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valentine rebuttal

A while back Automobile had a review of radar units and the Valentine
came out #4.  Subsequently, there was some debate on the net about 
how scientific the review was.  I found this info on a web page
(Miata list archives) referred to in a post in rec.autos.misc.

Very interesting - it would appear that Automobile has little
credibility.  Nice comments by Mike Valentine!  Just wish they would
drop the price :)

>From: "Carter Ledbetter" 
>Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 10:14:57 -0500
>Subject: Automobile Dec 95 Radar Detector Review
>After a few of the discussions here about the Dec 95 Automobile Radar Detector
>review, I passed Mike Valentine @ Valentine Research some of the questions
>raised.  Mike is a member of the Southern Ohio BMW CCA chapter, and usually
>shows off the latest tools (laser speed units, STALKER, etc- at least once a
>I have NO business relationship w/ Mike; and have NOTHING to gain...
>The following are some of his thoughts, NOT mine.  Questions should be directed
>to Valentine Research in Cincinnati.  If you are not interested in Radar
>Detectors, please excuse the bandwidth and skip to the end.  Everybody
>The Top 20 Reasons to be Concerned about Craig Peterson's
>December '95 Automobile Radar Detector Test.
>1)  Mr. Peterson writes [Re: changes in technology]: "... making
>the nearly four-year-old Valentine rather antediluvian in
>        Mr. Peterson's description of the Valentine One ignores
>        continuous improvements since its introduction, including
>        widening Ka-band coverage from 1 GHz  to 2.6 GHz and the
>        addition of the laser option.  Further, older units purchased
>        without these advances were eligible to have them added
>        through an upgrade program -- the only such program in the
>        industry.
>        The Valentine Research philosophy is one of continuous
>        improvement and upgrade instead of continuous model change and
>        obsolescence.  We think planned-obsolescence is "antediluvian".
> 2)  Mr. Peterson says he "devised" some radar tests in a
>"cost-no-object shootout".
>        His radar tests were "devised" in such a way that the K-band
>        straightaway "shootout" ended in a tie when the test ran out
>        of room.  This is like testing sports cars for top speed using
>        a speedometer limited to 85 MPH.  A Yugo and a Ferrari would
>        both top out at 85.
>        Car and Driver has tested Valentine One for K-band range in the
>        October '92, April '94 and September '95 issues and found it
>        vastly superior to other makes of detectors.
>        When tests are "devised" that hide major differences in
>        performance, the author's opinion becomes more important than
>        the objective qualities of the detectors being tested.
>3)  Mr. Peterson writes [Re: Passport 4600]:  "And audio alerts
>arrived with fully 90 decibels of authority, a whopping 10
>decibels louder than the Valentine."
>        This claim is just plain wrong.  We measured a Passport 4600
>        and a Valentine One with a Bruel & Kjaer Model 2230 precision
>        integrating sound level meter and a Kustom Falcon radar gun.
>        The Valentine One measured 90 decibels and the Passport measured
>        84 decibels.  The Valentine One is 6 decibels louder, not "a
>        whopping 10 decibels" weaker than the Passport 4600.
>        This is "a whopping" 16 decibels of error.  It is easy to hear
>        that the Valentine One is louder by ear, without a sound
>        pressure meter.
>4)  Mr. Peterson writes [Re: Passport 4600]:  "In the
>straightaway test in city mode it blew away all the others
>against X-band radar, registering more than two and a half miles
>of detection range, a useful 8000-foot margin over the
>Valentine, placed in its second [Advanced] logic mode."
>        This comparison leaves out a critical point.  The Passport 4600
>        has no city mode!  Therefore, the Passport had to be tested in
>        its only mode -- the equivalent of highway mode.  No wonder it
>        did as well in the "city-mode" test as in the X-band "highway"
>        test. It also tied for last place in the "urban loop" X-band
>        false-alarm test.
>5)  Mr. Peterson writes [Re: Uniden LRD6399SW]:  "Uniden's
>city-mode alarm strategy is not to chop sensitivity, as do its
>competitors.  Instead, the audio alerts stay mute until the
>third of five LEDs comes alive, denoting  a much closer
>proximity to the radar. ...  We'd advise you to keep a sharp eye
>on the Uniden while driving in town lest the silent flashing LED
>go unnoticed until it's too late."
>        These statements contradict themselves.  If the sensitivity is
>        not "chopped", why would one be required to "keep a sharp eye"
>        on the unit lest it become too late?  In the X-band city-mode
>        straightaway test, the Uniden is given full credit for the range
>        obtained by watching for the "silent flashing LED" instead of
>        waiting for an audio alarm.  Why?
>        Mr. Peterson is not as lenient toward the Valentine One.  If he
>        had used the Logic mode (instead of Advanced Logic) in the
>        city-mode X-band straightaway test, and if he had followed the
>        procedure allowed for the Uniden, the Valentine One would have
>        walked away from the entire field.
>        As can be seen from the X-band graphs, Valentine One's Advanced
>        Logic mode (Peterson    calls it "city") performance is the
>        general equal of the highway mode performance of the 1st
>        ranked B.E.L. and second ranked Uniden.
>6)  Mr. Peterson writes [Re: Uniden LRD6399SW]:  "In town the
>Uniden squawked but one false alarm -- an X-band -- making it
>the second quietest unit tested."
>        Notice the use of the term "squawked" to indicate reception of
>        the false alarm.  Apparently there was no need to "keep a
>        sharp eye on the Uniden while driving in town" while rating
>        its false alarm performance in the "urban loop".  How many times
>        did the "silent flashing LED" indicate a false alarm without
>        making a noise?
>        Mr. Peterson has chosen to use visual indication which makes
>        the "city-mode" range test higher for the Uniden.  He then
>        chose audio indication for the "urban loop" false-alarm test
>        which makes performance look better than would visual
>        indication.  Why?
>        Mr. Peterson says the Uniden is "the second quietest unit
>        tested".  The B.E.L. also received "but one false alarm -- an
>        X-band".  How can a unit with the identical score be ranked
>        second to the B.E.L.?
> 7)  Mr. Peterson writes:  "... unlike lower-cost models from
>the competition, the Valentine does not offer features many
>consumers now take for granted, including auto mute, a Safety
>Radar warning system, a dim/dark switch, and visual band
>identification (save a small LED to denote Ka-band radar)."
>        Notice the use of the phrase "features many consumers now take
>        for granted".  Poor, deprived consumers they are if they take these
>        features for granted!  The Valentine One would have to stoop to offer
>        such features.
>8)  "many consumers now take for granted" - Auto-mute
>        Auto-mute is a Band-Aid for the fear of using "city" mode in
>        earlier detectors.  "City" weakens X-band sensitivity.
>        Everyone I know is afraid to use "city" because it might get
>        left "on" by mistake when they leave town.
>        Auto-mute makes leaving a detector in the "highway" mode less
>        irritating in town.  It still falses for every shopping center
>        and bank, but it shuts up a few seconds later.  The catch is
>        it shuts up for real radar too!  That makes real radar and most
>        false alarms sound alike.  Good luck to those who now take
>        this system for granted.  What if you don't hear it before it
>        mutes?  What if a real radar lays in wait after the sound quits?
>        The only solution is to watch the detector instead of watching
>        the road.
>        Today the Valentine One offers two computer modes that offer
>        much more intelligence than any "city" mode "desensitivity"
>        switch.  Our logic modes are like having a good secretary
>        screen your calls.  You don't miss any important calls, but you
>        don't have to answer every one yourself.
>9)  "many consumers now take for granted" - Safety Radar
>        How can consumers take Safety Radar for granted when not a
>        single transmitter has ever been sold?  As an operating
>        system, it exists only in detector advertisements.
>        Safety Radar is an invention of other radar detector
>        manufacturers.  It is designed to add a driving safety benefit
>        to detectors so that lawmakers can no longer argue that they are
>        simply the highway equivalent of burglar tools.
>        Mr. Peterson is helping Cobra sell the  Safety Alert system to
>        interested parties through a promotional video he produced.
>        He doesn't mention this in his Automobile review.
>        Mr. Peterson also doesn't mention that the Valentine One
>        interprets Safety Alert signals as a K-band alarm with a "2"
>        in the bogey counter, an indication rarely seen otherwise.
>        Neither does he mention that the Valentine One is the only
>        detector capable of telling from which direction a Safety
>        Alert transmitter is approaching!
>        Every Valentine One ever made will accurately locate a Safety
>        Alert transmitter.  Is this what Mr. Peterson means when he
>        calls it "antediluvian"?
>10)  "many consumers now take for granted" - dim/dark switch
>        This reference ignores a superior feature that low-cost
>        detectors don't offer.  The Valentine One has a
>        photoelectrically-controlled automatic light dimmer.  Low-cost
>        detectors omit this feature due to the expense of the extra
>        circuitry.  Even if "many consumers now take for granted" a
>        poor dimming solution through lack of alternative, that is no
>        justification to down-grade a superior feature.
>        "Dark" switches aren't really dark.  They all leave the
>        pilot-light on.  Who really thinks that an LED shining from a
>        sun-visor is not a radar detector?  A true "low-profile
>        nighttime operation" solution in a "cost-no-object shootout"
>        wouldn't be a half-measure.
>        Mr. Peterson fails to mention an accessory to the Valentine One
>        that offers superior nighttime stealth: the Concealed Display.
>        This private display module may be located in the car where
>        the driver can see it without prying eyes being any the wiser.
>11)  "many consumers now take for granted" - Visual band
>        Visual band indicators are a Band-Aid for lousy audio warnings.
>        Low-cost detectors have a reputation for their audio warnings
>        all sounding alike.  Instead of improving the sound, they ask
>        you to take your eyes off the road, and look at miniature icons.
>        Mr. Peterson writes: "The 745STi's audio alerts are not as
>        distinct as the others but are fortuitously backed up by
>        large, differently colored icons that are impossible to
>        misinterpret."
>        I have believed in distinctly different sounds for the
>        different bands since the first Escort, have never given up on
>        them, and Valentine One comes fully equipped.
>12)  Mr. Peterson writes:  "The wider the field of view, the
>better the chance your detector will see the light beam when
>it's targeting someone up ahead, even if the target car is in
>another lane."
>        This "field of view" test is concerned with the laser gun's
>        field of view, not the detector's.  Car and Driver has a similar
>        test using two-by-fours and saw-horses to test for off-the-axis
>        of the laser-gun performance of laser detectors.
>        Valentine One scores a first place in Mr. Peterson's "field of
>        view" test as well as first place in two different Car and
>        Driver off-axis "saw-horse" sensitivity tests.
>        B.E.L. scores a last-place sixth in Mr. Peterson's "field of
>        view" test and a third out of five and fourth out of six in
>        the two Car and Driver "saw-horse" tests.
>13)  Mr. Peterson then writes [Re: Valentine One]:  "Against
>lasers it achieved the widest field of view but trailed the
>leading BEL in seeing a laser beam striking a car ahead,
>potentially the difference between cruising past the danger or
>having a gent in a bear hat asking for your license and
>        This statement contradicts his own definition of why he
>        performed his "field of view" test.  Why does the last-place
>        finisher in a test that is said to predict performance in
>        "targeting someone up ahead" beat all comers in "seeing a
>        laser beam striking a car ahead"?
>        The first place ranking of Valentine One is not a fluke and
>        neither is a bottom-half ranking of BEL in off-laser-gun-axis
>        performance tests.  What is truly odd is the magical
>        improvement of the BEL unit in the "seeing a laser beam
>        striking a car ahead" test from dead-last to first place.
>14)  Mr. Peterson writes:  "Save for the Valentine unit, all
>offer front and rear laser detection --"
>        What is the point of singling out the Valentine One when the
>        Cobra RDL-712SW has no rear laser detection feature either?
>        This is particularly strange when Mr. Peterson has written
>        three articles in three separate magazines where he counsels
>        putting no faith in rear laser detection.
>15)  Mr. Peterson writes [Re: Valentine One direction-finding]:
>"... we circled the car slowly carrying a handheld K-15 X-band
>radar. ...  If the radar is more than about 30 degrees to the
>side, the detector becomes confused, often progressively
>lighting up arrows in three different quadrants."
>        When was the last time you were circled, at point-blank range,
>        by a police radar while driving down the road?  Mr. Peterson
>        devised this unusual test that found fault with the radar
>        locator.  In the real world, many thousands of happy customers
>        confirm that direction-finding  has tremendous value.  Our
>        customer surveys tell us that the radar locator is the number
>        one reason that customers are glad they bought a Valentine One.
>        Ninety-seven percent of our customers would recommend a
>        Valentine One to a friend.
>        Mr. Peterson has a long history of criticizing the radar
>        locator.  In publications ranging from Automobile Magazine to
>        Car Audio & Electronics, The (Mercedes-Benz) Star, and
>        Corvette Fever, he has repeatedly expressed his displeasure
>        with the Valentine One's direction-finding.  Frank Barrett,
>        the editor of The Star, was moved to interject in a Craig
>        Peterson review: "It's the only detector that warns you not only
>        that radar is present but where it is - ahead, behind, or to
>        the side.  After you've seen that feature in action, you won't
>        want to drive without it."
>        Why would Mr. Peterson repeatedly fault, but our customers
>        enthusiastically endorse, the same feature?  Valentine One is
>        the only detector available with radar location.  The radar
>        locator is patented (U.S. Patents 5,083,129 & 5,151,701).
>        Mr. Peterson has approached Valentine Research to pay him as a
>        consultant and has been turned down each time.  Would other
>        manufacturers complain if the radar locator is portrayed as a
>        gimmick?
> 16)  Mr. Peterson: "We're beginning to wonder if our tests will
>be perennial BEL benefits."
>        This is great anticipation of a question readers might have.
>        Consider the following:
>17)  Mr. Peterson writes [Re: BEL]:  "Its X-band scores rated
>only a third, two fifths, and a sixth ..."
>        But he says he will "forgive BEL for paying more heed to K and
>        Ka, the two frequencies that will be most common in police
>        radar within a few years."  X-band is the most important radar
>        band of all time.  Perhaps his radar-gun clients have big plans
>        for the future of K and Ka, but Ohio recently bought hundreds
>        of new X-band antennae for the Highway Patrol.  Of course,
>        Valentine One was the stand-out performer on X-band.  A
>        coincidence?  Valentine Research is not one of Mr. Peterson's
>        clients.
>18)  Mr. Peterson writes: "The BEL's laser scores led the field
>in the crucial ability to see a distant laser beam working
>traffic up ahead, which, in the real world, is your only hope of
>avoiding a laser trap."
>        This is a curious statement.  The BEL unit's "laser scores"
>        were last and first, even though both tests purported to have
>        the same goals.  The Valentine One's "laser scores" were first
>        and second, surely higher than the BEL's totals.  What kind of
>        math is being used here?  A coincidence?  Valentine Research
>        is not one of Mr. Peterson's clients
>19)  Mr. Peterson writes: "Once again, BEL has demonstrated the
>ability to generate superior    sensitivity without incurring the
>penalty of excessive urban falses.  On our urban loop it uttered
>only one false alarm [X-band], and that's a remarkable
>performance in microwave-saturated Denver."
>         This praise is heaped upon a unit that scored "a third, two
>         fifths, and a sixth" on the X-band performance tests.  Is this
>         "superior sensitivity" on X-band?  Making  X-band deliberately
>         weak to reduce false alarms is courting disaster.  There is
>         nothing "remarkable" about having poor X-band performance.
>         1975 Fuzzbusters had it too.
>20)  Mr. Peterson writes: "BEL has paid attention to the
>details, creating an elegant windshield mount that can be
>adjusted and set with a screwdriver."
>        Elegant?  In order to change cars with this mount, one must
>        resort to hand tools?
>        I rest my case.
>Mike Valentine
>President, Valentine Research, Inc.
>Member, Society of Automotive Engineers
>Life Member, Association of Old Crows
>Named one of the "Ten Best Friends of the Automobile" by Car and
>Driver Magazine
>End of bmw-digest V4 #5