Cobra RAD 700i Review: High-end Radar Detector at an Extreme Low Price

 

Cobra RAD 700i Review

Cobra hits it out of the park.  The Cobra RAD 700i offers astounding levels of performance at a price point that is remarkably inexpensive.

Driving extensively with the Cobra RAD 700i, makes me wonder, how did Cobra actually manage this produce such a radar detector?

 

Cobra RAD 700i vs Florida Highway Patrol

Cobra vs Florida Highway Patrol

Updated: 6-29-24 by Veil Guy

Cobra RAD 700i Review Introduction

The Cobra RAD 700i is an exceptional radar detector at a price point of only $250 that performs, as implausible as it may seem, nearly as well as radar detectors costing more the three times its low price.

If you are looking to get one the best radar detectors, perhaps your first one, for next to nothing, we’ll save you some time and cut right to the chase:

The Cobra RAD 700i is the radar detector you should purchase, it’s that simple.

Cobra RAD 700i Review by Veil Guy & RadarBusters

Cobra RAD 700i In-depth Review (video)
 

Highlights

  • The Cobra RAD 700i is Cobra’s best radar detector ever and the best performing detector at this price
  • Offers eye-popping performance across all radar bands nearly equaling radar detectors costing up to three times as much
  • Uses advanced DSP (digital signal processing) for superior alerting range and filtering
  • Has built-in Bluetooth which integrates with Escort’s DriveSmarter smartphone app (both iOS and Android)
  • Includes GPS which allows for the alerting to speed and redlight photo enforcement by GPS, speed based sensitivity, and location filtering
  • Detects MultaRadar (MRCD/MRCT)
  • Provides exceptional police lidar (police laser) sensitivity
  • Has an exceptional alerting signal ramp and dynamic range
  • Integrates with Escort’s DriveSmarter (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto)
  • Includes micro-USB data port for easy firmware updating

Pros

  • Best radar detector ever at under $250
  • Sports digital signal processing (DSP)
  • Extreme sensitivity, a first for a budget radar detector
  • Exceptional police lidar sensitivity
  • Built-in GPS
  • Capable of detecting Redflex and MultaRadar photo radar
  • Built-in bluetooth
  • Integrates with DriveSmarter app
  • Extremely quiet and false resistant
  • Includes magnetic mount that’s compatible with Escort radar detectors
  • The RAD 700i is well constructed, not cheap feeling
  • Frequency display of police radar
  • Micro USB data port for easy firmware updating

Cons

  • Dimmest OLED display ever that is essentially unreadable during daylight hours
  • Alert tones are the same of other Cobra radar detectors which are not as discernable as Escort’s
  • Power connector is not an RJ11 type and there is no USB connection port for a smart phone unlike Escort’s power cords

Overview

In my 46 years driving with radar detectors and nearly 35 years associated with the radar detector industry, I’ve accumulated a ton of historical experience and quite frankly Cobra hasn’t always been regarded as a premium brand, at least in terms of its radar detector production.

Cobra was certainly successful in selling radar detectors because of their low price points and availability in popular retail outlets, meaning a ton of them have been purchased.

Also, in terms of Cobra CB radios, Cobra is regarded highly by the trucking community, which still relies Cobra CBs and are still commonly found at truck stops, such as Loves, Pilot Flyin J, and TA, throughout our country’s interstate highway system.

But, in terms of the Cobra radar detector side of the business, Cobra has had less than steller reputation which has been tough to shake. If you browse online, you’ll probably see Cobra trollers slamming Cobra products, even today, for “sins” comitted many years ago.

With the RAD 700i, Cobra we believe will change this (now dated perception) once and for all.

Things really started to take a turn for the better with the surprising purchase of Cobra by Escort’s investors and the new combined company is now called Cedar Electronics.

The acquisition of Cobra opened up resources that would have not have otherwise been available to Cobra, itself.

Soon after two new Cobra products were introduced to the market.

One of them was the Cobra RoadScout radar detector and integrated dash cam, produced under its new ownership.  The Cobra Roadscout was a very novel design and quite hip looking.

Performance wise, the Cobra RoadScout was decent enough, but I felt that it wasn’t quite at the level of other premium brands and models at Cobra’s asking price.

Along side the introduction of the Cobra RoadScout, was the Cobra Dual Pro 360° which did attain a level of performance that finally took the Cobra brand into the premium category.

The reason for the elevation of Cobra to this product class, was that the Cobra Dual Pro 360° was in reality a rebadged Beltronics (a premium sister-brand to Escort, that as a brand itself was being retired at the time).

In any event, Cobra radar detectors were getting better.

But, it takes time to change a long-held perception of a company and that’s exactly what has been slowly happening with Cobra since it’s acquisition nine years ago.

A Cobra Radar Detector That’s the Real Deal

Which brings us to this new Cobra radar detector.

Unlike the Cobra Dual Pro 360°, the RAD 700i feels like a genuine Cobra, but unlike Cobra radar detectors of the past, the RAD 700i now posseses extreme performance and high-end capabilities, which is really a first for Cobra.

Cobra has reached a real milestone with the RAD 700i and having driven with many Cobra radar detectors over the decades, that’s something that I must acknowledge.

While the very popular selling Cobra RAD 480i sells for $100 less than the RAD 700i, there is world of performance difference between the two making the extra $100 absolutely worth the stretch.

Without question, we recommend spending a little extra cash to get the highest performing radar detector currently available at this price point; not just from Cobra but from any manufacturer.

One speeding ticket save, thie Cobra will more than pay for itself.

How Capable of a Radar Detector Do you Really Need?

I believe radar detector ownership comes down to this: how fast and how often do you drive above the posted speed limit?

Ask youself, are you a relatively conservative driver that often drives at the posted speed limit (PSL) or perhaps up to 10mph over, conditions permitting?

If so, a lower performance and cheaper radar detector, like the Cobra RAD 480i, may serve your interests well.

If on the other hand, you are less cautious about speeding tickets and drive at 15 mph to perhaps 20 mph over the PSL or you tend to speed when you pace a another faster driver ahead of you (we call them “rabbits”), then a higher performance (and higher cost) radar detector will likely be in order.

Finally, if you are a driver that sometimes speeds on open highways 20 mph or greater over the PSL–where speeding violations and the associated points become quite expensive–then a  premium radar detector (meaning a more expensive one) will be what you require.

Truth be told, ever since I started driving with my first Escort radar detector in 1978, (46 years ago!) I’ve found myself squarely in that last group I mentioned above;  you know, the NASCAR qualifiers.

Coming back to Cobra, historically (prior to Cedar’s ownership), I’ve regarded Cobra radar detectors as being most appropriate for those on really tight budgets; or those that made impulse buys at retail electronics locations or travel-focused retailers found along major insterstates where you will often find Cobra products; or those who really didn’t know or care to know the intracacies of radar detector and traffic enforcement technology; or for those who didn’t feel comfortable speeding by much more than 10 mph (ie; the first group of drivers mentioned above).

As remarkable as this will sound, I feel very comfortable driving with the Cobra RAD 700i at no-holds barred speeds, which is a first for me with any Cobra radar detector.

Unlike its much less capable RAD 480i, the Cobra RAD 700i comes not only with great performance but also includes features that you would only expect with radar detectors costing much much more.

For instance, the Cobra RAD 700i incorporates Bluetooth connectivity.

This allows the Coba RAD 700i to integrate with Escort’s DriveSmarter smartphone app where you can configure the detector directly from your phone and participate in Escort’s crowdsourced network, Escort Live!.

This has been a premium feature generally reserved for Escort’s more expensive detectors and it’s really great for Cobra detector owners to be able to participate.

We still run Google’s WAZE on our trips, but we now run DriveSmarter alongside it to get the best of both worlds.

In our travels we are seeing an increasing amount of useful Escort Live! alerts from other drivers of Escort and Cobra radar detectors making it a great additonal asset to use and a nice bonus for the Coba RAD 700i’s low cost of admission.

Sensitivity & Off-axis Performance

With the RAD 700i, Cobra provides you with eye-popping sensitivity and its off-axis detection appears noticeably improved over previous Cobra radar detectors.

We had a recent encounter with a Maricopa Counthy sheriff operating K-band in patrol mode and the Cobra RAD 700i out alerted our $4000 Uniden R9!

Granted, the Cobra RAD 700i had a mounting advantage (being higher on the windshield than the bumper mounted Uniden R9), but even so, that was impressive performance from a Cobra detector.

Cobra RAD 700i Out Alerts a Uniden R9 on Patrolling K-band

Such great detections weren’t isolated events, either.

The Cobra RAD 700i consistently provided more than sufficient alerting times to impending threats, in such a manner that we consider it a premium-level radar detector.

In terms of off-axis detections, the following video shows an encounter we had with a patrol vehicle operating radar from an overhead pass facing us from the other side of the highway (off-axis in two planes).

Cobra RAD 700i Elevated Off-Axis 34.7 Ka Band

 

The Cobra RAD 700i also faired well against a Florida Highway Patrol, operating stationery Ka-band at 34.7 GHz of a Kustom Signals mobile radar.

 

Cobra RAD 700i vs FHP Stalker 34.7 GHz Ka-band-Police Radar

 

In yet another encounter, the Cobra RAD 700i turned in an impressive detection to a patrolling Arizona DPS trooper on a motorcycle who was operating a 35.5 GHz Stalker Ka-band unit.

 

Cobra RAD 700i & Uniden R9 vs 35.5 GHz Ka Band Patrolling

X-band detections (still used in New Jersey and Ohio as well as in North Carolina and Mississippi) also showed well, so we determined that there was no “backsliding” (as its technically called) on X-band to improve performance on either K or Ka.

Visit the following link to view our collection of Cobra RAD 700i review real-world videos.

Detections of Exotic Photo Radar

After years of falling short in providing reliable detections of MultaRadar, Cedar has figured out how to alert to MRCD/MRCT photo radar to a high degree (but still not quite as consistently or as well as Uniden), but they have uniquely conquered Mestafusion (used in Alberta, Canada).

The Cobra RAD 700i has been infused with MultaRadar detection capability as shown below, something that was entirely unexpected for a radar detector costing only $250.

Even the $500 Valentine 1 Gen 2, can’t alert to MultaRadar!

Cobra RAD 700i Test: MultaRadar & Redflex Halo Photo Radar

 

Band selection options do not give you the ability to specically ENABLE or DISABLE MRCD/MRCT, so it’s always own by default.

This is an oversight that we hope Cobra will address this shortcoming in a future firmware update.

We also understand that Escort is working on detecting Gatso RT4 (found throughout Iowa) so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Cobra benefit from the knowledge learned by Cedar’s engineering team.

Perhaps Mestafusion detections will one day be added if this diminutive Cobra detector’s processing chips can handle the additional signal processing tasks.

Extended K-band Detection Range

The Cobra RAD 700i also has the ability to extend its detections to very low-frequency K-band radar (frequencies well below what is used by standard K-band police radar of 24.125 GHz).

This can be useful when encountering older Gatso systems which can operate below the K-band frequency of 24.000 GHz.

We did encounter an older Gatso system operating in a small town in Iowa that failed to cause an alert until the Extended Mode was enabled on one of our radar detectors.

Lower frequency K-band radar can also occur in areas like Edmonton, Alberta where K-band mobile systems are used.

In very cold temperatures,  otherwise higher frequency K-band radar can sometimes “drift” downward into the 23 GHz range so having a radar detector that can see radar down low like this can be a real benefit.

The default setting to this special feature is OFF, but it’s nice to know that Cobra has this capability if and when it’s ever needed.

No Segmentation of Ka-band

The Cobra RAD 700i does not have the ability to be Ka-band segmented like other Escort radar detectors, but this is an advanced feature that we found unecessary to have as the RAD 700i’s performance did well enough against Ka-band detections using a standard superwide Ka-band sweep.

Alerting Behavior

I’ve long been critical of the nature of Escort’s alerting behavior as being somewhat erratic and at times non-linear.

Cobra hasn’t always gotten it right, either.

Years ago, when Cobra was a separate company, they too had alerting issues as a result of too high dynamic range that caused Cobra detectors to not alert at full-strength when in a “kill-zone” of police radar, even at point blank range.

This made it hard to really gauge the actually severity of an impeding threat.

Fortunately for us, Cobra’s alerting behavior has been rectified and the Cobra RAD 700i, like the new Escort MAX 4, provides an exceptional alerting signal ramp.

The alert tones are the same ones Cobra has used for years and while I prefer the tones of Escort, Uniden, or Valentine, it’s just a matter of getting used to them and for those for which the Cobra RAD 700i is their first radar detector, they won’t even be aware of any alert tone differences.

Filtering

Historically, Cobra radar detectors used to false at a greater rate than other detectors from Escort, BEL (Beltronics), and Valentine and yet they were less effective at alerting to genuine police radar.

What this meant was you got the worst of two worlds:  Excessive falsing coupled with less than stellar performance.

This is certainly NOT the case with the Cobra RAD 700i.

The Cobra RAD 700i is very easy to live with.  It stays quiet when it should and alerts when you need it to.

Like all other radar detectors that have MultaRadar detection capabilities, the Cobra RAD 700i falses to MultaRadar when confronted with another vehicle’s collision avoidance system.

Having the ability to disable MultaRadar would make the Cobra RAD 700i even quieter for those not requiring MultaRadar detection (ie; most U.S. drivers).

As it is with all radar detector manufacturers, improvements in filtering are always a work in progress and with the changing equipment of vehicle collision avoidance systems, it’s a moving target for the manufacturers.

So, we expect to see continuing improvements in filtering from Cobra.

Radar Alerting Responsiveness

We never felt we had been at risk at missing an advanced instant-on (I/O) radar shot.

Missing advanced police radar can happen when detectors, that appear to filter well, are actually just slow at reacting to radar detections for the sake of remaining quiet.

It’s a tough balancing act and so far, but it appears this Cobra detector does a sufficient enough job at balancing both alerting reactivity and filtering.

We have another round of testing in the works as a follow up to our last radar detector responsiveness test we conducted and we will include Cobra in our lineup.

So, stay tuned to our YouTube channel for that test.

Police LIDAR Sensitivity

The Cobra RAD 700i really excels at detecting police lidar.

I confirmed this when I tested the Cobra RAD 700i with a variety of police lidars, including the DragonEye Compact with VPR (variable pulse rates).

Like the Escort MAXcam 360c, the Cobra RAD 700i managed to alert to police lidar at distances of fewer than 100 feet away!

That’s essentially at point blank range.  Keep in mind, police laser is much harder to detect at close range than at far range, the opposite of police radar.

The Cobra RAD 700i even out alerts Uniden windshield-mount radar detectors, the Whistler Titan, and every other Escort windshield-mount radar detector, save for the Escort MAXcam 360c.

The RAD 700i was even able to stand toe-to-toe with the Valentine 1, the radar detector I’ve regarded as being the best ever at detecting police laser.

This improved laser detection performance was quite noticeable in the real-world of traffic enforcement and is most welcomed.

If you’ve been following my radar detector reviews over the years, you know that I have always regarded Cobra radar detectors as being excellent in their laser sensitivity department and so I am pleased to report that Cobra has continued with its long tradition of excellence.

Candidly, I wish other models from Escort and Uniden would follow-suit.

No other countermeasure reviewer has driven with as many radar detectors and for as many miles (greater than one million miles and counting!) and for as long as I have, so trust me when I tell you, owning a radar detector that has exceptional laser sensitivity is absolutley essential for speeding ticket avoidance.

The ability to consistently alert to police laser is paramount as the following real-world laser encounters demonstrate:

Police laser is often targeted at distances greater than 1500 feet, sometimes as much as 2700 feet.  That’s more than a half mile away.

At such distances, lidar is the most lethal (not close up as is often claimed) because at these distances you can’t even see the patrol vehicle where at closer distances, you could.

Having a great laser detector can help you avoid a speeding ticket because at distances greater than 1000 feet the beam divergence is sufficient enough that you detector may be able to “see” a portion of a laser beam that is coming from another vehicle that is being targeted ahead of you or along side of you.

I also had another experience, some years ago driving (well above the posted limit) on an Interstate towards the North East Kingdom in Vermont.

In this instance, there was an officer who targeted me with police laser at a great distance in which I was able to rapidly change lanes and move my vehicle out of his initial aiming point while being able to slow down.

By the time he was able to retarget my headlight in the other lane, I had managed to slow down enough to not be concerned when he ultimately clocked my speed at close range.

I was using an original Valentine 1 at the time with no Veil on my loaner 3 series BMW and I know that quick manuever saved me from a speeding ticket.

In another instance, I was outside of an airforce base in Delaware and a vehicle ahead of me was targeted and my V1 alerted as it saw a portion of the beam that was transmitted through that vehicle’s windshield.

Again, I was able to slow down before it was my turn at an overhead shot from an overpass I was approaching.

Finally, another experience I had was when I was  slowly being passed by a vehicle on a two lane highway (route 50) in Maryland while using a Whistler CR97 and I got an advanced alert of laser to another vehicle being targeted that was just ahead of me the other lane and was able to slow down.

That other vehicle was pulled over, not I, even though we were both speeding at the time.

These good experiences don’t even account for the use of Veil which was specifically developed to absorb police laser to allow you to sucessfully slow down while being targeted when using a radar detector with good laser sensitivity.

So it should be obvious by now, having a radar detector with good police lidar sensitivity is a priority and the fact the Cobra is doing so well with the Cobra RAD 700i is nothing short of remarkable.

Other features common to other Cedar (Escort) radar detectors

Since we have covered these in previous reviews, for the sake of brevity, we are providing only a summary of some of the RAD 700i’s capabilities which are found on other Escort radar detectors.

  • GPS, which allows for autolockouts of stationery sources of non-genuine radar (a feature I tend not to use as I prefer locking out these systems manually); Escort Defender Alerts; and speed adjustable sensitivity
  • Marking of locations such as VASCAR speed traps, photo radar not already included in Escort’s Defender database, or points of interest.
  • Band detection defeat of X, K, Ka, Lidar
  • TSR (traffic sensor rejection) designed to reduce false alerts from older stationery K-band traffic flow measuring systems found in cities, such as Cincinnati and sections of I-5 in California.  Like Escort, Cobra has this feature on by default, but we recommend disabling TSR as responsiveness to K-band can be adversely effected.
  • Multi-colored OLED display
  • Simplied programming including a sensitivity setting of High, Medium, Low, Auto (corresponding to Highway, City modes of other detectors).  AUTO allows the RAD 700i to adjust its sensitivity to X and K based upon your speed (the higher it is, the more sensitive the detector will be, the lower, the less sensitive which is best suited for city driving)
  • Specific police radar frequency display (but only with two decimal accuracy): 24.1x K-band, 33.8x, 34.7x, 35.5x Ka-band. and 10.5x X-band.  Having a two digit MHz resolution is sufficient enough to identify what type of radar you are encountering.
  • Bluetooth and DriverSmarter integration.  Alerts from the Cobra RAD 700i and other Escort radar detector owners are shared to potentially alert you to the presence of instant-on police radar that may not be otherwise detected because traffic is light or the officer is being very selective in targeting.
  • The RAD 700i’s micro-USB dataport allows for easily applied firmware updates from a home computer (either Windows or MAC).
  • Quick-release magnetic mount which can now be found on all Escort radar detectors and the Cobra RAD 700i, allowing for rapid dismounting and mounting as we always recommend removing radar detectors when parked for reduced exposure to heat from sunlight and inconspicuousness to lower the chance of a break-in and potential theft.

Display

It would not be a complete review without the mention of the Cobra’s display.

I and others have been critical of Escort’s radar detectors having small dim displays that are difficult to read during the daytime.

Unfortunately, the display on the RAD 700i, is even dimmer and nearly impossible to see during the day.

Yes, it has four different color options, but anything other than white is essentially unviewable.  The best color selection we settled upon was WHITE.

I feel this unfortunate choice of the RAD 700i’s OLED display module is so dim in comparison to the Cobra RAD 480i, which is very bright and easy to read during daylight and the RAD 480i retails for $100 less at $150.

Conclusion

At  $250, the Cobra RAD 700i is, for all intents and purposes, the best radar detector you can buy for the money.

The RAD 700i is extremely capable, quiet, and simple to operate.

Although the RAD 700i includes advanced features and capabilities that many drivers won’t require, its nice to know they are available if and when you ever need them.

The RAD 700i can cater to both new radar detector users as well as more advanced users looking for a premium detector but who are on a tight budget.

As such, I believe the RAD 700i is uniquely positioned to sell exceptionally well given what I believe will be its broad appeal.

Veil purchased a production RAD 700i at full retail to ensure our followers that our review would be unbiased and true to what customers should expect when they purchase one for themselves.

We’ve put several thousand miles on the RAD 700i during a recent cross-country trip which encompassed a large number of states where we faced a vast mix of traffic enforcement.

In other words, we really put the Cobra RAD 700i through its paces.

What we found was that Cobra has accomplished the impossible and has developed an extremely capable radar detector at such a low price point that it sets the Cobra RAD 700i apart from every other radar detector currently available.

For the first time in the history of the radar detector industry, drivers who couldn’t otherwise afford a premium radar detector, can now do so with the Cobra RAD 700i.

So, for all of us in the enthusiast driving community, kudos to you, Cobra.  Job well done.

For those interested in investing in a Cobra RAD 700i, we would appreciate you purchasing from the following trust-worthy sources:

Remember to Drive Safe, Drive Smart, and Most Importantly Protected!

VG

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