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Escort Max 360C: Can a $950 Radar Detector Be Worth It?

Escort Max 360C: Can a $950 Radar Detector Be Worth It?

Radar detectors are small in-car devices that are designed to warn you of the presence of police’s speed detection hardware, ie. radar guns. When a radar detector detects radio waves emitted by a radar gun, it will alert you so you can adjust your speed accordingly to avoid a speeding ticket or two. If you are in the market for a radar detector, you would have heard names like Escort, Cobra, Valentine. Uniden and Radenso - these are all makers of some of the best radar detectors available.

But of all of the radar detectors, one stands out - the Escort Max 360c.

Pros:

Modern design

Long range detection thanks to high-definition DSP

Accurate, pinpoint detection

K-band and Ka-band segmentation

WIFI capable to directly communicate to the Internet

GPS enabled

Automatic firmware updates over WiFi, no computer required

Stable and solid magnetic windshield mount

Good audible alerts

1 year speeding ticket guarantee

Automatic GPS lockouts available

Updatable In-Vehicle Technology Filter

Multi-color OLED display

Cons:

  Most expensive radar detector currently available

  Not undetectable to Spectre RDD

Escort manufacturers some of the market’s best radar detectors and the Max 360c is Escort’s newest, most advanced radar detection technology yet, packed with features like WiFi, AutoLearn to block false alerts, and the Escort Live app for sharing alerts with other drivers.

So, on paper, the Escort Max 360c is probably one of the best you can buy when it comes to radar detection technology, the other being the Valentine One Gen 3. But is it really worth the $950 price tag?

An upgrade from the Max 360

The Max 360c is an upgraded version of the 2015 Escort Max 360. In addition to a modernized body and improved build quality, Escort has moved the alert arrows from the right side to all around the front display. But just like the Max 360, you can customize the arrow colors as well as adjust whether they point to only the primary signal or to multiple signals.

Internally, the Max 360c is nearly identical to the Max 360, with the ability to detect laser or X, K and KA radio bands with a range of over 2500 feet. It also offers four different modes for different driving scenarios: Highway, Auto, Auto No X and Auto Lo K. Escort’s AutoLearn technology can also recognize false alerts localized to an area you frequent, and automatically lock them out.

The main difference between the Max 360c and the Max 360 is the integrated WiFi (the “c” stands for “Connected Car”). That means if you have WiFi built into your car, the radar detector can connect to Escort Live without requiring your smartphone. Don’t have a 4G LTE WiFi system in your car? No worries - you can tether to your smartphone’s hot spot function, your home WiFi, or even your work WiFi, if you’re within the range.

What can you do with the built-in WiFi

First off, you no longer have to bring the detector home, plug it to your computer and run/push the update software. With Wifi, the Max 360c can automatically keep its firmware updated for you.

With WiFi, the Max 360c can also automatically update its built-in red light camera and speed trap database. However, do keep in mind that if you’re using Escort Live, you already have access to the latest red light camera database - as long as you have your smartphone with you, the detector can automatically connect to the Escort Live app on your smartphone via Bluetooth every time you’re in the car. But for those who don’t want to bother with Bluetooth, say in the event that you don’t have your smartphone with you, or you’re experiencing Bluetooth connectivity problems (which we were told happens quite often with both iOS and Android), the WiFi feature does come in handy.

Mounting the Max 360c

The mounting device uses a combination of adhesive and suction, and it connects to the radar detector with a strong magnet. The idea is to provide a strong connection to the window while providing a quick release when you need to remove it.

Best place to mount radar detector

Not sure where to put the radar detector? We recommend mounting the radar detector on the center of the front windshield (ie. a windshield mount) where it can get a clear view of the road both front and rear. Avoid placing behind the tinting at the top of most windows, behind parking stickers, wiper blades, or anything similar that will obstruct the detector’s window or lens. Most cars have tinting that will reduce the laser detection range in front of the visor section of the windshield. But most importantly, we advise placing the detector where it will not obstruct your view of the road.

Direct wiring options

We offer two direct wire power cord options for our current models. The standard direct wire cord is 12 feet long. The SmartCord Direct is 9 feet to the detector from the SmartCord box and the SmartCord box has 3 feet of wire to extend it. The SmartCord will give you a power indicator LED, radar warning light, and mute switch. We also offer a direct wire version of the Escort Live cord.

Testing the Max 360c

The first thing we noticed when testing the Max 360c is the accuracy of the speed-sensitive “Cruise Alert” feature that mutes any alerts until you reach a pre-set driving speed. When connected to Escort Live, Escort will replace your cruise alert threshold with the speed limit of the road you’re on and alerts will only sound when driving at, or over, the speed limit it pulls from the database. But do keep in mind that the database doesn’t take into account school zones or construction zone.

The Max 360c’s highway performance was impressive - only the Valentine One and the Escort RedLine EX had longer ranges. We dialled the settings to the “Auto No X” mode and found that false alarms were extremely rare, though we did find that a couple of vehicles with blind-spot monitoring systems still triggered an alert, even with Escort’s improved BSM filtering system in place.

The city performance was even better, with directional arrows telling you where the radar is coming from, making it easy to find the source quickly. In addition, the internal GPS automatically adjusts the sensitivity according to your speed. If you are driving very slowly pass a radar source, you will still receive a visual alert, but you won’t get all the beeping alerts.

Actual alerts from a strong Ka-band signal were detected early, and the directional arrows worked well to pinpoint the location. AutoMute helped to silence the alarm noise after the first couple of notices and the “mute” button on the SmartCord was easy to reach for quickly silencing alerts.

Worried about getting an alert from the same road sign or automatic door over and over again? The Max 360c’s AutoLearn feature was able to recognize false alerts on our local commute, and blocked them out after passing by the same location several times.

Auto Sensitivity Controls

As with all Escort detectors, the Max 360c has four sensitivity controls - Highway, Auto, Auto No X and Auto Lo K. Each of the auto settings uses the built-in GPS to adjust the sensitivity to your speed, increasing the sensitivity as you drive faster.

What it looks for:

  • Auto - will reduce the detector’s sensitivity to X and K band around town
  • Auto NO X - doesn’t detect X-band
  • Auto Lo K - only detects strong K-band signals, ignoring low power signals

X, K, and Ka Bands

X, K, and Ka band radar are simply the different frequencies of police radar, just like the different radio station names on FM radio. When your detector alerts you to one of these three radar bands, it has detected radar waves that fall within that particular band.

What is K band?

K band radar is the block of radar frequency that stretches from 18ghz to 27ghz. K band radar began to be adopted in the last couple of decades as a higher-performance alternative to the X band radar. Police K band radar operates strictly at 24.125 and 24.15ghz.

However, do keep in mind that many non-law enforcement radar sources operate in the K band frequency range as well, including automatic door openers and some blind-spot monitoring systems on vehicles. Because of this, K band radar has a reputation for a high percentage of false alerts. But we do not recommend disabling K band entirely as it is still very widespread throughout the US.

What is Ka Band?

Ka band is comprised of radar waves between 33.4 and 36.0ghz, and while X and K band police radar guns operate on just one or two frequencies, Ka band guns operate on as many as five. With a narrower beam pattern and lower power output than X and K band, Ka band is the most difficult type of radar to detect at long distance. With very few exceptions, if your detector alerts you of Ka band you can be sure there is legitimate threat ahead or behind you. Due to the fact that not many non-law enforcement radar sources operate in this band, Ka band typically has very minimal false alerts.

K Band Segmentation

The Max 360c offers K and Ka-band segmentation, which is an advanced feature that allows you to more finely tune exactly which radar frequencies the detector scans for. But, if you set it up incorrectly, you may inadvertently prevent the Max 360c from alerting you to legitimate police radar, which defeats the purpose of having a radar detector in the first place.

Scanning X and K band is in a way pointless - they are both a pretty small range of frequencies and the Max 360c can scan it very quickly. Ka, on the other hand, is a wide range of frequencies (more than 10 times as wide as both X and K band combined) and scanning across the entire range can take some time.

Ka band segmentation is a huge boost to performance because it lets you tell your detector not to waste time scanning for unnecessary frequencies and only scan frequencies where you’ll see legitimate police radar.

Here are the different Ka band segments you can customize:

  • Ka1 = 33.392 – 33.704
  • Ka2 = 33.704 – 33.896 (33.8)
  • Ka3 = 33.886 – 34.198
  • Ka4 = 34.184 – 34.592
  • Ka5 = 34.592 – 34.808 (34.7)
  • Ka6 = 34.806 – 35.166
  • Ka7 = 35.143 – 35.383
  • Ka8 = 35.378 – 35.618 (35.5)
  • Ka9 = 35.595 – 35.835
  • Ka10 = 35.830 – 35.998

Image courtesy of Vortex Radar

Do keep in mind that this feature is more geared towards drivers outside the US, where police only transmit within very small sections of K band. In the US, police officers have radar guns that operate within the entire range of K band that the Max 360c sweeps so you typically do not want to disable any K band segments.

What is Autolearn?

Autolearn uses the GPS feature to identify sources of false radar and memorizes location and frequency of each radar signal. Our AutoLearn software then compares signals received over time and eliminates audio alerts for non-police sources. The display will identify that a signal is present but no audio alert will be sounded. If a new source of radar or laser appears in the area you will receive a full audio and visual alert.

I have GPS in my car. Why do I need it in my detector?

The GPS feature is not used for navigation. GPS-enabled detectors allow you to Mark locations of interest (ie. speed traps and camera locations), Block false radar and laser alerts, tracks vehicle speed in real-time, and allows sensitivity based on the vehicle speed.

How long will it last?

With direct firmware updates through Wi-Fi, the Max 360c will always have the latest information on things like speed cameras, and should give you accurate warnings for years to come.

The Verdict

Can a $950 Radar Detector Be Worth It? Yes, it can!

We understand that $950 is definitely on the expensive side of the spectrum. But we do offer the option for you to checkout with Sezzle and instead of one payment, you can split the purchase over 4 interest-free installments over 6 weeks.

Now, with the Max 360c on board, your Summer road trip might have just gotten a little bit more exciting!

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