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Out of the box, the Cobra iRadar appears to be a fairly basic radar/laser detector. Measuring 1.15 inches deep by 2.92 inches wide by 4.22 inches long, the unit is about the size of a deck of playing cards and is, for the most part, composed of nearly featureless glossy black plastic. However, there are a few physical features. Along the left edge of the unit are the input for the 12-volt charger and the power/volume dial. The top surface is home to the unit's loudspeaker and round, concave Mute button. Around back is a slot for connecting the iRadar to its dual suction-cup windshield mount--which holds the unit quite securely despite being of the lick-and-stick variety. When the iRadar is powered down, there are no obvious indicator lights, but once activated an LED indicator light glows from behind the unit's leading edge.
The LED indicator glows red showing that the device is active. In this state, it will beep and speak audible alerts for any of the radar and laser bands it senses with its 360-degree receiver, much like any of Cobra's radar/laser detectors without an "i-" prefix. The unit features X, K, Ka, and VG-2 band detection and POP-mode warnings for instant-on detection. There is also a mode that notifies the user when approaching safety cameras.
However, the "i" at the beginning of iRadar is an indicator that this radar/laser detector is meant to work with Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch. You can initiate pairing with the iRadar from an iOS device's Bluetooth menu. Once successfully paired, the red LED indicator turns blue and an audible chime sounds. Currently, the iRadar only works with the iPhone or iPod Touch, but Android compatibility is around the corner in early 2011.
The iRadar app is what separates the Cobra iRadar from the rest of Cobra's product lineup and indeed the rest of the radar/laser detector market. Available as a free download in the iTunes App Store, the app features a virtual dashboard that monitors your GPS position, vehicle speed, and direction of travel. Here users can also switch between the iRadar's city and highway modes and quickly mark locations of speed traps or safety cameras. When the iRadar detects radar in the area, here is also where users will be alerted to the band sensed and the signal strength and given the ability to mark the location as a real or false threat--useful for marking those annoying "Your current speed" signs or automated doors in shopping center parking lots.
Users can also access a map of the current area that overlays detected and marked threats on Google Maps data. Users can filter the map to show real threats, false alarms, or both, and can set markers to expire after a customizable time period (default is a week).