If you don’t know it yet, 34 million speeding tickets are issued to drivers in the US yearly—YES, IT’S THAT CRAZY.
Like you, I don’t want to be part of those millions of tickets that also translates to dollars of fine and hours wasted. That’s why I became a radar detector enthusiast in the first place. I’ve seen and tried many types and kinds of radar detectors, and I can proudly say I haven’t seen a speeding ticket in years, let alone pulled over by a cop.
For owners of radar detectors there who might be thinking, “I know, I already have a radar detector,” here are my questions: Are you satisfied with it? Are you alright with the dangling cables, the need to always plug your device and the need to have a separate radar detector for your motorbike?
I don’t think so.
My radar detector experience has changed a lot when I switched to wireless radar detectors—no more bulky cords blocking the view (which can get cops’ attention too!) and I can easily use my detector from one vehicle to another… yes, even in my motorcycle.
With the basics now covered, we can move on to the models—the competition is already small, but there are two particular uncorded radar detectors worth a mention. If you’re contemplating getting yourself a cordless radar detector, have a take at the following top unwired models. They’re guaranteed to keep you from getting speeding tickets with no fuss. These are the best cordless radar detectors:
Best Wireless Radar Detectors
- Escort Solo S4
- Whistler XTR-543
- Escort Solo S2
- Escort Solo S3
- Whistler XTR-440
*Note: Escort Solo S2/S3 and Whistler XTR-440 were discontinued. We’ll focus this article only on Solo S4 VS XTR-543
Top Wireless Radar Detectors Reviews
Display and hardware
On the outside
It is inevitable to compare the Escort Solo S4 with its predecessor, the Solo S3. There is a tad touch of change in the former, as it looks a little modern and up to date when it comes to design. Still, this is not to the detriment of the user. There is a slightly larger button for turning the device on and off, which is easily located by the case’s front.
And then there are also dedicated buttons for shifting from one sensitivity mode to another — in the case of the Solo S4, there are City, Auto, and Highway — as well as for modifying other programmable preferences on the radar detector. The button that informs you of the battery levels and doubles for the mute option is also among the visible buttons.
Meanwhile, the Whistler XTR-543 is heavier and larger. While this is not much of concern, and normally not a consideration when it comes to cordless counterparts, the dimensions and the weight of the Whistler XTR-543 make it slightly less desirable than the Escort Solo S4 especially if you are considering cordless options mainly when traveling.
But despite the difference, it edges out its Escort counterpart when it comes to the window mount that it comes with — it is reliable in keeping the radar detector in place when others, including Escort, would leave users opting for a separate purchase just to make the suction cups and the device less shaky and rickety. Whistler XTR-543’s also does not look or feel cheap, taking another minor but potentially annoying concern off our heads.
Display and alerts
The display for the Escort Solo S4 is in OLED, which is just like the Solo S3 and many other Escort models currently available. However, the displays of the Escort radar detectors have been criticized time and again. While they may enable power saving, OLED displays, at least from Escort, are not famed for their visibility in all lighting conditions even when you can sift through the different brightness levels and even go with auto mode.
One too many users have expressed frustration over not being able to read legibly the information that is on the screen because it has the tendency to be drowned out by the sun. The clear audio and voice alerts partly make up for this imperfection, but we would still want to have the option for visual alerts to be there, just as we would with other radar detectors.
Now, the Whistler XTR-543 has a LED display. You would think this is better in OLED when it comes to visibility, and in some ways it is. And yet, Whistler is not spared of complaints that the screen can be hard to read when in bright lighting conditions, and the lighting options for the radar detector does very little to make reading easier.
Visual alerts are dependable and give sufficient information, but are close to useless in such circumstances when a user needs to squint. The alerts also come in audio and voice, so at least you can depend on that in case a signal is detected, and Whistler guarantees that you will always be.
It boasts of alert periscopes, which are essentially two flashing lights, that can also depend on in case there is something interfering with the clarity of sound alerts such as open windows or loud music. But visual alerts on the display are still to be desired.
The Solo S4 displays the strength of the different bands it can identify through a bar graph, and will also let you know of the change in terms of beeps. There are nine features that can be modified depending on a user’s preferences, including sensitivity, and the device will remember it even when it has been powered off. Whistler XTR-543 offers the same convenience.
The Solo S4 is undeniably costlier than the Whistler XTR-543, but that may have to do with durability. Unfortunately, the latter was reported in some instances to stop functioning within months of purchase, or at least have noticeable deterioration in its detection capabilities.
Range and band priority
Just like the Solo S3, the Solo S4 can be modified as desired. In terms of sensitivity, there are City, Auto and Highway modes. For the City mode, Solo S4 functions with lower sensitivity for the X-band, or one could opt for the detection of the X-band to be switched off altogether. Other bands could also be turned off, and Escort offers the option to set different tones for the bands it can detect.
Just like the cordless models that came before it, Whistler XTR-543 boasts of protection from all the bands in operation in the United States and Canada, which include X, K and Ka. It claims to provide protection from all directions.
Drivers benefit from knowing of threats ahead of them on the road, which explains the positioning of most radar detectors, but an added coverage by the rear also results in a user who is more at ease. Any form of detection, may it be radar or laser, can easily be turned off for a quieter drive. The different driving modes are City, City1, City2 and Highway.
Both models we are scrutinizing feature their own muting functions, although they are named differently. For Escort, these are Mute, AutoMute and SmartMute, while Whistler has Quiet and Auto-Quiet.
GPS (or lack thereof) and false alerts filtering
Both Escort Solo S4 and Whistler XTR-543 lack GPS and the added features it brings to the table. This makes both radar detectors susceptible to false alerts, particularly from cars that have doors controlled by radar. There is no database to indicate locations of speed traps, red light cameras and speed cameras as well.
Prompt alerts and detection of instant-on signals
The Whistler model promises of prompt identification so it could give you extra time to adjust your driving should you need to. Escort Solo S4, meanwhile, has a patented DSP technology with functions that are essentially the same and promises to cover both radar and laser sensors.
Both models can detect lasers as well as POP guns. While most radar detectors perform with little problem in picking up radar signals, lasers and POP guns are another concern altogether. These are instant-on, which most of the time would mean that even though you have received an alert, it would be too late.
Both pieces of equipment promise to do a quick sweep of the surroundings for such guns. In this aspect, both the Escort Solo S4 and Whistler XTR-543 are not seamless; your best protection is still to drive within the allowable speed limit. Thankfully, these both have over speed alerts which come in handy in areas where it is particularly risky.
Purchasing a Whistler XTR-543 has the added benefit of the Stay Alert feature, something that has been praised on other radar detectors from the brand. This is especially useful for those who like to take long drives at night or road trips.
Essentially, all one has to do when this feature is enabled is to tap one of its buttons so that the radar detector knows that you are fully conscious while driving. An alert might jolt you in case you miss responding in time, but it might just be what you need to ensure that the lives in the car are safe.
Range and accuracy
Both radar detectors look efficient enough on paper, but it is helpful to keep in mind that by opting for cordless options, you are also compromising performance because the radar detector tries to manage its battery consumption. The higher performing the device, the more it would require of its power source. Understandably, both the Escort Solo S4 and the Whistler XTR-543 suffer from decreased performance, especially when compared to other radar detectors from its respective brands’ range.
Escort Solo S4 easily edges out the Whistler XTR-543 in terms of performance, and this is applicable to every shared band it could detect. There are instances when the two could not identify the threat even when taking the same route, and the Escort’s offering is much more accurate in picking these up. Performance on the Escort Solo S4 is wanting though especially when it comes to the Ka-band which is in use in almost every state and even underperforms when compared to other older models from the brand.
Both are also extremely vulnerable to false alarms, and this is partly due to the absence of a GPS for both. Blind spot monitoring (BSM) systems, which are prevalent in this day and age, will cause both to alarm needlessly. Protection is also compromised since there is no database of speed traps and red light cameras that this equipment could rely on. On the Whistler XTR-543, a common source of complaint is its sensitivity modes which is aimed to arm the device against such annoyances but fails in delivering the promise anyway.
If you want a radar detector that has long-range detection and minimal false alarms, then you are better off staying away from both Escort Solo S4 and Whistler XTR-543. It would be better to level expectations for cordless options — there is a reason they are not so common.
Battery performance and other considerations
There is quite a disparity in the battery life of the two models we are comparing. For the Escort Solo S4, it claims that its batteries can work up to 30-40 hours before needing for a replacement. Whistler XTR-543, meanwhile, is at half of the minimum amount given by Escort at 15 hours. Escort needs two AA alkaline batteries, while Whistler runs on three AAs. Both will come with batteries right off their packages, but Whistler XTR-543 will provide rechargeable ones — it also asks users to only use rechargeable batteries in case these need to be replaced.
However, Whistler XTR-543 has had complaints of unreliable batteries. Some do not last for as long as 15 hours, while others fail to function short of six months, leaving you with the cord and defeating the purpose of a cordless radar detector.
Other power sources and power saving systems
If you do not want to rely on the batteries all the time, both options presented can be powered through a cord. It is the SmartCord for the Escort Solo S4, while the Whistler XTR-543 needs the Power Cord. These do not affect performance, however, and the range of the equipment will be maintained. However, these ensure that the device will not turn off once the battery is consumed.
Both models would not leave you like that, anyway. These have power saving mechanisms, such as using the backlight when there are no alerts, and an automatic shutting down of the system in case of inactivity. These would not die the next time you need to use it just because you forgot to switch it off the previous day.
Price and added costs
For the Escort Solo S4, it is worth considering that the SmartCord is not included in the purchase. The device is also not compatible with the crowdsourcing app Escort Live. And despite its compromises, it is least $100 more expensive than its Whistler counterpart. The Escort Solo S4 is still available at $249.95, which already has better performing competition at its range although these rely on cords.
Cordless radar detectors are all about convenience, and as such, have less than impressive performance than their corded counterparts. You may be better off with the non-cordless kind, but if you really have to go with this route, then there is not much choice anyway. Escort has discontinued all cordless models but the Escort Solo S4, and Whistler has done the same with the rest besides the Whistler XTR-543; other brands have no cordless radar detectors to speak of. Discontinued models can still be bought off of sites such as Amazon, but these come with limited support from their manufacturers.
Between the two cordless radar detections we have compared, there is a clear winner, however, and that is the Escort Solo S4. Even though its Whistler counterpart is cheaper, issues with durability and failure to function some months down the road may not be worth the hassle, making that extra $100 for the Escort worth it. Escort has also outperformed the Whistler radar detector, even when the results failed to wow. The Solo S4 is both lighter and more durable, making it ideal for the radar detector user who is always on the go.