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Valentine One Review

The Valentine One is a popular radar detector among expert detectorists. It's famous for its extreme range and it's classic design. Of course, there's a difference between having a classic design and being stuck in the past.

Our Verdict

The Valentine One proved to have the range that its famous for, but it refuses to take advantage of modern technology, notably GPS.

For

  • The highway range is among the best.

Against

  • It's challenging for novices to use.
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The Valentine One comes with the detector, two mounting devices, a power cord and a device that mutes alerts according to your speed.

The Valentine One comes with the detector, two mounting devices, a power cord and a device that mutes alerts according to your speed.
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The Valentine One received an A+ for highway performance.

The Valentine One received an A+ for highway performance.
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The Valentine One received a C for ease of use.

The Valentine One received a C for ease of use.
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In the city performance tests, the Valentine One received a C- grade.

In the city performance tests, the Valentine One received a C- grade.
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The Valentine One doesn't use GPS.

The Valentine One doesn't use GPS.
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The Valentine One had one of the longest ranges that I tested.

The Valentine One had one of the longest ranges that I tested.
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The casing of the Valentine One is made of a lightweight, durable die-cast aluminum.

The casing of the Valentine One is made of a lightweight, durable die-cast aluminum.
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The display of the Valentine One received a C- for readability.

The display of the Valentine One received a C- for readability.
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The Valentine One has arrows to tell you if the radar is in front, back or to the side of your vehicle.

The Valentine One has arrows to tell you if the radar is in front, back or to the side of your vehicle.

The Valentine One is a popular radar detector among expert detectorists. It's famous for its extreme range and it's classic design. Of course, there's a difference between having a classic design and being stuck in the past. The display and controls are embarrassingly dated for a modern radar detector and the refusal to adopt GPS makes me wonder why it's priced so high.

The Valentine One received an A+ in the highway test. The only radar detector to receive a similar grade was the Escort RedLine EX. That said, the RedLine EX's range was slightly better, but the difference was so insignificant that the range was arguably the same. For example, in one scenario where the radar gun was aimed up a hill with the car driving towards the hill to mimic an ambush as you come over the peak of hill with the cop hiding at the bottom of the other side, the Valentine One was just 20 yards shorter than the RedLine EX.

The city performance was one of my least favorites, receiving a C- grade overall. It doesn't mute any alerts with digital signal processing and GPS, so you get alerted to every radar you come across. And it's so sensitive it detects everything. I adjusted the volume so that it was beeping at little more than a whisper. Nevertheless, it was annoying to use in a city but ideal for highway driving. The Valentine One comes with an optional device called the SAVVY, which you plug into your car's diagnostic port (usually under the steering column). It automatically turns alerts to a very quiet volume when you're driving under a specific speed.

The ease of use with the Valentine One is perhaps its biggest downside. This detector is engineered and designed by Mike Valentine, who admits to having a 25-year obsession with detecting radar. It's designed for serious detectorists. He's even kept the classic design because it appeals to old-school drivers that used the original Valentine detector. It has a digital display and uses knobs to adjust sensitivity and volume. Despite the sturdy metal casing, it looks and feels like something out of the 1980s and 1990s.

The best part of the design is the directional arrows. When you get an alert, the arrows tell you if the source is to your front, back or side. It's not as effective as the Escort Max 360c, which differentiates between the left and right side of your vehicle, but it's an excellent feature that I wish more detectors emulated. Directional alerts provide spatial awareness. It makes it so much easier to identify the source of the radar.

The Valentine One doesn't just lack a GPS, the company refuses to use GPS. Mike Valentine argues strongly that radar detectors shouldn't use GPS, and he makes a good point. If the first commandment, as he calls it, of a radar detector is to never miss a threat, then GPS creates blind spots from which actual threats can hide. And he's right. If you use GPS to mute the motion detector when you drive past Home Depot, you're also going to mute a police car that might be parked nearby. Muting false alerts creates blind spots. It's one of the compromises you make if you don't want to be annoyed.

Unfortunately, GPS has other advantages beyond muting false alerts. For starters, it accurately measures your speed. When you receive an alert, your instinct is to look at the detector. You see the speed at the same time you get the alert and can quickly adjust your driving. Secondly, the best radar detectors provide over-speed alerts where you can set a max speed and when you exceed the speed, it alerts you. This keeps you aware of your driving habits and ensures you don't get a speeding ticket better than detecting radar can).

Without GPS, you can't get alerts for red light and traffic cameras, which don't use radar. The only way you can receive alerts for these potential ticket sources is to have a GPS device that's connected to a database of known coordinates. In these instances, the GPS doesn't mute the coordinates but alerts you to the upcoming red light or speed camera so that you're aware.

If you have a genuine interest in detecting radar, the Valentine One is a great option. It's designed by someone who is self-admittedly obsessed with radar detectors and has a range that's arguably tied for the best in the tests I performed. It lacks GPS, which means it lacks all the advantages of GPS, but that also means it doesn't create blind spots.