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Finally got around to moving over my radar set up for my Redline EX & Valentine 1 from my Mustang. Behind the black cover is the Bluetooth module for when I want to run my V1. I just realized I didn't take any photos of the tap location but I will add that later.
Executive Editor, GM-Trucks.com
Radar detectors have been used by automotive enthusiasts for decades as a tool to prevent unintentional speeding (and tickets). With the rise of connected smartphones, internet connections everywhere, and cheaper full color displays, this consumer electronics segment has been ripe for innovation.
I’ve personally driven with a radar detector for over two decades. I’ve seen crappy and expensive detectors alike and there’s a big difference between the two. So, when I had a chance to test drive the new high-tech Beltronics GT-7 Radar Detector and use it with Escort Live on my smartphone, I couldn’t wait to give it a go and compare it to the detectors I’ve used.
Product: GT-7 radar detector & Escort Live / SmartCord Live
Manufacturer: Beltronics & Escort
Retail Price: $499.99 [GT-7] / $99.99 [smartCord Live]
Product Website: Beltronics GT-7 / SmartCord Live
Long range radar detection with digital signal processing Smart Cord with remote mute button Magnetic windshield mount GPS learns and remembers false alerts along your route Internal and updatable database of red light and speed cameras Compatiable with Escort Live App [requipres SmartCord Live Purchase] SmartCord Live Features
Direct Replacement for the GT-7's power cord Works with most Beltronics and Escort radar detectors Brings Bluetooth functionality to your Beltronics GT-7 Includes a full year of Escort Live Works with Apple and Android Features USB port for cell phone charging Auto false alert muting for traffic flow sensors and other non-threat alerts Unboxing the Beltronics GT-7
With a $499 MSRP, the GT-7 undoubtedly falls into the premium radar detector segment. In fact, it sits at the very top of the product range at Beltronics. And it’s for good reason.
Sliding off the color sleeve and opening the box reveals a rugged zippered case. Under the case is the power cord and sticky windshield mount. Inside the case lies the GT-7. The included magnetic mount attaches very well and turned out to even be a hassle to remove sometimes. That’s a good thing and reassuring that your investment doesn’t fall off the front windshield.
The included power cord includes a neat remote mute button and a long reach. It’s only partly wound to provide some stretch but not obscure too much of your view. However, we had the pleasure of using the Escort Live Bluetooth SmartCord with our GT-7, so we left the included cord in the carrying case. More on Escort Live later.
The bright orange and blocky design of the GT-7 is modern but controversial. It’s important to note that just like the Silverado and Sierra are the same vehicle under the hood, the GT-7 shares the same electronics and features as the Escort Max2. The only major difference being the Max2 comes in a low key black and white color and with built in Escort Live. The Max2 is also more expensive as a result.
Setup for the GT-7 was painless. It’s a simple as plugging the unit in, attaching the suction cup to the windshield, and sliding the detector into the magnetic mount. There’s no necessary setup and everything works from the moment you first plug it in. It’s entirely possible to plug and go, enjoying full protection right out of the box.
However, Beltronics also has included a lot of customization into the GT-7. You can pick the display’s color theme, which radar bands you want to monitor(X/K/Ka/Laser/Pop), the types of sound alerts you hear, along with quite a bit more.
The most noticeable and flashy feature of the GT-7 is the color LCD display. Radar detectors have typically used as few indicators as possible and even other high end units still use dot matrix style displays. However, Beltronics has fitted a simple color display into the GT-7. The first day we used the detector we admit, the display seemed like overkill. However, as time passed we grew accustomed to the display and grew to love it.
The GT-7 also has built in GPS. That allows for a digital speedometer on the display and a built in updatable database of false alerts, traffic cameras, speed traps, and more. The longer you own your GT-7, the more accurate and less false alerts you’ll have. Once the detector is exposed to successive alerts in the same area, it will automatically block the source from triggering an alert. The system works automatically in the background or you can manually mark locations where you consistently get false alerts.
I’ve been using this built-in GPS database with my “old” Escort 9500ix. It’s a truly valuable feature that gives the detector’s owner a clearer picture of possible radar alerts. When the alarms go off, you know there’s something ahead of you that isn’t normally there and you should pay attention. This feature is independent of the social threat reporting features of Escort Live and works as a standard feature of the GT-7.
We were impressed how far away our GT-7 can detect radar hits. We consistently received warnings before we saw the issue on the road ahead. However, even in the best of conditions, a radar detector's ability to work will always be limited by physics.
To alert drivers of issues miles beyond the capabilities of any radar detector Beltronics is leveraging the power of the smartphone and the internet. With an easy to replace swap of the power cord, the GT-7 becomes compatible with Escort Live, a social threat sharing network.
The Escort Live network is added to any GT-7 with a simple extra Escort Smart Cord Live. The cord looks very similar to the GT-7’s standard power cord but has more features. Like the standard cord, the Smart Cord features a report mute button but also includes a remote Report button and a USB charging port for your smart phone. The cord also allows for a Bluetooth connection between your smartphone and the detector.
Once you’ve downloaded the Escort Live app and activated your subscription to Escort Live Premium (free for a year with purchase and $50/year after that), the true power of a socially connected radar detector emerge.
The app works with the detector to provide voice and visual warnings of radar alerts ahead of you that have been reported by other users (or even other Beltronics or Escort radar detectors). You can set the distance that you would be like to alerted at, up to 1.5 miles ahead of you. It allows you to get a heads up before your detector's radar sensor can alert you to anything.
In addition to live radar hits being automatically reported and mapped, Escort Live users can manually report non-radar using Police, mobile speed cameras, red light cameras, and speed traps and other types of alerts to other users.
Another feature of the Escort Live app is that it allows you to fully configure and customize your detector right on your smartphone. You can change alerts, tones, and other settings inside the app.
But does it work?
I’ve been using radar detectors for a long time. .In all of those years, these devices have paid for themselves again and again by preventing me from accidentally going over the speed limit.
The GT-7 takes my past good experience of driving with a radar detector to the next level. At first I thought using my smartphone and an app with a simple device for my car must be a very big gimmick. However, the more I use the combination of the GT-7 and Escort Live the more I was sold on how well it worked. In the few months that I’ve been using this setup I’ve experienced a surprisingly number of times where the Escort Live network alerted me to an issue ahead on the road long before the detector started alerting to active radar.
Now it doesn’t hurt that I’m also an avid user of Waze. So, the idea of powering up an app everytime I get in the car was an easy prospect to swallow. For others’ that might not be something they can get used to and that’s alright. The GT-7 is an amazing device in it’s own right and without Escort Live.
For those who can and will use Escort Live every single day, it offers huge benefits. The app offers a heads up of any reported police activity around you. As long as the app is running and connected, any alarm is automatically sent to Escort Live to warn other users. From speed traps to flying police aircraft, Escort Live allows users to give others a heads up to potential issues on the road ahead.
Are you a technology buff that wants protection against unintended speeding tickets or maybe just an average guy who just wants a heads up if there’s a speed trap ahead? Either way or for both, the GT-7 is right up your alley. The GT-7 is truly a tool that can help anyone who spends significant time behind the wheel.
This product was provided in loan for our objective and unbiased review.
Oh no this perfect vehicle has one problem. The blind spot monitors and the rear crossing monitors, run on the same frequency as police radar. Your detector will give 1 to 2 full time bogeys unless you disable these 2 features. Oh GM, why'd you do this? All our other cars including my 2015 GMC Denali diesel pickup, 2013 Mercedes, 2015 Range Rover, 2013 Porsche, do not use the police radar frequency for these features.
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