Passport 9500ci Radar Detector

Category: Gadgets

Escort bills it as The World's Most Intelligent Custom Installed Radar and Laser Defense System. With a price tag of $1600, the Passport 9500ci had better be. Let's check out what makes this little dashboard device smarter, quieter and more accurate than the competition...

Escort Passport 9500ci

Review: The Escort Passport 9500ci

The Escort Passport 9500ci is not your run-of-the-mill radar detector. It's arguably the best, and definitely one of the most expensive. But it does offer an unprecedented level of protection when you are on the road. Here's my review of the cutting edge Passport 9500ci. (If you want some background on what radar detectors are and how they work, see my companion article on radar detectors.)

There are several new features in Escort's latest system. The Passport 9500ci identifies the strength, location and source of all radar signals. This includes X-band (10.525 GHz ± 25 MHz), K-band (24.150 GHz ± 100 MHz), Ka-band (34.700 GHz ± 1300 MHz), and Laser. The embedded GPS, along with a pre-loaded database of speed traps and traffic cameras gives you an extra level of heads-up, in addition to the radar and laser detection. The Truelock filter gives you the ability to press a button to ignore radar-based motion sensors, automatic door openers and other false alarms. And because this device knows where you are, it can learn as you drive, so the annoying false alarms happen less and less over time. At the same time, the 9500ci lets you know of a new or different signal coming from the same location.

radar detector false alarms And of course the unit is stealthy. It's invisible to "radar detector detectors" so the police will never know you're on to them. Also, the 9500ci's variable speed sensitivity adjusts to how fast you are moving. For example, for city driving the detection sensitivity is very low, but when you hit the highway, it will pick up all radar bands. You can also leave it on manual. SpeedAlert displays the band, strength and vehicle speed. Voice on/off is optional but when left on, is clear and precise.

The radar receiver is a tiny size of 3.7 x 4.1 x 1.2 inches and is backlit for nighttime convenience. One of the gadget's niftiest features is called Mark Location. When you mark a location to put it in memory and drive by it again, the 9500ci reminds you in advance that the site is coming up. Handy for those "trouble spots" you already know about from experience.

When it comes to the 9500ci's radar receiver, it features a dual LNA microwave receiver, a superheterodyne, varactor-tuned VCO, a scanning frequency discriminator, and digital signal processor. At a size of 1.9 x 0.7 inches, the 280 LED digital display, in addition to SpeedAlert, shows an ExpertMeter, Spec Display, a bar graph, and five degrees of brightness, from complete daylight to full dark.

The total package includes twin laser receiver/shifters to mount in the front, a rear license plate mounted laser receiver/shifter, a 12-volt interface module, a GPS antenna, 12-volt amplified speaker, the bi-color LED and mounting hardware for all of it. Passport includes a manual and installation guide and you can visit their site for help or contact them by a toll-free number. The detector comes with a free 3-year database subscription when you order your new toy. To have access you need to register your 9500ci online, supplying serial with your number and key code. You can then download their Detector Tools application. I suggest that you use a laptop so that you do not have to pull the unit back out to hook up a USB cable to your indoor PC. Remember that the "ci" in the 9500 stands for custom installation. I recommend that you have it done by a pro, unless you're very doing this sort of thing. To make it easier, Escort provides labels, color-coded wires and an amazing self-diagnostic capability that displays in text anything that doesn't seem quite right.

If you're still not quite convinced, visit Escort's radar detector school. There are online manuals, videos and tutorials. You'll also find information on how police radar and laser guns work, why they sometimes make mistakes or are used unfairly, and other interesting facts.

Even If You're Not a Crazy Speed Demon...

speed trap When I wrote my earlier article about radar detectors, some people asked me "Why would you need a radar detector, unless you were planning to exceed the speed limit intentionally?" Well for me the answer is simple... it's for those times when you are UNintentionally exceeding the speed limit. I travel often on major highways, and I've never gotten a speeding ticket on the highway. But the more you drive on local roads, the more likely you are to find yourself inadvertently doing 40 in a 30 zone, and see those red lights flashing in your rear-view mirror.

Have you ever driven through an area with an artificially low speed limit -- clear visibility, few houses, on the outskirts of town... the type of area that would normally have a speed limit of 45, but for some reason it's only 30? A few years ago, I got two "40 in a 30" tickets in a two-week period. One time I just wasn't paying attention, and the other time, the "Speed Limit 40" sign was literally yards in front of my car when the officer nabbed me. After paying some hefty fines and insurance rate hikes, I decided to supplement my brain with a radar detector to level the playing field.

You might not have guessed, but speeding tickets are actually big business. Over a BILLION dollars a year flow into local and state coffers as a result. Houston for example rakes in about $45 million per year. And the price of the average speeding ticket: about $800 including fines, lost work time, and insurance hikes over the next 3-5 years. If you're a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen who happens to get pulled over on the way home from the grocery store, that's a tough pill to swallow.

Before you buy a radar detector, you should know that they are banned in two states -- Washington D.C. and Virginia. And some insurance companies will refuse coverage if you have a radar detector. But oh, the irony... insurance companies donate radar and laser guns to the police all the time, hoping to increase the number of speeding tickets and thereby justify raising the rates of their customers. You can argue that they do it to help the police catch bad drivers, but that rings hollow to me.

Nobody paid me to write this article, and I don't really care if you buy a radar detector or not. I'm just telling the story of why I'm interested in radar detectors, and why I decided to buy one. Do you have have a radar detector, or a story to tell? Post a comment below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Passport 9500ci Radar Detector"

Posted by:

Brenda
22 Dec 2008

FYI - Michigan also bans radar detectors.

EDITOR'S NOTE: According to MICHIGAN.GOV: Radar detectors are legal for use in passenger vehicles in the state of Michigan. See also http://www.stoptheban.org/myths.html


Posted by:

michael bowling
23 Dec 2008

I just bought the laser shifters and am in the process of getting the 9500ci. The reason being the expense. It is high!

I ran a test of the shifters on a trip from NYC to Boston and found that you have to be careful with your driving technique.

You can be hit with the LIDAR and not get a redponse from the shifters if you have created an obstruction to the signal by doing things like driving close enough to the car in front of you that the line of sight of the LEDs are disrupted but the reflecting areas on your vehicle are not.

Also the shifters alone are not enough. Rural area policing tends to be radar.


Posted by:

Rob
10 Jul 2009

Some very serious concerns with the 9500ci have arisen since this article was written. Consumers should be aware of these before buying one.

First, in an effort to suppress false alerts, Escort has created a detector that takes so long to analyse the signal that it sometimes misses alerting to the signal altogether. Police have learned that, if they shoot you very quickly, with a quick (1 second or less) trigger pull, the Escort detectors will never give you an alert. That's why we hear so many people reporting that their Escort never alerted, yet they got a ticket.

Second, the analysing process does not do an accurate job of distinguishing between police radar and other sources, such as automatic door openers. Consequently, to err on the side of quietness, the Escort will sometimes lock out real police radar (usually K band), again leaving you with no alert. Similarly, it may lock out a door opener, but in doing so, blanks out such a large area that it also silences nearby police radar.

Third, the ZR4 Shifters simply are not adequate to give you any measure of protection against modern police laser enforcement. Escort designed those things on the theory that police target you at distances of 1000 feet or greater. In reality, the majority of all police laser encounters are around 500 feet, give or take 200. Even on a very small, dark car with no front licence plate, the ZR4 is not strong enough to give you any time to slow down. They are almost a complete waste of money.

The concepts behind the 9500 series radar detectors are state-of-the-art. However, there are a lot of bugs to be worked out of them before they are a truly safe bet. Much better protection -- both radar and laser jamming -- are available for much less money.


Posted by:

Lynette
22 Oct 2010

Rob - Interesting articles on radar detectors. I have a question. Much importance is being placed on whether or not a radar detector is "invisible" to radar detector detectors. I own a Mercedes S600 with Distronics Plus which is a k-band radar system in my car that is part of my cruise control and collision avoidance systems. I have been pulled over 3 times in Virginia because the police have thought that I was using a radar detector. I was not. I am scheduled to have a system installed in my car that will have K-band turned off in the front radar receiver but leave it on in the rear radar receiver. My question is: Won't the radar detector detectors become obsolete with the progressive use of radar based safety equipment on todays vehicles? Thank you.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Good point. I was not aware that these collision avoidance features used radar. Always figured it was sonar...


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