New Passport Max! (Pre-Production and current 1.8 model review)
I had the privilege of testing out a Pre-Production model of the Passport Max last May courtesy of EscortRadar (Larry) and Escort as well as a new full production model i am currently running.
There has been a lot of debate and micro bashing of this unit, and though in some cases rightfully so the Max is still a top contender out of the many RD's that are out there.
Some of the questions you should ask your self when picking a top performer like the Max/RedLine/V1/RX65 is what are you actually looking for. For some its the maximum amount of range and off axis sensitivity and your willing to do anything to get it, even risk missing an alert by segmenting like on the RedLine. For others its a quiet RD with GPS filtering that has some inherent risks when locking out signals. It may also be price and a refurbished RX565 can get the job done. In the end its up to you to choose the right device that fits your specific needs.
The new Passport Max implements many of the most popular features Escort has been working on for years. Much of the new refined features have been in other models but they have been refined in the Max. It seems Escort has always been listening to the enthusiasts input over the years since some of the improved features implemented are improvements/ideas we have suggested. They have continued to improve the Max with 1.7 and 1.8 version updates (1.8 is current as of 2/25/14).
Escorts most popular RD they sell is the 9500ix so its very logical they would implement much of what the 9500ix has. And since maximum range is also important to the enthusiast Escort gave the Max some serious DB's, which is all done with the refined M5 antenna and digital technology that sees more signals with more accuracy than any other RD made to date.
Some of the really cool features the Max provides:
New Sticky cup - Great adhesion and will never come off the windshield unless you choose to. Vibration Dampener: Max mount vibration dampener
Advanced settings that allow access to all features and Novice settings to keep it simple.
Mini USB Jack - For downloading software updates.
Color display - Blue/Green/Red/Amber.
Speed display - will show speed or voltage.
Cruise Alert - double tone you can set for below 20–90 mph (was only at 20mph on ix, many requested option to choose).
Over Speed - Announces "over speed" when you pass your preset notification 20–90 mph.
Meter Modes - Spec/Expert/Simple all modes show signal strength with the addition of frequency or multiple alerts. Simple announces “Caution” or “Slow Down. (many requests for better Spec mode and Expert mode with signal strength, both are much clearer now)
Tones - Normal ramp up tones, but also a mild doorbell chime tone for those who dont want the blaring ramp up.
AutoMute - Automatically reduces audio after initial alert
AutoLearn - Automatically learns and locks out false alarms
AutoPower - Powers off screen after 30min will power down 1,2,4,8 hours.
TSR - Automatically rejects traffic flow sensors.
Clear Locations - Marked locations, Lockouts, defender data, Format. (could not do this on the ix now you can clear what you wish directley on the RD. Many requested option to choose).
This is the first RD from Escort that has a full multi-color OLED display to help communicate all that the Max can see. I was impressed with its clarity communicating signal strength and the amount of alerts with expert mode, big improvement over the old displays. Spec mode also shows signal strength now. As time goes on Escort will refine the display and options. For example some did not like the scanning dot so Escort implemented an option to turn it off with 1.7 update.
Menu options and color options:
Nice Ka encounter:
Max beat the CI:
K then Ka:
So far the Max has done well with any real encounter i have come across. When testing its capability's the Max did as well as the V1C (depending on sweeps) and fell short of the RedLine. However with the false suppression the Max has you will be fine tuned for driving with less falses and reacting more appropriately to real alerts!
-Cool OLED display with very good communication of whats happening. Locked out falses still show frequency/strength/amount but are grayed out.
-The Max is packed with programming features to fit the individual.
-Mini USB to update every aspect of this RD. Unlike the ix that needed to be sent in for TSR this unit can be updated directly through Detector Tools.
-Advanced signal processing by ridiculously fast microprocessors.
-Very good range to real threats and discriminatory enough to filter out falses depending on settings.
-Fastest RD to date!
-Ample range and beat my 9500CI almost every time, and was very comparable in sensitivity to the V1.
-The GPS marking option i have used to mark the ineradicable amount of pot holes i encounter on the way home due to this horrendous winter.
The not so good:
-My first unit was a pre-production model so new units will look a bit different than in my videos and have updated finalized software.
-Got a lot of falsing from lane assist and odd 34.2 33.5 falses but with 1.7 and finally 1.8 it seems the Ka falsing many complained about is finally corrected.
-Couldn't quite keep up with the RedLine's ability to catch those extremely weak off axis signals.
-My StickyCup did shake a bit, but a little ingenuity fixed that.
-Though the engineers at Escort determined BS & RDR wont improve performance I would have like to see it on there anyway.
-There have been quite a few reports of inconsistent GPS acquisition and cases not fitting together quite right. However Escorts CS does a great job being proactive and correcting any issues anyone has had. I have tested 3 Max's and i was lucky enough not to have any issues with them.
Max & Escort LIVE:
Escort LIVE got an update specifically for the Max to utilize its features better.
This i will be extensively testing like i did with the 9500IX. I have been running AutoLearn from the beginning and so far it has proved to be pretty discriminant and refined. It also shows in the OLED display as a grayed out alert instead of the spinning icon of the ix.
However I was able to get the Max lock out a real K band LEO, i did get an initial alert but it went to gray when i was withing the area I previously locked out manually (will test when not locking out manually). Hopefully Escort will implement lock out radius options in 1/10 1/4 & 1/2mi radius. But like the IX i would use my risk scenarios just to be safe (noted at bottom).
This vs that:
Many will try to compare top dogs V1/RedLine and now the Max, however they each have there advantages and all have more than enough range to provide a save. What really does it for me is the Max's ability to be updated via DT in almost every way, no need to send it in anymore. But above all the GPS TrueLock/Autolearn feature is what really smokes the competition, eliminating every single false on the commute provides for a less distracting ride for me and my passengers/clients and coupled with better reaction times to real threats and the Max's decent long range detection its a great well rounded RD.
Observations in testing and Escorts proactive approach in making the Max the best.
After my first week driving with the Max and getting alerts similar to my RedLine with BS & RDR I was pretty confident Escort really made this thing to be the best of all worlds having blistering fast response times that I have never seen before, range comparing close to best available today, and adding the very popular TrueLock/AutoLearn GPS filtering. I did notice quite a bit more falsing than i have with other models but utilizing AutoLearn, TSR & Auto mode seemed to quiet it down quite a bit. Testing in a more controlled setting showed us the Max fell short of the RedLines performance with BS/RDR so we reported back all our findings to Escort.
It's been a great opportunity to not only try out a pre-production model, but also actively participate in real work to make this thing as good as it can be and see it evolve over the passed year.
Over all the Max is no RedLine when it comes to extreme sensitivity/range/off axis, but there is also minimal risk using the Max since it does not need to segment specific frequency's that can increase the risk of missing an out of tune guns signal.
A few more encounters, but while running the RedLine so interference is certainly a concern.
Figured i would include my "Threat/Risk Scenarios" & how TrueLock works:
The Reason for TrueLock: The biggest complaint from RD users is the amount of falsing, the MAX is designed to dramatically decrease the amount of false alerts. You will no longer become so desensitized to common and frequent false alerts that you will be able to react more appropriately and quickly to real threats.
A driver who hears an alert and does nothing because they here it every day is at more risk than the driver that has the quiet detector and jumps out of there seat when the silence is broken. A driver is more likely to react to an alert on a quiet detector than a "noisy" detector.
What TrueLock does for You:
TrueLock allows you to "mute" a specific false alert signal at a single location. This allows you to "silence" common false alerts in your area without the extremely dangerous risk and tactics used in other detectors that do this by users turning off an entire radar band or blindly ignoring/muting alerts in that area. The GPS capability allows the MAX to know specifically where it is located at any given time and thus lockout the false signal frequency in that very small specific area without the risks associated by turning off the entire X or K band. TrueLock is nothing more than a very advanced means to "mute" a false alert area and not to have to physically press your mute button every time you pass that area. No more having to listen to countless local false alerts, no more repeated pressing of your mute button. Now when your detector does go off you will know its only because there is most likely a real threat in your vicinity.
K-Band is split into approximately twenty segments of ~10MHz recording blocks depending on how it has self-calibrated, and derived from the received radar frequency.
X-Band is split into segments as well (13-15 MHz Ea), and derived the same way.
I found its best to lock out dally commute or areas you know well and have surveyed closely. This will help to decrease the chances of locking out a real LEO and understanding the falses in that area. Most of the below applies to manually locking out with TrueLock. AutoLearn will work similarly but automatically.
It is a good idea to lock out the door opener false passing the false along your driving route you want quiet (This will prevent locking out additional unnecessary falses).
The MAX records/locks all signals it receives for a short time/distance, approximately 1/10mi to 1/2mi radius depending on how strong the signal is and how many falses there are after you lock out the location (Cumulative).
It will lock out the false frequency block/block’s you locked out for approximately 1/10 to 1/2 mi from last signal received (total accumulative distance).
Very important note: If you are too close to the false you can get a strong alert that can overflow into another 10MHz block (Ghosting), Therefore creating a larger lock out block. So try to lock out with less then 1/2 of a full alert. This will also help keep the lock out area small.
1) In areas where police X band isn't used, lock out X band falses the first time you encounter them. (No Risk & best area for AutoLearn)
2) In areas where police K band isn't used, lock out K band falses the first time you encounter them. (No Risk & best area for AutoLearn)
3) In areas where police do use K/X band but never sit in that area it would be a Low Risk lock out point. You will most likely lock this point out. (You may not want to use AutoLearn and manually lock out)
4) In areas where police K/X band is used and they do sit in that area it would be considered a (High Risk) lock out point (You may not want to lock this point out, or use AutoLearn).
Even when a false is locked out you will get the same readout, but it will be in gray.
Contrary to some peoples opinions out there it’s unlikely to lock out real police radar. You would almost have to deliberately try to do it if you use the above scnareo rules. Besides, detection range will usually trump the small lock out area in the first place and provide ample warning/alert before the lock out point (react to any alert no matter how small). In most cases Auto mode will also do a good job filtering these falses if you chose not to use TrueLock/AutoLock.
If you decide to lockout a false in a High Risk area to mute the alert you should still drive through the area with caution if you suspect any chance it could lock out police radar. The same rules would apply if you were using any non GPS capable detector and instead pressed your mute button in false area. Simply treat the grayed out alert in your display as a silent alert and proceed with your own discretion and best judgment.
(There is all ways the option of turning off GPS when speeding in a "High Risk" locked out area)
Max AutoLearn Risk scenarios: Use the above threat risk scenarios to determine the usage of AutoLearn. I suggest turning off AutoLearn in High Risk areas and manually locking out if you feel its safe. AutoLearn should be used sparingly and according to your Risk area.