I enjoy driving. Like most drivers, I've sometimes found myself going a little bit faster than the posted speed limit. And, on more than one of those occasions I've actually been pulled over and ticketed. Now, I'm not going to pretend that I'm innocent and say that I've never exceeded the limit intentionally, but by far, the majority of the times that I've been pulled over it's been simply because my mind was focused on something else, and I just wasn't paying enough attention. Since I drive alone most of the time, I decided that I wanted something that would remind me to check my speed before I was ticketed again. For that reason, I decided to purchase a radar detector.
I originally selected the Beltronics Vector 985 for several reasons; the main reason being that I had read nothing but glowing reviews of it. The other important factors were that it offered loud alerts, detected every type of radar and laser available at the time, came with a great warranty, and because Beltronics also offers the option to send the unit back to the factory to have the firmware upgraded as new detection technology becomes available.
I first used the Vector 985 on a three-hour trip, and for the most part it worked great. It detected any radar monitoring that I encountered at a long distance, and gave me plenty of time to check my speed before I passed by. Also, the display and voice alerts told me all of the information that I needed to know to take any necessary precautions. It did seem to give occasional false alarms when it picked up the signal from the automatic door openers attached to nearby stores, but there are settings available that would allow you to filter most of those out.
After using the detector for the first hour, I noticed that it seemed to turn itself off and then back on again. Normally this wouldn't be a major deal, except this detector goes through some sort of diagnostic or demonstration routine when it is starting up, meaning that it blares out all of its various alerts all at once, and at full volume. The first time this happened, it scared the "you-know-what" out of me! I thought I was surrounded by every patrol car in the area, and that they were all pointing every imaginable type of radar and laser gun directly at me. After a few seconds, though, I settled back down and figured out what actually happened. The same thing occurred several more times over the course of the trip, and it startled me every time, but at least I knew what it was. Initially I thought that my car's power port may be at fault, but I ruled that out by testing the detector at home with a 12 volt power supply. I then proceeded to check and replace the fuses and the different power cords, but I always ended up having the same problem. I figured that the unit may have problems with it, so I called the Beltronics support line.
My experience with Beltronics' support was like nothing I'd experienced before. Instead of just reading to me from some script, the nice woman that took my call carried on an actual conversation with me. She listened to the situation, suggested some possibilities that I could try, and actually respected my findings when I told her what I had already tested out. That had never happened to me before with any other company I had dealt with, and I LOVED it!! Eventually she suggested that I should send it back to the factory for service, and I agreed. About 1 week after shipping it out, I received it back from them with a nice note explaining what they had done to remedy the problem. Apparently they just flashed and reloaded the firmware, and that worked because the problem has not reoccurred to this day.
I've owned this radar detector for several years now, and I plan to own it for several more. The money that it's saved me over the years, from some sure-thing tickets, has more than paid for its cost. If you're in the market for a radar detector, even if you don't purchase the same model I own, do yourself a favor a check out the offerings from Beltronics.