I was lucky enough to have pre-ordered the Whistler XTR-695 from BuyRadarDetectors Dot Com. I am fortunate as it arrived today, just in time for the weekend.
APPEARANCE: The XTR-695 comes packaged in a transparent blister pack which I suspect is for maximum cost effectiveness. Included is a straight cord power adapter, the suction cup mount, the radar detector itself, and a folded instruction sheet. The unit itself appears well made for this price point and is composed primarily of plastic save the suction cup mount which is metal. There is no creaking heard from the plastic and it generally has good heft to it. The plastic panels and buttons all appeared to be properly aligned. Build quality on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, the XTR-695 placed around a 7.5 compared to a V1 (10) and a 9500i (8.8). The unit has a matte black finish which controls the glare off of the unit under sunny conditions well. There are two mesh grilled "intakes" on the top of the unit that give it a sinister look. At first I thought they were for cooling, but they are actually speaker grills!
The power cord is nice and flexible and comes with a generous length. It appears that the cord will function well in cold climates.
The display is nicely centered at the detector and overall the unit has a nice clean appearance.
CONTROLS: There are 4 buttons on the unit: DARK, QUIET, MENU, and CITY. The buttons have pretty good feel and well sized. They are a short-throw chiclet type of button. The volume control is a small plastic wheel located on the left side of the unit. It does not have fine gradations as it is a digital volume control - roll it towards you to lower the volume or roll it away from you to raise the volume. The volume adjusts from 0 to 8, with 8 being fairly loud.
DISPLAY: The display is a back lit LCD type featuring 7 color choices to match to your interior. In addition, a color can be customized to each type of alert, eg., X-band = blue, Ka band = purple, etc... The display is not a high resolution one and based on the font/font size, the amount of information it can display is limited. For example, in Highway mode, the word "Highway" almost takes up the entire display. The display also can be programmed to have a compass mode which is a nice touch. In bright sunlight, it is hard to see this display even when the unit is set to full brightness. Compared to the V1 and 9500i, this is a bit of a let down. There are two blue LEDs that flank the top left and right sides of the unit. They can be programmed to be off, on all the time, or flashing when the unit sounds an alert. I find this a bit "blingy" but I suppose if you like your cruising music cranked to maximum, you won't miss the LEDs when they go off. They are pretty bright!
PREFS/MENUS: Programming the unit is fairly straight forward. There is a slight delay moving from menu screen to menu screen. Back lighting color is selectable as are the colors for each type of radar band or laser. The Whistler also supports SWS alerts and POP. Each radar band can be toggled on/off individually. Laser, POP, and SWS can also be toggled. Ka band has a feature called RSID which identifies the specific frequency of the Ka band alert. Laser alerts also can be selected to display the PPS of the the threat (LSID). I love both of these features. The Ka RSID of my Stalker was correct at 34.7. On my Ultralyte LR B 125pps, the LSID was correctly displayed at 125pps, but at times this fluctuated anywhere between 125pps and 120pps.
My testing of the unit consisted primarily of having the unit properly alert to K band, Ka band, and laser. Since I only received the unit today and have access to the testing equipment, I just wanted to make sure I didn't receive a lemon. Suffice to say, I didn't. I have access to a Stalker Dual Antenna Ka 34.7Ghz radar, a Decatur K band radar, a Speedlabs Laser Tester, and a LTI Ultralyte LR B 125pps laser gun. I also have a V1 and an Escort 9500i to compare the XTR-695 to.
INTERFERENCE/CROSS TALK: I tested attached the XTR-695 to the center of my windshield, just high enough to clear to windshield wipers. I have my V1 mounted fairly high, just right of the rear view mirror. In this configuration, crosstalk/interference was not noted from either detector. However, once I pressed the menu button on the Whistler to change preferences, it caused the
V1 to sound a full Ka alert.
Update 08-09-02: Changing dim/brightness settings also causes Ka band leakage triggering full Ka alerts from my V1.
VOICE ALERT: Although Voice Alert is an interesting feature, I would be very cautious in activating it in the preferences menu. After some testing of the function, I can confidently state that it will add a delay to the time an alert is sounded. While testing the Ka reception, I would activate my Stalker Ka Dual and hand time the amount of time that passed before the unit sounded an alert. At every instance, it took over half a second and more often than not, it took 1 full second before anything type of audible alert was heard. This was in a more or less controlled setting with the XTR-695 around 2 feet away from the Stalker's transmission antenna! At times, it was over 1 full second before the unit sounded. This time difference is definitely NOT trivial. Turning Voice Alert off rectified this situation and the alert was near instantaneous, consistently, under the very same conditions.
PULSE (IO) DETECTION: At least with Ka band, I have not found any indication of this feature functioning. According to the manual, the word PULSE is supposed to be displayed when the unit detects IO radar. However, I did not observe this at any instance when firing IO Ka at almost point blank range. This was a bit perplexing (?).
Update 08-09-02: Switching option "POP ON" in the unit's programming corrects the a/n issue, however, spurious false alarms have prompted me to turn POP OFF. Unless POP is used in your area, I would also suggest that you turn POP OFF.
LASER DETECTION: The front and rear laser detectors on my unit detected my 125pps Ultralyte LR B properly as well as the nine (9) lasers on the Speedlabs Laser Tester. This includes the Laser Atlanta Stealth mode! The front laser sensor appears more responsive than the rear one. In addition, the front sensor detects at larger angles. Still, the V1 is without peer in the detection of laser. I would rate the XTR-695 around par to the 9500i in laser detection.
Update: 08-09-02: One of the unique features of the XTR-695 is the ability to "lock out" certain laser IDs to cause false alarms, namely some modern laser guided cruise control systems found on luxury cars. I noted that LSID on my Ultralyte LR B was correctly identified at 125pps, but there was some fluctuation between 120-125pps. This used due to the proximity of testing with my LR B at distances less than 10ft. Expanding the test distance to 100 ft+ allowed the LSID to stabilize and to list display the LSID properly at a non-fluctuating value of 125pps. Be cautious when "locking" out frequencies.
RADAR DETECTION: After running the 695 for 3 and 1/2 weeks, I have a pretty good feel for the unit. My unit is mounted low on my windshield, centered, just clearing the windshield wipers. My commute consists for a 1 hour trip to work and a 1 hour trip back over a combination of highway and city driving. I have X Band switched off as it is not used in my area. My encounters have been mainly K band and 34.7 Ka band. I use Highway mode exclusively and I am pleasantly surprised with the supression of K band false alarms in Highway mode. During my daily commute, I encounter 2 K band construction signs - both along curves and with elevation changes. Alert range/distance is quite good when the construction sign's antenna is faced toward oncoming traffic and drops if the antenna is faced away from traffic. Compared to the V1, in the aforementioned situations, the XTR-695 alerts more slowly, but will still give you adequate time to monitor your speed and is still confidence inspiring. Alert ramp up does not hold a candle to the V1, but is still very decent. I've only had one 34.7 Ka encounter, and the XTR-695 did well warning of an on coming patrol unit utilizing IO (instant on).
Update 08-09-27: I had a interesting encounter with Ka-band 34.7Ghz today. I was on my way to work. It was traveling on a 4-laned roadway with 2 lanes in my direction and two lanes in the opposite direction. I was traveling in the fast lane and I had both my V1 (v3.863) and my XTR-695 (rev C) on lookout... The roadway in my direction had a very slight incline to a shallow crest, the descended slightly. Miraculously, the XTR-695 alerts first over the V1, perhaps around 1 second and a tick. RSID properly identifies the Ka band. A LEO was driving towards me in the fast lane on the opposite side of the road - the conditions made it a tough situation. I was proud of 'lil 695!
- Refined, purposefull styling
- solid build quality, good size
- The RSID and LSID are excelent fetures only found in higher end detectors. The unit correctly identified the 125pps Ultralyte LR B I was using and a Stalker 34.7Ghz Ka radar unit.
- Customizable alert tones and colors
- Good alert volume and visual alerts
- Mounting system is robust and the suction cups are better than those on the V1 and 9500i
- shielding appears good and allows the XTR-695 to be used alongside other detectors (tested beside the V1, 9500i, and 9500ix)
- excellent value for the money in a radar detector
- good false alarm filtration even while running Highway mode full time
- decent K band detection compared to the V1
- pretty impressive 34.7 Ka band detection (also compared to the V1) especially at this price point
- Visibility of the LCD screen in bright sunlight even set to maximum brightness is poor - even worse with polarized sunglasses
- Laser detection is weak compared to the V1, but is on par with the 9500i from Escort
- Voice alerts tend to add a slight delay in the alert sequence. I would recommend not using the Voice Alert function altogether as it is noticeable, almost like a stutter. For example, while activating the Stalker Ka 34.7Ghz, there was a slight delay before unit alerted. I liken it to the unit having to load up the sound file of the female voice saying "K-A band"
- Power on/volume control does not exude confidence. It is a plastic dial when pushed in turns the unit on or off, and if rotated and held, raises or lowers the volume.
- Ka leakage when activating the dim/brightness button or menu button
I'll add more to this post once I have had more time with it...