I knew I had to write up a Cobra XRS 9970G radar detector review because it’s a GPS equipped radar detector priced at under $250. Now, right off the bat, I can tell you that this radar detector doesn’t even come close to what the Escort Passport 9500ix is capable of, but then again, the Cobra XRS 9970G is almost half the price and still has GPS technology. Here’s how it stacked up…
If you like your radar detector to be full of unique features, this radar detector could be right up your alley. Here are some of the unique features I like:
- Full color 1.5in touch screen display. For a radar detector priced at under $250, I was really surprised to see the quality of the touch screen display. It’s sharp, looks good, provides added functionality, and there is a night feature so it doesn’t ruin your night vision. Whenever you pick up radar, the screen will display an image of a radar gun along with additional information about the radar type. This is a great feature that I’d like to see on more radar detectors.
- Frequency display. When you get hit with radar, the color display will begin alerting you and will often times display the exact frequency it is picking up. I noticed that when it does display the frequency, it is almost always a real hit. If it only displays “KA” or “K” it is almost always a false signal. I think it’s a very nice addition.
- Direction of threat display. One of the popular features on other radar detectors like the (much more expensive) Valentine One is the direction of threat display. Not only do you get a warning, the Cobra XRS 9970G will tell you which direction the threat is coming from. Obviously, this is an extremely useful feature.
- Strobe detection feature. This I really like! In my area and in many other areas across the country, emergency vehicles are equipped with special strobe lights. These strobe lights are picked up by sensors in traffic lights and change the lights to green for them. The Cobra XRS 9970G has its own sensor built in so you can be alerted to approaching emergency vehicles well in advance. Cobra scores another point with this awesome feature.
- Voice alert. If the detector begins picking up radar, you will get the usual audible alert but the screen will also flash an image of a radar gun and give you a voice alert to indicate which type of radar you’re getting hit with.
- Built in compass. Sitting right in the middle of the color touchscreen is a digital compass. Many vehicles already have a digital compass built in, but for those of us with older cars, this is a nice added feature.
- GPS functionality. Finding a GPS enabled radar detector (also known as a “smart detector”) is pretty rare at a price of under $250, but the Cobra XRS 9970G has it. Not only do you get free access to the AURA database containing every known location of photo enforcement cameras, but you can also get alerted to “dangerous intersections” or other alerts to help keep you driving safely. You can also manually program areas where police are typically running radar or program in your own custom alerts for specific locations. Very nice.
- Overspeed warning feature. This feature allows you to set a maximum speed into the GPS enabled detector. Anytime you go over that pre-set speed, you receive an “overspeed warning”.
- Digital speedometer. While this feature might seem rather insignificant, I’ve gotta say I enjoy this feature. Since I placed the radar detector about midway up on the windshield, it was nice to be able to quickly glance at my speed without taking my eyes off the road.
Average Radar Alert Performance
As you can see with the list above, if you like to have lots of fun features in your radar detector, the Cobra XRS 9970G could be a fantastic option for you. I didn’t even cover all the features this unique radar detector has. When it comes to features and style, this detector easily receives high marks. Unfortunately, the actual performance of this radar detector is just average. While it isn’t any worse than a typical mid-grade radar detector, it isn’t any better, either. This is especially disappointing when it comes to range and false alerts. I found that the warning time is much less than my Escort Passport 8500×50. At about the same price, the Passport 8500 is NOT equipped with GPS technology, but the overall performance of detecting radar is far superior to the XRS 9970G. Of course, you DO get the database of red light and speed cameras with the Cobra, so if you’re more concerned with being alerted to non-radar speed enforcement devices, the Cobra is still going to be superior.
False Alarm Frustrations
This was the most disappointing revelation while performing the Cobra XRS 9970g radar detector review. With a GPS enabled radar detector, we’d expect fewer false alarms. For example, the Escort Passport 9500ix will automatically track down false signals using its superior GPS technology. The more you drive, the smarter it gets and the fewer false alarms you will have. Unfortunately, the Cobra XRS 9970G has not included a feature like this. Yeah, it’s about half the price as the Passport 9500ix, and yeah, you still get access to the AURA database of photo enforcement cameras, but the lack of false alert location storing in this unit is very disappointing. Overall, the false alarm performance of this unit is about average. Nothing great to report here.
The Usual Radar Detector Features
As with any other modern radar detector, you get all of the usual features like a VG-2 guard, 15 radar band detection, laser / LIDAR detection, multiple alert capabilities, etc. The best thing about the Cobra XRS 9970g are the unique features. I love gadgets and this gadget is jam packed with cool little things you won’t find on other radar detectors. For the first week, you’ll be playing around and learning how to switch between the different features. However, once you have it set up the way you like it, you’re not going to do much with the majority of those cool-but-unnecessary features. From there, you can expect “average” performance with this GPS equipped radar detector.
Final Thoughts: Should You Buy The Cobra XRS 9970g Radar Detector?
I personally wouldn’t spend money on this radar detector. If you are concerned about red light cameras and photo enforcement cams, there are several very low priced smartphone apps that can take care of those alerts for you. You’ll get about the same protection through a $5 phone app than through this radar detector. Many automotive GPS units are also coming equipped with photo enforcement warnings, so for about the same price you can get the same GPS protection only with the added functionality of a legit GPS device. If you’re more concerned about picking up radar, than I think there are many non-GPS units that are much better. As previously mentioned, the Escort Passport 8500×50 is a great alternative for about the same price. The Escort has no GPS functionality, but the radar / laser alerts are much better.
If you do want a GPS enabled radar detector, don’t waste your money unless you plan on buying the best. Which GPS enabled radar detector is the best? Easily the the Escort Passport 9500ix. I wrote up a full Escort Passport 9500ix review here. Is it more expensive? Yeah, almost double. But, you’ll get far more enjoyment and reliability out of it, too.