PROS / Even with a built-in GPS, it's one of the most affordable radar detectors available.
CONS / It isn't compatible with a community threat-sharing app.
VERDICT / With built-in GPS and an affordable price point compared to other radar detectors, the Whistler CR90 is very appealing.
Avoiding costly traffic fines means driving alertly, and nothing helps you stay conscious of your driving better than a radar detector. Not only does the Whistler CR90 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. In addition, it has a Stay Alert feature that's designed to help you stay awake and focused on long road trips. The Whisper CR90 does this at a fraction of the cost of most of the radar detectors we reviewed.
The Whistler CR90 received a B+ in our performance evaluation, which looked at a combination of user reviews and expert advice. This means its range and accuracy are above average from a user perspective. As with all radar detectors, it detects the three radar bands used by police: X, K and Ka. It's also a laser radar 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.
Alerts keep you conscious to how you're driving, which can help keep 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 potential threats as they come in so you never have to take 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 it provides are 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.
When the Stay Alert feature is 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. One of the purposes of a radar detector is to keep you alert to your driving habits. The CR90's Stay Alert feature helps ensure you're paying attention, though it should never be a replacement for driving without adequate rest.
The internal GPS system is one of the reasons 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 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 when you drive past it, the GPS marks the location and blocks it out.
One of the CR90's flaws is the lack of community threat sharing, 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. 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 laser detection near you, you receive an alert. Without community threat sharing, you're on your own.
The Whistler CR90 is worth considering 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.