Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

Summary: Cobra co-opted the expensive display and GPS receiver in your iPhone in exchange all the features of a $400 radar detector for a more wallet-friendly $129. Now that's ingenuity.


A follow-up to my series on Essential Road Trip apps (Trapster, Traffic View, Road Trip, and Gas Buddy)

Preparing to depart on your summer vacation? You're not alone. Many Americans (and heck, Europeans for that matter) have scheduled time off from work during the month of August for vacation. Whether its with family or friends, many of us will find ourselves behind the wheel for the fateful road trip.

If you're a frequent driver, you already know the value of a radar detector -- and probably already have one attached to your windshield. Casual drivers can also benefit from a decent radar detector, but if you have a lead foot you owe it to yourself to check out the latest in detector technology. Tickets are expensive after all.

iRadar ($129) is a radar/laser detector from 50 year old consumer electronics firm Cobra Electronics. What makes it different from other detectors is that it banishes the traditional display from the front of the unit, save a single, multicolor LED. In its place iRadar uses your iPhone's gorgeous touchscreen as a surrogate display -- over Bluetooth.

Instead of adding a touchscreen to detector, Cobra offloaded the detector display to the 3.5-inch color LCD in your pocket. It's a brilliant move too. Why pay for another screen on your detector when the one you already own is infinitely better?

The good news is that iRadar is a fully-functional, standalone radar detector, so you're still protected if you forget your iPhone. You will not, however, get the full spectrum of traffic threat alerts, GPS coordinates and additional features without it.

The Cobra iRadar is a good radar/laser detector, but when paired with an iPhone running the iRadar app, it becomes a comprehensive speed management tool and early warning system. iRadar connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth and allows you to view and hear radar alerts, control settings, log alert history and be warned of upcoming speed and redlight cameras.

One of the nice touches is that Cobra added an extra USB port on the iRadar 12v automotive adapter allowing you to connect another USB charger (like your iPhone's dock cable) to the adapter while it's in use powering the iRadar. I wish that iRadar was battery-powered (like my Escort Solo) to avoid having another power cable running down my dash (the other is my Garmin GPS), but when asked about it, Cobra responded that iRadar requires more power that an external battery can adequately provide.

The iRadar iOS app adds a new dimension to the traditional radar detector providing a lot more information than presently possible on a standalone model. Cobra borrows the expensive display and GPS receiver in your iPhone and, in exchange, provides most of the features of a high-end ($300-$400) detector for a more wallet-friendly price. iRadar is available for $129 from the Cobra Store and at the Apple Store and the companion iRadar app for iOS is free.

For more, check out the CNet review.

Topics: Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

    Here's an idea: Don't speed! Too many people get injured or killed because of reckless driving. Save the safety and lives yourself and others, and perhaps a lifetime of grief if you kill someone and survive; and save your $129. Bottom line: Don't be stupid!
    • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

      @dchagwood Exactly! Two things surprise me here. 1) Jason thinks this is a good idea. 2) It got through the usually puritan Apple censors.
    • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

      @dchagwood Humans speed. Get over it. Want to get away from speeders, then sell your car and move to Amish country or something.

      Speeding is fine given you know how to drive and control your car, you are very alert, and you aren't doing it on for instance a school road at 3:15pm at the end of a school day. I am a casual speeder, who normally hits speeds of 90+ when road conditions and traffic conditions permit it.

      Speeding is no more dangerous in my opinion then owning a gun, doing drugs or playing certain sports.
      • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)


        You'll have to excuse me, but no, I won't just get over it. I'm always disturbed when people are casual about driving at speeds approaching 100 MPH. There is nothing casual about it. If you lose control or encounter an obstacle at that speed, there is little chance you will be able to react in time and avoid what will most likely be a horrible crash. A crash that will probably inflict life threatening injuries.

        Even viewed from a pure mathematical viewpoint, driving fast doesn't really seem to make much sense. Taking into account stops for food, drinks, and bathroom you're not going to get there much sooner doing 90+ MPH as opposed to someone doing just over 75 MPH.

        Having said that, I would agree on one point. Driving much too slow can also be a hazard. In fact, for multiple lane roadways, I would say the safest situation is for everyone to be traveling within a few MPH of each other. Someone traveling too slow or too fast can quickly become dangerous to other motorists.
    • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

      @dchagwood - It's actually quit easy to speed when traveling highways with hills. If you are going 8 MPH over the posted speed limit you can get a ticket. Also, if you are in a new area the speed limit postings can be tough to find. Ever hear of speed traps? This device could save me from those.
      The Danger is Microsoft
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  • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

    I had a conversation with an MP a few weeks ago about speeding, how to avoid a ticket, etc. He was incredulous that my 'solution' was to simply 'not' speed.
    • Speed really does...

      @dheady@... Kill! It is a matter of physics: more speed = more energy released in a crash = greater injuries

      No matter how one attempts to finese the risks of speeding, there is greater risk the faster you go.

      What I do is use the cruise control to control my speed and, yes, I usually set it about three mph above the posted speed limit. So, technically, I am speeding but, at least, with no risk of a traffic ticket.

      I can tell that many drivers do not use cruise control by their (sometimes) large variations in speed. I myself notice that if I am engaged in conversation but not using the cruise control, I tend to drive well over the speed limit.

      When not using the cruise control, like in heavy traffic, I rely on my Garmin GPS to keep my speed below traffic ticket numbers. The MPH display really works for me particularly when it turns red when I exceed the posted limit.
  • I don't care how fast you drive

    Just move over so I can pass you.;-)
    • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

      @earth2kelly Just don't slow down and get in my way once you get back in front of me.
  • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

    I have a Bel with GPS and red light camera alerts. I use it mostly to see my true speed as my Acura's spedometer would show 55 when I am actually traveling at 52.
    I work for a security company and our parts manager is pulling a second full time job as a policeman in a west Chicago suburb. I know other policeman due to my job. They are often a bigger risk than the public they are paid to protect. See this article:
    Former Illinois State trooper Matt Mitchell is asking the state to compensate him for injuries from a crash in which he hit and killed two Collinsville sisters at triple-digit speeds.

    Three worker?s compensation lawyers say they believe Mitchell could receive compensation for the injuries he received in a Nov. 23, 2007, high-speed crash that resulted in the deaths of sisters Kelli and Jessica Uhl and injured Kelly and Christine Marler, of Fayetteville.

    It's pathetic for you all to be on here fighting over speeding. This is a product review.

    If we only had police for those policemen and policewomen who work hard destroying lives and acting out their childish frustrations on the public.
  • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

    It's too bad that Cobra couldn't make a grill-mounted version of this, since a few states have already banned these devices.
  • RE: Review: iRadar for iPhone (verdict: affordable)

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