Escort just released the new Max 360c ($699), their successor to the original Max 360 ($649). The updated 360c adds WiFi for automatic updates which means it’s now the first windshield mount radar detector that can automatically keep itself updated over time as new software updates are released. Let’s take a closer look now at its key features in this Max 360c review and compare the Escort Max360 and the Max360c to see if the new 360c is a worthy successor to the original.
Escort Max 360c Review
Max 360c Review Video
If you’d like to watch my Max 360c review video (half an hour long), here ya go. If you’d prefer to read, continue on. 🙂
Let’s start off this Max 360c review by talking about WiFi.
Updated February 2018
WiFi: Escort Live & Automatic Updates
The big new feature that Escort has introduced with the Max 360c is integrated WiFi. (The “c” stands for “connected” as in “connected car.”) If you have WiFi built into your car, your radar detector can connect to Escort Live without requiring your phone.
Using WiFi, the Max 360c can also automatically update both its firmware and built-in red light camera database, something that’s not available over Bluetooth like with the original Max 360. To update your radar detector, you no longer have to bring the detector home, plug it into your computer, and run the update software. The Max 360c is now the first radar detector that’s able to keep itself updated for you automatically.
WiFi Firmware Updates
When a new firmware update is available, the Max360c will notify you, ask you if you want to update, and then the update process takes about 5-10 min. You can also go into the detector manually at any time and check to see if there’s a new update available.
This is a cool feature and I think it’s cool to drive around knowing that your detector is always going to automatically be up to date.
At the same time, I think is likely going to wind up being a bit of a gimmick. You see, Escort rarely issues firmware updates in the first place. It’s nice that the detector can check for updates and update itself for you, but what good is automatic updating capabilities without the updates?
Not only that, but with the initial bugs that we are finding and reporting to Escort, Escort is blowing its users off and deleting posts on their forum. Escort even has a history of banning users off their forum for reporting issues so that combined with the fact that they generally only release a few updates in the beginning and then let their detectors languish eventually, this is really just something that’ll be most helpful a few times in the beginning, but won’t wind up being a big deal long term.
However, if you have WiFi built into your vehicle and you want a detector that can automatically update itself whenever Escort releases an update, I do think it’s a cool feature. Escort doesn’t notify users of updates except for posting notifications on their forum, so unless you’re actively keeping an eye out for updates (I usually announce and explain the changes in each firmware version on my YouTube channel when they come out), it’s nice to have the detector taking care of this for you.
Note: While it is possible for Escort to update their detectors over Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE is really slow to transfer files in a reasonable amount of time which is one of the main reasons why Escort has opted to use WiFi for the update process. The AntiLaser Priority laser jammer can do automatic firmware updates over Bluetooth, but its firmware update files are much much smaller. Escort themselves have done firmware updates via Bluetooth before with the Redline. That’s how they gave us BS/RDR via a software update… so they have done it before and I wish they’d do that again.
WiFi Red Light Camera / Speed Camera Updates
The Max 360c can also automatically update its built-in red light camera and speed camera database over WiFi, a nice feature since Escort updates their RLC database pretty regularly. Normally you’d have to bring your detector inside periodically, plug it into your computer, and run Escort’s update software, but now the detector can take care of that for you while driving. Pretty slick.
However, in practice this is actually more of a gimmick than the firmware updates (which actually can be useful).
You see, as long as you’re connected to Escort Live, whether it’s through your phone via Bluetooth or over your WiFi hotspot, you’ll always have access to the latest red light camera database. If the RLC database built into your detector is out of date, it actually doesn’t matter because your detector will reference the latest database online and use that instead. Since the detector is designed to automatically connect to Escort Live every time you get in your car, as long as you take your phone with you, you’ve already have access to the latest RLC database so it’s not a big deal if you haven’t updated the detector’s built-in database recently.
The only way this would be useful is if you regularly drive without your phone. Otherwise, since your detector is designed to connect to your phone and run Escort Live in the background automatically, there is no real world benefit to this feature.
No Escort Live app needed
Another benefit of WiFi is you’d avoid the connectivity issues of using your phone for Escort Live. You see, the Escort Live phone app isn’t all that reliable and I regularly find that the detector does not automatically reconnect to the app so I have to go in and manually reconnect the detector or power cycle the detector to get Escort Live functionality. With WiFi, I wouldn’t have this issue.
There’s also issues like the app crashing sometimes, Apple’s software updates occasionally breaking Bluetooth compatibility (it happened with iOS 11 and Escort had to update their radar detectors to fix it), and so on.
Things are actually worse on Android due to Android’s fragmentation and there’s many connectivity complaints you’ll find online with the app.
Escort Live is a low priority for Escort which is why when people ask them about fixing bugs or adding important new features, Escort typically responds by saying “We’re a hardware company, not a software company,” in an attempt to blow off the complaints.
With WiFi, you’d bypass all the phone connection and app stuff and you should get a more reliable and consistent connection. That’s a real world benefit of using WiFi, but that’s really a benefit because of the fact that Escort hasn’t buttoned down their app…
How to Connect to WiFi
If you want to use WiFi, there’s several different different ways to give your Max 360c the WiFi connection it needs.
WiFi Built In to your Car
The Max 360c works best if your vehicle has a dedicated WiFi hotspot built into it. This way you start up your vehicle, your detector automatically hops online, and everything works seamlessly while you drive. If you have a hotspot built into your car, whether it’s one that came with your vehicle or it’s one that you’ve purchased and installed, you’re golden. This is the best way to use the Max 360c and so this detector could be a good fit for you.
WiFi Tethering on your Phone
Many cell phones have tethering capabilities where they can turn into a WiFi hotspot and share their internet connection with other devices. I use this all time time when traveling to give my laptop an internet connection, for example. This would work with the Max 360c, particularly on Android. On iOS it wouldn’t work as well.
Whichever type of phone you’re using, if your phone is going to act as a WiFi hotspot, you’ll need a second phone to set up your Max 360c. You’ll need your primary phone set up as a hotspot and a second phone to control the 360c and connect it to the first phone. Once you do that then yes, your 360c will work with tethering.
Another issue is reconnecting automatically. On iOS, there is no way for your 360c to activate tethering on your iPhone so you’ll have to manually go in and activate tethering every time you get in the car. It’s easier just to use Bluetooth and let the detector connect automatically that way.
On Android you could have tethering always enabled for your detector to connect to, but that will increase the battery drain on your device. However, there are solutions that allow you to automate this process. For example, when you get into your vehicle and your phone sees your vehicle’s Bluetooth connection, that can trigger WiFi hotspot activation in your phone. When you finish driving and disconnect, that can trigger hotspot deactivation in your phone. This way your phone could act as a WiFi hotspot for your Max 360c. This app can do this for you.
What about connecting to your WiFi at home? If your Max 360c can see your home’s internet connection when you sit in the driveway, would that work? Obviously this wouldn’t help while driving and you could just use your phone and BT while driving, but could it work for downloading the periodic updates over WiFi? Technically yes, but in practice not so much.
WiFi firmware updates take 5-10 minutes. If your routine regularly involves you sitting in your driveway for 10 minutes before leaving, that could work. I don’t think that’s the case for for most people though.
What about when you arrive back home? If you plug your Max 360c into a power source that’s always on, your detector could update itself while you’re parked and then you could use the Auto Power option to have your detector automatically turn off after you’ve been parked for a while. (See my Max 360c setup guide for more info.) Since automatic updates require you to press a button and confirm that yes you want to update, this would only work if you are watching your detector when you get home and confirm you want it to update before walking away.
So the detector could work with your home WiFi, but not as seamlessly as when you’re driving.
Coffee Shop WiFi
What about connecting to a coffee shop WiFi hotspot? If you’re sitting at a redlight for a while, it’d be cool to have your detector connect to the internet, check for updates, and update itself while you wait. Unfortunately most coffee shops require you to click a button to agree to their terms and conditions before connecting and you can’t do that with the 360c so even if you were sitting near a coffee shop long enough for everything to update, you’d still encounter that barrier.
So really the Max 360c is designed to work best with a WiFi hotspot built into your vehicle. The updates that WiFi would give you are helpful, but the real world benefits are limited. That said, it is the first radar detector that can update itself which is cool. Now that we’ve covered WiFi, let’s take a look at everything else.
Updated Design & Redesigned Case
The Max 360c has been visually updated and redesigned. Escort has slightly reduced the size of the 360c compared to the original 360 (a good thing), plus they’ve updated the case to have a similar style to Escort’s other modern detectors. You notice that it looks more like the iX and Redline EX now.
Design-wise, I think the new detector looks pretty good, but I’ve never been a fan of silver or gray in a detector because it reflects in the windshield too easily. Black is less distracting and more stealthy. However, if you run your detector mounted up high by your rear view mirror (the optimal location), that’s no big deal.
Build quality has also improved. The detector feels more solid and the button feel is more substantial. I noticed this right away and I really like it. It makes the detector feel like a more premium product, and for $699, it should feel like it.
Escort has also redesigned the arrow layout. On the original Max 360, the arrows were all clustered around the rear antenna on the right side of the display. On the Max 360c, they’re now around the entire display.
The arrows are also now a touch larger.
Like with the original 360, you can customize the arrow colors as well as adjust whether they point to only the primary signal or to multiple signals.
Performance of the new Max 360c is on par with the original, maybe a touch behind. Despite its $699 price tag, it is unable to keep up with the best performing (and less expensive) competitors. Here is a set of test results courtesy of the TXCTG. (The Max360c is light orange.)
As you can see, the Max360 and Max360c are not going to be the longest range radar detectors on the market. They get a good amount of flack for their performance relative to their price, and justifiably so, but the thing to remember is that the Max’s offer enough performance to help you avoid a ticket in most real world situations while also giving you many other helpful features like arrows, autolockouts, Bluetooth, and now WiFi. They’re designed to be well-rounded, feature-packed, and easy to use, not so much crazy long range detectors.
Performance is one of the two most important attributes in helping you avoid a speeding ticket (false alert filtering is the other). The Max360c isn’t bad in this regard, but it’s up to you to decide if “not bad” is good enough for the most expensive windshield mount radar detector on the market and if all the other features that it offers makes up for this.
Ka Band Segmentation
The Max 360c brings K and Ka band segmentation to the Max series detectors. Band segmentation is an advanced feature that allows you to more finely tune exactly which radar frequencies the detector scans for. Learn more about band segmentation here.
Normally band segmentation is a huge boost to performance because if you tell your detector to not waste time scanning for unnecessary frequencies and only scan frequencies where you’ll see legitimate police radar, you can enjoy a nice boost to range and speed. However, because the Max series detectors are digital and can scan the entire range of frequencies very quickly, band segmentation is not needed in the same way that it is with older analog radar detectors.
Band segmentation on the Max 360c does not affect performance. You can see it illustrated here in this TXCTG test where a Max360c was tested both segmented and unsegmented with the same results.
The Max 360c is always scanning all of K or Ka band, even when band segmentation is used. In this case of the 360c, BS only affects muting. Band segmentation is designed specifically for international users outside of the US where radar guns operate on different frequency ranges. Here in the US, it’s not necessary.
False alert filtering on the Max 360c is excellent. It’s one of the detector’s strong suits and it’s one of the very best radar detectors when it comes to false alert filtering. It has several different techniques at its disposal.
Auto GPS Lockouts
Auto GPS lockouts are a feature that’s mostly exclusive to Escort. The idea is that as you drive around, the radar detector can learn and remember where stationary false alerts are located from shopping centers and speed signs and after you pass them a few times, the detector will remember them and being filtering them out for you (locking them out) so that next time you drive by, the detector stays silent. It’s a fantastic feature for urban driving.
Other manufacturers can do this too, but due to patent restrictions, the lockouts are manual meaning you have to initially teach it what signals are false alerts (Uniden, Radenso) or the lockout functionality is handled via a cell phone instead of built into the detector (Valentine). With Escort, the detector can do it automatically all by itself. (This patent expires mid-2020.)
One weird thing I noticed with the Max 360c is that the first time I took it out for a drive, it locked out a false alert in a grocery store. Usually it requires 2-3 passes minimum before it starts locking signals out. The fact that it did it on the very first encounter while I was driving through a shopping center parking lot is worrisome.
BSM (blind spot monitoring) filtering on the Max 360c is fantastic. It’s got one of the best BSM filters around. Escort has been working on this for a while and it’s been getting progressively better and better. Very few vehicles with radar-based collision avoidance systems punch through anymore, except for the usual suspects.
The 360c has full-time BSM filtering and doesn’t require TSR to filter out BSM’s. This means that you can have both maximum performance on K band while maintaining effective false alert filtering. Excellent.
Auto & AutoLoK Sensitivity Levels
The Max 360c has automatic speed-based sensitivity adjustments meaning it can reduce its sensitivity at low speeds to quiet things down around town and give you higher sensitivity when you’re on the highway.
Auto Mode will reduce the detector’s sensitivity to X and K band around town. If you want further reduction in sensitivity (cutting out many more false alerts while also reducing range against legitimate alerts), you can enable AutoLoK mode which cuts down K band sensitivity even more.
Cruise alert is GPS-based low speed muting. You set a speed that you want and the radar detector will stay quiet below that speed. When you get an alert below that speed, the detector will give you a quick double-beep, then mute itself completely. This is really helpful around town to keep the detector extra quiet.
When you’re paired via Escort Live, whether through Bluetooth or over WiFi, Escort will replace your cruise alert threshold with the speed limit of the road that you’re on. This way when you’re traveling below the speed limit, the detector will be very quiet and if you’re speeding above the limit, the detector will alarm normally.
Unfortunately the speed limit database in Escort Live isn’t always correct. In my experience, especially after Escort switched database providers, the speed limit is usually accurate. However, I do run into instances where it is wrong and I can run into a situation where I could be speeding and my detector won’t alert normally like it’s supposed to. In the image below, you’ll see I’m doing 30 mph (the posted speed limit), but Escort Live is reporting the speed limit as 40 mph which means that I could be doing over the limit and my detector will be quiet. Not good…
This database also doesn’t take into account school zones or construction zones so those are also situations where you could be speeding without your detector alerting you properly. There is no way to prevent the speed limit Escort Live thinks the road is from overwriting the cruise alert threshold you choose in the detector.
The only way to stop this from happening is to either not connect to the cloud or to not use the cruise alert functionality whatsoever. Given that the Max 360c is designed to be always connected to the cloud via WiFi, you’d have to disable low speed muting altogether in order to have the detector alert you properly in school zones or construction zones.
I’ve asked Escort to give us the option to ignore the Escort Live speed limit and actually use the cruise alert threshold we set into the detector, but that is still not an option. (It’s little things like this that I find really annoying and it’s why I appreciate detectors that give me the control to do what I want.)
K Band Segmentation
The Max 360c also adds K Band segmentation. This is a feature that’s designed for international usage in countries where police only transmit within very small sections of K band and so you can selectively disable certain areas of K band to cut down on false alerts. Here in the US police officers have radar guns that operate within the entire range of K band that the Max 360c sweeps for so you don’t want to disable any K band segments. For complete information on Max 360c K Band Segmentation, see my Max 360c settings guide.
Some people do use K band segmentation to cut out Honda/Acura BSM’s and it work. However, it is a terrible idea in the U S. You see, with Escort’s K band segmentation, you get one segment that covers 24.175-24.250. Honda/Acura is usually around 24.195-24.205 so yes disabling that frequency range would do the trick. However, police radar guns here in the US are designed to transmit between 24.025-24.250 so by disabling that segment, you’re cutting out 1/3 of the frequencies where legitimate police radar can exist. If K band is actively used in your area, that’s extremely risky to do. Again, that’s a feature that’s designed for international usage where police officers use smaller sections of K band than American officers do.
Even without K Band segmentation, however, the Max 360c does a good job of filtering out false alerts.
EZ Mag Magnetic Mount
The windshield mount on the Max 360c is fantastic. It’s my favorite radar detector mount. It’s a special magnetic mount that is super easy to attach and remove, plus it holds in place very well when you’re driving. Escort first introduced this EZ Mag mount in the Escort iX, then they used it for the Redline EX, and now it’s available on the Max 360c as well.
If you regularly take your radar detector down when you park and then put it back on when you’re ready to drive, you’ll enjoy the new mount.
Pro-tip: There’s a plastic lip on the front of the mount that the detector grabs onto. The magnet alone won’t hold the detector up so make sure that you hook it into the front lip on the mount and then let the magnet hold it in place. Once you do, it works very well.
Wireless Laser Jammer Integration
The ZW5’s are a wireless version of the ZR5, the laser jammer used in the Max Ci and Max Ci 360 remote mount radar/laser systems. The ZR5 is less effective than the AntiLaser Priority and there really isn’t much of a reason to get it, but the ZW5’s new wireless capabilities offer something unique and worthwhile.
The ZW5 will be a good option for people who don’t want to drill through their vehicle’s firewall or who want a simpler install. With the ZW5 installed in your engine bay, your Max 360c will be able to interface with your ZW5’s. When you get shot with laser, your Max 360c will alert and you can kill your jammers from your radar detector. Very cool. This way you have one controller and display for both radar and laser with a simpler and cleaner install.
Max 360 vs. Max 360c Review
If you’re deciding between the Max 360 or the new Max 360c, which one should you get? If you have the 360 already, should you upgrade to the 360c?
In my opinion, most people would be better off going for the original 360. While there’s only a $50 difference in MSRP between the 360 and 360c ($649 vs. $699 respectively), you can get the Max360 quite a bit cheaper on Amazon while the Max360c is only available direct from Escort for full price. This means that the 360 is a good deal cheaper and it also offers arrows, Escort Live via Bluetooth, and it has the same performance and filtering capabilities.
If you have WiFi built into your car or you’re an Android user comfortable with tethering, you may find the Max 360c worthwhile. You get the automatic updating capabilities and it’ll connect to the cloud without needing the Escort Live app. Plus the detector is a little smaller and offers improved build quality too.
Uniden R3 vs. Max 360c Review
What about the Max 360c vs. the Uniden R3? The R3 ($399) is nearly half the price of the Max 360c ($699) and yet it offers better performance. Should you get the R3 or is the 360c worth the extra cost?
I suppose it all comes down to your priorities. For me, I prefer the R3’s superior performance and how well Uniden listens to their customers in terms of implementing useful features and fixing bugs. This is in direct contrast to Escort who seems to be working hard to alienate their most passionate customers while releasing expensive radar detectors with sub-par performance and adding questionably useful features like WiFi.
I certainly have my own personal preference, but I do think there’s also a place for the 360c, particularly for people who have WiFi built into their vehicles. The 360c also has many other benefits too. For example, the lockouts are automatic instead of manual, the display brightness can adjust automatically instead of manually, the detector feels more substantial and solid, it adds arrows to help locate the threat, you can program your detector through your phone, it has cloud integration for real time alerts shared with other drivers, and the magnetic mount is cool too. The R3 only has firmware update software available for Windows while the Max 360c can be upgraded via Windows, Mac, or WiFi. If the Max 360c sounds appealing to you, then you should get it. I’ve heard from several Max 360c owners who are all very happy with their purchase and love the WiFi integration.
Max 360c Review Conclusion
The Max 360c brings us WiFi integration and automatic update capabilities at a premium price point. By no means is it the best bang for the buck. It’s more of a feature-packed radar detector offering loads of bells and whistles, is easy to use, and can even keep itself updated over time automatically, a brand new feature not available on any other windshield mount radar detector.
Performance is good enough for most situations, false alert filtering is excellent, the GPS lockouts are automatic so the detector gets quieter the more you use it, plus it has arrows to help you quickly locate the source of the threat.
The Max 360c retails for $699 and not many people have WiFi (yet) in their vehicles so for most people the original Max360 will likely be the better buy. However, if you do have WiFi in your vehicle and the idea of automatic updates sounds awesome to you so your radar detector always stays up to date on its own, the Max 360c may very well be the radar detector for you.
This is not a paid or sponsored review. I purchased my Max 360c full retail and have not been compensated for my review. The purchase links in this review are affiliate links so I do make a percentage when you purchase and that’s a way that you can support me and what I do if you find my reviews helpful. (Thank you!) Whether money is involved or not, it’s really important for me personally to share my actual opinion with you, good, bad, or otherwise.
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