Advantages A great gadget that can alert you to accident blackspots, Can help you not to get points on your licence, Fascinating to see how many cameras aren't active
Disadvantages Expensive, Prone to false alarms (though these still make you keep an eye on your speed!)
Snooper make products that detect radars... now, before you all start thinking they are illegal toys for boy racers, think again. Snooper products are perfectly legal in the UK and it's apparantly statistically proven that drivers who use these sorts of products are less likely to be involved in an accident - a UK survey was conducted in March 2001 by MORI that concluded radar detector users had 24% fewer accidents than none radar detector users.The idea of the Snooper is to alert you to radars and police speed traps (normally located at accident blackspots according to the police) whilst you're driving. There are many different models of Snooper that perform slightly different functions and can incorporate different gadgets such as GPS (global positioning system). One of the more middle of the range models is the snooper S5-R.
The S5-R is about the size of a standard computer mouse, but thinner and more rectangular. It's black, and has an LCD text display on the front side of it. There's a volume control on the side to adjust the audio alerts.To use the snooper you normally fix it to the windscreen of your car using the suction cups supplied, the snooper then rests on the top of your dash board. It plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car for power using a coiled cable.
This particular model of Snooper has a 5 band radar / laser detection - it can detect Gatso cameras up to 300m away, radar guns and laser guns up to 2 miles and mini Gatso cameras up to 700m away. Once the Snooper does detect one of these lasers it makes an audiable bleeping noise a couple of times and the display shows a number of bars, which give an indication of how close the radar is (determined by signal strength, so if the signal is week, or the Snooper isn't picking it up too well the warning isn't as in advance as you might like). After it's made its initial bleep it continues to make a clicking noise whilst it can still detect the radar - once you're out of range of the lasar it goes quiet again and returns to its normal display (which will state either Logic 1, Logic 2 or Logic 3 - these are the three standard settings which cover all the radar frequencies - more about this in a minute). The volume of the bleeps and clicks can be turned up and down depnding on your own personal preferences - I have it at the loudest it will go to ensure I hear it over road noise and the car stereo, but if you prefer just the visual display and no noise it can be turned right down so you don't hear it.This particular Snooper has 360 degree cover therefore can detect radars all around the vehicle. This can cause false alarms as obviously it will alert you to speed cameras on the opposite side of the road to which you are travelling, but then again, it's still alerting you of a potential accident blackspot, and also making you aware of the speed you are travelling at.
The three logic settings briefly mentioned above refer to different frequency settings - Logic 1 covers all frequencies, Logic 2 covers the frequencies normally used within central Europe and Logic 3 covers the UK frequencies. These options are given so that you can reduce the number of false alarms given by the Snooper. In order to have the most comprehensive cover and to make sure everything is covered it's worth using Logic 1, however there are down sides to this... I don't know all the technical terms for the types of frequencies, but I'm sure not many people know or are interested - how I can explain it is that the radars used in speed guns and cameras and the likes basically detect movement. Similarly, the detectors used for sliding doors in shops use similar technology to detect movement. If you have the Snooper set on Logic 1, or also often when you have it set on any of the settings it will also alert you to things like shop doors, or anything else that uses a similar type of technology.So... Is it worth having a Snooper?
Personally I like having it in the car. I do drive a fast car, but I don't go around driving at 100mph everywhere!!! The Snooper does help me to keep a check on my speed - it's easy to creep over the speed limit in any car - when the Snooper goes off, even if it's a false alarm at least it's a constant reminder to watch my speed. As the statistics suggest, a driver with a radar detector is supposedly 24% less likely to be involved in an accident - this is obviously a benefit (though it doesn't make anyone indestructable!) - also if it can help to prevent you getting points on your licence it's also a good thing (even people who consider themselves careful drivers can soon find themselves creeping over the speed limit).I certainly wouldn't put 100% trust in the gadget - even if the Snooper doesn't go off when I approach a visible speed camera, suggesting it is not active, I wouldn't purposely speed through it to see if the Snooper was lying! It certainly is interesting though to see the number of speed cameras situated on the road sides throughout the country that aren't actually active - it's certainly more than I would have expected!
The main downside however is that these gadgets are very pricey. The S5-R is an in-the-middle/towards the top end product in the Snooper range, and is priced at around £250.00. The RRP is closer to £350, but most places sell it for less than this. Halfords stock a variety of products in the Snooper range, and there are many internet sites that sell them e.g. www.snooper.co.uk and www.radardetectors.co.uk (I have never purchased from either of these sites so am just pointing out places I know advertise them for sale rather than recommending where to buy one!). Many car dealers also sell them and they're often on ebay.Please note, I do not recommend speeding - it's against the law... but if we're honest, most of us do it occasionally...
Worth getting as a gadget, but to be used sensibly! Drive carefully!My personal rating 4 out of 5 * * * *
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