I don’t really review to many radar detectors here, and in fact I’ve only reviewed one and that was nearly 3 years ago with the Escort MAX II. Radar detectors are something you don’t really need to upgrade much and since most really good detectors these days provide firmware and software updates on the regular, once you find a good one, you’ll probably stick with it for years. Of course if you get the chance to try a new one out, you’re not going to say no. With that said, Escort sent me their latest Escort MAX 360c to check out which at first glance as the specs, looks to be a beast of a radar detector.
Radar detectors aren’t normally known for being attractive and the Escort MAX 360c is no exception. This is a really large detector and might be one of the largest I’ve used. It basically looks like a big, black, rectangular box with buttons on top and a multi-color OLED screen. There are splashes of dark metallic grey strewn about with the buttons and on the face. It adds a bit of style to an otherwise not very exciting looking device.
The main thing with the MAX 360c that makes it neat are the 360° Directional Alert Arrows on the face of the device. These basically tell you where a “threat” is coming from so you don’t have to guess where you’re being tagged at.
I also appreciate the fact that the buttons on top of the Escort MAX 360c are very large, making them much easier to read and press when need be. Of course you really don’t need to use those buttons all that much thanks to the included Smartcord which features a slightly newer design that makes it more convenient. The Smartcord puts the mute button, alert lamp and power indicator within reach so you don’t have to reach for the main unit.
While the Smartcord itself isn’t much different from previous ones, there is one new addition that makes it so much better and that’s the USB pass through plug. That means you no longer have to lose an outlet when using the Smartcord USB and you can now use this and power/charge another device at the same time. The Smartcord USB itself is still a bit large but at least this new addition makes it much better finally.
Like most of the current Escort radar detectors now, the OLED screen has a bevy of information it provides. This thing provides a wide range of information that could not have been displayed before. Not only do you get radar and laser warnings, you also see information on your speed, what the speed limit on the street you are on is (if you are subscribed to Escort Live), and what type of threats are coming up and the distance until you reach them.
The Escort MAX 360c delivers voice alerts instead of your standard series of beeps. This helps me identify threats more accurately without having to look at the radar detector to see what it is alerting me to. This is a real handy feature that helps keep your eyes on the road.
The most import thing with a radar detector is how accurate it is in both detecting real threats and filtering out the false alerts. I’ve had radar detectors in the past that would alert you of things like automatic doors at the supermarket which was a big annoyance as driving through the city, you’d constantly get alerted by these. It got to the point where you wouldn’t really know what was real and what wasn’t.
With the Escort MAX 360c, it seems to have really cut down on these types of alerts. Throughout my time in both city and highway driving, I haven’t had any random alerts. In fact, this is one of the least annoying radar detectors I’ve ever used. I don’t get those random alerts from supermarket automatic doors anymore and for the most part, it stays relatively quite most of the time.
What the Escort MAX 360c also does well is alert you of upcoming threats both from the built in DEFENDER Database and from live threats. You get alerts in real time of upcoming red light cameras or speed cameras which is helpful in the city and on the highway, you get really good live detection. I’ve detected police from a couple of miles away depending on how clear it is ahead of me and this also goes for driving on local streets. What I really like is that it’s not constantly beeping in my ear and only alerts you of real threats.
Of course to get the most out of the Escort MAX 360c, you’ll need to download the Escort Live Radar app as well as subscribe to its service. There are portions that can be used without a subscription, but to make the most of live updates, you’ll need to subscribe. You will also need to register your device, in which case the Escort MAX 360c becomes tied to your email address you used to register it.
The neatest thing about the Escort MAX 360c though is the ability to update its internal database. You can plug the detector to your computer via USB cable and download the updates almost weekly. If you don’t want to go this route, you can also subscribe to the Escort Live Radar app and sync your Escort MAX 360c with that for all the updated traffic threats as well. Not only that, you’ll also help contribute to live alerts for any other user that might be out there who is also using the system.
Of course you can entirely use the Escort MAX 360c without using the Escort Live Radar app and it’ll pretty much function like a regular radar detector that’s still pretty darn accurate. It just doesn’t have the live threat alerts. It still has a built in database of things like red light cameras but you won’t be able to update them. Also the built in GPS still works and will let you know what the speed limit is in the area you’re driving in if it’s in the database.
Should you own a radar detector? I would say only get one if you’re an aggressive driver or you frequently are not paying attention to your speed. Are they legal? Totally, at least in 49 states for non-commercial use except for Virginia and Washington DC.
Is the Escort MAX 360c worth the $650 asking price? If you’re looking for one of the best radar detectors out there, I would say so. This one does so much more than any other radar detectors I’ve used in the past. Mainly the inclusion of Bluetooth and GPS opens up a lot of real time live alerts. The GPS allows the device to calculate exactly where you are as well as what your GPS calculated speed is and the Bluetooth lets you sync with your smartphone if you’re using the Escort Live Radar app for even more accurate results. Not only that, the ability to download and update stationary traffic threats via the DEFENDER Database adds traffic threats that are not radar and laser based, (speed cameras or red light cameras).
The Escort Passport Max 2 MAX 360c also comes with a few extras such as a storage case, an updated Escort Smartcord USB for stealth monitoring, and the Magnet Mount StickyCup windshield mount easy install and removal.