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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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
>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.
>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
>End of bmw-digest V4 #5