Review of the Valentine One Radar Detector
Are you considering purchasing a Valentine One Radar Detector?
I have a great deal of respect for Mike Valentine for sticking to his
guns while developing his Valentine One radar detector, his attempt make
ast radar detector that you would ever need to buy”.
However, the one thing in life that is constant, is change.
Unfortunately, the design and functions of the Valentine One lacked
the innovation and vision necessary to make it "the last radar detector
that you would ever need to buy," and many
recovering Valentine One Zombies today have their Valentine One detectors stored in their closet collecting dust.
Overview of the Valentine One Radar Detector
Mike introduced his Valentine One with its dual antenna design, enabling it to display the direction of a bogey (radar threat) through its patent directional arrow alert system, way back in 1992.
As a result its original design, the Valentine One became known as the best long-range detector ever made during that time period.
However, as things began changing in the police speed enforcement industry, Mike steadfastly refused to embrace innovation to keep up with new emerging technology.
Valentine One Arrows
The USP (unique selling proposition) of the V1 radar detector is its arrows, which was patent in 1992.
This is accomplished through its twin antenna design, with one facing toward the front and one facing to the back.
Mike’s patent on this technology expired in 2011, causing a lot of speculation in our speed counter measurement community concerning whether Escort, Beltronics or perhaps even Cobra would start integrating this same technology.
However, none did, and here is the reason why: the free market is driven by one thing: supply and demand.
If there is no demand for a feature, why bother investing your money to supply a product and/or service?
What customers are demanding in the radar detector niche are better long-range detectors that would provide dependable alerts.
As a result, Escort has embraced a look forward philosophy in their development of new products.
Why the Valentine One is Non Stealth
First came the threat from Stealth Micro Systems, who developed the Spectre RDD (radar detector detector) in the late 90’s.
This put professional drivers and radar detector users living in areas where detectors were illegal at risk!
In response to this development, an aviation specialist and engineer from Australia named Roy Zegers, an ex-business partner of Pete Taylor, the inventor of the Spectre, engineered a modification to his and other Valentine One detectors, enabling them to be stealth to the Spectre.
In 2005 Zegers came out to my home and together we went to Speed Measurement Laboratories to test his modification.
Carl Fores, the Veil Guy and myself were so impressed with Roy’s modification we each endorsed it.
However, Mike was not equally impressed, as this modification would have required too much of an alteration to his detector for his “the last detector that you would ever need to buy” theory to remain true, and dismissed the threat of the Spectre as never catching on.
Due to Escort’s vision, they and Beltronics both devoted all their resources over the next 2-years to develop the first radar detector that would become stealth.
The result was the Beltronics STi, the first radar detector based upon their jointly engineered M3 antenna design, enabling the detector to not only be stealth but also placed it in the extreme range category, a few notches ahead of the Valentine One!
Why the Valentine One is Non GPS Enabled
biggest complaint that is echoed even by V1 Zombies, are the excessive amount of false alerts given by the Valentine One.
This fact was noted in a review of the V1 by AutoWeek, where they dubbed it the “chicken little of radar detectors,” and by Car and Driver Magazine's review, which complains about the 53 "incessant false alarms" that went off during a 22 mile loop!
To combat these annoying false alerts, Escort patented their AutoLearn GPS filtering system.This system is able to filter out known false alert locations by the exact frequency and location of the threat.
This caused Mike to make an argument on his website titled “If it can happen, it will,” where he says that he feels that the “GPS fails the Murphy’s law test because there is no difference between the signals called false alarms and those of real radar.”
Mike also goes on to say: “We’re surrounded by false alarms. Get used to it.”
My response to this is plain and simple: “Bullshit!”
Escort’s AutoLearn system is based on two things: the exact location and the exact frequency of the X or K band alert.
The odds of winning the Megabucks Million dollar lottery are much better then ever encountering a real threat from a police radar gun at the exact same location and frequency. Thus, Mike's claims that there is no difference between the signals of made by say a grocery store and a RDD is completely debunked.
So, what is the real reason Mike doesn’t embrace a similar solution?
Well, it would mean that the “last detector that you would ever need to buy” needs a major overhaul.
SAVVY – Valentine’s Solution to False Alerts
Mike does eventually make a concession with the introduction of the SAVVY, an external module that you plug into your car’s diagnostic port.
Basically, you program this device to a speed threshold, for this example lets say from 15 to 55 mph. Now, any alert your detector receives within this set point is muted.
The result is that your Valentine One will still alert as you drive by every shopping center, gas station, and bank in your neighborhood, but at least you will not be annoyed by its incessant beeps.
On the other hand, Escort’s solution to this problem is plain, simple, and already built into their GPS enabled detectors.
By setting your detector to Auto, the GPS capabilities will automatically sense how fast you're driving and adjust the sensitivity of your detector accordingly.
Valentine One Lack’s Photo Enforcement Protection
Another important feature missing due to Mike’s refusal to accept innovation is the Valentine One’s inability to alert you to photo enforcement cameras.
Mike’s argument on his website to offset this concern is that photo radar is not really radar at all, but embedded sensors in the road which no radar detector by itself can detect.
I can agree with Mike that no detector by itself can do that, however, by including a GPS coupled with a reliable photo enforcement database it would!
Where is Valentine One’s Community Application?
The biggest innovation in the speed counter measurement industry this decade by far was Escort’s introduction of Escort Live.
Basically, it's “social media for the road,” enabling you and your Escort/Beltronics radar detector to communicate in real time with other drivers sharing threats of radar, laser and cop spotted alerts.
As I note in this review and video of the Passport and the Max2, this one feature saved me from getting an expensive VASCAR speed trap ticket.
Radar Roy’s Review of the Valentine One Radar Detector
Over the past several months, my staff and I have been driving throughout the southwest, logging over 10,000 miles with a Valentine One with the newest 1.85 firmware programmed in at the factory default setting (non segmented).
Where is That “Bogey” Coming From and How Many Are There?
I do admit that, in theory, having the ability to know what direction a “bogey” is coming from is a pretty cool idea. However, in city driving the only useful purpose I got out of driving with the V1 was knowing the direction of the closest false alert location.
Also, having the ability to see on the display how many automatic door openers there are at a shopping center while driving through their parking lot is also a worthless feature in my opinion.
This feature does have some value out on the open highway, such as using it to identify the location of other motorists and semi trucks that have leaky radar detectors!
My bottom line with the arrows is this:
If Valentine could figure out a way to filter out all these crappy false alerts, I may be open to convert to a V1 Zombie myself, but not until then.
Extreme Range Radar Detector
I would rate the overall range of the Valentine One as being slightly less then the Escort and Beltronics M3 radar detectors I rate as 4 star radar detectors.
As a result, I would classify the V1 in the extreme range category, having just less than 8 times the capture rate distance of a police radar gun providing you with ample time to slow down.
Filtering Capabilities of the V1
As I previously noted, the single biggest problem with the V1 is its inability to filter out false alerts.
In fact, the filtering is so below par when compared to any other detector within a similar price range, that I would place it in the
2 star radar detector category!
With the overabundance of false alerts being the #1 complaint of radar detector users, you may want to note this fact if you’re considering purchasing one.
There is one feature that Mike has embraced that shows some innovation on his part, and that is the ability for the more advanced V1 Zombies to segment their radar detector.
However, as noted in the Veil Guys Valentine One review published in July of 2014: “the V1's X and K-band detections were exceptional and appeared to me to essentially be on the same level as the M3s. Ka band reception was where the differences were notable. The V1 tended to trail the segmented M3-based detectors sometimes by a wide margin.”
V1 Laser Alerts
I would be remiss if I didn’t include my review of the superior laser alerts that the Valentine One does provide when compared to all of the other radar detectors I have ever tested.
However, if and when your V1 does alert you of a laser threat, it’s typically too late, the officer has already captured your speed.
Personally, I would never depend upon a radar gun of any caliber in a laser enforcement ambush, I don’t even include laser testing in my detector reviews. Instead, I rely on and recommend a laser jammer and/or coating your headlights and front plate with the Veil Stealth coating.
V1’s Dated Technology
Promoting the V1 as the “last detector that you will ever buy,” has painted Mike and his detector into a corner.
Sure, you could send it to him and get limited firmware and hardware upgrades for a couple of hundreds of dollars.
However, their inability to perform major hardware upgrades to the V1 forces Mike and his team to dream up external modules such as the SAVVY, which are ineffective solutions to the underlying problem.
Why Radar Roy Will Not Sell You A Valentine One Radar Detector
The second problem with the Valentine One is that it is only available for purchase through his direct channel.
This, coupled with his refusal to accept innovation, which was noted during his brief partnership with Cincinnati Microwave, has, in my opinion, negatively impacted his company’s growth.
This fact is obvious if one looks at another company who has done the exact opposite. If one examines the growth of Escort, they will see that Escort's commitment to innovation and open sales channels has caused them to grow into the number one radar detector company in the world.
Sure, I can sell you the Valentine One just like some of my competitors do and mark it up 20%, while also voiding your Valentine One factory warranty.
But is the proper way to build a relationship of trust?
Personally, I don’t feel it is.
However, if you’re still committed to wasting your money on a detector that is behind the times, I recommend that you go directly to Mike's website, here is his link: http://www.valentine1.com/
Drive Safe, Drive Smart and Most Importantly Drive Protected