The Uniden R7 Radar Detector Has Super Impressive Range—and Accuracy Issues
The ultra-long range is a big selling point here, but constant false alarms are a problem.
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Most drivers, even the most responsible ones, will likely face a speeding ticket at some point or another. Beyond the annoyance and time spent sitting on the side of the road listening to the 5-0 lecture you about living in a society of laws, tickets are expensive.
While The Drive will never advocate for reckless driving or speeding, we’re all about honesty and we’ve spent more on tickets than we’re proud to admit. That’s why I'm a big fan of radar detectors. Growing up, I used to go on road trips with my uncle in his small block-swapped Jaguar XJS complete with the old Whistler radar detector on the dash. It seemed to pick up anything with an electronic pulse and was so annoying, frequent, and would always miss the actual speed traps. Thank the Car Gods those days are long gone.
Radar detectors of today are frighteningly intelligent, as I found out after spending some time behind the wheel of a few press cars with the Uniden’s R7. Not only did I come away from the experience impressed, I found out how wildly capable radar detectors of today really are. But it’s not all sugar plums and fairies, either. And remember—radar detectors still aren't legal in all 50 states. So check your local laws and regulations before taking the plunge.
Anyhow, let’s take a closer look.
Our Initial Reactions to the Uniden R7
- Good: Tilted display, Directional arrows, Long-range detection
- Bad: Pricey, K band false alerts
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Pulling this thing out of the box, it looks serious—and it should for the $500 price of entry. But the unit lacks the typical heft of something expensive that’s really needed to convince you that it's money well spent. Not a deal-breaker, but you know what I’m saying.
Like many newer radar detectors, there are a lot of buttons on the R7, but unlike others, they seem perfectly sized for easy use. The mute button is located on the side, which should make it easy to get a hand on the unit to silence unwanted alerts, too. It’s also nice that it has a headphone jack included for motorcyclists—people braver than me.
Getting After It With the Uniden R7
The R7’s big selling point is its range, which is actually as crazy as Uniden claims it to be. What does that mean? Well, at least on paper, Uniden uses the term “Insane long range,” which can’t possibly be a scientific measurement. What that means in the real world is that you’ll be able to pick up a threat more accurately around hills and curvy roads, as well as further ahead on highways and interstates—in my case approximately two miles ahead on a straight road. Here in Maine, it’s common to crest a hill on a backroad and come face to face with a radar, and the same is true for our winding country routes. The R7’s sensitivity helped pick up radar sooner, rather than waiting until I was already on top of it after a hill or curve.
While we’re talking about alerts, it’s worth noting that the R7 is one of the best in the business at visual alerts. The multi-color display may look a little bit old-school, but it’s great at grabbing your attention when there’s something of note ahead.
Annoyingly, Uniden hasn’t figured out how to nail down K band sensitivity. Maine’s highways are refreshingly devoid of billboards, but we do have digital road signs with cheeky messages and warnings. All of them emit K-band signals, and all of them tripped up the R7. To be fair, this has been an issue with radar detectors costing even more than the Uniden, but it’s frustrating to spend time tweaking sensitivity levels and GPS settings to avoid such common road conditions.
Since we live in a society of laws and software updates, I should mention that there’s no Bluetooth or WiFi on board here. When it’s time for an update, you’ll have to haul the R7 inside to the trusty Gateway 2000 for a wired connection to download the software.
What’s Dope About the Uniden R7
If you’re willing to shell out the cash, the R7’s range is indeed among the best I’ve ever tested. Sure, the unit can kick up some false alerts at times, but that’s a small price to pay here.
Even better is the 360-degree detection, which proved to be helpful in urban areas, where the radar can come from any direction. If you spend most of your time driving at low speeds around town, you can also set the R7 to remain silent until you pass a certain speed, which the unit tracks with GPS.
What’s Not About the Uniden R7
The R7’s accuracy leaves much to be desired. It’s able to pick things up at an impressive distance, but testing on the highway showed it to be spotty when actually passing speed traps (at legal speeds). The biggest annoyance, however, was all the K-band false alerts. Digital road signs and other equipment can kick up false K band alerts. The R7’s sensitivity level can be tweaked and the unit can be set to avoid false alerts with its GPS system, but that’s a lot of fiddling to filter out what is essentially just bad data.
Our Verdict On the Uniden R7
Look, at $500 the Uniden R7 isn’t cheap, but it’s hard to say that it’s not worth the cash. The supersensitivity, along with the multi-directional detection and the ability to pick up threats in tough conditions are benefits that haven’t been matched by any other radar detector that I’ve tested.
My complaints about sensitivity, while small, should serve as a mild warning about the R7’s setup process. Don’t expect to stick it on your windshield and hit the road without consequence. This is a tool that can be as precise as a scalpel but will take time and effort to configure it to its maximum capability.
Radar Detector FAQs
You've got questions, The Drive has answers!
Q. Are radar detectors legal?
A. In most states, radar detectors are just fine, but that’s not the case everywhere. Virginia does not allow radar detectors of any type, and the use of one can net you a ticket, regardless of the speed you were traveling. Other states, such as California, allow radar detectors but not mounted on the windshield. Check your local regulations before shelling out the cash for a radar detector.
Q. I don't like power cords. Can I hardwire the radar detector?
A. Several radar detectors can be hardwired, including the R7, but you will need to purchase a special kit for the installation. The installation takes some time and skill, but the benefits of hardwiring a radar detector, such as no dangling cords, may outweigh the hassle.
Q. Where should I mount my Uniden R7?
A. Assuming it’s not illegal to mount devices to your windshield, the best place to mount your Uniden radar detector is on a clear, unobstructed spot on your windshield. Avoid placing it in the tinted strip up at the top of the glass, or around a sun visor that could block or change the detector’s ability to help you out.
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