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Uniden R8 Review

The Uniden R8 is an impressive new radar detector. It’s been my daily driver since November and I’ve been enjoying it so much that even after finishing beta testing and creating this Uniden R8 review, I continue choosing the R8 as my go-to radar detector of choice.

The Uniden R8 is now available for pre-order in very limited quantities (more detectors will be available after the first initial batch) and so I wanted to go ahead and share my personal experiences and test results with the R8, as well as some reports from other fellow beta testers.

Uniden R8 alerting to WSP trooper ahead

Introduction

The Uniden R8 ($699) is essentially a souped up Uniden R7 ($499) with the same performance enhancements and features that have been added to the Uniden R4 ($449). If you haven’t already watched it, make sure you check out my R8 introduction video first going over all the improvements added from the R7 to the R8.

After you watch this video, you’ll be up to speed with the R8 itself and now we can move onto real world experiences running it.

Note: I’ve tested two R8’s, both provided by Uniden. One has pre-production hardware, the other production. Both are running beta firmware. I’ve been mostly driving with the production R8. It has firmware 1.22 which is very close to the production firmware 1.23 that will be shipped on retail R8’s and should offer the same performance and overall experience as what we’ve been testing, according to what I’ve been told. Also, as always, this is not a paid or sponsored review. 

Design

Uniden has moved the mute button to the front of the detector which is a very welcome change. I always found it awkward to hit the mute button on the side of the R7, but with the R8 it feels like the mute button is in the perfect spot. I find it much easier now to tap while driving.

Uniden R8 front

The big trade-off with this design is that the face of the detector is now physically taller. If you’re upgrading from an R7 that you’ve mounted up by your RVM, you may need to lower the mount for the R8 so that you have room to stick your fingers in and press the buttons. Several beta testers otherwise reported issues with the R8 pressing up against their headliner.

Uniden R8 mounted high by RVM, side shot

Additionally the front of the detector is now taller which blocks visibility to the rear laser sensor behind it. A number of people mentioned this concern and while technically yes that’s true, for all intents and purposes purposes, rear detection in a radar detector is all but useless in practice. So IMHO, this is a non-issue. (I’m not defending Uniden’s design decision. I’m just saying it doesn’t make a difference in practice. Get a laser jammer if you need laser protection, especially from the rear.)

Uniden R7 (left) and Uniden R8 (right)

Uniden R7 (left) and Uniden R8 (right)

In terms of build quality, button feel is slightly improved over the R7, though the R8 still feels a little more plasticky than the Redline 360c and V1 Gen2. I wish the R8 felt a bit more solid, but once I have it mounted, I don’t really notice it. Feels fine to me.

Performance

Longer range is one of the main improvements over the R7 which was already a strong performance. Thanks to a new dual LNA design, plus an upgraded condenser lens, the R8 is one of the best performing radar detectors you can buy. You can check out my R8 long range test results here.

In short, I’ve found the R8 to be a top performer on K band as well as all of the Ka band frequencies. I like that it offers both long range detection as well as very quick responsiveness to brief instant on alerts, including with filters enabled. To me, that’s what sets the R8 apart from the competition.

Compared to the R7, the R8 offers longer range on 33.8, 34.7, 35.5, and K band as advertised.

Compared to the V1 Gen2 and Redline 360c, things vary depending on the radar frequency and settings, but of course all those detectors offer long range performance.

When it comes to reacting to brief alerts, the Redline 360c is sluggish on K band and needs to be segmented to just 2/5/8 to get a reasonable level of responsiveness. The V1 Gen2 is lightning quick on Ka, but slower on K band due to its filtering. The R8 manages to offer great responsiveness on both K and Ka. In fact it even does so with its K band filters enabled. It also doesn’t sacrifice range as much as some other detectors once the filters are enabled.

As I drive towards a radar source, the R8 does a better job of progressively ramping up in signal strength than the RL360c. The Redline likes to scream aggressively well before I’m actually in range of the radar gun. Additionally it does the goofy Escort thing of ramping down slightly and going quiet for a bit before the signal strength jumps and the detector suddenly starts alerting more aggressively. The R8 is more progressive and linear so the ramp-up is more useful and informative.

As a package the R8 instills a lot of confidence in me. Now I no longer need to compromise on range or responsiveness for K or Ka. Now I can get good range, responsiveness, and filtering all at the same time. I love that.

False Alert Filtering

Overall I’ve been pretty happy with the false alert filtering, as have most of the other beta testers. The R8 is a pretty quiet detector. Here’s what I’ve noticed over several months of driving.

On a typical 2 hour highway drive, I get maybe just 5 falses or so on average. I’m pretty satisfied with that.

In terms of BSM filtering, I find the detector to be fairly quiet. Most common BSM sources? Mazda CX-5’s, some Honda/Acura’s, Cadillac’s, Jeep’s, and Chrysler’s. Besides the built in K band filter, there are a couple tools we have to deal with falses.

Uniden R8 Mazda CX-5 BSM False

There are two K Blocks, 24.199 +/- 5 MHz & 24.168 +/- 2 MHz (same as the R7) to help cut out many false alerts from Hondas, Acuras, Chryslers, Jeeps, and more. I’ve been running it to only filter out weak signals so I still get alerted to stronger signals and I can count on one hand the number of times in the last 4 months that a signal has punched through the weak filter. (It typically happens when I’m next to a car in traffic so my low speed muting takes over.)

When the R8 goes off to a BSM, it’s typically a pretty weak alert. No full tilt screaming that makes you wanna panic stomp the brakes unnecessarily.

Auto mode is a new feature that makes a big difference. It automatically changes the detector’s sensitivity based on speed. At low speeds the detector runs in city mode (reduced sensitivity on X/K band) while at high speeds it runs in highway mode (full sensitivity on all bands). The R7 lacks this feature and it’s been helpful to keep the R8 quieter around town (while still offering plenty of range too, unlike some other popular detectors).

Uniden R8, Auto City 35

TSF also helps cut down on some BSM falses, though you will see a range drop when using it. I do recommend it in general now because it does make a difference in quietness.

Mazda CX-5’s are one of the biggest sources of false alerts, though the R8 does false to them far less than, say, the V1 Gen2 does, so several beta testers have reported good results with the R8 in this regard. Enabling MRCD detection does help further cut down on CX-5 falses (like with other Unidens), but it doesn’t eliminate it. Enabling MRCD, especially if those photo radar systems aren’t in use in your area, also means you’ll want to use some of the other MRCD filters (quiet ride, GPS lockouts) to help cut down on the MRCD falses that you’ll otherwise experience.

Mazda falses are rare with TSF on, MRCD on, and Auto mode. I get more with Highway mode, TSF off, and MRCD off.

Compared to the R7, the R8’s BSM filtering itself is the same. Auto mode is the main change to help reduce sensitivity (and thus some alerts) in the city. BSM filtering is one of the main complaints of the R7 and I wish Uniden would address this more. The R8 is better thanks to auto mode, but it’s not a revolutionary change. The R8 is comparable to the R4 in terms of filtering.

Uniden R8, Auto Mode

Autolockouts

Autolockouts… unfortunately these are still broken. The autolockout issues that we’ve seen with the R7 and R4 unfortunately continue to carry over to the R8. It looks like Uniden has copy and pasted the same autolockout code.

In short, autolockouts do technically work, but not well.

R8 autolocked out door openers

The lockout radius seems too small so sometimes a lockout will be created, but next time you come by, you may get alerted again until you get closer to the source and the lockout kicks in.

I’ve seen the detector not lock out some shopping center door openers even after several months. I’ve seen the detector autolockout a BSM. Several times I’ve seen autolockouts be created, but then the detector continues alerting immediately afterwards instead of muting. Again, there’s a number of issues.

For now I’ve reverted back to manual GPS lockouts for the times when autolockouts won’t be created or for when the radius is too small and I need an additional lockout. Manual GPS lockouts work better and so they are a usable workaround to get my usual falses locked out, but of course I still want hands-free autolockouts working properly too.

Uniden says they’re working on it, but they’ve had a lot of time with the R7 and R4 to get this working. I really hope they address it because IMHO this is one of the biggest weaknesses of the R8. It is unfortunate to see the same bugs get carried over to new detectors.

MRCD

When it comes to photo radar detection, the R8 is designed to detect the MRCD, MRCT, and Gatso. I don’t have any of them in my area so I’m unable to test this. However, @Dukes on RDF has been beta testing the R8 in Edmonton where they use MRCD like crazy. Here’s his take on how the R8 compares to the R7:

“Oh, I’m absolutely loving it! Based on my experiences with the R8 so far, it appears to be proving at least double the range the R7 does against MRCD. At times it can even be 4x the range. MRCD filtering appears to be very similar to the R7 but like anything YMMV.” [email protected]

and here’s a sample detection he shared of his R8 vs. a yellow MRCD truck:

Getting an increase of 2-4x in range is both impressive and extremely useful when dealing with short range alerts from low powered MRCD photo radar systems.

@Dukes has also mentioned the MRCD false rejection is better on the R8 than the Redline 360c. Plus the R8 gives arrows for MRCD alerts while the Redline just flashes all its arrows simultaneously so the R8 looks like the better choice. The V1 Gen2 wasn’t designed for photo radar detection.

Arrows

The arrows on the R8 are definitely helpful. The arrows are big, clear, and easy to read. You can also customize the arrow color based on band. Arrow behavior isn’t perfect, but they work pretty well. Sometimes they flip right as you pass the threat, especially at lower speeds. Sometimes they’ll flip a few sec after, especially at faster speeds.

I’ve noticed the detector will also sometimes briefly show side arrows before you get to the threat, presumably due to signal reflections. Here’s a quick demo of the arrows picking up a WSP trooper driving towards me on the highway. You’ll see the white SUV just after the 30 sec mark. Along the way, you’ll see the signal ramp up in strength while the arrow points ahead, sometimes sideways, and then flips just after passing the officer. (Audio muted for privacy.)

RDD Immunity

Next up, RDD immunity. How does the R8 fare if you need a stealth and undetectable detector?

I tested my R8 against both the older Spectre III and the newer Spectre Elite.

I did a bunch of test passes in multiple directions with different sensitivity levels and varying filtering options. In short, results are variable with both Spectres. Sometimes the Spectre doesn’t pick up the R8, other times the officer may get a weak signal, and still other times it may get a pretty strong and clear alert when passing a car running an R8.

Here’s the video of my testing so you can take a look for yourself:

The R8 may be undetectable in certain instances, but it’s not consistently or reliably stealthy. It is stealthier than detectors like the Max 360c that aren’t designed with RDD immunity in mind, but it’s not as stealthy as some other detectors like the Redline 360c or V1 Gen2 that are also designed to be undetectable.

Most people don’t need stealth capabilities, myself included, but if this capability is of critical importance to you, you may want to consider choosing another detector.

Bluetooth

The R8 has bluetooth built in, just like the R4, but there were no apps available for me to beta test prior to launch.

Highway Radar on Android is currently building integration for the R4 and R8, but that’s still in development.

Blendmount

The R8 is compatible with the R7’s Blendmount clip, conveniently enough. This makes upgrading from the R7 a snap. It also means that if you wanna order an R8, Blendmount doesn’t have to design a new clip again and you can order the R7/R8 clip and it’ll work fine for both detectors, giving you a nice solid mount under your RVM. Purchase a Blendmount here.

Uniden R8 under RVM on Blendmount

Better than the R7?

Would I run the R8 over the R7? For sure. It’s the better detector so I do. That said, is the R8 worth it? You’re getting into the law of diminishing returns.

Uniden R7 and R8, Ka alert behind

IMO the R7 is a better value for the dollar, a better bang for the buck. It still offers great range and capabilities and retails for $200 less. It’s been a solid go-to pick around $500 and that’s not changing just because the R8 is out.

The R8 is going to be your high end flagship version for people who want the best. I prefer the R8 for the improved performance and additional false alert filtering features, plus I really like the front facing mute button. Down the line we’ll also get Bluetooth functionality. I don’t know if Uniden plans on adding Auto mode to the R7 or if that’ll stay exclusive to the R8 (and R4).

There’s other stuff too that is nice and may benefit others, but that I don’t personally need. For example, the R8 also offers Gatso detection and longer MRCD/MRCT detection range if you face those photo radar systems, it supports Uniden’s optional (and not yet released) wired remote keypad, and it supports Uniden’s upcoming (and also not yet released) laser jammers.

Uniden R8 with wired control pad

Overall Impressions & Conclusion

Final thoughts? I really like the R8 overall. It’s going to continue being daily driver and I’m very happy with its performance. Is it perfect? No. No detector is, but the performance it offers is very confidence inspiring and I’m liking the false alert filtering too.

The R8 is the only top tier detector that offers long range on K and Ka plus quick responsiveness against brief alerts, while also giving you good performance with the K band filters enabled.

False alert filtering is pretty good. Consider using Auto mode and TSF on to quiet down the BSM’s, as well as MRCD on to help knock out falses from many Mazda CX-5’s.

The notable exception to the false alert filtering are the autolockout issues which still need to be fully addressed. Luckily I can work around those issues by using manual lockouts and that’ll also help keep the R8 quiet on my usual drives.

The arrows work pretty well overall. MRCD performance is excellent for those who need it. The detector isn’t fully stealth to RDD’s which doesn’t make a difference to me, but it may to others.

Overall I think it’s a solid pick. Due to its improved performance and ramp-up, it’s replaced the Redline 360c as my daily driver. Usually after I finish testing a detector, I switch to another detector for further testing and comparisons. With the R8, I’ve been happy to continue running it and relying on it.

No detector is perfect and no detector will be the best pick for everyone. That said, I think the R8 is an excellent choice. The R7 has been my go-to general recommendation for a while. Now that the R8 has launched, it may very well take over that position thanks to its improved performance, filtering, and feature set. It’s a solid detector and I suspect it will only get even better over time.

Pre-order the Uniden R8 here.

Uniden R8, front Ka, rear K

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.vortexradar.com/2022/03/uniden-r8-review/

11 comments

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    • Steven Strawn on March 21, 2022 at 12:45 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for the review of your long term use, I had been waiting for this since Nov when you got one to test as I was about to get the R7. Today even before watching the video or reading the entire review I ordered one through the link you provided. This will go in my daily Sierra and also when I drive my Corvette.

    • Barry Nichols on March 21, 2022 at 10:31 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for the informative review. Would you say the R8 is less stealth than the R7 or on par? Have an R7 and have had no issues in VA. Just curious.

    • Lorin Engler on March 24, 2022 at 9:22 am
    • Reply

    I tried to add my name to your wait list for the Unixen R8. Every email i put in, your submit button gives me ‘”Enter a valid email address”error? I was unable to register for the R8 on your site??

    • Bill on April 23, 2022 at 11:53 am
    • Reply

    I just removed the V1G2 in my Toyota and started using the R8. Much quieter using Vortex’s recommended setup. My only minor complaint is the “quiet ride” lowest speed of 50 mph. I would like to set that to 30 since there are plenty of LEs around us who would give u a ticket for 36 in a 30 (yes, I have ridiculous speed limits like that around me).

    The V1 had gotten very “chatty” after the last two software upgrades. It seems like VR is just turning up the sensitivity and are picking up internal spurs. How else could I get continual falses at exactly 34.733 for over an hour?

    1. Quiet ride does go lower. Are you thinking of the RLC Q-ride by chance? That’s more for “high speed muting” of red light cameras when you’re driving on the highway.

      34.733 falses for an hour on the V1? That’s not okay at all…

    • William Shappley on April 24, 2022 at 2:39 am
    • Reply

    Yes you are correct. I was confusing the red light camera version of quiet ride with the main one. So, no complaints after all! On the V1G2, the stability of that false frequency out to 3 decimal places makes me think it is an internal phenomenon. Nothing from outside like a BSM would be that stable.

    • Hans on April 24, 2022 at 1:21 pm
    • Reply

    @Vortex, just curious if you knew what the eta was on that remote keypad you have pictured up there? That looks quite nice to have.

    1. No idea either, sorry

  1. Is laser detection any better on the r8 over the r7?

    • Rick on October 7, 2022 at 8:25 am
    • Reply

    I appreciate your reviews and I am a big fan. You go above and beyond wothnyoure testing and production quality videos. Having said that ….

    Why does such a high end unit not have an app already developed for it ? And when will the Bluetooth be enabled? How can an app be developed when the detector can’t utilize it yet ?

    1. I’m scratching my head too as to when Uniden will finally activate the Bluetooth capabilities.

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