Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Few radar detectors can match the simple but effective design of the Beltronics STi Magnum. The dual-antenna design provides one of the longest ranges available, and the three sensitivity settings are good at making sure you know when a traffic cop is near. And it doesn't require hours of reading a manual or extensive training to use. The interface has few buttons, and the display is as simple as it gets. Its reputation as one of the best radar detectors is well deserved, though its lack of built-in GPS keeps it out the top tier of our lineup. It's an excellent entry-level radar detector.
We looked at thousands of user reviews and consulted with expert radar detector users to determine the general detection performance of this unit. The Beltronics STi Magnum received a B. It's an older radar detector relative to the market, and this means it's on lean side of features, such as Bluetooth and a built-in GPS unit. That said, it is compatible with Escort Live, but you have to purchase the SmartPlug separately.
The Beltronics STi Magnum has three sensitivity settings: Highway, Auto and Auto No X. The Highway setting is the most sensitive because of its sensitive dual-antenna design and lack of any filters, so it'll pick up all radar. The Auto setting is the one you'll use the most. This setting turns on an internal filter that uses digital signal processing to block out radar that isn't from a radar gun. The Auto No X setting tightens the sensitivity further by removing the X-band from detection, because most false alerts are within the X-band range. The more densely populated an area, the more false alerts happen.
When it first hit the market, the Beltronics STi Magnum was the first radar detector to have stealth technology that made it completely undetectable to radar-detector detectors (RDDs). This is still the main feature marketed by Beltronics, and it is effective against all types of RDDs. However, since radar detectors are only illegal if you're a commercial driver or driving through Virginia, the District of Columbia or any U.S. military base, the stealth feature doesn't carry much value unless you're paranoid about overzealous cops out to target people legally using radar detectors.
Since it doesn't have a built-in GPS, the STi Magnum doesn't come with preloaded locations to alert you of red-light cameras, speed cameras and speed traps. You also can't mark potential threats, block out false alerts, or share and receive locations with other users directly. However, you can use the Beltronics SmartPlug to connect to your smartphone through Bluetooth. This allows the STi Magnum to communicate with the Escort Live mobile app, a community-sharing app that alerts you to threats shared by other drivers near you, so long as they're also using the app.
The Beltronics STi Magnum is an excellent entry-level radar detector that offers excellent range and good accuracy. It boasts stealth technology that makes it invisible to RDDs. It lacks a built-in GPS, but the SmartPlug has Bluetooth that allows you to connect to the Escort Live app, which uses your phone's GPS to alert you to threats that radar detectors can't find alone.