Tech Toy of the Month: Cobra iRadar for iPhone

Cobra iRadarI’m not going to debate the particulars of revenue-generating speed traps and artificially low speed limits in this article. Suffice to say, who doesn’t hate getting a speeding ticket? In my over 20 years of driving, I’ve received less than a handful. Still, it stings every time, especially when your friendly, neighborhood officer isn’t so friendly. So after my last ticket in late 2010, I went on a hunt for a radar detector. Eventually I found the Cobra iRadar, which seemed like a perfect mix of features and price – plus it integrated with the iPhone! I didn’t buy it right then, however, because my research made me want to wait until I got a new iPhone. Well, the latest iPhone release was delayed by a few months and I sort of forgot about the iRadar until this past Christmas season. So I put the iRadar on my wish list and my wish was granted. Now I’ve had a month to use the iRadar. Was it worth the wait?

Keep in mind that while I am a techie, I’ve never owned a radar detector before. So I don’t have something to personally compare against. And I’m not looking to go into intricate detail about the technology as some radar “geeks” would do. Which is just fine, because my goal, as in most of my articles, is to portray the device from a non-techie viewpoint.

Overall, I’ve been very impressed with the iRadar. The device is able to detect every type of radar and laser gun used by police. It has been simple to use and has worked very reliably. Part of this is because all the configuration of the device is done through an App. Instead of reading a thick manual and fumbling around with obscure buttons on the detector, anyone who can use an iPhone can configure the iRadar. Finally, for the relatively low price, it incorporates many features that are usually only available on expensive, high-end radar detectors.

Speaking of the iPhone integration, while it can be very useful to have the iRadar app running while using the detector, it is not required for the iRadar to function. If the app is running, it will show you some detail when the unit detects a radar. However, if the App is not running, the iRadar will still give audible alerts to what kind of radar or laser it is detecting. This is important because it may not always be possible to have the iRadar app running while driving. Perhaps you also use a GPS app on your iPhone. Or perhaps you are on a call. Whatever the reason, this is an important feature that any potential buyer needs to be aware of.

One thing I’ve discovered by having the iRadar for a month is that there aren’t as many radar guns in use as I would have thought. Still, the iRadar has successfully detected every radar gun I’ve encountered – even when the officer has simply left their radar on while they are parked and not monitoring drivers. So if you own an iPhone and are in the market for a radar detector, I definitely suggest taking a look at the iRadar.