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Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector Review

by May 31, 2015
Overview
Build Quality

I really like the build quality of the Escort Passport MAX2 with Bluetooth. It has a quality heft to it, the suction cup mount is really superior and keeps the detector on the windshield even when going over unpaved ground and large bumps in my pickup truck. (Errr... not that I was expecting a state trooper to be sitting in the woods on an unpaved road or anything... but you never know!)

Price Point

MSRP is $600 and like anything else with time they will go down in price. Given the feature set and ease of use I think the price point is dead on.

Features

Deadpan simple to use. Has an automatic function that does all the heavy lifting if you aren't a radar nerd and that is very important for protecting your skin most of the time.

Positives

Better than the Escort Passport MAX because bluetooth is built in and this doesn't require the $99 cable
Has a multiple language feature which allows you to switch between English and Spanish
Is an outstanding Radar Detector, has a great Digital Signal Processor that lets it scan most of the frequencies at the same time without sacrificing much range. Most detectors can't do this. (Think Swiss Army Knife)
Will detect multiple frequencies at the same time - something other detectors I have played with can't do (read the review part to see why this is important)

Negatives

Doesn't have Stealth Mode
Weak Laser Detection (Which is really not a big deal because Laser is instant so outside of jamming you are toast)
Firmware Upgrading is kludgy because registering on the website seems to be intermittent so downloading the firmware without jumping through hoops is cumbersome.

Price Point
Price Point
MSRP
Quality of Build
Feature Set
Resale Value
Design / Look
Existing Consumer Opinion
Support
Functions as Advertised
Bottom Line

I really think the Escort Passport MAX2 is an excellent all around Radar Detector. The price point is reasonable for the feature set and it is dead pan simple to setup and use even if you don't know anything about Radar Detectors.

Price Point
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Escort Passport Max2 Radar Detector with Bluetooth Review UPC:737795001638

There is a special place in my heart for the Escort Brand.  It was my first radar detector when I was 17 (some 25 years ago) and it saved my bacon as I was driving down the highway (a little too fast) near Apple Valley Minnesota.  Nothing has changed.  I took a 12 hour drive to drop my grandson off at his parents house (6 there and back) and on the way back I decided to set it up so I could make some good time on the way home!  I shaved 2 hours off my time and was alerted several times on the way home.  I am convinced I would have received 2 tickets. I did also get lucky with a Laser hit (I was only going 10 over at the time) and the police officer (the kind soul) was clearly looking for bigger offenders because he didn’t pull me over.

Escort Passport Max2 Radar Detector with Bluetooth Review – Laser Detection

So I want to get the Laser detection thing out of the way first.  The Laser detection isn’t really good.  It doesn’t really matter because laser detection is irrelevant.  I think the only reason any of these companies bother putting anything in place to detect laser is to prevent consumers (not in the loop) from thinking it is not a good detector.  The fact is laser guns are instant.  Think about those laser thermometers that you point at stuff and it tells you instantly what the surface temp is.  It’s basically the same type of situation. There is literally no time for you to slow down so it is irrelevant.  UNLESS you purchase a Laser JAMMER too.

Now before you get angry and wonder why they don’t add the functionality to the detectors you need to understand a few things.  1) The technology to JAM laser guns is substantial.  It is not an add-on.  In fact it is a lot like having a shed and building a house onto it (Your radar detector is the shed in this example).  Laser jammers are legal, and you can buy them, but they need to be installed (for the most part) by qualified installers.  The reason for this is they have sensors that need to be put on the front of your vehicle (depending on the size of your vehicle could be 2 or 3 in the front and 2 in the back to be effective).  These sensors have to be run through your engine block and into your firewall.  Stuff has to be mounted either in your dash oBarney Fifer under it, etc…  It’s a process and it is expensive.  If you are serious about protecting yourself from laser than you need to look at spending in the neighborhood of 1-2 thousand dollars in addition to a good radar detector. The high cost is for the sensors. Generally they package them with one or two sensors and you need at least 2 for the front and 2 for the back to avoid tickets (IMO).

Escort Passport Max2 Radar Detector with Bluetooth Review – Radar Detection

The ability to detect Radar well is the single most important part of a Radar Detector (obviously).  The Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector does that extremely well.  While it doesn’t have the longest range, it does something I haven’t seen another Radar detector do and I think it is important.  So other detectors that boast longer range are able to do that by sacrificing frequencies.  They scan less frequencies which allows them to increase range.  The problem with that is you never know what the cops are using (unless you don’t travel).  If you are only traveling around your general area then you should get a good idea of what is being used based on your experience with your detector and what it is saying when it lights up.  However if you are driving somewhere you don’t normally go and you pass through some po-dunk town where the local constable is sitting behind the church waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting out-of-towner… and that cop happens to be using the 20 year old radar gun the town was able to afford 20 years ago when it was a booming mill town… well.. your detector doesn’t go off, you get the ticket and the local cop high fives his Barney Fife partner while they hit the neighboring Dunkin Donuts. Another thing cops like to do is put up those speed limit signs with the radar guns on them.  It goes off all the time and tells you to slow down and shows your speed (along with the posted limit).  Those are cool to keep people slowing down but the sly police are sitting right next to them with their radar guns waiting to get you.  You think it’s a false read and you get nailed.

So the reason I really like the Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector is the digital signal processor that is in it.  This DSP chip allows them to scan all the frequencies at the same time and it will alert more than one simultaneously.  This means the sign that runs K will go off, but the KA band radar gun the cop that is hiding behind the local BBQ joint where the sign is located is going off too..  You see TWO signals instead of the normal ONE and you slow down.  His little trick didn’t work on the Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector and it would have worked on virtually all the rest.

Escort Passport Max2 Radar Detector with Bluetooth Review – Live Readycopper

Another reason I like the Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector is the Live database.  You can update the database by plugging the unit into a USB port on your computer and doing a firmware update.  You can also download the iOS or Android app and bluetooth link your Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector to the app.  When you do that the blue USB light on the detector tells you that you are linked, and the app on your phone starts populating data on your detector.  For instance the posted speed limit along with your actual speed.  Normally without linking your Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector will tell you the speed you are travelling but with the bluetooth link it will show you the posted speed next to it along with a warning if you are going over the limit.  It has a pretty intuitive interface and you can do things with the app like let it know there is a red light photo cam if it doesn’t tell you so the database is updated (I haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet as it knows where all the traffic cams are where I have traveled).  Live will tell you where speeding traps are and you can let others know where they are when you spot them by simply clicking a button on the phone app.  It is a user generated database that lets us all work together as a team to fight what has become one of the largest revenue generating scams that the government has perpetrated against its citizens.  (Hey don’t get me started, punishment is supposed to fit the crime. Tell me how half a weeks salary is a justifiable punishment for speeding? If they really cared about safety they wouldn’t let the police drive any speed they want, pulling u-turns and running other people off the road to get to you).

Escort Passport Max2 Radar Detector with Bluetooth Review – GPS Lockout

A great feature that the Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector has is GPS Lockout technology.  The Passport MAX2 has a GPS built into it. When you get a false positive it goes off and logs the long and latitude during the alert.  The next time you go by it does the same thing.  Once it gets a certain amount of hits in the same area it will black list that band for that area so that it doesn’t go off which eliminates annoying false positives.  This is a very cool feature, although I am not sure if it would nullify the situation I outlined in -Radar Detection about the sly police officer. I’ll have to ask the Escort Product Manager when I speak with him again.

Escort Passport Max2 Radar Detector with Bluetooth Review – Support Downloads / Firmware Updates

I don’t like the way it the firmware update process goes with the Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector (or any of their models as it seems like it would be the same).  I don’t like the idea that I have to register in order to get the updates for a few reasons.  The biggest reason is that their site doesn’t function for me when I try to do it.  When I try to register it I get this:

ADODB.Field error ‘800a0bcd’

Either BOF or EOF is True, or the current record has been deleted. Requested operation requires a current record.

/register/db.asp, line 2157

On top of that, I do not like the fact that that serial number is on the box.  I hate when manufacturers put the serial number ON the box because it is generally the first thing that goes in the trash.  On top of that there is a well known scam that lets people register stuff they don’t own by going to stores and writing down serial numbers from the boxes at the store.  Then they go to the company, claim they have a problem and get the unit replaced (this scam only works with companies good enough to replace the product before you send it in).  The person doing the scam gets the product for free and the person that purchased the item gets owned when they try to register it and find out the item is already registered, their warranty is assigned to someone else, and that it has already been replaced.

The last thing I don’t like about serial number thing for the Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector is that there is no serial number physically on the device itself.  So if you lose the box (or throw it out) and you neglected to write it down you are bummin’.

Escort Passport Max2 Radar Detector with Bluetooth Review – Conclusion

All in all I have to say I really favor the Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector.  The only gripe I have with the entire thing is the registration process and the serial number location.  Outside of that if you are looking for a good all around Radar Detector that you don’t have to fuss with, tweak, or setup than the Escort Passport MAX2 Radar Detector is for you.  They make great gifts for those who you would spend about $600 on.


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