I recently went on a road trip that spanned roughly 6500 miles from Los Angeles, California to Key West, Florida, and back. I knew I had to invest in a radar detector because it's such a long drive.
As I'm writing this blog, I feel like captain obvious. The purpose of this article is for people who are leaning towards one product over the other. This is a helpful nudge towards the flagship R7. Spend the extra money on arrows; arrows good, obviously.
Or maybe it's not so obvious. Prior to my trip, I pulled the purchase trigger on the Uniden R3. The was a mistake that could have saved me some time.
I didn't think that the arrows were not crucial enough to justify an extra $200 over the Uniden R7. While technically true, you can use the R3 and be perfectly safe from speed capturing devices. I avoided at least 10 tickets on my trip and came home without ever being pulled over.
My thought was that if I heard the detector go off, I would automatically slow down. I didn't factor in that it will keep beeping until the source is passed. Again, it might sound obvious now but it might not be if you've never used a radar detector..
The R3 is fine for driving in the suburbs or metropolitans but is a nightmare on long flat stretches of the highway. e.g. During my drive home through Arizona, my R3 was beeping for nearly 5 minutes and I had no idea where it was coming from. Turns out it was a trooper headed in the opposite direction from miles away. There were also times when the detector would go off for a few seconds and disappear. Was the source the car next to me or was it a radar source on the overpass? These minor inconveniences can be reduced by having source directional arrows.
Immediately after coming home from my road trip, I purchased the R7. Amazon allowed me to return the R3 without any restocking fees so upgrading was a no brainer.
The switch to the R7 was seamless. I was well adapted to the radar alarms and already familiar with the functions menu.
The directional arrows are a huge advantage over just a radar. It meant knowing where the source was coming from and if I needed to react immediately or if it can be disregarded. You can even assign different colors to the arrows based on each radar bands.
Besides the arrows, the R7 also has a longer range for detection. Uniden added a second antenna to the R7 to improve performance over the R3.
The R7 has a built-in ambient light sensor to detect when to dim its lighting. Instead, the old R3 relied on GPS location to do so.
There are a few more upgrades between the Uniden R3 vs R7, however, I believe these upgrades are biggest factors on choosing the R7.
As a former Valentine V1 user, the R7 is a huge upgrade. Besides outperforming the V1 in detection, the R7 feels like a modernization of the legendary device. Appearance-wise, the R7 features a colored screen to V1's dated red lights. The R7's firmware is also upgradable using a computer. You'll need to send in your V1 to Valentine for any upgrades.
Regardless, radar or not, don't be an asshole. Always drive safely.