Escort Solo S2 Cordless Radar and Laser Detector

May 20, 2010 by  
Filed under GPS

Price: $286.90   



Product Features

  • Convenient cordless design uses two AA batteries
  • Provides extreme long-range warning on all radar bands including X, K, superwide Ka, and instant-on POP mode, along with 360-degree laser protection
  • Brilliant high-resolution LCD with LED backlight
  • Advanced EZ-Programming lets you customize up to 10 features
  • Exclusive AutoSensitivity intelligently filters out annoying false alarms


Editorial Review

If you speed, the long arm of the law is going to get you. If you have the protection offered by an effective radar detector, the risk does go down. The Escort Solo S2 more than delivers on that promise while offering cordless simplicity and a compact, user-friendly design. Because the Solo S2 can operate on battery power it’s a cinch to move from car to car with it– something frequent rental car users will appreciate. While there are some tradeoffs involved with using a cordless radar detector–namely, lower sensitivity and range than powered units–the Solo S2 has pulled off a near miracle in that these compromises are minimal.

Design
Mounting the Solo S2 in our test vehicle was a no-brainer. A small suction cup bracket slides into the unit’s release mechanism and easily attaches to the windshield with light pressure. The unit is housed in a sturdy plastic case that’s low profile and compact, making it a discreet companion for those traveling in states that don’t look to kindly upon the use of radar detectors. The rear of the unit is dominated by the receiver window and there’s a rear-facing laser detector window designed to detect laser signals emanating from behind the vehicle.



The Solo S2 uses multiple low-noise laser sensors to provide long-range warning.

With the exception of a large mute button on the top of the unit, the Solo S2’s controls are all arranged on the front. The soft, tactile buttons provide a solid feel when pressed. The power and mode buttons are easy to press on the fly, but those with bigger fingers might find the volume and select buttons slightly difficult to use accurately. The front panel also contains a horizontal LCD display, which, during normal use, graphs the intensity of the radar and laser signals the unit detects. As the unit detects a stronger signal, the blocks in the graph grow larger. The mute button on top of the unit serves double duty as it also triggers an icon on the LCD that displays remaining battery life.

Much of the Solo S2’s design and interface is focused on power savings, which, according to Escort, allows the unit to run for months under normal use on two AA batteries. The LCD backlight is only illuminated when a button is pressed, or when the unit detects a signal. In fact, the only indication we had that the unit was on at all was a single blinking red light next to the unit’s mode setting. The S2 is also equipped with a motion sensor that automatically powers the unit off if the vehicle has not moved for 25 minutes.

Features
The Solo S2 can detect all of the radar bands currently in use in North America for speed detection. These include the X, K and Ka bands. The unit also features detection diodes for laser detection, but for the most powerful protection from laser detection, Escort offers the ZR3 laser jamming system, which is plug-and-play compatible with the Solo S2.



Signal strength is clearly indicated and can be backlit on command.

Audio alerts are the most important feature of any radar detector, and the Solo S2 doesn’t disappoint in this department. Warning tones get progressively louder as a threat approaches, and users can set the unit to deliver warnings at preprogrammed volume levels. The Solo S2’s “AutoMute” feature automatically lowers the volume level of an alert after a period of time.

False alarms are one of the major annoyances of radar detector use. The Solo S2 was surprisingly adept at minimizing false alarms from home garage door systems, as well as home and commercial security systems that commonly operate on X-band radar. The unit’s city sensitivity setting decreases sensitivity to X-band sources, while the highway setting does not. We found the unit’s powerful “AutoSensitivity” mode the most accurate, however, as it dynamically filtered all types of radar signals and identified which sources were a legitimate threat. We got a few false alarms, but for the most part, annoying chirps from bogus X-band sources were fairly uncommon.

The Solo S2 has ten built-in customizable settings. In the settings mode, the LCD acts as a menu system that lets users control display brightness, automatic mute, audio tones, and power modes. There are also settings for disabling detection of selected bands. We liked the expert mode settings, which allow a user to get a constant picture of the intensity of all the radar bands in the area.

For those living in states that prohibit use of a radar detector, the Solo S2 does include VG-2 radar detector detector protection, which is designed to both alert the driver and shut down the unit’s oscillator. However, VG-2 protection is not enabled by default; users must turn it on the settings menu. While it’s likely that VG-2 protection increases power consumption and is therefore disabled by default, many first-time users might be in for a big surprise and a confiscated unit.

On the Road
The convenience of a wireless radar detector does have a downside. To save battery life, a cordless detector has a reduced “duty cycle” compared to a DC-powered unit. This means that for a fraction of each second a cordless detector is actually turned off to reduce power. These milliseconds of downtime are imperceptible to users, but they allow cordless units to significantly reduce power consumption. The effect of duty cycle reduction is lowered sensitivity, especially on the wider radar bands that take longer to scan. This effect is most prevalent on the widest band, called Ka. What does this mean for users? In some situations you’ll have less warning time before a police radar has a lock on your speed.

Fortunately, none of these theoretical drawbacks seemed to affect real-world use in our informal testing. We used the Solo S2 on a 100-mile stretch of busy interstate and were impressed with the low number of false alarms we received. Again, this remarkable level of accuracy is owed to the unit’s AutoSensitivity feature. The unit detected Ka-band radar twice and both times warning came at least half a mile from the police cruiser’s location– plenty of time to hit the brakes and avoid a ticket (if we had been speeding, of course).

Accessories
Escort offers an optional “SmartCord,” a 12-volt cigarette-lighter power cord that can power the Solo S2. In addition to power, the SmartCord includes an LED alert for radar and laser as well as a mute button on the lighter plug.

Pros

  • Portable, compact and discreet
  • AutoSensitivity feature reduces false alarms
  • Highly accurate, good long range radar detection

Cons

  • Shorter range and sensitivity than wired units
  • VG-2 protection not enabled by default
  • LCD display not as visible because of power constraints
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