PROS / The two-year warranty is more than the industry standard.
CONS / The lack of community threat sharing limits your overall awareness of potential threats.
VERDICT / The Whistler CR90 is among the best radar detectors because it provides accurate radar and laser detection with the added protection of GPS features.
Avoiding costly traffic fines means driving alertly, and nothing helps you stay conscious of your driving better than a radar detector like the Whistler CR90. Not only does it detect all the radar and laser frequency bands used by law enforcement, but an internal GPS also provides comprehensive alerts for threats that don't emit signals, like red-light cameras and speed cameras. And it does all of this at a fraction of the cost of most radar detectors we reviewed. For these reasons, the Whistler CR90 has earned the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award for best radar detector.
The Whistler CR90 scored 90 percent in our performance review. This means that its range and accuracy are above the 86 percent average. It detects the three radar bands used by police – X, K and Ka. It's also a laser radar detector, or LIDAR detector. When it detects a radar signal, the blue LED display tells you how strong the signal is, and a voice alert tells you what type of signal is detected. A weak signal is an indication that the radar is far enough away for you to adjust your driving.
The laser detection uses multiple diodes for 360-degree detection. However, it's important to know that when you receive a laser alert, it means that the officer has already targeted your vehicle. When an officer uses radar, the signal spreads out over a great distance. When a LIDAR gun is used, a narrow beam of invisible light measures single cars at a time, which means you won't know about it until it happens.
Alerts keep you conscious to how you're driving, which keeps you safe and free from costly traffic fines. The CR90 has almost every alert feature you'd expect in one of the best radar detectors. The voice alert vocalizes alerts as they come in so that you know what type of alert something is without taking your eyes off the road. It tells you the speed you were going when you received an alert. However, it doesn't have an over-speed alert to let you know when you're over a predetermined speed.
Some of the most important alerts that it provides are the red-light camera, speed camera and speed trap alerts. These are locations recorded within the internal GPS. It allows you to drive with the type of awareness that other radar detectors can't provide, because these threats don't emit a detectable signal.
A unique feature is the Stay Alert function. When it's turned on, two quiet beeps sound after a minute. After you hear the beeps, you have three to five seconds to press one of the buttons. If you don't hit a button, a loud alarm is activated. If one of the purposes of a radar detector is to keep you alert to your driving habits, then this is a great feature to ensure that you're paying attention to what you're doing, though it should never be a replacement for driving without adequate rest.
The internal GPS system is one of the reasons that the CR90 is one of the best radar detectors. You simply can't beat the advantages of combining radar detectors with GPS. It's like combining sight with hearing. It provides spatial awareness and control that you don't get in simpler radar detectors. The GPS also works in conjunction with the digital signal processor to eliminate false alerts more effectively. When a signal producing an alert doesn't change locations whenever you drive past it, the GPS marks the location and blocks it out.
One of the flaws is the lack of community threat sharing, which is a feature where thousands of users can share and receive threats in real time through a mobile app. This requires that the radar detector have Bluetooth connection to communicate with your smartphone, but the advantages are worth it because it's like having thousands of eyes working for you whenever you're on the road. For example, if someone reports a laser detection near you, you receive an alert. Without community threat sharing, you're on your own.
Help & Support
Whistler is the only radar detector manufacturer we reviewed that provides a two-year warranty on its devices. The industry standard is one year. If you have questions or concerns, you can contact Whistler through phone, email or live chat. You can also download updates to the radar detector's firmware and receive updates to the GPS database. There are also sections on the website for downloading manuals and accessing FAQs about the radar detector.
The Whistler CR90 is one of the best radar detectors because it offers high-end radar and laser detection with the advantages of GPS. It has comprehensive alert features that keep you conscious of your surroundings, whether there's a police radar or a speed camera near you. The lack of community threat sharing and Bluetooth interactivity with your smartphone is disappointing, but the affordable price makes up for that.