i email Escort about this and they replied with the following:
It is good to hear from you! The 8500 X50 model has only one level of performance. That level of performance is the same no matter where it is sold. I have heard of some retailers in New Zealand and Australia programming the detectors to turn off X band, and then claiming that the detector has better performance than the other 8500 X50s. I hope this helps.

Thanks for your interest in Escort!

Radar Laser Experts
5440 West Chester Road
West Chester Ohio 45069

Customer Service Department
8 AM - 6 PM M-F EST

Sales 1-800-433-3487

>>> "" <> 10/9/2006 4:34 AM >>>
I live in new Zealand, im looking at a 8500 X50 and was wondering if there is such thing as a "nz tuned" 8500, apparently they have different software that boosts their performance.


No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.1.407 / Virus Database: 268.13.1/466 - Release Date: 7/10/2006
so i guess that answers the question of whether or not to buy a cheaper imported model than a "nz tuned" one that costs about $200 more