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Jun 22

Uniden R3 vs. Escort Max360: Which Radar Detector Is Best?

The Uniden R3 and the Max360 are both fully featured top of the line radar detectors and lots of people have been asking which one is better and which one they should get. Honestly this has been a little tough to answer because while they have a lot of similarities, there’s also some important differences, not to mention they’re both in the process of being updated and improved too so it can be a little challenging to pin down which one is “better.” That said, let’s dive into things and figure out which one would be better for you.

Quick Overview

The Uniden R3 is a long range monster with great false alert filtering. The added GPS chip over the R1 makes it a well-rounded city detector too with your GPS lockouts, low speed muting, and RLC alerts too. It retails for $399, but you can’t get one until July and the waiting list is hundreds of people long. It’s also a brand new detector and some initial kinks are worked out, but Uniden is addressing them pretty quickly right now which is normal for any fresh new product.

The Max360 doesn’t offer the range or BSM filtering of the R3, but it adds automatic GPS lockouts instead of manual, it has Bluetooth support to give you realtime alerts to/from the cloud, it can display on screen the speed limit of the road you’re on, plus it adds arrows to help locate the source of the threat. Most of the major issues have been worked out at this point, but there’s some important updates still coming that we’ve been waiting for for the better part of a year. It retails for $649, but the price fluctuates online so you can usually find it for a few bucks less.

Escort Passport Max or Escort iX?

Now the Uniden R3 and Escort Max360 are both top of the line radar detectors from the respective brands. Since Escort makes similar radar detectors without arrows, a more direct comparison to the R3 feature-wise would be with the Escort Passport Max (discontinued) or the Escort iX so let’s briefly take a look at those too.

The Max (and later the Max2 which simply adds Bluetooth built-in like the Max360 but has also since been discontinued) offers the same performance and filtering capabilities of the Max360, but it’s significantly more affordable since it doesn’t have arrows or Bluetooth. You used to be able to find it in the $300-350 range so it was a much closer in price to the R3 (actually a more direct competitor to the even less expensive Uniden DFR7). However, both the Max and the Max2 were discontinued and in its place Escort has released an update to their 9500ix that they’re calling the iX.

The Escort iX is the updated and modernized version of one of Escort’s best sellers, the 9500ix. It offers better performance and filtering than the 9500ix and all the same features of the Max’s, but unfortunately the performance and filtering is worse the the Max series detectors, yet it’s on sale now for a price even higher than the Max/Max2 at a solid $499. Sure, sometimes you can find the iX for a few bucks less online too, but it costs $100 more than the R3, performs and filters worse, and really the only benefits are that the lockouts are fully automatic, it has Bluetooth built in, and it has a trick magnetic mount. IMHO, there’s no contest.

If autolockouts are a must, and for some people they are which is totally cool, you can go for the Escort iX. Otherwise if you want a detector that’s better in virtually every other way, the Uniden R3 is the superior detector, plus it costs less to boot. I know the addition of arrows to the Max360 makes the comparison with the R3 a little less apples to apples, but since those are both the top of the line models from both manufacturers, that’s what we’re going to look at.

Long Range Performance

Both detectors can give you plenty of advanced warning in most situations, but when you need something to handle even the toughest situations, there’s no question the R3 will smoke the Max360. The R1/R3’s are the longest range radar detectors available. At any price. Period.They’ve repeatedly outperformed the previous benchmark and King of long range detection, the Escort Redline.

There haven’t been a lot of tests done that include both the R3 and the Max360, but there’s been a lot done with the R3 and Redline and there’s been a lot done with the Redline and Max360 and the order is clear: R3 > Redline > Max360.

That said, the Texas Countermeasure Testing Group did do a test recently with an R1 and R3, a Redline, and a Max360 (along with some other detectors like the RPSE, DFR6, and V1). You can find the complete test results online here. The Redline performed unusually poor this time around some reason and so I wish I had something more representative to show you regarding the Redline, but on this particular course against 34.7 which is the most popular radar frequency used in the US, the new Uniden R1 and R3 provided nearly twice the range of the Max360 on 34.7! That’s crazy…

Uniden R1 & R3 vs. Escort Max360 and more (complete test results here)

Blind Spot Filtering

Filtering out blind spot falses is tough. It requires a more modern and advanced detector to do it.

The R3 was good at filtering out of the gate, but the insane sensitivity meant that it was picking up false alerts farther away than other detectors. Since then Uniden has released a firmware update that has noticeably improved the BSM filtering and K band filtering in general. I run my R3 up high by my RVM with the Stinger VIP (a $2500 remote radar detector) out on my grill as my daily setup, and the R3 is actually doing a better job at filtering out BSM’s than the Stinger! That’s super impressive!

The Max360’s BSM filtering is a little subpar. It seems to false a little more than other detectors for some reason, including many other detectors that cost quite a bit less. That said, Escort has released their new remote mount detectors, the Max Ci and Max Ci 360, and multiple people are reporting that Max Ci is more effective at BSM filtering than the R3 (pre-update). In fact it looks like it’s now the best BSM filtering detector on the market! Escort has also announced that this filtering technology should be coming to the Max360 via a firmware update as well. There’s no release date planned for this firmware update, but there was a firmware update that was supposed to be released around the beginning of this year to correct an issue with lockouts repeatedly getting relocked out and we’re still waiting on that one so we’ll have to see when this new firmware update is actually released.

So currently the R3 is better than the Max360, but that may change down the line with continued firmware updates.

Uniden R3

R3’s Advantages

So the R3 currently wins in terms of two of the most important attributes in a radar detector: long range performance and BSM filtering. What else is it better at than the 360?

RDD Immunity: Well for those of you who live in banned areas, the R3 is Spectre immune while the Max360 is very detectable by the Spectre Elite.

RLC database update costs: The RLC database updates are always free with the R3 while Escort gives you a year for free and then charges you $25/yr.

Physical size: The R3 is the size of a traditional detector and it’s very light weight. The Max360 is the largest windshield mount detector ever built which may be an issue if you drive a smaller vehicle.

Mute button on front: The mute button placement on the front of the detector makes it more accessible if you’re running the detector hardwired by the RVM.

Price: There’s also the big one regarding price where the R3 is $399 and the Max360 is $649

R3’s Issues

The R3 is certainly not perfect, especially being the newer product and still going through the initial bug fix process that the Max360 went through when it was first released. At this time, here’s some of the key issues with the R3 and what Uniden is doing about it.

K/Ka Ghosting: Sometimes the detector will report K band signals as 34.7 falses which is very annoying. The first firmware update helped reduce this issue, but it hasn’t solved it entirely. Switching to Ka Narrow instead of Ka Wide helps solve the issue for now, but we’re waiting on a firmware update so people can run their detectors in Ka Wide without ghosting if desired.

Alerts coming and going: When running in All Threat Mode to see multiple signals, it’s common to see lots of alerts quickly coming and going which can make it a little confusing to see what’s going on. This has been reported to Uniden.

Repeated RLC alerts: RLC alerts can come and go when you’re sitting on the edge of the RLC alert zone so you can mute the alert, it’ll disappear, and then it’ll come right back and keep alerting, over and over. This has been reported as well.

Can’t delete RLC’s: Currently no way to delete individual RLC alerts. Uniden has added a high speed muting option to mute them on the highway and a firmware update is planned to add this feature.

Strength priority alerts only: The R3 will assign the highest priority to the strongest signal which can keep the detector muted to a weak Ka signal at a distance when you’re near a strong K band source like a BSM or locked out speed sign. A firmware update is coming to allow for band priority alerts so Ka alerts will always be given higher priority than K band, independent of signal strength.

Big suction cup mount doesn’t work well with steep windshields: It comes with two mounts, the traditional double suction cup mount and another with a single large sticky cup style mount like the Max360. If you have a steeply sloped windshield, you can’t use this mount and have to use the standard one instead. No fix is planned.

Wide GPS Lockouts: The GPS lockouts are a bit too aggressive and lock out a very wide range of frequencies (+/- 50 MHz) which can make the detector more likely to lock out a police officer. This frequency range will be narrowed in an upcoming update.

The ghosting issue is the most critical issue, IMHO, and it’s the one Uniden is focusing on at the moment. The other ones are important too and they’re being addressed in upcoming firmware updates too, but the Uniden is not a bug-free detector out of the gate.

For full information about R3 issues and the resolution process, check out this thread.

Escort Max360

Max360’s Advantages

The Max360 doesn’t have the range or BSM filtering of the R3, but it’s got a number of other really nice features. Do they justify the premium in price? It’s definitely possible, depending on your needs, so let’s run through them.

Autolockouts: Both detectors can learn and remember stationary false alerts. The Uniden requires you to manually teach the detector what’s a false alert (by double pressing the mute button). The Max360 can also do this (triple press the mute button), but if you keep passing by the same signal over and over, it will learn those false alerts and lock them out for you automatically which is fantastic. The more you drive with it, the quieter it gets, automatically. This feature is really useful, especially when starting out so you don’t have to putz around with your detector too much.

Arrows: While both detectors can pick up signals ahead of you or behind, the Max360 has a second rear antenna aiming backwards which lets it not only detect signals behind you from farther away (test results here), but more importantly it can tell the difference between front and rear radar signals to give you arrows and help you locate the source of the threat more quickly and easily.

Escort Live Cloud Alerts: The Max360 has a bluetooth chip built in so you can pair the detector with your phone, giving you a number of benefits. The biggest one is that your alerts get posted to the cloud via Escort Live and you can get alerted to other people’s alerts too and those alerts will all show up right on your Max360’s display.

Adjusting Settings on your Phone: Instead of adjusting settings through your radar detector’s menus, you can also do it through the phone which may be quicker and easier. I’ve also found this handy when grabbing the detector on road trips if I’m in the back seat and want to manually change settings or mute the detector from the back of the vehicle. 😉

Displaying the Speed Limit on Screen: When paired to your phone, the Max360 can look up the speed limit for the road you’re on and display it on the detector’s display.

Directional RLC alerts: The R3 will mark intersections that have an RLC or speedcam. The Max360 also takes into account the direction(s) that those RLC’s/speedcams monitor and will only alert if you’re traveling in a direction that they issue tickets to, cutting back on unnecessary alerts.

RLC Database Updates: Escort’s RLC updates are more frequent than Uniden’s.

Automatic speed-based sensitivity adjustments: Both detectors allow you to choose full sensitivity (Highway Mode) or the ability to reduce the sensitivity of the detector for reduced false alerts around town. With the R3 (City Mode), you have to manually switch modes. With the Max360 (Auto mode), it has the ability to automatically switch between reduced sensitivity and full sensitivity as you change speed so you automatically get full sensitivity on the Highway and reduced sensitivity in the City. Again, it’s more automated.

Max360’s Issues

Escort has had a chance to update and improve the Max360 via firmware updates since its initial release and it’s now a good deal better than it was initially. Nevertheless, there are some issues and quirks I still find.

Escort Live’s Speed Limit replaces Cruise Alert threshold: You can use the GPS in the detector to mute your detector below a preset speed, very handy around town. If you pair your detector with your phone and run the Escort Live app, when the app knows the speed limit for the road you’re on, it will replace the speed you programmed into the detector with whatever it thinks the speed limit is so that it mutes the detector when you’re below the speed limit. This is handy in many cases, but it can be problematic. You see, the speed limits that Escort references are sometimes wrong and don’t match the actual speed limits. They also don’t take into account things like construction zones and school zones. Because of this, it’s very possible that you can run into the situation where you’re traveling over the speed limit and the detector is muting itself. If you are running Escort Live for the realtime cloud alerts, there’s literally no way to stop this from occurring and use the Cruise Alert threshold you program in. The only way to solve this issue is to stop running Escort Live on your phone and disconnect from the app.

Lockouts repeatedly getting stored: There is a known issue with the lockouts where the detector will repeatedly store the same false alerts over and over, and even though it’s previously saved and locked out those falses, it will beep and alert you that it’s stored the false alert, as if it’s the first time it learned this signal. A firmware update was promised at the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017 and we’re still waiting.

Which One To Get?

Cool, so now that we’ve gone through that, which one should you get? Is it worth the extra $250 to get the Max360 instead of the R3? Which one will do a better job at keeping you protected from speeding tickets?

The way I see it, the simplest answer is that if you’re the person who wants the most plug-and-play hands-free experience possible to where you don’t have to be a radar detector expert and the detector can do it all for you, get the Max360. You get plenty of range, pretty good filtering, it can automatically learn where the false alerts are located around town, it can tell you the speed limit of the road you’re on, plus it adds arrows which are very helpful for quickly and easily locating the source of the threat. If you pair it with your phone and run Escort Live, you can share your radar encounters with other drivers to help them out and you can benefit from being notified of their radar encounters. You can ultimately do the same thing with the Uniden by running Waze (it’s actually a good idea to run Waze no matter which detector you’re using), but using Waze for cloud alerts requires running another app and the alerts happen in the background while Live’s alerts pop up right on your radar detector’s display, even if your phone is busy running another app or it’s stuffed in your pocket.

The Max360 is a feature packed detector that’s easy to use and it’s one I’d recommend to people who aren’t interested in messing around with their detectors or becoming a radar detector expert. It’s the one I recommend to my family members who want something simple and effective.

Click here to purchase your Escort Max360.

(Once you purchase, check out this tutorial to help you set up your new Max360.)

On the other hand, if you’re a serious driver looking for the highest level of performance to keep you protected out on the road, you don’t want to deal with lots of annoying blind spot false alerts, and you’re fine with spending a little time initially teaching the detector what’s a false alert along your typical drives (this video will teach you how to use that feature), the Uniden R3 is the detector to get.

The R3’s won’t be shipping again until July and the waiting list for one is hundreds of people long so if you need a detector ASAP, pick up the Max360.

Click here to purchase your Uniden R3.

(Once you purchase, check out this tutorial to help you set up your new R3.)

Which Detector Do I Run?

Finally, which detector would I run? Well I’m a big fan of arrows and I think they’re fantastic. I like regularly switching back and forth between the R3, the Max360, and many other detectors to see how they all compare. However at the end of the day, when I want a detector on my windshield because it’s the one that I want to run, this is what I choose:

14 comments

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  1. Mottie

    hello vortex
    excellent comparison both detectors are the top of the line right now and I say it even though I am a valentine guy with the yav1 of course and I also own a redline and sometimes I alternate between the v1 and the redline. but these detectors are awesome I currently wait to see if the uniden r3 will support Europe database and if so I would surely get one. and more interesting it’s to see what escort have in store for replacing the mighty redline.

  2. Kyle

    Hey Vortex,
    Any idea how the R1 performs against quick trigger? Is immediacy of alert time good enough in long range QT 34.7 encounters?
    I’m a loyal V1 user, but may have to see what all the hype is about… once all the bugs are worked out, of course.

    1. Vortex

      It’s actually very good at QT now. Initially it was pretty slow which we saw in testing so we asked Uniden to speed that up and it’s much faster at alerting to QT. This isn’t quite the same thing, but check out the video I posted yesterday with the R3 and the Bee III. I set up the R3 with the fastest settings (Ka Filter Off and Ka Narrow) and it is going off before the Bee III can even register a speed! https://youtu.be/b6ADZzHAR2M Turning the filter on or setting it to Ka Wide does slow things down a little bit, but it’s still plenty fast for QT even with that enabled. 🙂

      1. Kyle

        Good to know. Thank you educating the public on these latest models…
        Now if only Uniden can work out the ghosting and abnormally high component temps, I’ll take a chance on one.
        Running the already abnormally high temperatured R1/R3 (especially in consistently hot areas of the U.S) concerns me. Heat is a slow but sure killer of sensitive electronics. I foresee longevity (or lack thereof) being an issue with these lightweight, hot running, plastic shelled Unidens… then again I could be wrong… Time will tell! Thoughts on this???

        1. Vortex

          Ah boy.. so the ghosting fix is currently in development and if you run your detector in Ka Narrow, it resolves the issue almost completely so it’s a non-issue. The heat concerns are non-existent. I’ve left my detectors on on my desk overnight for 12 hours and they were only slightly warm to the touch. Your detector will get much hotter when sitting in a parked car in the sun than it will because it’s running. It looks like people were concerned that heat was causing ghosting issues, but that isn’t the case. It was just people concerned about things, making incorrect conclusions, and now we’re left with people reading all about this and thinking there’s problems with detectors getting hot.

          1. Kyle

            Thanks for the reassurance Vortex. 🙂 I suppose some of us old school detector gurus still just simply can’t believe Uniden is making such a high performing unit. My circa 1990 Unidens still leave me with scars, ahemm……memories of $$$ speeding tickets as a teenage driver LoL
            You’ve silenced some of my doubts. Keep up the great work!

  3. Greg Scheller

    Hello Vortex,
    I discovered you on youtube and have learned a lot – thanks. I really like the R3 yet I hope you can help me discover concerns I have for use on my motorcycle . . . .for comparison i successfully use a 9500ix and plug an ear piece into the jack – very important for me so I get an alert immediately AND the 9500ix will also announce (programmable) whether it is K or KA etc.
    Will this awesome R3 allow me to plus an ear bud and will it announce through the ear bud the radar band type?
    Yes…..the 9500 has to go so if the R3 won’t do this i’m interested in one that will. Thanks Vortex !

    1. Vortex

      Hey Greg, yeah the R3 has a headphone jack on the side too, right next to the power cable.

  4. Benny

    Hello Vortex,

    I was wondering can Uniden update the R1 & R3 with an software update to have somewhat directional location alerts like instand of arrows. they could replace where the speed display with directional alerts like for example, it could show like, Front (F), Rear (R), Left (L), Right (R). That would be great and would be a game changer

    1. Vortex

      In order to do directional information, you need a second rear antenna so the detector knows if the signal is stronger ahead or behind. “Side” arrows are simply front and rear signal strength is very similar if not the same. With only a front facing antenna, the detector only knows if a signal is present, but it has no way of determining direction. A software update can’t do this. It would require a new hardware design.

  5. Frank corrigan

    Hey Vortex great article…What is the best way to mount the R3 in a 2016 camaro? I’ve seen that the two suction cups are a little lackluster and the large single cup isn’t very good on steep windshields. Any suggestions if I plan to hardwire the unit?

    1. Vortex

      Are the two suction cups not working well for you? They’re comparable with other suction cup mounts. Nothing really better or worse about it. If the single suction cup doesn’t work for your car and you don’t want to use the dual suction cup mount, get a Blendmount for it. http://www.vortexradar.com/2015/12/blendmount-review/

      As for hardwiring it, it’s very standard. http://www.vortexradar.com/2016/07/how-to-hardwire-a-radar-detector/

      1. Frank corrigan

        Not first hand I’m waiting on my R3 in the mail as we speak. I’ve read a ton of reviews and articles about “top radar detectors” because I just got a new car. I’ve come across a couple reviews that stated that the two suction cups tend to fall quite a bit so I didn’t know if that was a issue or just a bad experience for that individual. And I also read on your review I believe that the large one has a issue with steep windshields which I have. So I was just wondering what suggestions you might have… is the blend mount universal?

        1. Vortex

          The two suction cups are similar to others. As long as your windshield is clean and you pick a good mounting area, you should be fine. A good trick is to wet the suction cups a little too. That also helps.

          As for the Blendmount’s compatibility, no. You have to choose the right one for the R3. There’s a waiting list for the R3-specific mount. However, the Uniden DFR7 and RPSE ones fit well. The DFR7 one fits, but doesn’t lock into place which I actually kind of like. However, the RPSE one fits perfectly and locks into place as it should. Check out this vid for more: https://youtu.be/8CnxKg0pfYk

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