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Beltronics Pro RX65 review: Beltronics Pro RX65

Beltronics Pro RX65

Wayne_Cunningham.jpg
Wayne Cunningham
Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

Managing Editor / Roadshow

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.

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5 min read

Among the higher-priced echelon of radar detectors, the Beltronics Pro RX65 includes solid features and easy user programming, along with demonstrated threat detection. Its interface choices range from a simple warning to a highly technical frequency display. While its simple three button interface is easy to use, its volume control leaves something to be desired.

7.4

Beltronics Pro RX65

The Good

The Beltronics Pro RX65 offers a nice set of programmable features and its tested performance ranks with the best.

The Bad

The LED warnings look rough, although they are informative. The volume button isn't particularly convenient.

The Bottom Line

The Beltronics Pro RX65 works well for novice to advanced users, giving long distance warning about radar monitoring. Although we had some interface issues, the device works very well overall.

Design
Like your typical radar detector, the Beltronics Pro RX65 is a small box that clamps to your windshield. We like how the clamp, with two suction cups, slides and locks into the top of the detector, offering a slight amount of adjustment. And with portable GPS and satellite radio devices becoming more common, windshield-clamped devices don't attract the attention they used to.

The RX65 has a red LED information display on one end, which isn't particularly attractive, and a black plate on the other, for receiving radar signals. It also has a small pod on top that faces toward the back of the car, for detecting radar from behind.

Buttons across the top include power, brightness, and sensitivity. The brightness and sensitivity buttons do double duty as programming buttons when you enter the settings mode. We like this setup, as it is easy to use and keeps buttons on the device to a minimum.

A long volume button runs across the driver-facing end. While changing the sensitivity or brightness only requires a quick touch of their buttons to adjust the settings, you need to hold down the volume button as it runs down, and then back up. Holding down this button is inconvenient if you are driving, as you need to grip the RX65 with two fingers while it runs through the different volume settings. This button also serves as a quick mute button when the radar detector is beeping. A button on the 12-volt power adaptor, labeled mute, repeats the functionality of the volume button.

Features
The RX65's default setting uses its simple display, showing the radar or laser band detected and a set of bars indicating the strength. It also sounds off with a series of beeps and a voice telling you the band detected. After about five beeps, the sound mutes automatically. The display and voice will inform you if the radar is K, Ka, or X band, or by saying Laser if it has detected laser.

The device defaults to a mode called Autoscan, where it adjusts its sensitivity dynamically based on the signals it receives. You can push the sensitivity button, labeled City, to cycle through Autoscan, City, and Highway modes. City mode reduces sensitivity to X band radar, as that band is most likely to get false alerts. In programming mode, which you enter by holding down the City and Brightness buttons, you can lower the X-band sensitivity of City mode, or have it not detect X-band at all, if you drive through areas prone to false alerts.


The RX65 has three detection modes: Autoscan, City, and Highway.

Where the RX65 gets interesting is its capability to break down different radar guns monitoring your car. In programming mode, you can change it from its simple display to Threat display, which shows if there are different radar bands detected and their relative strengths. To get even more down and dirty, the RX65 has a Tech display, which shows the strongest radar band and its frequency. While this display is cool, we're not sure of its actual utility.

The programming settings also let you turn the voice notification off, disable specific radar band detection, and change the start-up sequence to a fast mode. The standard start-up sequence flashes the display between all its detection messages while sounding off with many annoying beeps. The start-up sequence will probably be the major catalyst for most people to try out the programming mode.

The RX65 also has the capability to receive Safety Warning System messages, although it is turned off by default. SWS messages are sent through radar, and let you know of incidents like roadwork ahead, weather-related problems, and emergency vehicles. Beltronics turns off this feature by default because SWS isn't in wide use.

Performance
Although our performance testing was experiential, Radarbusters.com published the results of a battery of tests comparing several radar detectors, including the Beltronics Pro RX65. In K, Ka, and X band tests, the RX65 ranked with the other top radar detectors, consistently seeing radar at over four miles distance in these five mile range tests.

Although the RX65 is supposed to intelligently filter out false alerts, we received many low level X-band warnings while driving through urban areas. These types of X band signals are often transmitted by burglar alarm motion detectors. These signals were reduced substantially be putting the RX65 into City mode.

On the freeway, we received alerts of K-band monitoring that ranged from a weak signal that immediately dropped out, to a quickly rising signal, moving up to full strength. We only actually saw one police car while the RX65 alert sounded, but that doesn't mean they weren't around.

The RX65 gave us its most abrupt warning as we drove through mountains on a winding, four lane highway. The detector was completely silent until we came around a corner into an open area with turn-outs on either side. At this point the RX65 sounded off with a full-strength K-band warning. The mountains around this wide spot obviously shielded the radar signal, so the RX65 couldn't give us a better advance warning. (And if you were wondering, no, we didn't get a ticket, as we were traveling at the same speed as the moderate amount of traffic around us.)

In sum
Although we weren't crazy about the volume button, it was made up for with the easy programming functionality, cleverly giving dual uses to some buttons. The display isn't pretty, but it works. We were more impressed by the features of the RX65, with its different monitoring displays and variety of programmable settings. As for effectiveness, it does well in comparison tests by other reviewers under controlled circumstances. Our own tests showed a number of false alerts and one instance where we had no warning before a full strength alert. Of course, that incident was a mountain situation where no detector could have provided a warning. We like the peace of mind offered when the RX65 isn't showing any radar monitoring.

7.4

Beltronics Pro RX65

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 8Support 0