Today’s Tech News and Reviews
We have been driving around with Escort’s new and improved flagship, the Escort MAX 360c MK II Radar Detector, to see how it compares to the original model. The new model promises some new enhancements to make your experience on the road a little more friendly. With it, comes some hardware changes and better filtering, which is always helpful since more and more cars are picking up built-in technologies that make use of radar to make driving safer.
A few of us have the original 360c in our vehicles and have had a lot of time with it these past few years. The original model has been a total godsend compared to some of the previous options that have been suffering from IVT (in-vehicle technologies) that trigger false alerts.
The company is known for making various enhancements to current models without necessarily developing a completely new series. So we figured it would be a whole lot of the same as the shift from the 9500i to the 9500ix and it looks like we pretty much hit the nail on the head. The new MK II really is the same model with some hardware changes inside. Some of it could be due to the supply chain issues while allowing the company to work on enhancing anything that didn’t quite land the way it wanted with the original release.
That and the top section features some color tweaks that allow the button labels to pop more with the eyes. Beyond that, there wasn’t anything on the body of the detector that has changed. Everything is on the inside.
It still makes use of the same great magnetic mount with a large suction cup. Something that offers a much better point of attachment to the window vs the previous mounts the company uses. While also making it incredibly easy to attach and remove the detector from the mount (in case you want to store it somewhere out of sight while parked or need to transfer it to another vehicle).
It has the same great OLED display. And yes, these do suffer from burn-in over time (it’s kind of hard to avoid this with OLED). Based on our experience with the original model, it mostly affects the speed readouts to the left (and of those, mostly the blue box for some reason). It isn’t a deal breaker, but it is noticeable as a darkened area when no digits are displayed. We obviously haven’t seen this yet with this model since we have only been using it for so long, but since the screen likely hasn’t seen much of a change, it will likely happen over time. Again, this is common with almost anything OLED.
That doesn’t take away from the great screen though. It is incredibly easy to read, offers a full range of colors, and brightness can be controlled either manually or set to auto.
It also offers the same great arrow LEDs that light up to tell you which direction it is sensing the alert from. This way you not only know it is there but generally immediately know where to visually look for the source vs panicking and looking in all directions. Of course, you likely have never had that issue as I am sure you drive safely and to the requirements of the law (just saying).
It comes with a carrying case that is a soft padded solution that zips open from the side. You’ll find everything tucked away inside, each item covered in plastic when you first open the box. You may find yourself using this if you store it for long periods of time. However, in most cases, we find that this ends up stored away somewhere as the detector usually stays within the vehicle it is installed in.
This is a great place to store loose accessories if you wind up collecting various parts and pieces. Say you get a different mount or cable. All the extra items can be stored away in this bag so you know what they belong to when digging around for them.
The 12V adapter cable offers a USB port, allowing you to still make use of your outlet for other accessories if you only have the one outlet. This is good for low-power accessories as it can only output up to 2A of power, but this is still more than enough for many in-vehicle accessories out there.
Pretty much all the hardware. For one, it has a new processor inside that Escort says will help the detector benefit from a 50% improved range. More range means you’ll be able to detect something sooner (assuming it works as well each time).
Another improvement is a new Blackfin DSP chip which the company says allows for a faster response time. So not only will it detect sooner due to range, but it will react quicker with the proper alert. At least, that’s the idea assuming everything works as it should.
It also has new filtering software to help reduce some of those false positives. Something that (as mentioned) has plagued earlier models due to the mass adoption of IVT across all vehicle manufacturers. This includes options like lane assist features, object/collision detection, self-driving, enhanced cruise-control systems, FSD, and more. Not all of these will set off your detector with a false alert, but many can. Hence the sudden uptick in false alerts over the last so many years. So with better filtering, comes a quieter experience (as long as it doesn’t accidentally filter a valid alter by accident).
Finally, it has some improvements to the Wi-Fi chipset. And this leads us to the next topic.
One of the benefits of Escort’s modern detectors is the fact that you get both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. This is also where you’ll find one of the enhancements that the MK II has to offer, which is the addition of 5Ghz support.
You can connect to the app via Bluetooth for software updates as well as a Waze-like map experience for detecting speed cameras, red light cameras, speed traps, and more. Or, if your vehicle has its own hotspot that can be connected to via other devices, the detector can connect to this for an even better experience. Regardless of if it is 2.4GHz or 5GHz. If your vehicle doesn’t support this (say you have a non-connected car, or one that doesn’t let you connect third-party devices to it–like Tesla models), you can also use the hot spot on your phone.
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The Wi-Fi, once connected/assigned using the app, doesn’t require the use of the app. As long as the Wi-Fi connection is available, it will try to download any available updates, including all of the known trap/camera locations. This way you don’t have to run down the battery of your phone.
With the ability to support both Wi-Fi bands, it opens support to any in-car solution (that supports it). Where the original Max 360c only supported 2.4GHz.
Of course, the last thing you want is to be pulled over. So you want to make sure the detector does its job so you don’t end up like the guy in the above image (not that you would if you follow the local laws–again, just saying). This is where the long amounts of driving we did come into play. We targeted areas where speed traps are known to occur. We even crossed paths with speed and red-light cameras to see what happens.
So how well does it handle the various situations? Focusing first on alerts, it doesn’t do a thing out of the box until you have connected it with the app and updated the database via Bluetooth or over Wi-Fi by connecting it to your car’s in-car hotspot or your phone’s. Once the database has been updated with known spots in your area, it will start firing off once you approach them.
As with the previous model, it hit every single known spot. It doesn’t help with new (unreported) locations as it isn’t magic. But its accuracy in responding to these locations with the database is spot-on, including how close you are to them. If something hasn’t been reported, it is just as easy to report it yourself using the app or the detector (nothing has changed there).
Thankfully, I recently had a road trip that took me out of town since we don’t have cameras here (thank god). However, other states like Arizona do, so that gave me a chance to test it against those locations. Which made it all the more a test since I didn’t know when and where to expect them.
When it comes to response speeds, it does seem to lock on relatively fast. I made sure to have both generations of the detector running in the vehicle and many times the MAX 360c MK II was able to detect and respond with alerts sooner (we also had a third-party model running with no filtering active in the vehicle behind me as an extra variable to cross-check some of our results with). It isn’t a game changer since it’s only by a block or less, but every so many feet counts when it comes to your own response time. In some cases, both detectors responded close to the same time and I couldn’t quite conclude what variables led to this but it was likely based on distance as the source of the alert was typically close by (ie, coming around the corner of a building).
We did find that the response to the speed limit was a little off. The original model wasn’t as accurate when displaying the current speed of the vehicle (the margin of error was typically 2-3 MPH). However, it was fast at updating the speed as the car slowed or sped up. The new MAX 360c MK II was a lot more accurate, with a margin of error typically around 1 MPH. However, it took longer for it to update as your speed changed, which was odd (there was an added 1-2 second latency in our experience).
As for false alerts, this is a love-hate relationship when it comes to detectors. On one side of the argument, they are absolutely annoying and will drive you nuts over time. However, any attempt to filter them out will always add the risk of falsely filtering a positive result by accident. The technology isn’t perfect and likely will never be until we have solid “true” AI technologies in the mix (and AI isn’t anywhere near that yet). Some companies (like K40) refuse to even bother with filtering because of this. But there are pretty sound arguments on both sides.
That being said, we couldn’t quite find any positive hits that were filtered. In that, we didn’t find any confirmed hits where the new MK II ignored something that was there (ie, something the third-party detected or the previous-gen model). It’s a good thing we had the third variable in the mix else we wouldn’t completely know if we saw an officer unless we physically pulled over to ask if they were scanning (I’m sure that wouldn’t go so well in some states).
When it comes to false positives, they still do exist. Although, it does seem that there are much less common compared to the original model. We have had issues lately with the original model lighting up with various K and Ka-band false positives, even in AutoLoK mode (which we enabled from time to time in areas where K-band is known to not be in use). On average, the MAX 360c MK II lit up with a false positive about 2-3 times out of 10 times that the original model did. This was quite impressive and won us over a bit.
There was one odd occurrence where the original model lit up with a K-band alert while there was absolutely nothing we could find nearby that could be a valid source. We didn’t log it as a false positive though as both lit up. However, the new MK II claimed it was Ka-band. Neither saw the existence of the opposite. We tried to find a cause as there were no other cars nearby, nor any store doors or anything else we could visibly see that could cause either alert. So we chalked it up to being an anomaly in the notes.
Pop Alerts are still a thing to avoid. The option still comes disabled by default and for good reason. Pop alerts are typically not used much at all now by law enforcement since they are unable to use the results in court (they can’t ticket you based on this). They have to be properly tracking you with history, in which case your appropriate band alerts will trigger. When you enable Pop alerts, it will dumb down or disable most of the filtering. And thanks to it being ultra-sensitive to IVT, Pop alerts will go off frequently. We enabled them out of humor, and sure enough, it was constantly alerting us to Pop alerts that weren’t actually occurring. This didn’t weigh against it though since this was expected.
These are something we almost always find ourselves doing depending on if we plan on keeping a detector for a long period of time. The new suction cup magnet mount that comes with the detector (as mentioned) is awesome. It adheres to the window much better than some of the past models. However, nothing beats a good mirror mount. It neatly mounts a detector out of the way and with a solid attachment so you never have to worry about it falling off the window randomly due to time, heat, or other conditions.
Not only that, but these companies also offer wiretap solutions that allow you to tap into your vehicle’s power. This helps prevent the use of the included cable which dangles and may be an eye sore for some. Instead, these wiretap solutions are something you run along molding and other areas where they can be hidden. Then they tap into a wire harness somewhere in your vehicle that powers on and off with the car. Automating the on/off of the detector if your car’s 12V outlet doesn’t do this. In some cases, they tap right into the back of the mirror if it has its own harness.
These solutions make for a cleaner installation and a much more user-friendly experience. Therefore, we always recommend them. They can get a little expensive though. For example, the main company that specializes in these charges far too much for the Tesla version of its mounts. In fact, it runs around 25% of the price of the detector itself (and that doesn’t even come with the wiretap). So this comes down to user preference and budget.
Escort doesn’t offer these solutions since every car is different and thus there are so many mount and wire options to pick from. So the company lets third-party sources bother with all that mess. Where Escort only has to include the 12V adapter cable since every car (still) has at least one of those.
Before installing your mount on your windshield or using a third-party mirror mount, do make sure to identify your car’s compass module if it has one (it will be an electronic module/sensor that feeds data to your dashboard allowing it to display the direction your vehicle is facing). You want to make sure you mount your detector (at least) about 12 inches away from that, maybe more just to be safe.
On the previous model, we absolutely obliterated the module in one of the cars, rendering its compass readout useless (it was stuck reading the car as pointing north at all times). We couldn’t figure out what the cause was until we determined that the module that features the sensor for the compass was located right behind the mirror. The magnet from the mount was the culprit.
So make sure you know before you place your detector in your vehicle.
The new Escort MAX 306c MK II does appear to be faster and offers a little more range than the previous-gen model. Side-by-side the new MK II seemed to perform quite well. There are a few unknown anomalies that we couldn’t quite explain but they affected both detectors, so we couldn’t quite place the blame one way or the other. So if anything, it is indeed an improvement.
Also, having access to 5GHz will be helpful for some in-car Wi-Fi solutions (or at least, fulfill user preference for vehicles that offer both bands). Being able to feed updates to the detector OTA without having constantly open the app is indeed a good perk to have.
It still looks good, features all of the same great options of the previous model, and seems (so far) to do a much better job at filtering out false positives.
The price saw a bit of an increase. Making what was already one of the more expensive detector options out there, a little more expensive. We couldn’t think of any reason for this outside of basic inflation. Although, I’m sure the company has been making plenty enough profit from these models as-is. In that, it has moved from the original model’s price of $649 to $699.
As we continue to drive around with it and if additional road trips are taken, additional data me be discovered. If so, we will make sure to come back to update this story with anything we find.
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
Co-Authors: Ryan S.
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Zack comes with a number of years in the technology industry. Specializing in live production and sound recording, his background also extensively covers other categories such as lighting and A/V technologies. With a strong history of both covering and thoroughly understanding technology and science in nearly every category imaginable.
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Escort MAX 360c MK II Radar Detector (Review) – Poc Network
Today’s Tech News and Reviews