Look. I used to run the Whistler Z-15R radar detector. Sure, it works- but it didn’t necessarily provide me the huge range I was looking for. The long-range that has saved me from so many speeding tickets already. Here’s the Uniden R1 Review.
If you listen to me and buy the Uniden R1 at only $200, you’ll likely say the same thing all of us say: “How is it even picking up that cop from so far away?!”- and rightfully so.
Look, this is going to be an in-depth review. But I will also save you the time and just say this:
Even on the most rigorous and difficult courses for radar detectors, the Uniden R3 STILL has a detection range of nearly 3,000 feet. That is more than enough time to alert you of the speed trap ahead.
And I mean, this is a rigorous course, windy roads with tons of trees/buildings blocking the signal.
Woah, Tommy. You said the Uniden R3 has that range. We’re talking about the R1 here.
Yeah- that’s what they don’t tell you. The Uniden R1 and Uniden R3 are the exact same thing, except the R1 doesn’t have the GPS. And in my eyes, the GPS is useless.
So let’s get into this Uniden R1 Review. Since it’s clear to me this is the best-priced radar detector out there. With incredible detection range (2-3x some of its’ counterparts)
Biggest Factor – MASSIVE Range
Okay, so I first got into radar detectors when I started driving around with one of my buddies. I won’t say his name for reasons, but let’s just say he can get places fast.
Of course, any of his fast speeds (yes, he’s gone 170MPH) are only done in safe environments. Like we check to make sure nobody else is on the road. No, driving fast in a car to look cool does NOT give you the excuse to injure someone. So, always be safe.
But, man- do the police out here hate him. And I got intrigued at how he was always speeding and didn’t really care that much.
That was until he slammed his brake when I heard his radar detector go off. And somehow, I didn’t even know what radar detectors were at the time. I work on my car all the time- but only discovered what they were recently.
Now, he didn’t really have an ‘expensive’ one per se. But he had basically what is a current-day poor man’s Cobra 380. You can view some of the range testing of the model he had here on Vortex Radar- but you probably won’t be too happy. (His was the cobra 7800 one).
But, for him having such an awful radar detector that his friend gave him for free- it actually helped him a lot. It had honestly an alright range and saved him multiple times from speeding tickets.
He lives out in rural midwest cowboy country, so there’s not really any ‘laser’ use- just Ka bands.
When I Got My Uniden R1 – I Couldn’t Believe It
I’ll say this. I honestly thought something was wrong with it. It was giving me way too many Ka bands, I kept thinking they were false alerts. Until 2-3 miles later I see some cop basically hiding in the middle of what’s basically a guerilla warfare reenactment stunt.
My old radar detector didn’t pick up the police until they were a little too close for comfort. Sure, it was better than nothing- and honestly helped a lot. But, I really needed something with a way bigger range.
WOW WAS I NOT DISAPPOINTED.
Every Uniden R1/R3 user will say “How does it even pick it up from that far??”. And that’s the truth. The longest detection I had was nearly 7 miles ahead of the police officer. Sure, it was a straight road and an open area, but WOW.
I just moved houses, to be honest with you. And they just did this massive detour so I have to go down this super long road that is a 30 MPH zone. Wow, do the police love speed trapping that.
This Uniden R1 will tell me if they are speed trapping before I even make the turn onto the road. When I am coming up it will be flashing the Ka band and sending so many alert signals that if I was dumb enough to speed at that point- I just deserve the ticket.
But seriously – The Range IS SO FAR.
I mean look at any range test of the Uniden R1 online on YouTube or even graphs, you’d be surprised yourself.
Even on the most rigorous and tough courses designed to basically fail radar detectors and highlight their weaknesses, the Uniden R1 still shines.
Vortex Radar’s Range Tests
Vortex Radar highlighted a lot of the range tests here in a simple YouTube video. It is an incredible video- where he analyzes many tests of the Uniden R1 vs many other radar detectors.
“Driver 66” Uploads Real Encounters of His Uniden Working Against Real Police
Look, all of these videos and ‘in-depth’ analysis of people testing against stationary targets are nice.
But, a better way of proving the radar detector’s efficiency is just by literally uploading live videos of it in action.
That’s exactly what Driver 66 does. He uploads his Uniden R3 (same thing as R1 without GPS) detecting police and does a great job marking the mileage he is picking them up from.
Here are a few of my favorite videos by him.
Driver 66 – Uniden R3 Finds a PAIR of TROOPERS WORKING A TRAP from over a mile.
Driver 66 – PROOF that the Uniden R1/3 is the GREATEST radar detector EVER?
Driver 66 – Uniden R3. INSTANT ON TRAP, this is WHY RANGE MATTERS!!
The Included Mount is Really Good! (High on Windshield!)
Look, if you’ve read my Whistler Z-15R review, you’ll know that the mount included with that wasn’t ‘great’- per se.
The Whistler Z-15R mount put it basically on your dashboard, not your windshield. That severely limits the range on most cars. I drive a Ford Mustang (read: Ford Mustang Muffler Delete) and most muscle cars are notorious for having super long engine bays.
This means if you have a muscle car like this, the hood of your engine is super high and long. (And many people buying radar detectors typically have sportier cars) When you have a radar detector that is sitting on your dashboard, the range becomes really bad. I mean simply put, about half of the radar detector itself can’t even reach past your hood.
If you have a car where a mount like that works- perfect! The Uniden R1 does include that mount if you’d like.
But, the Uniden R1 also includes a very strong windshield mount that allows you to put it pretty high. Also, this is like a ‘heavy-duty’ windshield mount for some reason. I don’t think I have ever seen a mount this ‘built’ before.
I did have some problems where the mount would come off every now and then. But I just use my alcohol prep pads from my med kit (or you can just use rubbing alcohol) to reattach it to the windshield. Typically if I don’t leave the car in the sun 24/7 there are usually no problems.
The Display Is INCREDIBLE.
Honestly, I didn’t hate the Whistler Z-15R’s display that much. While it is considered outdated, it wasn’t really that bad. It only lit up certain letters when there was a detection, and wasn’t that bright.
But, I will have to say I do prefer the Uniden R1’s display.
Tommy, what does the display even matter in this Uniden R1 Review?
Well, think about it. If you’re using a radar detector, chances are: you probably drive a lot. Nobody is buying a radar detector for the one 3 mile grocery-getter trip they make once a month.
This means ultimately, this radar detector is going to become a part of your driving. You are going to be staring at and hearing this thing all the time. So, yes, the display is actually important.
Some people have said you can change the color of the display- which is true. You can change it between a ton of colors, including: blue, amber, red, white, purple, green, pink, and grey.
Regardless, it is an OLED screen that shows you the voltage of your car (which, if you know anything about my mustang, is super important for knowing when my alternator wants to blow up for the 9th time) and shows you the frequency and band that is hitting your car.
Personally for me, knowing the exact frequency isn’t a big thing. I just need to know ‘Ka band’ or ‘laser’, I don’t need to know ‘24.7594’ whatever. But for some people, it’s actually super important.
Many commercial drivers or people involved in serious (see: serious) street racing will often know the frequencies of law enforcement in the area and will use that to distinguish a false radar detector/traffic signal band or a law enforcement band.
My Favorite: The Different Screen Settings
So, you know how I mentioned you’re going to be staring at this thing all the time? Well, that doesn’t change in the night either.
Most of my driving is at night. I live way way up north (think: canada) and dark is basically 5PM-7AM every day. Furthermore, when I go on long-trips (see: 600 miles) there’s going to be a fair amount of that trip in the dark.
The last thing you want is a miniature version of a lamp blaring in your eyes as you’re trying to drive at night. Especially where I live, moose/deer jumping out on the road is incredibly common.
The more light in the cabin = The harder time you have spotting an animal outside.
Luckily, the Uniden R1 has a perfect way to combat this. And it’s probably by far one of the most underrated features in any Uniden R1 review.
You can select the ‘Dark’ mode. Which turns the screen into a completely OLED and dark screen that only lights up when you get hit by a radar band.
This also works really well because if you’re blasting music on your drive home (lil uzi vert, meatloaf) that flash of light coming from your windshield can alert you that you’re getting hit by something if you can’t hear the radar detector.
Now, the radar detector isn’t really quiet. It’s not super loud either- but the last thin you want is to get a massive $500 speeding ticket because you couldn’t hear your detector go off because the good part of ‘XO TOUR LIF3’ came on and you turned the radio up.
Point being: The radar detector lighting up from complete darkness is sure to catch your attention and tell you to slow down before you’re picking up the tab for the next pothole repair.
A Little ‘Quiet’- But Still Loud Enough
While I love the Uniden R1, this would be a bad Uniden R1 Review if I didn’t really share what was on my mind.
The Whistler Z-15R had its’ problems, but my favorite thing was how loud it was. Like, if you were getting hit by a Ka-band, YOU WOULD KNOW. It does NOT hesitate to scream at you.
The Uniden R1 is fairly loud, but if you’re really blasting music it can almost barely be heard. Sometimes it has points where it gets really loud (when you’re at the strongest signal strength) but that is oftentimes too late.
I wish there was a way to make it a little louder. While it certainly isn’t ‘quiet’, it just definitely isn’t blaring loud.
If you listen to music at a medium volume, you should be fine. But be careful above that!
Let’s discuss the price range.
Sure, I’ve probably sold you on this radar detector already. But, when you see how cheap it is, you’ll probably be heading on your way to buy it right now.
So, I mentioned earlier that the Uniden R3 and Uniden R1 are basically the same thing- except the R1 does not have a GPS in it.
This knocks off about $120 off the price tag. Meaning you get the Uniden R1 for the cheap price of $200-180.
Most radar detectors, even the entry ones, will start at $80. Simply put, anything under $80 is next to useless. The fact is, having something to detect a whole bunch of radar frequencies in your car is going to be somewhat expensive.
Realistically, the Uniden R1 is pretty cheap. You only have to tack on $100 more and get nearly 3x the range of the lower-priced sensors in the $80 bracket. It’s like buying a car and paying an extra $100 for remote start or something, it’s minuscule but worth it.
And I know Amazon has been putting these things on special lately, a lot. So go over to Amazon and check out some of the deals on this thing right now. I’ve seen this thing close to $150 on sale.
Does It Work? (Times It Has Saved Me)
Sure, I might say the long range and price is great. But, does it work?
You might have a radar detector that can pick up a Ka-band at long range, but it might not display it due to sensitivity or because the band was so short.
Furthermore, it could also have an incredibly long range but just give false alerts 99/100 times, then you’re just in a bad situation.
Luckily, for this Uniden R1 Review, I can faithfully say that this thing really doesn’t have many false alarms. My last Whistler Z-15R had a big problem with false alarms, but not the Uniden R1.
Plus, the Uniden R1 has many firmware updates that help filter out many false alerts.
But here’s the deal: It works, almost too well.
It’s Saved Me Countless Times
I drive a lot, like way too much. Most people put on something like 16,000 miles a year? And a lot of that is commuting? I put on 15,000 miles a year without including my commute to work. (And my commute is 80 miles!)
Needless to say, I really do drive a lot. Way too much, again. (Insurance companies don’t like me, but I still have no accidents/speed tickets on record sooo)
But with that in mind, I am obviously in situations to run into speed traps or patrol officers way more often than normal people.
So here are some times where it’s saved me, just so far.
The Stupidest Speed Trap Next To My House
So, I’ve mentioned this before on this website. But they speed trap this road by my house. It’s like a 3 mile long road that’s 30 MPH. BORING. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single person go only 30 MPH down that road.
Before I even leave my development or even come close to that road my Uniden R1 will already be screaming ‘Ka BAND’ and giving that ‘whistling’ sound effect. Truth is, most people are going 40-55 MPH down that road.
Getting pulled over doing 40 in a 30 isn’t great at all, and imagine a 55 in a 30. That’s 25 MPH+ over. If you don’t like the $500 ticket, enjoy the $5000 insurance hike.
There’s not a lot they can do to me anymore with the radar detector. I mean look, I respect traffic laws and do obey the speed limit 99% of the time, but this one is just stupid. People are even petitioning against my city for having it there.
The Good Ol’ Backroad Speedtrap
Look, I live in what you probably envision of ‘Oklahoma’ when you think of it. Just empty, barren, and wide fields for miles on end.
Honestly, the police just have to sit there and wait. It probably won’t even be me speeding, it will be some 40-year-old guy coming home from work doing 55 in the 40. I mean, nobody else is on this road for miles, and unfortunately, he’s going to get hit with a $400 ticket.
This thing will pick up on smokey bear sitting in that ditch miles away.
And I’ve been able to slow down more times than I count to save myself from a nasty ticket. (At the time of writing this, they had over 8 cops on our longest backroad, and ticketed one of my friends today too).
The Great Ol’ 2AM Cop With His Radar Running
Look, when it’s 2 AM, you just want to get home. Man, most people speed in this area. There’s literally nobody else on this highway for the next 10 miles, and I can see straight ahead.
Well, you can’t see the ford explorer sitting with his lights off 4 miles down. Luckily, the Uniden R1 will.
So in your rush to get home, it will save you.
Agressive Merges/Commuting To Work
Look, I know a lot of people just say:
Tommy, I don’t even speed anywhere. So what’s the point of this?
Well as one of my favorite radar detector YouTubers pointed out: ~”The radar detector just gives you more confidence and alerts you ahead of time before you get pulled over”.
You can’t always avoid a LIDAR scan or instant on/off radar, but it gives you fair warning so you can prepare and relax before a police encounter.
But let’s be honest. A lot of times on our commute to work, everybody will be doing 80 in a 60 or something. All the cop has to do is single somebody out. This radar detector will alert you way ahead of time so you aren’t the one that gets singled out.
When Doesn’t It Work?
Well, this Uniden R1 Review wouldn’t really be good if I didn’t discuss its’ weaknesses.
Luckily, it only shares the same weaknesses all other radar detectors do.
It doesn’t work with laser and if the cop is turning his radar on/off.
There’s not really any way to combat these, other than laser jammers (but that’s a topic for a whole different post), and being observant on the road. You could also use Waze when commuting to alert you of a speed trap ahead.
All radar detectors don’t stop you from getting tickets, otherwise, everybody would have one. But they do a pretty great job of avoiding most of them.
The only real way to avoid a speeding ticket is well, not speeding, or not admitting to it. But these weaknesses aren’t unique to the Uniden R1, and ultimately are present in every single radar detector.
The Uniden R1 is an INCREDIBLE radar detector for $150-200. On even the most rigorous and difficult radar detector tests, it still alerts the driver nearly 3,000 feet ahead of time. This gives you more than enough time to slow down and avoid that ticket.
Simply put, comparatively to all other radar detectors on the market at this price range, no other radar detector beats out the Uniden R1.