passport Max radar detector, which was an impressive and effective unit. Just recently I was offered the opportunity to experience the results of the constantly advancing radar technology, and to review the Escort company’s latest detector – the Escort Max 360c. The review will follow, but first, a few things need to be pointed out and understood – there are several radar detectors available in today’s marketplace, all aimed at diminishing one’s chances of garnering a citation from “officer friendly” (or sometimes, and more often, not so friendly) for exceeding the posted speed limit on his or her watch. Just as there are several levels and types of detectors, there are several forms of radar signals for measuring and recording excessive speed, with several bands and range capabilities.
There are also radar blockers, which are highly effective, but unfortunately happen to be illegal in virtually all states. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a legally obtainable personal device that would literally ‘fry in hand’ the equipment utilized by law enforcement officials, rendering them totally ineffective? To my knowledge, such technology has yet to be developed. Yes, of course it would be just as illegal as radar blockers, but hey, fair is fair, isn’t it?
So, what are you up against in terms of radar types used by various law enforcement agencies? There are a variety of flavors of Ka-band, which is the most widely used form of North American speed measurement. X-band and K-band both seem to have drifted from law enforcement favor recently. Laser guns, possess the ability to target specific individual vehicles working in conjunction with newly emerging technologies such as photo documentation, and they are becoming increasingly popular, since they pretty much ensure that going to court to contest your ticket is likely destined to fail.
More specifically, X-Band frequency alerts are generally false even though they’re still used by a few smaller, rural police departments that have older X-band units in use – a good reason to not tune X-Band out completely. K-Band is used commonly for automatic door openers and vehicle safety systems, K-band is capable of wreaking havoc with radar detectors, and particularly since K-band radar guns are also a popular choice with police. Ka-Band generates very few false alarms. Ka has three frequencies devoted to speed measurement. When your detector delivers a Ka-band alarm, you need to pay close attention. Pop- Radar is a trademarked brand name from radar-gun-manufacturer MPH Industries. It features a mode in which the law enforcement officer’s gun emits very short bursts of K- or Ka-band radar (less than a tenth of a second). Technically, Law enforcement officials are not supposed to base tickets on POP readings – Good luck with that, since Pop is capable of grabbing a speed reading without alerting detectors, enabling officers to then switch to a longer radar pulse that confirms vehicle speed. Pop isn’t in wide use, but it can pose a serious threat for drivers who depend on their detectors to avoid tickets and the resulting fines.
Laser, also known as LIDAR, emits a narrow beam that’s virtually impossible to detect until it’s aimed directly at your vehicle, which by then in most cases is too late, because by the time you receive a laser alert, the officer generally already knows your speed and is ready to pounce on your driving record.
Since there’s a constant conflict between law enforcement and exuberant, spirited drivers, and since both seem to continually benefit from ever advancing technology, how does one go about selecting the best protection for preventing monetary contributions to local and state revenue coffers and avoiding the resulting increased insurance rates?
What to Consider
Yes, it’s possible to obtain a radar detector that falls into the $100 to $200 price range, but they generally fall short on features and effectiveness. You will obviously benefit from the best protection provided by the more expensive units that are available. The simple to use Valentine One has long been perceived to be the most effective detector available for the past several years, priced at around $400. with a V1 connection for Android and iPhones priced at around $50
An advanced version of Escort’s 9500ix was the Escort Passport Max, which sold for $549.95. with an available Escort Live cable for another $99.99 which came with a free 90 day introductory schedule, but required a monthly subscription to the database after downloading the app free of charge.
So, which one to buy? It depends totally on what kind of information that you want, and how much you are able or willing to spend. I have actually used both the Valentine One and the Escort Passport Max with the Escort Live cable.
I was always pleased with the simplicity of the Valentine One and with its effectiveness, along with the fact that it pinpoints the direction that the radar signal is coming from. The Escort Passport Max however, provided several extra features and a longer range with voice alerts as well as an audible and visual signal.
Since our world seems to be increasingly inundated by various radar signals that emanate from not only traffic-measuring devices, but automatic doors, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot-monitoring systems that are able to emit the same frequencies utilized by law-enforcement agencies. Radar-detector users need to be able to distinguish the genuine threats from simply harmless noise to sidestep local and state revenues, while moving along at a rapid clip. We’re not suggesting speeding as a regular practice mind you, but it’s always a good thing when you’re able to avoid being cited.
The Escort Passport Max offers a sliding scale that judges the severity of the threat, indicating which band is active, with both a visual and a voice announcement. The Passport Max operates via a 12v cigarette lighter compatible power cord that features buttons for the user to mute an alert or to mark the location of a threat. The Escort Passport Max mounts to the windshield (a practice that’s illegal in California depending upon the actual positioning of the unit) via a GPS-style ‘Sticky-Cup’ mount with a thumbwheel friction lock that allows angle adjustment, and a short arm that minimizes detector vibration.
The Escort Passport Max operates by six recessed, top-mounted button controls, rather than raised like on the Escort Passport 9500ix and Escort Redline, which can make them more difficult to locate and operate simply by touch. There is no GPS on/off button, which eliminates disabling the function accidentally. Control buttons are backlit, easing the task of operating them at night. During alerts their backlighting flashes, a feature unique to the Escort Passport Max.
The OLED operating mode display’s font for—Auto, Auto NoX or Highway—was preset to blue, with a matching backlighting color for the control buttons. A series of seven horizontal LEDs that illuminate progressively from the center outward at 40 times per minute was displayed above the operating mode. Vehicle speed is displayed far left is, with system voltage displayed on the right. When linked to the optional Escort Live system and either an iPhone or Android smartphone, the posted speed limit also appeared. Other display color choices were: amber, red or green. The font color for speed and vehicle voltage remained white regardless of the display color choice. This was the first use of an OLED display by Escort, and though colorful, it can be difficult to read during daylight and tends to disappear when viewed through polarized sunglasses.
Plug-and-play operation through the factory-default Novice mode allows a choice of display colors, but renders all other user preferences inaccessible. The Advanced mode allows access to a broad selection of user settings. Meter mode offers bar graph options: Spec and Expert—in addition to a Simple mode. During alerts this displays a generic “Caution” at speeds below 20 mph or “Slow Down” at any speed below the user-selected Overspeed threshold.
The Escort Passport Max provided an audible information-delivery system with a choice of voice alerts or two different sets of tones. The latter includes the standard Escort tones or unique doorbell-like chimes.
A 3.5mm audio jack was provided for headphones, an external speaker or helmet headset in stereo that’s protected by a rubber plug when not in use. An adjacent mini-USB jack allowed for updates of the Defender camera database or detector firmware revisions. This camera database was proven best-in-class through an extensive test.
Standard features included: AutoLearn; AlertLock; and Speed Alert One unique feature is variable-delay automatic power shut-off, called AutoPower, which could be set at 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours, with a factory default of four hours. Speed-variable sensitivity enabled the microprocessor to reduce sensitivity at low speed, limiting most false alarms in town, while the sensitivity rose proportionally as speed increased, for maximum protection. Escort Passport Max filtered true alerts from those issued from radar guns, from unwanted false alerts, such as automatic door openers with exceptional accuracy that competitive detectors repeatedly emit false alerts for.
Passport Max is a High Definition, high speed Digital Signal Processor (DSP) detector that also includes ESCORT’s patented GPS Location Awareness technology giving Max the added ability to alert to fixed position threats including red light and speed cameras, major speed traps and future threat technologies yet to be released. Max also contained TrueLock – a patented technology giving Max the intelligent trait of scanning, analyzing and then locking out false alert sources, automatically! Passport Max includes a mini-USB port for quick connection to the internet allowing for software expansion, data base updates and more.
The Passport Max also came equipped with Traffic Sensor Rejection (TSR) software, able to automatically ignore radar pings from wireless traffic sensors used on certain highways. Working in tandem with the loaded Defender database and AutoLearn, the Passport Max’s DSP should only beep for real threats, once you’ve given ample time to learn your area.
Because the Passport Max only has a general idea of your vehicle location, and doesn’t include maps, it may sometimes give audible alerts for approaching red-light cameras on surface roads when driving on an adjacent highway, which can be annoying, but it’s certainly better to receive a few unnecessary alerts than to wind up with a ticket for blowing through a yellow light. When the Passport Max begins beeping, the selectable AutoMute function lowers the volume automatically after a second or two, keeping the detector from becoming offensive once it’s gotten your attention. Tapping the Mute button on the SmartCord allows silencing the unit. A SmartMute feature enables drivers to manually mark false alarms by triple-tapping the Mute button on the SmartCord when alerted. Notifications for these detections will still appear on the screen the next time you pass the false threat, but the beeping will not sound. If, later, a false threat turns out to be real, a double-tap will remove it from the Max’s false-positive database.
In checking the box that the Passport Max comes in, two things are noticeable. First, the Max is depicted displaying the current speed limit. Secondly, it’s touted as being compatible with the Escort Live app for Android or iOS. Turning the box over and reading the fine print informs one that to gain this app compatibility, it’s necessary to purchase the $99.99 Escort SmartCord Live, which replaces the included SmartCord and adds the Bluetooth connectivity needed to make the wireless connection. With the SmartCord Live plugged in, and paired with a smartphone, and with the app downloaded and running, the Passport Max gains some new capabilities: users can adjust the Max’s settings via the paired phone’s touch screen, which can be considerably easier than manipulating the device’s control buttons and small screen.
Additionally, the phone’s data connection feeds live-updating Defender database data with up-to-the-minute positioning for speed traps, speed cameras, red-light cameras, and more to the Passport Max, allowing it to automatically ignore false positives reported by other Defender database-reporting drivers. Also, speed traps detected by the Max are reported automatically to the Defender database, without pressing any buttons. Getting current speed limit data requires the app’s data connection. The SmartCord Live cable is specific to either Android or iOS. If you want to use both, two cables are necessary. The Escort Live app only includes a limited period of free introductory access to the Defender database, after that, an additional monthly fee or annual subscription to retain access is necessary. ($4.99 per month or $49.99 per year).
Enter the ESCORT MAX 360c, the first high-performance radar and Laser detector designed for the connected car, with built-in Wi-Fi, the MAX 360c updates through an on-board Wi-Fi connection alerting the driver to the latest ticket threats in real-time. The new ESCORT MAX 360c connects directly to the connected car’s Wi-Fi automatically connecting to ESCORT Live, an exclusive real-time ticket-protection network, without the need for connecting one’s smartphone to the detector. ESCORT Live keeps drivers aware of upcoming alerts received and reported by other users in the area, giving access to local speed limit data for over-speed alerts, right out of the box. If you don’t have a connected car or Wi-Fi signal, smartphone users can still pair Bluetooth® in the MAX 360c and get all the features of ESCORT Live. When arriving at home or parking near a Wi-Fi connection, the detector will automatically update to the latest software and firmware, without having to remove the unit from the car.
The ESCORT MAX 360c features a sleek, slimmer design with LED arrows to indicate the direction of the radar threat. With the updated arrow placement on the front of the display, direction of the alerts is easier to see and less distracting while driving. Its multi-color OLED display intuitively displays both the threat type and strength as well as the vehicles speed so drivers may make the best decision for each threat in HD resolution. The ESCORT MAX 360c also includes a new EZ Mag Mount™ that provides the simplest and most secure installation. It attaches and releases the detector with a mere magnetic touch, eliminating all bouncing or detachment when underway.
The ESCORT MAX 360c also includes: 360 Degree Directional Alert Arrows – that indicate the direction of the radar source for 360-degree protection; Front and Rear Radar Detection with Dual antennas for front and rear detection; GPS Intelligence with access to the largest, most-up-to-date database of speed & red-light cameras and speed traps. Drivers may mark their own “hot spots” using an exclusive ‘Mark Location’ feature; an IVT Filter™ system that updates automatically, reducing false alerts from external In-Vehicle Technology sources such as collision avoidance systems and adaptive cruise control; a SmartCord® USB – a premium power cord featuring a convenient USB charging port, power
LED, alert LED and Mute button; and dual language capability including English and Spanish voice and text. The Escort Maxx 360c retails for $699.95.
Bottom line, the Escort Passport Max 360c is impressive with its easy-to-understand OLED-based interface, the capability of detecting threats earlier than the previous generation units, and its ability to tune out those false positives that make other radar detectors irritating when used daily. It is not initially intuitive to set up personal preferences, but with time it becomes more user friendly. Yes, it’s expensive, but in the long run, it’s cheaper than paying for numerous citations for having a lead right foot.
Specifications for Escort Max 360c
X-band 10.525 GHz ± 25 MHz K-band 24.150 GHz ± 100 MHz Ka-band 34.700 GHz ± 1300 MHz Laser 904nm, 33 MHz Bandwidth. Unit Dimensions 5.15” L x 3.25” W x 1.38” H
Model MAX 360c
Gift Box 7.50” L x 9.0” W x 2.50” H
Weight 10.0 oz.
Master Pack Qty. 12
Master Pack 19.88” L x 16.75” W x 9.25” H
Master Pack 21.60 lbs.
Radar Signals X, K, Ka, Ka-POP
Laser Signals 904nm, +/- 33nm
*Specifications subject to change without notice*
*All dimensions (L x W x H)*
Radar Receiver Detector Type
Superheterodyne, Varactor-Tuned VCO Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
Quantum Limited Video Receiver Multiple Laser Sensor Diodes
Graphic OLED CruiseAlert™ Bar Graph ExpertMeter™ SpecDisplay™ 5 Levels of Brightness with Full Dark ModeUser Features
Display Color Speed Display (On / Off) Cruise Alert Over Speed Meter Tones AutoMute (On / Off) AutoLearn (On / Off) Units (English / Metric) Voice (On / Off) GPS (On / Off) AutoPower Bands (Selectable) Markers (Selectable) Clear Locations
Auto Calibration Circuitry Mute, AutoMute and SmartMute
12VDC, Negative Ground Escort SmartCord® Included
Highway, Auto and Auto No X
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.