The Escort Passport 8500 x50 used to belong to the top of Escort’s offerings. One of its biggest draws is its price: unlike other acclaimed radar detectors from the company, it was available for purchase at below $300. It was a successor to the 8500 which, during its heyday, was lauded for shaping the landscape of the radar detector market significantly. But as with all good things, the approval for the 8500 x50 had to end eventually with the arrival of the Escort Passport X80.
If you want to read our review for the X80, check here:
When put side by side, the difference between the Passport 8500 x50 and Passport X80 are not too apparent. The latter did not outperform the former by much in some tests. However, certain things were missing, such as the capability for Bluetooth, which was later remedied with the shift from an S7 to a more recent M4 platform.
But is it still worth cashing out for the 8500 x50? We’ll find out shortly.
The radar detector is not the lightest nor the smallest of Escort’s offerings (official dimensions are pegged at 1.25″x 2.85″ x 5.32″), but that’s okay. It is encased in a sleek plastic case that is stylish as it is sturdy. Initially, it was offered in either silver or black until the former was phased out.
Detectors are facing the rear, which is integral in covering the car in all directions. Another to see is its convex lens cover, which at the time was not common among Escort equipment.
One thing that the Passport 8500 x50 can boast of is its ease of use. Positioning it on its suction mount is a breeze, which in turn is then secured on the windshield where it is attached. The design of the Passport 8500 x50, meanwhile, is simple and intuitive.
There are only a few buttons on it, which can be used to turn the device on and off, adjust the signal strength meter, audio tones, sensitivity depending on the driving settings, brightness, radar, and laser bands, and enable AutoMute and dark mode.
There are currently three modes for the radar detector: standard, ExpertMeter, and SpecDisplay. Brightness, meanwhile, can be adjusted to dim, medium and max, depending on your preference.
Another edge of the Passport 8500 x50 is its ultra-bright display that is either red or blue matrix and comes with 280 LEDs. Readability is considerably better than other Escort models that have resorted to the OLED. That is a given without having to adjust the settings once the radar detector is initially plugged, and the same goes for its other options.
A SmartCord is also included in the packaging, which can be used by the owner to activate AutoMute and read alerts with as minimal effort as possible.
It is notable, however, that the radar detector is missing a USB port. Without it, the Passport 8500 x50 could not receive updates through a computer and make its defense against newer threats stronger.
The 8500 x50 was previously praised for its ability to detect radar frequencies that are in use in the United States, which include X, Ka and K bands, as well as being able to give alerts ahead of time so that the driver can prepare accordingly. For versions with the M4 platform, performance based on the reception of Ka bands has improved significantly. You can learn about the type of band detected and its strength through the device’s ExpertMeter mode. There are also laser jamming capabilities, although this is something that could not be used as much given the national restrictions. Going through the detector’s setting will reveal an option to activate POP detection, which is another plus. The setting inadvertently causes the alarms to set off more often though because it leads to increased sensitivity.
With this Escort-patented technology, you can still be notified of possible alerts while having the option to decrease its volume. This will allow you to return to a state of focus on the road and have a quieter time while driving.
False alert filtering
The 8500 x50 is adept at minimizing false alarms. It features Digital Signal Processing (DSP), which is enabled in other models to keep false alerts to a minimum, as well as Traffic Sensor Rejection (TSR) so that signals from traffic sensors are ignored. Enabling city mode will also minimize false alerts in an urban setting. It does not do a perfect job, but all radar detectors are still susceptible to false alarms now and then.
Effective alert system
Even if you can’t spare a second to look at your radar detector, that’s okay, its alerts can be lifesavers. The audio alerts will keep on increasing lest you do something, and they differ based on the band detected.
Undetectable against the VG-2
This feature which available for even older models like the Passport S55 gives it an advantage on others. The usefulness of this feature largely depends on where you’re driving but in case you’ll use it where radar detectors are illegal, know that the machine can shut down its oscillator on its own once it detects the presence of a VG-2 radar detector detector.
What is it missing? Depending on the version you’ll get, the Passport 8500 x50 can be without Bluetooth, which means you won’t be able to connect to Escort Live and use some of the information collected there to defend yourself from speed traps and red-light cameras. It also lacks GPS (which available for advanced Escort’s devices) and couldn’t shut off upon detecting signals emitted from Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) systems.
- Has average detection range
- Can detect different radar bands simultaneously
- Simple radar detector is easy to use
- Bright, readable LCD display
- Capability to switch between driving modes
- Dark mode is available for reducing visibility of detector against onlookers
- AutoMute feature
- No available USB port and no firmware updates
- Audio alerts are limited to beeps
- Platform is already outdated by today’s standards
- Lack of bluetooth means incompatibility with Escort Live app
Q: Can this radar detector be transformed to cordless?
A: No, it needs to be plugged to function.
Q: What should I expect to find on my Escort Passport 8500 x50 package?
A: Besides the radar detector itself, you should find an EasyMount bracket, a travel case, a SmartCord and a user’s manual.
Escort Passport 8500 x50 can detect multiple radar bands at once with its average detection range, and boasts of AutoMute to keep you focused and jolted less for alarms while driving. However, it lacks a USB port to update firmware and couldn’t connect to Escort Live for added coverage.
If you’re decided on buying the Passport 8500 x50, it’s better to set expectations that this would not be at the top of its game the way it did some years ago. While it works with a good detection range and has mechanisms to minimize false alarms, these can not be enough in the face of newer cars with BSM systems, speed traps and red-light cameras that can be located with GPS and Bluetooth connectivity.