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Jun 29

Uniden R1 & R3 Review

I don’t remember the last time I’ve ever seen people this excited about a new radar detector… The most common question you guys ask me is, “What’s the best radar detector?” and because there’s so many different radar detectors available, all with their own unique advantages, my answer usually starts with “Well it depends…” However, with the introduction of the Uniden R1 and Uniden R3, we now have a radar detector that has virtually obliterated the competition and is easily one of if not THE best radar detector on the market. It has definitely simplified the selection process. I have a closet full of radar detectors, and yet this is the one you’ll find sitting on my windshield because it’s stellar across the board. This is what I rely on to keep me protected and it continues to get updated and improved. What makes it so special? Let’s take a look…

Uniden R1 & R3 Overview

So the new R1 and R3 are Uniden’s first digital detectors. They offer longer range, faster reactivity, and more advanced filtering than Uniden’s previous generation detectors, the DFR6 and DFR7. In terms of range, they are now the longest range radar detectors available at any price. In terms of blind spot filtering, they do a very good job, even better than the $2500 Stinger VIP out on my grill. (It beats the Stinger on long range detection too…)

Uniden R1 and R3

The R1 is a Redline-killer. It is capable of giving you even longer range than the Redline.. the detector that used to be the King of long distance performance, the benchmark that all other detectors were compared against, it offers much better BSM filtering so it’s usable on K band, and it’s also stealth to radar detector detectors just like the Redline… all at almost half the price of the Redline. ($299 vs. $549) Holy cow… For highway and rural drivers, the R1 is the detector to get. You can get the R1 here.

The R3 is virtually the same detector with the same performance and BSM filtering, but it builds upon the R1 by adding GPS to give you a more well-rounded detector around town. The GPS chip adds low speed muting, GPS lockouts, and red light camera alerts so for people who drive in urban areas, the R3 at $399 is the one to get. You can get the R3 here.

For more details regarding the differences between the R1 and the R3, read this comparison article.

Performance

These are the best performing, longest range radar detectors on the market available at any price. Test after test after test after test has been done by multiple testers on different courses, with different copies of detectors, against different radar detectors, etc. and what we’re consistently seeing is that at minimum the detector is able to tie long range detectors like the Redline (when the terrain prevents even longer detection distances) but usually you’ll see it outperforming other top end radar detectors like the Redline, Max360, and so on. Here’s just one test, courtesy of the Texas Countermeasure Testing Group:

Uniden R3 vs. Redline, Max360, and DFR6 on 33.8 (original source here)

If you’d like to see more test results, here’s a half hour long video going over lots and lots of testing so you can get more information, but this is the gist of it. 🙂

 

In short, for those of you who want the maximum warning distance possible, whether you’re driving in long flat terrain with little traffic and your only advanced warning might be a vehicle several miles ahead of you getting shot with instant on, or if you’re driving in more difficult terrain with hills, curves, mountains, and trees where the extra sensitivity can literally mean the difference between getting advanced warning or not, the R1/R3 series detectors are your absolute best choice, bar none.

False Alert Filtering

There’s many different sources of false alerts. Let’s run through how well the detectors can filter them out.

BSM filtering: Blind spot monitoring systems (BSM’s) and other radar-based collision avoidance systems (CAS) like radar cruise control and automatic braking coming out of other nearby cars can cause problems for radar detectors. No radar detector can filter all of them out. The new Unidens, however, do a good job, especially with the latest firmware updates. Initially the detector was doing a decent job filtering but due to its extreme sensitivity, it was picking up more signals in general and leading to more false alerts. However, Uniden looks to have managed to tame this so it’s no longer the issue it once was. Even in full sensitivity, false alerts are now reasonable which is surprising to me.

GPS lockouts: The R3 also adds a GPS chip to give you more filtering in urban areas. I discuss the benefits of GPS in a RD in detail in this article, but the general idea is you can teach it where false alerts are located around town from stationary sources such as automatic door openers or speed signs. The detector will remember them and filter them out in the future. You have to teach it manually what’s a false alert, unlike some detectors like the Max360 or the V1 when paired with a phone app which can figure that out automatically after you pass the same signal repeatedly. I prefer autolockouts, but the R3 can’t do it due to patent limitation. So you teach the detector manually (tutorial explaining when and how to use this feature here) when you pass false alerts around town or even on the highway and it will mute them for you next time you pass. The GPS lockouts initially were a bit overzealous and made the detector more likely to lock out a nearby police officer also shooting K band, so Uniden is improving this via a firmware update to help reduce this risk and strike a better balance between filtering out false alerts and warning you of legitimate signals.

Low speed muting: The GPS chip also allows for low speed muting, handy for when you’re sitting at a stop light or driving in traffic and you don’t want to be bothered by your detector, especially in newer areas where GPS lockouts haven’t yet kicked in or against BSM’s. Many people use this feature even more than lockouts. Personally I wouldn’t want a detector without these two features anymore. It’s way better than constantly reaching up and hitting the mute button every time your detector goes off!

K/Ka Ghosting: There is an issue with the detector where it will sometimes alert to K band as a 34.7 Ka band alert. It’s ghosting and displaying the incorrect frequency and it’s especially not cool because 34.7 is otherwise almost always a police officer. Uniden is working to solve this via firmware updates. The ghosting is almost completely eliminated if you run the detector in Ka Narrow instead of Ka Wide (even though they are within the Ka Narrow range too which is a bit odd), and subsequent firmware updates should allow for ghost-free operation even in Ka Wide.

35.5 falsing: When the detector was initially released, some people (myself included) were noticing a lot 35.5 falses. This was different than the ghosting and frequency misreporting. It would go off for seemingly no reason, rendering the detector virtually useless. However, this was fixed with the first firmware update (1.26) released shortly after the detector was released so it’s no longer an issue.

Firmware Updates

Firmware updates are super critical with any radar detector, laser jammer, or countermeasure in general. They not only bring new features based on customer requests, but they fix bugs too, giving us even better detectors over time. It’s typical for radar detectors to have some issues initially that early adopters discover. Because of this, seeing how a company responds in terms of listening to customer feedback and issuing firmware updates is important too. Uniden so far is doing a very good job. They’re actively listening to what we have to say, they’re fixing important bugs, and they’re adding new features based on the most common requests and complaints that people are bringing up.

I’ve had pretty close contact with Uniden throughout this process in terms of beta testing the detector before its release as well as testing beta firmware updates and I’ve been very impressed by Uniden’s communication, their speed at tackling and resolving issues, and adding important features to make their detectors even stronger competitors and better options. I do this same thing with many other companies too and of course some companies are better than others in this regard. I’d add Uniden to the list of companies that do a good job with firmware updates.

Firmware updates are downloaded to your computer from Uniden’s website. You’ll need a Windows computer or a Mac running Windows (I wish they had a Mac version of the update software) as well as a MiniUSB cable (not included) to plug your detector into your computer. I wish Uniden would include the cable with the detector too. Many people have one already, but if you don’t, you can buy one here.

Here’s a video showing you the update process for both the R3 and the R1.

Set Up & Programming

The detectors are pretty good right out of the box and they’re pretty straightforward to customize as well. There’s a lot of helpful options and things you can configure. There’s also nice little touches like the ability to go forward or backwards through the menu (nice if you skip the option you wanted and so you don’t need to run through the whole list like with some other detectors), the ability to quickly exit the menu, and change some key features quickly like switching between City/Highway modes without having to go into the menu.

People usually wonder about what the different menu options do and how to program their detectors so check out this guide on how to program your R1 or R3.

If you’d like to see a video on the different options, check out this video running through the R3. Uniden is adding and changing different features over time with firmware updates so I’ll do an updated version of this video later on, but here’s a nice look at what the detector offers.

RDD Immunity

One of the tricks that the Redline offered was a stealthy design that made it undetectable by radar detector detectors. Most people in the US don’t need this feature, but it is popular for people who drive in VA or D.C. (radar detectors are legal in the other 49 states), or for truckers where it’s illegal in all 50 states. (Definitely check local laws and penalties, especially if you’re a commercial trucker and don’t want to put your CDL at risk.)

Radar detectors are also illegal through most of Canada, with the exception of BC, AB, and SK and the penalties can be pretty stiff so having a detector that’s undetectable can be a great benefit.

I’ve done some testing with the Spectre Elite, the newest and most effective radar detector detector. I found that the R3 is completely undetectable to a nearby Spectre when driving by. The only time it’s detectable is if an officer literally gets out of his car and holds the Spectre a few feet away from your detector and your detector is turned on. Otherwise, when out on the road, the R3 is undetectable.

Note: This video was done with a beta R3. I’ve since tested further with a production R1 and R3 and found the same results. They’re all stealthy in your car and if the Spectre is handhold, the give similar alert distances, within about 1 foot of one another.

Compared to the Competition?

Let’s quickly compare the R1 and R3 to the other top options on the market. I go into more detail in my complete Radar Detector Buyer’s Guide. Here we’re going to quickly run through how it compares.

Escort Redline: The Redline has since been discontinued, but the Uniden offers longer range, significantly better BSM filtering, GPS, it’s also RDD immune, and it’s a fraction of the price. The R1/R3 is the clear winner. The Redline is still a great detector, but given that there really aren’t any real advantages that it offers and given that it has now been discontinued too, the Uniden is the one to get.

Escort Max360: Not exactly an apples to apples comparison since the Max360 adds arrows, but the Max360 is Escort’s top of the line detector so let’s take a look. The R3 offers longer range and better BSM filtering, but Escort has promised a firmware update significantly improving the BSM filtering of the Max360 (after achieving it for the remote Max Ci 360). The Max360 adds arrows which are really helpful, automatic GPS lockouts instead of manual which is much more desirable when starting with radar detectors, Bluetooth support for realtime cloud-based alerts shared with other Escort drivers (though you can do something similar with Waze), and the 360 has been out longer so it’s already had a chance to go through firmware updates and refinement to address the major issues. It currently lags behind in terms of all out range (though it’s still sufficient in most real world situations), BSM filtering, and price, but it makes up for this by adding arrows, being more plug-and-play, offering built-in Bluetooth, and a very promising BSM filtering update is expected. It’s up to you to decide if the added convenience is worth the higher price tag. (More R3 vs. Max360 discussion here.)

Escort iX: The iX is Escort’s current arrow-less GPS detector so it is a more direct comparison with the R3. The Max and Max2 have been discontinued so the iX is now Escort’s direct competitor to the R3. The R3 offers better performance and BSM filtering than the iX. The iX is based off of simpler technology so it won’t be getting the updated BSM filtering like the Max series detectors. It offers automatic lockouts and Bluetooth integration, but it also costs $100 more so unless you badly want the automatic lockouts, I’d recommend the R3 instead for better performance and better filtering for less money.

Uniden DFR7: The DFR7 slots down one notch below the R3. It hasn’t been replaced but rather is a more inexpensive offering from Uniden. It’s a popular detector because it’s such a great bang for the buck at just $269. The DFR7 is particularly strong on 34.7, the most popular radar frequency in use around the US, but it is weaker on 33.8, 35.5, and K band. The R3 is outstanding on every frequency so there is no compromise in performance. The R3 also adds an updated screen, new features such as the ability to individually delete redlight camera alerts, an improved multiple alert display, more advanced filtering, and so on. I go into the differences in more detail here, but basically the DFR7 is the more affordable pick while the R3 is the top performing pick and personally I feel that its improvements are well worth the money.

Where to Purchase

To purchase a Uniden R1, click here.

To purchase a Uniden R3, click here.

Note: Both detectors are currently on backorder and orders will be fulfilled throughout July. Demand has been super high and Uniden is busy making more of them. The waiting list is hundreds of people long, but lots and lots of detectors will be made available soon so I’d recommend ordering now and your detector will ship as soon as it’s available.

Update your detector to the latest version (instructions here) once it arrives.

Set it up (instructions here) and configure it the way you want.

Then go out and enjoy your brand new high performance radar detector! 😀

7 comments

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  1. Vlad

    Hello,

    I really liked your review of the Uniden R3 and I wanted to buy it. BUT, Uniden’s website doesn’t ship to Europe (since I am from Romania, Europe). I asked a question on their website, got a reply 3 weeks later with a list of their distribuitors from USA. Half of that list of vendors don’t have uniden listed on their website.

    Can you please help on how can I purchase an Uniden R3 if I am not from USA?

    Thank you for your response and keep doing the videos, they are very interesting.

    Best regards,
    Vlad

    1. Mottie

      hello vlad
      as I understand at this point of time the uniden r3 is not supported Europe red light and speed camera database (there is a good chance it will in the future and probably will update via the USB port).
      because this is an awesome detector a lot of people have pre order it and now even the us venders are out of stock.but there is a second shipment on the way to the venders in the us ( probably will arrive at mid to late July).
      your opinions are either order and ship it to a friend in the us(if you have one) and ask him to forward the shipment to you.
      or you can use the service of forwarding company which provides you with a virtual us address and that way you can place an order for everything!!!! from the us (not just radar detectors) and the shipment arrives to the wear house of the company and they will forward it to your Europe address (needless to say the service costs a small fee for the us address and the price for shipping to Europe.
      I have been using this service for more than a decade already and I am from Europe just like you.
      I hope that helps you.
      best regards.

    2. Vortex

      Hey Vlad, so I asked Uniden about it and they said that currently there’s no plans to release them in Europe. Mottie’s suggestion of using some sort of forwarding service would do the trick. However, you may want to consider a detector designed for Europe such as the Genevo One M. https://www.genevo.com/en/genevo-one-m/

  2. Andrew

    Just wanted to say thank you for all the info you share. Was looking to upgrade my Escort 8500 x50 (BSM is driving me crazy.) Started looking at the new devices on market, and was initially drawn to the Escort Max 360. I stumbled on your review (I believe on Amazon.) Although the arrows are a nice feature … Some of the “challenges” you pchallenges left me disappointed. Then I’ve watched your videos on the r3. You have helped me select my next rd. I am placing an order today (using your links to ensure you are compensated … And if not, you should be!!)

    One question … Do you know if Uniden caught the issue for the 2nd shipment (polarized sunglasses blocking the screen)?? I’ve read your posts on the issue you found, and that you contacted Uniden to advise of the issue. I know they they were addressing the issue, but unfortunately some units in the 1st shipment were still impacted.

    Would hate to place the order, and then have to “wait and see” … Only to have to work out an exchange.

    Thanks again, and keep up the great work!! Please keep us posted on updates on the r3.

    Andrew

    1. Vortex

      Thank you! Yeah the Max360 was pretty buggy initially, but it’s actually been improved quite a bit since. I probably need to go in and update that Amazon review of it. Uniden is actually going through the process of fixing initial bugs now too. The people impacted in the first shipment, they could send their detectors in and have the issue corrected so they’re taken care of. The second batch, they’re adding verification of proper screen polarization to their QC process so it should be good from here on out. 🙂

      1. Andrew

        Thanks for the reply.

        In your head-to-head here of the r3 vs Max 360, you closed your assessment with the rd you run is the r3. I know you said the Max 360 initially wasn’t quite exactly inline with the premium escort was charging.

        So … What rd is on your windshield 🙂 Still the r3? Although I’m a fan of the previous escort line, I am disappointed in their customer focus. Actually saw them verbally shut down a custom in their forums.

        I too love the arrows of the Max 360 (great feature), but I have been using rd for so long … I would walk away from the 360/escort family for the performance of the r3 (the range is amazing.) And I’ve been seeing the 360 price fluctuating (now at about $530.) The only hurdle could still be the quality control issues (ex. paint on buttons coming off). I really shut down looking at the 360 after reading about the quality issues.

        So I guess I am curious to see if the improvements you mentioned for the 360… Bumped the r3 from your windshield.

  3. Jerry g

    I have a 2017 Honda cr v that gives fits to my old Valentine with BSM false alerts from within my own car.
    Do you feel that the Uniden R3 would solve this problem or would another detector be better suited
    Thanks

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