Cobra takes the concept of a radar detector to a new level with the addition of GPS technology in the Cobra XRS 9960G. With this new feature, the radar detector not only alerts you to electronic surveillance, but gives warnings about red light cameras, speed traps, and hazardous driving areas from its updatable Aura database. With its color display, the XRS 9960G features a pleasing design, but radar-detecting performance may not be up to par with the best of the competition.
The case of the Cobra XRS 9960G is a little more ostentatious than other detectors, with an almost spaceshiplike form and decorative elements on top. To accommodate the color screen, which is larger than the LEDs used in other models, the oval on the viewing end has a hanging lower lip. The included RDA GPSL55 GPS Locator plugs in to a Mini-USB jack set in the side of the XRS 9960G, making for an unsightly protrusion on the otherwise sculpted casing.
The suction cup bracket for windshield mounting is pretty primitive and can lose grip. Unfortunately, these cheap brackets are pretty common on radar detectors. The companies that produce them could learn something from GPS device makers such as TomTom and Sony.
Four small buttons on top of the unit activate the menu, mute the sound, dim the display, and put radar detection into city mode. In addition, there is a volume knob on the side of the device. The four buttons on top have clever secondary functions in menu mode, letting you choose different menu screens and select various settings.
But the most impressive design elements are the graphics on the color screen. The icons and alerts shown are generally informative, yet they also have a nice aesthetic design.
The Cobra XRS 9960G detects X, K, Ka bands, as well as Ku, a band used in Europe that will purportedly appear in the U.S. It also alerts you to VG-2 and Spectre devices that can pick up if you are using a radar detector. The device includes 360-degree laser detection, along with a special alert for pop-up radar.
The XRS 9960G uses both visual and audio alerts when it detects radar or laser. Although the color screen can be hard to read in bright sunlight, especially through sunglasses, the audio alert is very helpful, as it says aloud the type of radar being detected. There is also a signal strength meter, with five dots, accompanied by a beeping that increases in frequency as the signal gets stronger. Fortunately, you can quickly kill the audio with the mute button. As an unexpected feature, there is also a headphone jack in the side of the device.
The plug-in GPS module adds a whole new set of features not commonly found in radar detectors. It contains a database full of red light camera locations and other places around the country that Cobra deems need extra driver attention. When the device's GPS coordinates match up with one of these hazard areas, an alert lets you know what to watch out for. GPS even lets the XRS 9960G provide a digital speedometer and compass. You can also program your own alert areas into the Aura database, which is useful for locally known speed traps.