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Thread: Vortex's Max360 Review

[P] Discussion related to Escort radar detectors, Escort Live, and Escort radar detector accessories.

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    Vortex's Max360 Review

    mk, so review time. I've been running the new Max360 for the past two weeks thanks to @dcpatters. It is indeed essentially a Max2 with arrows to make it more like a V1, and they've also copied a few other small things that the V1 does to close the gap. They've also improved upon a couple things the V1 does while in other ways it's not as refined as the V1, so there's a mix. There's also been some improvements above what we had with the Max2, more than just arrows. The detector is also pretty large and heavy though that doesn't seem to be a big deal once it's actually on my windshield.

    Here's a pair of review videos first for those who'd like the video format. The first one is the shorter version covering the highlights.



    The second version is the longer in depth version.



    Here's how the different aspects of the detector look:

    Performance
    @kasher1979 and I opened up our Max360's. It looks like the front horn is the same as the Max2 and the RF circuitry features the same components plus some additional hardware to add support for the rear antenna. Here's @Nine_C1's analysis of the RF circuitry and @jdong pointing out that it features the same class of FPGA and DSP hardware as the Max2.

    Here's my complete teardown video plus detailed internal pics. So given this, the test results that have been done so far make sense.
    @Brainstorm69 and @Davek tested the Max360 against a number of other detectors and found that its performance is on par with the Max2.

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    @OpenRoad ran another Max360 at the stew test and it didn't do too hot. It alerted basically at line of sight, on par with the Whistlers and Cobras. Not good... I know the speed sign's power output is somewhat variable over time, but it also got beat out by the Redline and Uniden when OR tested it the same day. So the Max360 is not about all out raw performance. Other detectors are better at that.

    That said, it's not like it's unusable. Here's a very good realworld detection against I/O 35.5. It has no problem here and should be adequate in many situations.



    I did some basic QT testing and it seems to be on par with the Max/Max2 as well which means that it's the fastest KaSW detector. A custom swept V1 and BS/RDR Redline are both faster, but the DSP definitely helps speed things up with making the detector faster. It shouldn't have too much trouble detecting brief signals.

    It looks like they've reused the exact same laser sensor on the Max360. I haven't done laser testing specifically yet, but opening up the detectors and looking at the internals, it's got the exact same packaging for the laser receiver. Therefore we can expect similarly poor laser performance with the Max360 that we saw with the Max/Max2. Proper testing is the best way to confirm this though.

    False Filtering

    So it's got the same techniques as the Max2 with lockouts and TSR, but there have been improvements here.

    It's got GPS lockouts and unlike some other detectors like the Radenso or LRD950, lockouts are automatic. Unlike the V1 which can also do autolockouts but requires a BT dongle and phone to do so, the Max360 has its own GPS and can do it without any additional hardware. It's the most convenient way of doing it and I like that. No phone required. If you take your phone inside to keep it charged and forget to bring it back and set it back up, your lockouts will all still work properly.

    The blind spot filtering has been improved relative to other detectors previously. There's now some CAS filtering that's built in (that you can't turn on or off) that lets it filter out some blind spot cars without having to enable TSR and accept the performance penalty. Very impressive stuff. The only other detectors I've seen so far that can do that are the Stinger VIP and the older firmware versions of the LRD950. Maybe Escort finally is doing something with the DNA.

    The false filtering isn't perfect by any means. You'll still get falses for sure. It's not magic. The falses will be really weak at first which is nice. You can enable TSR, but it'll then start to give M3-like alerts where instead of weak signals that ramp up, you'll get stronger initial alerts that feel more like close range I/O blasts which are scarier. This is something that a bunch of us are still feeling out and getting a sense for, but it's nice to have some filtering going on without having to resort to TSR.

    Speaking of TSR, the delay has been reduced from what we saw with the Max2 so there's no longer a crazy long delay when the filter is enabled. A very nice improvement.

    You've also got cruise alert to mute signals when you're below a set speed which is handy. Unfortunately there's an issue when you pair the detector with Escort Live. If you have Cruise Alert enabled and Escort Live paired, it will ignore your cruise alert setting altogether and stay quiet if you're under the speed limit. There's no way to disable this at all. The detector will mute signals on the highway now if you're traveling below PSL. I don't like this at all. So if you want to use Cruise Alert and Escort Live together at the same time, be aware of this.

    Display

    One thing that's pretty awesome about the Max360 is that the screen can display arrows, frequency information, as well as signal strength for front and rear.

    The display is also very customizable. There's 7 different ways of displaying signal strength and 3 different ways of displaying the arrows. You customize the colors of the display and arrows as well. With the V1 all the band LED's are red. With the 360 you can make things different colors which makes it easier to quickly identify things at a glance. Very handy.



    Arrows

    So yeah, it's got arrows like the V1. The arrows are smaller than the V1, but they're plenty bright and there's no issue seeing them in practice. They do operate a little differently than the V1 so we'll talk about these in a little more detail since that's the big change with the 360.

    There's 3 different ways to display the arrows:

    1) Single arrow: The arrows will point to whatever the primary threat is
    2) Multiple arrows: The arrows can point to multiple signals, a primary and secondary signal. The arrow for the primary threat will blink (ie. Ka band ahead over K band behind) like the V1 to help make things clearer.
    3) Band mode: The colors for the arrows are fixed depending on the band. Laser and Ka are red, K is blue, X is green. You can watch the video I posted above for more info and to see this all in action.

    The arrows are also a little more laggy than the V1. The V1 is super quick at flipping from front to rear which makes it easier to tell when you pass a source.

    On average it takes about 4-5 seconds for the arrows to change directions when you pass a source. Here's a comparison with the V1 and Max360.



    Sometimes it takes much longer than that. Here's an example passing a K band speed sign where it takes closer to 8 seconds.



    Again, this isn't always the case. Here's an example where I found an Acura MDX (which makes just about every detector false to K band) where I did a little blind spot testing. You'll see TSR doesn't help deal with the false. Anyways, when I pass the Acura towards the end of the video, you'll see the arrows flip from front to rear pretty quickly. This is one example where the arrows are very helpful. They can help confirm that the K band false you're seeing is a blind spot false and not an I/O shot up ahead.



    So the arrows aren't as refined as the V1, but hey, Valentine has had 30 years to fine tune their arrows. Escort has probably been working on this for a few years. I'm hoping things improve with a firmware update. There have been some firmware updates already which have improved things. In 1.0 and 1.1, there was a long delay for signals to completely appear on screen. The detector would go off, but it would sit there for a while before it would display the signal strength, frequency, and arrows.

    Take a look at the difference between the Max2 and Max360 (1.1).



    and here's the same thing with the V1 and the 360 (1.1).



    Escort has since released firmware 1.2 which has sped things up. It's not instantaneous yet, but things are definitely faster.



    So seeing firmware updates and improvements, I'm definitely hopeful that things will continue to improve. Speaking of which, let's go over some of the other little bugs and quirks that I'm hoping are addressed.

    Bugs

    The Max/Max2 has long had ~33.676 falsing issues. It looks like that that issue has been fixed (woohoo!) and @BagNDrag confirmed it here. However, the Max360 likes to alert to 33.4xx when in the presence of K band. A bunch of people are also reporting this issue. Sometimes the alert even gets stuck on screen and the only solution is to power cycle the unit. Again I'm not sure if it's related to the 33.6xx falsing, but it is occurring. Fortunately the Max's are good at filtering out Cobra falses that plague the M3's and V1's.

    The buttons are also kinda weird. It seems like they're clear with silvery paint on top. It looks like the paint is fading away (even on brand new detectors) to where the light is shining through the paint. It doesn't affect performance or anything, but it does make things seem cheaper, like they've been cutting corners.

    Name: Max360 fading Buttons red.jpg, Views: 2177, Size: 63.8 KB

    The text on the buttons has also been fading off of some brand new detectors.

    I've mentioned the laggy arrows and cruise alert/Escort Live stuff already.

    The latch on the Max360 is a little weird. It's sorta long and then it sits silently for a while, even if it's detecting a lower priority signal. Because of this, there can be a period of time when the detector is sitting around and not alerting you to a legitimate threat. I'm hoping they remove the silence at the end of the latch.



    The mute button feels a little mushy on the detector. They've repositioned the mute button on the 360 compared to the Max2. The mute button doesn't have the same satisfying tactile click as the other buttons so you don't get the same level of feedback. Usually the mute button still works when you smush it down in practice so it's not a big deal, but it does feel different than the other buttons. (Edit: I ordered a Max360 from Escort as well and this second one I'm running has a better mute button press with a definite click.. Not sure why there's a difference.)

    There's also some of the standard issues with Escort Live for Android where it doesn't integrate or consistently work properly. Sometimes the speed limit won't display on the detector, it'll be connected but it won't show it is, your radar alerts will get reported to the cloud but other people's Live alerts don't get reported to your detector, etc. This is the same as what we saw with the Max2 so it's not a 360 thing.

    Live also doesn't support arrows yet. From what I understand there should be an update coming to Live to give it arrows when paired with the 360.

    Size

    Size-wise, the detector is huge. Not absurdly huge to the point of ridiculousness, but it's definitely the biggest detector out there. It's also heavy at nearly 3/4 of a pound.



    Is this an issue in practice? Not as much as I thought.

    Even in my car which is a compact Miata, it doesn't block as much of my visibility as I thought it would. It's still usable even when mounted high by the RVM.

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    It does block more of my visibility than my V1, but that's more due to the fact that the sticky cup drops it down and I can't mount it flush with the top of my car. Also because of the fact that the mount is in the rear of the detector rather than the middle, it sticks out forward which gets in the way of seeing my RVM. The solution is to move it over to the left a little bit so it's more in front of me instead of slightly off to the side by the RVM.

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    Name: v1 side mount miata.jpg, Views: 2170, Size: 68.1 KB

    Mount

    The previous Max's were known for being kinda bouncy on the sticky cup. There was an update that fixed this to a certain extent, but there's a newly redesigned sticky cup that the Max360 comes with that effectively solves this issue entirely. The Max360 is solid and stable now, despite its size and weight, and it's nice to have the detector actually be fixed on the windshield. No more bounciness! Yay!! The sticky cup is also compatible with the Max/Max2/GT-7 as well. I don't know what the process is like for getting a new sticky cup for the previous gen M5's, but if you're having an issue with a bouncy Max, take a look at the updated sticky cup for the 360. That's a good solution.

    Improvements over Max2

    So in addition to the arrows, new display options, improved blind spot filtering, reduced TSR delay, and improved sticky cup, there's even more improvements to the Max360 over the Max2.

    The case design is different so we shouldn't have issues with the Max360 splitting in half, removable panels falling off, or lens falling out. It feels much more solid which is a very good thing.

    There's also a really high pitched annoying beep when the detector starts up or when you go into the settings. After the initial warnings (ie. X band off, TSR off, etc.), there's a high pitched beep with the Max2. Very annoying if you had your detector volume up from a noisy car the other night and then you start up the next day in a quiet parking lot. That chirp can be kinda ear piercing. That has been changed now to where it's all a lower pitched beep which is much more pleasant to use in practice.

    All in all, it's a more enjoyable package to use. They're small things, but the improved build quality, reduced annoyances, no more bounciness, no more crazy long TSR penalty etc. all add up to be a more enjoyable package. It's more than just arrows. There's been a few other improvements too that they've practically copied from the V1.

    Compared to V1

    So I've gone over the arrows stuff already. I like that there's more customization and colors offered with the Max360. You get much more information on the Max360 display (ie. frequency display) and you can display the signal strength for two signals at once (front and rear). With the V1 you only get signal strength about one. However, if you pair your V1 with YaV1, you can get the arrows, band, frequency, and signal strength for every single signal. So you get more info with the V1/YaV1 over the Max360, but the 360 has more info than the V1 on its own.

    They've also added a bogey counter to the 360, just like the V1.

    The V1 has two volume controls, the main volume and the muted volume. They've sorta copied this with the 360. AutoMute now has 4 different options: High, Medium, Low, and Off. Now you have the option of how far AutoMute drops the volume... so if you want the automuted volume to be louder or quieter, you have more control over how loud or quiet it gets. Not quite as easy to use as the V1 with its physical dial right on the front, but definitely an improvement.

    There's also a V1-like new bogey tone that you can activate. Under tones there's Standard (traditional beeps), Standard+ (traditional beeps with a new bogey tone), and Mild (which is like a calm doorbell). Here's an example of Standard+ in action passing by one auto door opener. As I pass it, the arrows flip from front to rear. The 360 then picks up a new K band signal from the door opener a block up the street, you get a beep, and the front arrow lights back up.



    It's not exactly the same as the V1. They have different alert priorities. You don't get a new bogey sound if you first have a Ka alert then get a K band alert, or if you have a K band alert then get a Ka band alert. With the 360, they have to be the same priority in a sense.

    So there's a bunch of little things that they've copied. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, I suppose. It's also taking away, to a certain extent, the competitive advantage of the V1 over the Max detectors.

    So new colors, they've copied some features, and they've improved on some things, but the V1 still feels more responsive and refined because alerts display instantly and arrows change directions to follow the signals almost instantly too. The 360 feels like a bit of a "me too," but that's okay. I'm hoping Escort continues to tweak and improve the detector to close the gap even further.

    I think the V1 with YaV1 is a little more refined (better lockouts, more information on screen, custom colors for every single signal, more advanced muting options, etc.), but the 360 offers much more as a standalone option.

    Is It Worth it?

    I think the 360 is a better detector than we give it credit for.

    Yes it's big, yes it's heavy, yes it's falsing on 33.4xx which is kinda dumb, and yes it's the most expensive windshield mount RD ever... That said, it really does have a lot to offer.

    The main issue I see with it right now is its lack of radar detection performance. It's still an M5 with a rear horn. Given what we saw with testing the Max/Max2, it's on par with a custom swept V1, maybe a little less. It would take more setup and configuration to run a Redline/Magnum with Live for lockouts and to manually lock them out, or to get a V1 with YaV1 and get and set up an Android phone, but if you take the time to do that and are cool with using a phone, you'll have better performance overall and, in my mind, still a better package.

    For people who want all the features and a plug-and-play option, it's a very easy to use option and does it all for you with minimal configuration necessary. It's a great option for the masses who want an easy to use package, especially if they don't know much about radar detectors in general but still want all the bells and whistles.

    Given that you can get an LRD850 or LRD950 for hundreds of dollars less and that detector will outperform the 360, you really have to ask yourself how bad you want the arrows though. That said, that's something that the V1 needs to consider too, so it's not just a 360 thing.

    If you want an easy to use detector loaded with features and are willing to accept a reduction in performance compared to other options (this is a big one) and you're willing to spend the cash for convenience and ease of use, that seems like what the Max360's main appeal would be.
    Always always always learning.

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    If you have a question, instead of PM'ing me privately, please ask publicly in the forum. This way I'm not answering the same questions privately over and over again, everyone can benefit from the dialog, plus you can get input and insight from the entire community who can offer so much more than I can alone. After all, that's what forums are for. Thank you!

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    Re: Vortex's Max360 Review

    Bro... How do u accomplish so much and still have a life and time to work ! Thank you so much !


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    Re: Vortex's Max360 Review

    Excellent work, you really are killing it with all of these reviews! The big question I have for you is are you going to keep your Max 360 or did you cancel your order? From my driving experience with it the past two weeks I've decided to sell my wife's 9500ix, give here the Max 360, and I'll continue running my V1/YaV1 setup. Thanks again!
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    Re: Vortex's Max360 Review

    Excellent review. As an owner of the LRD850 I do like the range but arrows would be nice. However I am just not willing to pay the premium. I do really like the concept of GPS and arrows and having three arrows change color for the different bands. Hopefully Escort can fix the bugs.
    Last edited by speedski; 11-07-2015 at 08:57 PM.

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    Re: Vortex's Max360 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by amendolaro View Post
    Bro... How do u accomplish so much and still have a life and time to work ! Thank you so much !
    It's not a big deal when you really really love it. Stay up late, wake up early, and excitedly keep playing. It's time well spent.

    Quote Originally Posted by cihkal View Post
    Excellent work, you really are killing it with all of these reviews! The big question I have for you is are you going to keep your Max 360 or did you cancel your order? From my driving experience with it the past two weeks I've decided to sell my wife's 9500ix, give here the Max 360, and I'll continue running my V1/YaV1 setup. Thanks again!
    I'm actually considering keeping it. I sent dcpatters' back this week and the one I ordered showed up yesterday. I ordered it initially just to get familiar with it and do some videos and reviews and whatnot, but the more I use it, the more I like it. It's more similar to the V1 now which I'm comfortable with. I like that it doesn't require a phone or extra dash space, and that the lockouts can be totally silent. YaV1 usually has an initial beep because it takes time for YaV1 to process and then tell the V1 to mute, so one beep gets through. That's good for situational awareness, but silence is better for day to day stuff. So there's lots of little subtle things like that that I'm still getting familiar with. Either way, it'd be good to have a 360 on hand for videos, especially while it's a hot new item, you know?
    Always always always learning.

    www.VortexRadar.com



    If you have a question, instead of PM'ing me privately, please ask publicly in the forum. This way I'm not answering the same questions privately over and over again, everyone can benefit from the dialog, plus you can get input and insight from the entire community who can offer so much more than I can alone. After all, that's what forums are for. Thank you!

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    Re: Vortex's Max360 Review

    Thanks for taking the time to write up this review!

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    Re: Vortex's Max360 Review

    Wow, great write-up, Vortex! Really nice job.
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    Re: Vortex's Max360 Review

    @Vortex - thanks for an excellent, unbiased review. Very thorough and complete.


    RDs:
    Redline, STi Magnums (x2, WB and PK), Max 360; Radenso XP (x2); V1; LRD950 (x2), RX65 (S7), RX65 (M4), V955, V940, LRD450; Radars: Stalker ATR (Ka 34.7), Eagle Plus (Ka 35.5), Python II FS (Ka 33.8 and K-band), Bushnell (K-band); Dashcam: G1W-C

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    sweden

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    Re: Vortex's Max360 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Vortex View Post
    It's not a big deal when you really really love it. Stay up late, wake up early, and excitedly keep playing. It's time well spent.



    I'm actually considering keeping it. I sent dcpatters' back this week and the one I ordered showed up yesterday. I ordered it initially just to get familiar with it and do some videos and reviews and whatnot, but the more I use it, the more I like it. It's more similar to the V1 now which I'm comfortable with. I like that it doesn't require a phone or extra dash space, and that the lockouts can be totally silent. YaV1 usually has an initial beep because it takes time for YaV1 to process and then tell the V1 to mute, so one beep gets through. That's good for situational awareness, but silence is better for day to day stuff. So there's lots of little subtle things like that that I'm still getting familiar with. Either way, it'd be good to have a 360 on hand for videos, especially while it's a hot new item, you know?
    Yeah being a big V1 fan I've grown to really like the Max 360 and the convenience of having everything in one package. They implemented a lot of things from the V1, little things like the bogey counter and alert when a new threat is detected. I hope it continuous to be updated and refined. I think it will become the best all around package.

    I've decided to keep mine, I have the YaV1/V1 combo in one car and the Max 360 in the other. We'll see how my V1 does in downtown Chicago when move in December.

    Most importantly thanks again for all your hard work. I watched your vids via your YouTube channel a couple nights ago... stayed up way later than I should have , but it was worth it!

    Sent via my moto /g/ machine
    Last edited by cihkal; 11-07-2015 at 05:56 PM.
    “How long will this last, this delicious feeling of being alive, of having penetrated the veil which hides beauty and the wonders of celestial vistas? It doesn't matter, as there can be nothing but gratitude for even a glimpse of what exists for those who can become open to it.”
    Alexander Shulgin, Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story



  13. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to cihkal For This Useful Post:

    colloyd00 (11-07-2015), jfr0317 (11-07-2015), Vortex (11-08-2015)

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    Re: Vortex's Max360 Review

    so informative V....Thanks so much for all u do to keep us in the know...


 
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