Escort MAX 4 Radar Detector

Escort MAX 4 Review Preview

The Escort MAX 4 is Escort’s new top of the line single antenna radar detector which will ultimately replace the outgoing Escort MAX 3.

Escort Max 4 review preview

The Escort MAX 4 promises improvements in both performance and filtering over its predecessor, the Escort MAX 3.

Updated: 5-4-24

Escort MAX 4’s highlights:

  • Dual-core processor
  • Escort MAX 4 dual LNA design (low noise amplifier) for improved range and reduced detectability to SPECTRE RDDs
  • MultaRadar photo enforcement detection
  • Mestafusion detection (used in Alberta, CA)
  • Filtering
  • Escort’s DriveSmarter (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible app) support
  • USB-C data port (a first for Escort)

The Escort MAX 4 is Escort’s first conventional single-antenna radar detector that utilizes dual LNA circuitry (first appearing in the Beltronics STi Driver and subsequently the original Escort Redline) and represents Escort’s counter to the Uniden R4, which also incorporates LNAs, at a price point that is only $20 greater than the Uniden.

Unlike the Uniden R4, however, which also incorporates Bluetooth connectivity, Escort provides a slick smartphone app, now called DriveSmarter, which allows wireless configuration of the Escort MAX 4 and participation in Escort’s live network used by other drivers using Escort Live! or DriveSmarter.

At this point, Uniden, does not provide a smartphone app themselves, instead opting to rely on third-party developers.

Another potential advantage of the Escort MAX 4 is the ability for the radar detector to be paired to the Escort M2 dash cam.

Escort claims that their new Escort MAX 4 offers twice the accuracy of filtering (presumably) of the Escort MAX 3 radar detector.

This claim will be difficult to confirm, as we have found with most other Escort radar detectors, the Escort MAX 4 may appear to be more “resistant” to K-band falsing, staying more quiet, by actually being slow to alert to detections.

If that is the case, this claimed improved performance wouldn’t be a reflection of better filter signal processing per se,  as it would be sluggishness, which we would consider a liability.

When we first started testing the Escort MAX 3 four years ago, we found it to be quite sensitive for its time, however, we considered its erratic and slow responsiveness (particularly) with K-band to be off-putting.

As such, we tended to reach for other radar detectors which alerted more reliably when we hit the road.

The alerting performance of the Escort Redline 360c and Escort MAX 360 MkII and Escort MAX 360c MKII series of radar detectors are similar to the outgoing Escort MAX 3, so we are expecting this to hold true with the new Escort MAX 4.

With the notable exception of the Escort MAXcam 360c, we have come to accept this behavior as being an intentional design element, something that Escort doesn’t consider being a flaw, as we’ve observed this for many years starting with the Escort Passport 9500i in 2007.

We have shared our observations with Escort about this, but generally this alerting behavior remains across most of their models.

Apparently, Escort is choosing to produce slower responding radar detectors for the purposes of substantially reducing false alerts as Escort has historically traded on being quieter to drive with (than other manufacturers).

Why is this, you may be asking yourself?

The answer we believe lies with the number one reason for return of detectors, their falsing behavior.

Radar detectors that tend to overly false end up being annoying to most drivers.

Escort understandably, like any other manufacturer, doesn’t want product returns when their detectors are performing as they should.

So, we believe their emphasis on reducing falses are intended to reduce that likelihood.

I believe the evidence can be found with the fact that Escort’s detectors come with TSR on by default.  Traffic Sensor Rejection is a feature that slows down alerting response to K-band by at least 750ms (3/4 second) to eliminate alerts from K-band traffic flow sensors that transmit their signal for a duration of anywhere from 500ms (1/2 second) to one second.

By having TSR on, that added “delay” would eliminate the alerts from these sources.  These traffic sensors have been located in Cincinnati and some coastal California highways and indeed they are very annoying.

It just so happens that some collision avoidance systems which utilize multiple sweeping K-band transponders can also appear briefly, similarly to the traffic sensor systems.  By having TSR enabled by default, Escort’s detectors will also cut down on alerts from these systems as well.

The end result is a quieter detector (ie; Escort’s mission accomplished).

Another challenge presented by these vehicle collision avoidance systems is when you hjave multiple sweeping K-band transmissions, a brief frequency harmonic which can fall in the frequency range of Ka-band (also used by police radar)  or an FMCW K-band (used by MRCD/MRCT/Mestafusion/Redflex Halo) photo and redlight camera enforcement systems.

As a result, detectors can incorrectly alert Ka-band or MultaRadar/Mestafusion systems.  This pretty much happens with all detectors, regardless of manufacture.

Therefore, a manufacture may choose to slow responsiveness to Ka-band to give their detectors more time to analyze what the detector is actually detecting, which in turn reduces these sorts of alerts.

Again, this results in a quieter (less annoying) detector.

Most casual or first time users of radar detectors wouldn’t even realize or understand these dynamics and the challenges their detector faces in having to balance the alerting, when it needs to, and staying quiet when there is no genuine police radar or police laser threat.

More seasoned and experienced users may, however, but they represent a relatively small percentage of buyers (even if they are vocal online in forums or Youtube).

Even so, it’s essential to know that police radar (or police lidar) can obtain a speed reading within a duration shorter than one second.

If a detector isn’t quick enough, it’s not going to alert to a genuine threat.

Truth be told, it’s harder on a manufacturer’s engineering team–especially with so many more potential sources of non-genuine police radar– to develop detectors with the proper balance of responsiveness and falsing resistance.

Even Valentine Research has slowed down the responsiveness of their V1 Gen2 , ceding one of the strengths of the original V1 for the sake of reducing alerts that would otherwise happen.

As an expert user of radar detectors of 45 years, my priority is responsiveness over sensitivity and I’m willing to forgo some quietness.

We would prefer to see Escort follow in the path of Uniden and Whistler in striving to produce detectors that are both effective at filtering–through genuinely advanced signal processing algorithms (instead of slowness)–yet remain quick responding to instant-on police radar–the most lethal form of police radar–as its early detection remains paramount.

Both Uniden and Whistler have demonstrated that their engineering teams are committed to achieving an effective and dependable balance between these two competing dynamics (i.e.; finding a sweet spot).

Building trust in confidence in a radar detector over time is important to me and each model, regardless of manufacture, has its own personality.

The silver lining in all of this is that in all of these cases, Escort’s hardware is solidly designed and most capable.

It would be nice, if Escort would provide a firmware update that addresses our primary concern, in terms of alerting performance and this is true for the other aforementioned Escort detectors’ alerting behaviors, as well.

Interestingly enough, the Escort MAXcam 360c alerts beautifully and I have come to trust it.  So, the engineering team has already found good balance with at least one of their detectors.

With the introduction of the new Escort MAX 4, Escort has now completed its refresh across their entire product line.

Whether the Escort MAX 4 is right for you, like any other, depends upon your priorities.

If a quiet, yet sensitive detector is your priority or if you are looking to get your first high-end detector, the Escort MAX 4 should prove to be a solid choice.

If, on the other hand,  reactivity (that comes with a potentially higher occurrence of alerting frequency) is your priority or you are a more seasoned user that understands how and why a detector alerts (even to non police radar or police lidar), it may not be.

Like any tool, whether or not the Escort MAX 4 is right for you comes down to your personal preferences.

In any event, we expect to put a production Escort MAX 4 through a rigorous examination, in the real-world, as we undertake a cross country trip in the coming week and will be posting our experiences and encounters on the RadarBusters Youtube Channel.

Be sure to subscribe and click that bell so you can be notified of our new Escort MAX 4 testing videos.

At a retail price of only $399 the Escort MAX 4 is the same price as the outgoing Escort MAX 3 was prior to its price reduction by $50 as Escort sells out its remaining stock.

For the early adopters you can click the following link to purchase the Escort MAX 4 radar detector.

Stay tuned!

Veil Guy

 

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