Whistler CR90 Laser Radar Detector (MSRP $ 168.95)

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     The Whistler CR90 GPS enabled radar detector could prevent you from getting a speeding ticket if you occasionally or often drive faster than the posted speed limits. One of its many detection features might stop you from running a yellow light and getting a traffic violation in the mail. In this scenario you didnít know the intersection was being monitored by a red light camera; but its GPS camera locator told it to warn you about the camera before you entered the intersection. My goal here is to explain why old units are now giving lots of false alarms and help you determine if this particular radar detector is something you might want to consider buying.
     All radar detectors attempt to determine if you are passing through an area where the speed of vehicles is being monitored by law enforcement. This police monitoring can be done a number of ways. The most familiar method is an officer in a police car using a radar gun to determine the speed of passing cars. In many metropolitan cities law enforcement is now also using speed cameras attached to road signs, lampposts, and traffic lights.
     If you have been wondering why your old detector keeps giving you false warnings, it is because many new cars use radar in their collision avoidance system, blind spot detectors, and to tell their driver if they are about to hit something when they are backing up. The Whistler CR90 has a Traffic Flow Signal Rejection (TFSR) setting that you can turn on using the customization features in the menu. When you turn this feature on it will alleviate most of these annoying signals.
     In NYC where I did a lot of the testing for this review you will find many traffic lights and lampposts that have cameras to catch speeders. You will also find cameras that are looking for cars that donít clear the monitored intersection before the traffic light turns red. All of these cameras take pictures of offending car license plates and the owners of these cars receive tickets in the mail. In these cases you are dealing with a fine, not a ticket with points, since the system canít identify who was driving the car when the car was speeding or passing a red light. If the owners of these cars donít pay these fines they might end up not being able to renew their driverís license or car registration.
By Alan J. Pierce
pierceaj@techtoday.us
    To see what the Whistler CR90 Laser Radar Detector (see photo 1) could do I tested it on all kinds of roads and highways in New York City, New York State, and northern New Jersey. Whistler CR90 has no internal battery but it does have flash memory to remember updates and other user settings. For the unit to work, the power cable that comes with it needs to be plugged into an accessory outlet (cigarette lighter receptacle) of your vehicle. The lighter socket plug that comes with the unit has an extra USB receptacle so you can also plug in your Smartphone, tablet, or other accessory at the same time.
     The CR90 cable is not permanently attached to the detector because Whistler wants you to be able to plug your detector into your computer to get updates. These updates would include the location of new traffic cameras in your area. Because the CR 90 is a GPS enabled radar detector it can determine your location and know in advance if you are going to pass permanent enforcement cameras and other permanent speed enforcement traps. These extra few seconds could save you a ticket.
     During testing the Whistler CR90 warned me of all the detected radar signals that could be a threat. It has a different audio sound for each type of detection and all the serious threats also cause a light on top of the unit to light up. Photo 2 is a labeled diagram of the CR90. The unitís menu lets you personalize how it handles many different signals and through it you can also adjust how sensitive it is to annoying signals that are not usually a threat. For example on a long highway trip where you know you wonít exceed the speed limit you can activate Auto Quiet Mode and set how fast you should be going before the detector bothers you with warnings.
     With a simple press of a button on the unit you can affect sensitivity by selecting city 1, city 2 or highway. See photo 2 again. When the CR90 knows you are about to enter the area of a camera threat the unit signals you and displays ďTRF CAMĒ. When you drive out of the cameraís range the CR90 will signal you and show ďPASSĒ on its display.

Reasons to Drool
     During testing the Whistler CR90 picked up all the different traffic enforcement wavelength bands including laser. With Traffic Flow Signal Rejection (TFSR) turned on I wasnít bothered with as many false alarms as I experienced with my old detector.

Not So Cool
     If you donít just stay with the unitís operating features out of the box, using the menu to customize operations can be quite confusing.