Beltronics GT-7 Review

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Introduction

On October 2015, Beltronics USA Incorporated released a new detector to their lineup in order to take advantage of some new technology that was previously only available on the Escort detectors. The new Beltronics GT-7 has a sleek, futuristic and edgy appearance, which is a stark contrast in terms of design to all other Beltronics detectors, and most importantly, this new detector has an OLED display and a Digital Signal Processing (DSP) board for improved radar detection. In the same manner we review all radar detectors, the following review discusses this detector’s basic features and radar detection performance. Our member “Vortex,” provided a majority of the pictures and videos of the Beltronics GT-7 found in this article, and “CJR238,” another member of our forum, also contributed some helpful information about the GT-7 with his review of it. At the end of this review, we will provide an overview of our findings and provide links to the manufacturer, vendors, and our forum where other members are discussing their experiences with the Beltronics GT-7.

 


 

Specifications

Radar and LIDAR (laser) Detection

    • X-band
    • K-band
    • Ka-band
    • Laser (LIDAR)

Radar Receiver Type : Superheterodyne, Varactor-Tuned VCO antenna

LIDAR Infrared Receiver Type : Quantum Limited Video signal receiver at 904 nm, 33 MHz Bandwidth LIDAR receiver 

Global Positioning System (GPS) Receiver : Built-in GPS receiver (SiRFstar III)

Spectre Undetectable : No (this detector does not have “Stealth” technology, and Spectre units can detect its usage)

Dimensions

    • Length : 5.31″ (134.87 mm)
    • Width : 3.19″ (81.03 mm)
    • Height : 1.38″ (35.05 mm)
    • Weight: 0.62 lbs.

Power Requirement

    • Dash accessory outlet : 12V DC coiled power cord (“Smart-Cord”)

Cloud Requirement (for Escort Live)

    • Apple iOS or Android device with GPS receiver and Bluetooth; download app from iTunes or Google Play

Firmware & Red Light Camera Updates

    • Standard USB cord (not included – available for purchase on the manufacturer’s site)
    • Escort Detector Tools program : software downloaded from the official Escort Inc website
      • The software is compatible on Apple and Windows operating systems

 

Features

Display : Organic Light-emitting diode (OLED) alphanumeric in 4 colors (Copper, Blue, Green, Gold)

    • Alert Screen
      • Radar : signal strength indicated by multiple bars, signal type, and signal frequency
      • LIDAR
      • Red Light Camera (RLC) Alerts: photo-enforced areas
      • Speed Camera
      • Speed Trap areas
    • Additional information
      • Vehicle Speed (mph or kmh), Vehicle Voltage

User Preference Settings

    • 3 Radar Detection Sensitivity Settings : Highway, Auto, Auto No X
      • Auto No X – disables X-band detection
      • Auto –  automatically adjusts all incoming sources and alerts to the threats with the greatest probability of being speed enforcement related; setting is used for false alert mitigation
      • Highway – greatest sensitivity to all radar sources
    • Selectable radar bands
      • X-band
      • K-band
      • K-band – Traffic Signal Rejection (TSR)
      • Ka-band
      • Ka-band : POP detection
    • Units of Measurement
      • English or Metric
    • Language for Voice Alerts
      • English or Spanish
    • False threat filtering
      • Traffic Sensor Rejection (TSR) : mode filters K-band noise emitted from traffic monitoring sensors on highways
    • Tone / Voice
      • Voice alerts state the band
      • 2 Tone Settings : Standard and Mild (door chime alerts)
      • Auto Mute : reduces volume of alert to level 1 after 3 seconds
    • Display Settings
      • 5 Settings : Auto (automatically adjusts brightness), Dark (audible alerts only), Minimum, Medium, Maximum
    • Factory Default

 

Included Accessories

Escort StickyCup windshield mount

Beltronics StickyCup windshield mount (included)

Escort SmartRadar cord

Beltronics SmartCord (included)

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Beltronics Soft Zipper Travel Case (included)

 

 

Beltronics GT-7 Feature Comparison

Beltronics GT-7 and Escort Passport MAX Comparison Chart
 Feature Beltronics GT-7 ($499.95) Escort Passport Max ($549.95)
Radar and Laser Detection  ✓  ✓
Bluetooth Equipped
Live App Compatible with Defender Database  ✓  ✓
Auto GPS Lockout Feature  ✓  ✓
Traffic Sensor Rejection (TSR)  ✓  ✓
Multi-Color OLED Display ✓ (Special “Copper” color option)  ✓
Spectre Undetectable
StickyCup Mount  ✓
Voice Alerts  ✓ (Male Voice)  ✓ (Female Voice)

 As the chart illustrates, the two detectors are the same in terms of the main features related to radar and laser detection. The differences between the detectors is purely cosmetic and audible. The Bel GT-7 has a straight-edged appearance, larger dimensions than the Escort Max, and the voice alerts and tones are comparatively stark and attention grabbing. Both detectors are also Escort Live compatible, and share the same USB port layout for connecting to a laptop (Apple OS or Windows OS).

Overview of the Beltronics GT-7

The new Beltronics GT-7, based on our initial experiences with it, has shown to be a good radar detector! Unlike experiencing problems with the case, or other technical issues that are generally present during the introductory launch of a new radar detector, the GT-7 was absent of any of these inconveniences. The main reason is due to the fact that it shares the same internal components as the Escort Passport Max, which have undergone at least two years of refinement, and the case is completely redesigned in a manner that feels more solid than the Passport Max. In the following review, we will identify a few interesting tidbits related to the case that, although appearing to be simply cosmetic differences, are functional and improve user operability and result in product durability. In terms of radar and laser detection performance, the Bel GT-7 scores equally as the Escort Passport Max, which translates to an above average radar detector.

Display and Aesthetics J

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Bel GT-7 : Front View with StickyCup mount

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Bel GT-7 : Side View

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Bel GT-7 : Side view with USB and SmartCord Port

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L to R : Bel GT-7 and Escort Passport Max

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L to R : Bel GT-7 and Escort Passport Max

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L to R : Bel GT-7 and Escort Passport Max

Design Functionality – Not just cosmetic

As seen in the first row of pictures, the Bel GT-7 exhibits a very unique design with a sharp-edged profile that detracts from the conventional curvy designs of the past. These cosmetic changes, however, have a purpose. The GT-7 has a very sturdy case, unlike the Escort Passport Max, and this is due to the fact that it was not made to have the panels removed in place of decorative versions like the “Limited Edition Passport Max.” One of the biggest cosmetic, but functional changes between the GT-7 and the Passport Max is the position of the display and the bronze color scheme used on the trim. The design team at Beltronics decided to recess the display on the GT-7 further than the Passport Max. As a result, alerts on the display do not get washed-out by the Sun’s glare, as opposed to the Passport Max, when the detector is mounted on the windshield. Secondly, unlike the shiny silver trim on the Passport Max, the bronze trim on the GT-7 assists in mitigating glare that can be distracting.

Size Stuff

Size for size, the GT-7 is mostly larger than the Passport Max – it is wider and longer. For some buyers, this may not be an issue, but for buyers in Virginia or the District of Columbia (DC), compact radar detectors allow for easy installation and concealment. Also, since the GT-7 uses the StickyCup mount, the amount of available room for installation near the sun visor in a car can be restrictive. Pound for pound, both detectors relatively share the same weight, and the included StickyCup mount securely holds the Bel GT-7 with minimal effects of transferred road vibration.

Radar Detection Performance K

The Beltronics GT-7 scored in an average manner in the category for radar detection, which encompasses measuring the detector’s range for alerting to threats, sensitivity to the faintest signals, and the detector’s features for mitigating false alerts. In early July 2015, our veteran forum member, “hiddencam,” conducted controlled testing on several radar detectors, including the Escort Passport Max. Since the internal radar detection board of this detector is the same as the Beltronics GT-7, we based our rating of this detector’s performance from the measured results of the July test. The following data in the charts below show the Passport Max’s radar detection performance over three separate Ka-bands, and the K-band.

Ka-Band Performance

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The Beltronics GT-7 Ka-Band detection performance, across three of the used bands in the United States, is slightly above average when compared to other premium radar detectors, and it showed decent performance over only 1 of the three Ka-bands. Given the fact that 34.7 GHz is the most common Ka-Band in operation, a detector’s detection performance on this specific band is very important. In this test, the GT-7, like the Passport Max, will detect 34.7 GHz at 2,687 feet, which is less than 1 mile. Compared to other competing detectors, it easily beats the best detector by Cobra Electronics, Escort’s Passport, and a few of the the Uniden LRD model detectors. The GT-7 falls short of detecting 35.5 and 33.8 GHz signals at distances close to other premium detectors. Its performance across these two bands places it in the same zone as the Uniden LRD models. Across both bands, the measured detection distances illustrate an area for much improvement and refinement, and as a result, potential buyers with knowledge of 35.5 or 33.8 GHz used in their area should take this finding into account when deciding to purchase this detector.

Here is some real-world footage of the Beltronics GT-7 demonstrating alerts to Ka-Band (34. 7 GHz), courtesy of “CJR238,” one of our forum Administrators:

K-Band Performance

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The GT-7’s K-band performance is, without further explanation, poor. As the chart above illustrates, the K-Band detection is absolutely minimal, and only an improvement of about 100 feet in detection is gained when full K-band sensitivity is enabled (TSR OFF). Traffic Signal Rejection (TSR) is the only feature which could have had an impact on the detection, however, as mentioned previously, disabling it resulted in an insignificant improvement. This mediocre performance was a strong factor that weighed heavily in deciding our 4 of 5 Star rating for this detector, and there should be no reason why this detector would have bad K-Band detection. We will show in the following section how we observed a firmware issue that incorrectly identifies a K-Band signal as a Ka-Band signal, and perhaps this inconsistency is related to deeper issues causing an overall bad K-Band detection performance.

Here is some real-world footage of the Beltronics GT-7 demonstrating alerts to K-Band, courtesy of “CJR238,” one of our forum Administrators:

False Alert Mitigation K

The Beltronics GT-7 has two false alert mitigating features: TSR, and GPS-based Location Lockouts. Both features performed as intended on the Bel GT-7, however, we gave a 4 of 5 score to the detector in this category because observations on several occasions showed inconsistent alerts between K-Band and Ka-Band. It appears that high-frequency K-Band signals are incorrectly translated to a Ka-Band 33.676 GHz alert. Although this problem is not related to the TSR feature, it is related to False Alert category because the radar detector is demonstrating an issue between a false threat and a real threat source. Secondly, this issue poses 2nd order effects if the user is utilizing Escort Live to report threats, because they will not be able to prevent these false reports from reaching the Escort Live Cloud. Therefore, these false alerts will appear as actual Ka-Band threats to all other users on the app.

Traffic Signal Rejection (TSR)

The Bel GT-7’s TSR feature works by rejecting false K-Band sources from traffic monitoring devices found on highways, however, it also rejects other false K-Band sources such as automatic door openers at establishments, and signals from Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) systems found on newer vehicles. Since this feature filters the K-Band at a higher level than when disabled, the detector’s sensitivity decreases slightly. This features translates to about a 100 foot difference in K-Band detection range, which is better than other detectors; however, other detectors have an overall better K-Band range detection as was shown in the test data above.

GPS Lockouts

The GT-7 is equipped with a GPS receiver that allows the detector to either automatically or manually lockout a false signal source (X-Band, K-Band, or Laser). When AutoLock is enabled, the detector automatically remembers the location of a false threat, based on internal pattern analysis, and silences the audible alert. In order to prevent the detector from locking-out a real threat that may be present in the same area, the GT-7 constantly analyzes the radar sources in the area and will alert the driver if another radar source, perceived to be a threat, is received. For the past five years, beginning with the remote mounted detectors like the Beltronics STi-R Plus and Escort 9500ci, this feature has undergone refinement to improve its reliability and accuracy. Consequently, this is a great feature for the detector, and it can be used in a manual mode to allow users further customizations based on road conditions.

 

Laser Detection L

The Beltronics GT-7’s laser receiving system is fairly poor in comparison to other detectors like the ValentineOne or the Uniden LRD950. Most users will agree that the laser detection system shared by the Escort Passport Max models, and the GT-7 consequently, will alert to a laser source when it is in the direct line of sight of the detector. Although the Beltronics GT-7 received a poor rating in this category, readers should not place too much emphasis on this rating as a major deciding factor for purchasing this detector or recommending it to someone. This category is strictly related the sensitivity of the detector’s laser receivers at identifying incoming laser signals. Regardless of whether a radar and laser detector received a good rating, a high rating does not mean the detector will provide the user an alert in ample time to reduce the vehicle’s speed. Vehicle speed measurement by Laser is nearly instantaneous, and as a result, drivers should invest in active laser countermeasures like the Anti-Laser Priority (ALP) for neutralizing these threats used by speed enforcement agencies.

 

Configuring Settings and Updates J

The Beltronics GT-7 received a good rating in this category due to the user-friendliness of the detector’s menu, and the ease of updating the detector on the Escort Live App and the compatibility of the software for updating the detector’s Defender Database. In the video below, “Vortex” walks users through all the various menus and familiarizes users with the purpose and function of each feature. None of the features on the Beltronics GT-7 are complicated, and users can easily revert or change any of the settings very easily.

The Beltronics GT-7 is Escort Live compatible, so if users want to take advantage of the Cloud-based app, they simply need to buy an Escort Live Smartcord ($99), a simple USB Mini cable, and download the Escort Live App for free, which is available on Apple or Android smartphones (see Specifications section above for links). The Escort Detector Tools application is available for Apple OS and Windows OS computers, and is very easy to install and use.

 

Summary K (Plug-N-Play Category)

Overall, we rate the new Beltronics GT-7 as an average radar detector, due to its above-average range detection for Ka-band and K-band, sensitivity, and above average scores in false alert mitigation features. At a starting price of around $499.95, this detector is capable of alerting drivers to the most common Ka-Band 34.7 GHz at a distance of more than 2.5 miles, providing great mitigation to false alerts, and remaining upgradeable for future firmware updates capable of improving its detection performance. In our testing, despite it being on the Escort Passport Max, we observed areas in K-Band and Ka-Band improvement. For example, of the three common Ka-Bands in operation throughout the United States, the Beltronics GT-7 had lackluster detection performance against the 33.8 GHz and 35.5 GHz radar guns. The difference in detection range against these bands between the GT-7 and the other premium radar detectors is significant, ranging between 200 and 900 feet. Secondly, testing showed below average performance on K-Band radar detection, and moreover, users have observed the detector incorrectly causing high-frequency K-Band sources (24.244 GHz) to alert as a Ka-Band (33.676 GHz). This problem has been persistent across the Escort Passport Max models, and since the internal electronic boards between those models and the GT-7 are similar, those problems have transferred over to this new detector. Perhaps Escort Incorporated and Beltronics USA Incorporated will remain committed to designing the best radar detectors and fix this problem. Fixing this issue would probably improve the K-Band and Ka-Band detection range as well. The new design approach of the the Beltronics GT-7 is not just eye candy but rather has a functional aspect to operator usability. We discussed in the article that the GT-7 feels solid, and how the recessed display provides users better visibility during daylight conditions. Audible alerts were also an improvement from Beltronics’ previous detectors, and our tester felt they were much better than the alerts on the Passport Max. In summary, the Beltronics GT-7 is a refined Escort Passport Max, in terms of external design and audible alerts. These refinements are clearly noteworthy and enhance the durability and operation of the radar detector. We recommend this detector to those loyal Beltronics customers or new radar detector buyers who are in the $500 budget range and are expecting mid-level radar detection performance for everyday driving.

 


 

Notes

  • Special Thanks
    • Vortex – for conducting very thorough reviews and a tutorial of the Beltronics GT-7 in order to show our readers and enthusiasts the pros and cons of this detector
    • CJR238 – for presenting our forum members with the initial unboxing and real-world footage of the GT-7 against radar guns; his personal review of the Beltronics GT-7 can be found here
    • Escort Inc. / Beltronics USA Incorporated – for providing a loaner detector to Vortex for testing
    • Loyal members of our forum who have provided detailed information concerning the Beltronics GT-7 on our site to inform the community and identify problem areas requiring improvement
  • Information and Discussion
    • Want to learn more about the Beltronics GT-7 or discuss it with some of our members? Click here to view the Beltronics forum on our site!
  • Ready to buy a Beltronics GT-7?