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      09-05-2013, 03:34 PM   #1
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Escort Passport Max -- Observations

A few days ago I created this thread -- http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=885022 - thinking I'd buy an Escort Redline to replace my V1. As it turns out, I ended up buying the Max instead. So below are my observations, and I'll add additional updates as I have new ones.

Company and Product Feature, Design and Usability Observations:
  • The mark button (MRK) does too many things; it's used to access the device's settings and preferences as well as to mark locations. As a result, marking a location is tantamount to the machinations of a Rube Goldberg device, particularly when you have to do it while driving. Given the vast abundance of red light cameras, photo radar/laser, etc. in my area, I can see myself needing to mark stuff quite often for the first year or so of using this thing. It would have been better had the mark feature been on the Smart Cord instead of the unit itself, or perhaps in addition to the unit. From the quick start guide:
To mark a location for future alerts, press MRK twice, then VOL+ or - to select the typ of marker, then MRK again to confirm.
  • The physical design of the product is quite nice. It's not nearly so clunky as it looks in the images on Escort's website.
  • Power Cord: The cord that comes with the product is too short to reach the center console power outlet on my BMWs (I have a 3 series and a 5 series.) BMW 3 series newer than mine (2007) may also have issues with the cord because some of the these cars (E90 LCI and the current F30 in particular) don't have cigarette lighters.
  • If you call Escort to buy a product, they answer the phone very quickly. If you press the option for customer service regarding a product you already bought, you'll be put on long-term, low priority hold. (I sat on hold for 8 minutes before I just gave up. I'll try again, but I may well return the damn thing if their customer service continues to be so perfunctory.)
  • Software Updates: One must have a mini-USB to regular USB cord to do them. No such cord is provided with the product. I don't care if they up the price a couple dollars to cover the cord or don't do so, but one should be included with the product, Yes, I'm aware that such cords are fairly commonly found with phones and many folks may already have one, but as it's a required thing in order to access the Defender database, which is part of the standard features of the product, a cord should still be included.
  • Defender Database: This seems on the surface like it would be a good thing. I don't know if it really is, however, because like all databases, it's only as good it's only as good as the quality/accuracy of data placed in it. I don't know what the source(s) is for the data in the database, but I can see very easily how it might contain inaccurate data. I'm not sure yet whether I will update my Max with the most current info from the database. If anyone has some direct experience with this database, please share your observations.

Design Updates:

21-Sep-13 -- Mounting Apparatus. The Max comes with something Escort call a "sticky cup." It is a single, large suction cup with some sort of adhesive on it. It isn't likely to just fall off on its own. That's the good. The bad -- and it's a minor bad, to be sure -- is that if you leave the cup affixed to your windshield in the sun/heat, it basically won't come off until it's cooled down some. Not a big deal if you are parked in a high visibility area. If your aren't however, the presence of that cup on your windshield could tempt an opportunist to break into your car seeking your detector and whatever else they can find. Also, the "cup" also has a tab from which the RD is suspended when you are using it. It's very easy to shove the RD onto the tab in such a way that it get's quite stuck on there. When that happens, you'll absolutely have to remove the whole thing from your windshield. Hopefully you are parked in a good spot when that happens. (There's no doubt that it's "when" and not "if.")

14-Oct-13 -- If the sun is shining brightly, you absolutely cannot see what the screen (tiny as it is) is displaying.

Radar Detection Performance Observations
5-Sep-2013 -- None yet -- I haven't put the thing in the car.

18-Sep-2013 -- It's not saved me from anything yet. It does a good job ignoring, but quietly notifying me, of doors and other innocuous radar sources. It also is very good about letting me know I'm approaching a red light camera. I don't have the first idea why I would care about a red light camera though; I'm definitely going to notice any red light I happen to be approaching, and I'm certainly not going to run a red light. If I do run one by accident, knowing it has a camera isn't much help. It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't help either. The detector did go off once when I was approaching a stationary photo radar device. It didn't seem to me that it went off that far in advance (maybe 500 yards, but it's a 30 mph zone, so I guess 500 yards is enough) as I knew where the camera was before I to it. The radar on the camera must not be on always for I drive past it quite often, but the detector doesn't go off every time. I have to say, though, with those claims of the thing picking up radar from miles and miles away, I expected more notices than I've been getting.

Prior to using the Max, I used a Valentine. I have to say I do miss the arrows. When the Max tells me about there being a signal of some sort in the vicinity, I find myself looking around to see where it's coming from. Obviously, if I'm passing a shopping center and the signal is coming from the left/right, I'm far less concerned than if it's coming from ahead or behind me. With Max, I can't tell, whereas I could tell with my Valentine 1.

This is minor, but the V1 is designed so the little window faces you, but the detector's business end is still facing straight ahead. Also, the sticky cup that hold the Max in place is insanely difficult to remove once you've stuck it on the windshield. That's good and bad.

So, right now, I'd say the Max is better on false signal rejection than the V1, and therefore quieter. The V1 is better in terms of the usability of the information it provides and for usability of the device itself as it's just easier to take out of the window.

20-Sep-13 -- The volume when the thing is talking to you could stand to go a bit higher. I found yesterday that driving at 50 mph with the window open (which as a smoker I do quite often) it's impossible to discern the words the thing is uttering, though it's possible to tell that thing is "talking" to you. No issues with the volume for the squawks and beeps.

The Max does have some sort of GPS ability, but unlike the GPS that handles navigation in cars, the Max's seems to have no idea what road you are on, just that you are at the moment in a particular area. I found this out was I was driving round the DC Beltway yesterday (I-495) and the thing decided to tell me about a red light camera. I realized the camera must have been on the road that passed under the interstate, so it wasn't that big a deal, but it caught me off guard a bit. Also, I noticed that by the time it bothered to tell me about the red light camera that was on the road that crossed under the interstate, I was essentially right on top of that road. I wonder, if I had been on that road having the red light, and traveling at 75 mph, would the Max have told me in time?

This thing vibrates quite a lot more than I ever noticed my V1 doing. Which is to say, I never noticed vibrations on the V1, whereas it was one of the first things I noticed about the Max as it sat there suspended from my windshield. It doesn't bother me much for the jiggling doesn't impede my ability to tell what the thing is trying to tell me when it goes off. Also, the jiggling isn't so much that when I'm focused on the road that it distracts me. I don't really notice it when driving at speed, just when I'm sitting stopped.

29-Sep-13 - Mounting System: If the sticky cup Escort provides is the"new and improved" mounting device, I would never have not returned whatever product they had before. Mine falls off almost daily now that the air has cooled. Yet, when it was hot just a few weeks back, the thing wouldn't loose from the window with less than a drought horse pulling on it. Worse, there's no visor clip mounting device for the Max. Right now, I'm in the market for Lilliputians or Leprechauns who are willing to stand on my dashboard and hold the thing in place. I'd prefer the latter as they are reputed to know magic and may have a spell that might work. Please PM if you know where I can find some.

I've now had the thing hardwired to my car's electrical system. I do like that as it frees up my cigarette lighter. To Escort's credit, the gizmo they have that one plugs into the lighter socket doesn't screw up the lighter. The one I got from Valentine was sized such that once I'd pushed the power charger into the lighter socket, it mashed some sort of clip thing so that the actual cigarette lighter no longer would stay depressed in the socket, forcing me to thus hold it depressed in order to heat its coils. The standard cord Escort provide with the Max will reach to the power socket in the center console, but it's unsightly to do so. Moreover, I have my cell phone charger stored there and it's the rare day when I take my phone into the car on a full charge.
3-Oct-13 - If it's ever sunny when you drive, you won't be able to see the screen of the RD.





I'll provide updates in a few days after I've used it a bit.
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      09-06-2013, 01:25 AM   #2
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I went from the 9500 to the Max - you need to get a Direct wire Smartcord and hardwire your detector.

I already had the correct USB cord from way back as it was an old cell phone cord.

As far as database goes - I've always updated mine every time I get the email (usually weekly), but really never have a chance to use that feature since they do not use red light cameras where I live.

The feature did work when I was in VA on vacation though...
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      09-06-2013, 03:52 AM   #3
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woah, so you pulled the trigger on the MAX? wow, was this purchase done through escort?

congrats on an improved safety "mod" Tony!
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      09-06-2013, 05:53 AM   #4
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Try the smartphone app "FastCustomer" next time you call. Basically, it dials in and waits on hold then makes the phone ring when a customer service person is on the line. I just checked the app and Escort Radar is on the list of companies.
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      09-06-2013, 08:06 AM   #5
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      09-06-2013, 09:37 AM   #6
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I got the Max too, and I am actually returning it. I also have a Redline and V1.

I was disappointed in the Max, the unit works fine but the build quality is very cheap and poor. Plastic in the front is a bit loose, and it feels bad in general. That sticky cup mount also rattles.

I'm sticking with the V1. Very high build quality and it is just more straightforward to use when you are focused on driving.

And yes - I waited on hold for endless time on Escort customer service. A few times for over 30 minutes and I gave up. Finally after one try and 30 mins later someone picked up at Escort.

If you call to order, it's nearly instant.

And also, I don't like their marketing too much - too gimmicky, especially with "radar roy". Just comes across as not genuine and too forced.
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      09-06-2013, 10:17 AM   #7
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Funny, I don't have any of the problems you describe with my Max - the new sticky mount is actually better than the Escort Super Cup mount I was using with the 9500
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      09-06-2013, 04:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rondocap View Post
I got the Max too, and I am actually returning it. I also have a Redline and V1.

I was disappointed in the Max, the unit works fine but the build quality is very cheap and poor. Plastic in the front is a bit loose, and it feels bad in general. That sticky cup mount also rattles.

I'm sticking with the V1. Very high build quality and it is just more straightforward to use when you are focused on driving.

And yes - I waited on hold for endless time on Escort customer service. A few times for over 30 minutes and I gave up. Finally after one try and 30 mins later someone picked up at Escort.

If you call to order, it's nearly instant.

And also, I don't like their marketing too much - too gimmicky, especially with "radar roy". Just comes across as not genuine and too forced.
I tried it out for the first time last night. No radar encountered, so nothing to say there.

As for build quality, the unit I received doesn't have any of the issues yours did.
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      09-06-2013, 04:34 PM   #9
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Looking forward to your updates. I'm sticking with my Smart Escort and Live update for now. I was going to buy the max but ended up buying replacement diodes for my laser jammer Yeah, the extended cord does not come with the Escort units so you have to buy one if you dont have it available from previous Escorts. You can always splice or use a quick connect to hardwire to your homelink. I for one always prefer the cig lighter power.

I use my iPhone to mark locations so I dont have the same problem and settings are done in the same manner
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      09-06-2013, 05:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken1137 View Post
...
I use my iPhone to mark locations so I dont have the same problem and settings are done in the same manner
That sounds like a good idea so long as it doesn't have you staring at a phone instead of the road.
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      09-18-2013, 08:35 PM   #11
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Added 18-Sep-2013 update in the original post.
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      09-19-2013, 06:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
Added 18-Sep-2013 update in the original post.
Thanks for the review and looking fwd to your updates if you decide to keep it. I use V1 when driving on highways only. Otherwise, detectors are pointless for me. I just don't want to be annoyed with beeps and blinking on regular streets and am not driving through red lights. Maybe I am missing something.

I use V1 because it is easy to use, critical info is layered/displayed nicely for driver to see and process instantly, range is phenomenal and build quality is excellent. The V1 quality reminds of DOD spec parts. I used x50 for 2 years and it is a piece of junk compared to V1. It had constant s/w issues and had to be reset after an hour of use or so. I also bought an aftermarket solid metal windshield mount and use cig. lighter. The V1 saved me at least 6 times this year. For now, I don't see a reason to part with my V1. It works well every single time.
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      09-19-2013, 07:25 AM   #13
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I've got a 9500ci. The GPS unit stops the false alerts. I must say it is quite invaluable.
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      09-19-2013, 03:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smooth 330i View Post
Thanks for the review and looking fwd to your updates if you decide to keep it. I use V1 when driving on highways only. Otherwise, detectors are pointless for me. I just don't want to be annoyed with beeps and blinking on regular streets and am not driving through red lights. Maybe I am missing something.

I use V1 because it is easy to use, critical info is layered/displayed nicely for driver to see and process instantly, range is phenomenal and build quality is excellent. The V1 quality reminds of DOD spec parts. I used x50 for 2 years and it is a piece of junk compared to V1. It had constant s/w issues and had to be reset after an hour of use or so. I also bought an aftermarket solid metal windshield mount and use cig. lighter. The V1 saved me at least 6 times this year. For now, I don't see a reason to part with my V1. It works well every single time.
Knowing what I know now, I think I prefer the V1 in the suburbs and small towns like those on the way to the short, and I prefer the Max on the highway. In the burbs, there are so many places for a LEO to hide that I want to know from where the radar signal is coming. On the highway, I can pretty well tell by whether the signal strength is increasing or decreasing whether the cop is ahead or behind me and since there's nothing but woods to the left and right, rather than small, maybe hidden side streets and driveways, that I'm not so worried about LEO being there.
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      09-19-2013, 03:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arachnyd View Post
I've got a 9500ci. The GPS unit stops the false alerts. I must say it is quite invaluable.
I almost bought the 9500ci, but I think the Blinder is a better laser jammer, so that's what I'm using along with the Max.

What I really wanted was a Max with RDD invisibility, but that isn't something I can get. Escort claim that that incorporating RDD invisibility is expensive and only DC and VA travellers have a need for it. I think that's a bunch of malarkey. How price sensitive can a person willing to spend between $500 and $1800 for a detector be? Why not make one model that has every feature available -- longest range, best false signal rejection, RDD invisibility, GPS, etc. -- for a radar detector?
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      09-19-2013, 07:00 PM   #16
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As great as radar detectors get they are still useless against Lidar/Laser. If you want to have full protection you must run a laser shifter/jammer system in conjunction, such as a Laser Interceptor - which I run along my 9500ix.
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      09-21-2013, 02:17 AM   #17
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Added 21-Sep-13 Design Update
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      09-24-2013, 08:39 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
I almost bought the 9500ci, but I think the Blinder is a better laser jammer, so that's what I'm using along with the Max.

What I really wanted was a Max with RDD invisibility, but that isn't something I can get. Escort claim that that incorporating RDD invisibility is expensive and only DC and VA travellers have a need for it. I think that's a bunch of malarkey. How price sensitive can a person willing to spend between $500 and $1800 for a detector be? Why not make one model that has every feature available -- longest range, best false signal rejection, RDD invisibility, GPS, etc. -- for a radar detector?
The SRX jammers were actually better than the 9500ci jammers, which is odd.

When it comes down to it, Escorts a business. They have huge margins. Increasing the price by $5 a unit may end up being a million dollars in profits. With all of the patents expiring earlier this year for their stiffest competition ( V1 ), They just have to be the "best". Why spend that extra $5 to make 50 people happy if they can not spend that $5 and walk away with a lot more profit? They are only going to be as good as they have to.

its kind of like the 2010 Mustang GT. Less horsepower than a base 2010 Camaro V6 for half the cost, "magically" Ford came out one year later with a hundred more horsepower. IT shows you Ford was only doing "as good as it had to". When camaro came out, it forced Ford to be on top of their game.

No one is forcing Escort to be on top of their game right now. Sure there may be a better laser jammer there, or even a better radar unit here, but no one is really competing with them at the moment in the eyes of the consumer, and they pretty much own the market.

In other words, they are a 2010 mustang without the camaro in the mix- 100 hp less than it could be, because theres no motivation to invest in the better features and system!
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      09-24-2013, 04:05 PM   #19
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Didn't the Max introduce a new type of adapter to connect to the holder in the windshield? So all the money spent on mounting solutions, like a Blendmount for BMWs, that goes out the window?
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      09-24-2013, 06:46 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZBoater View Post
Didn't the Max introduce a new type of adapter to connect to the holder in the windshield? So all the money spent on mounting solutions, like a Blendmount for BMWs, that goes out the window?
I don't know if the sticky cup is new. I do know I've seen better mounting solutions.
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      09-29-2013, 10:27 AM   #21
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29-Sep-13 Update posted.
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      09-29-2013, 10:36 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZBoater View Post
Didn't the Max introduce a new type of adapter to connect to the holder in the windshield? So all the money spent on mounting solutions, like a Blendmount for BMWs, that goes out the window?
What is a Blendmount? Maybe I'll try one. It damn sure can't be worse than the sticky cup, unless it's whatever Escort used prior to the sticky cup.
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