this year, we happened across an interesting press release for
a new Uniden
radar detector, called the GPSRD. Now before you scream "Hey!
This is an off-road site!" let me explain why this particular
radar detector caught my eye. Certainly, we haven't traded in
our slow-crawling 4x4's for IFS desert-running pickup trucks.
And we definitely aren't worried about getting many speeding tickets
on the trails that we like to hit. So why would we be interested
in reviewing a radar detector?
Well, first of all, we do need to get TO the trails
in the first place, right? Not all of us have old beaters or rigs
with gears so slow that we can't hit the Interstate at real speeds.
Some of us have daily-driven trucks that will do highway speeds
or better easily and safely. In addition, many of our readers
also have another vehicle in the household that gets driven on
the streets regularly. So we felt confident that even if this
wasn't entirely off-road-oriented, you'd still probably like to
read about it. But there's more!
Here's the real reason our interest was piqued.
If you haven't already figured out by its model number, GPSRD
stands for "Global Positioning System Radar Detector."
Did we just say GPS in the same sentence as radar detector? Indeed,
Over the last
few months, we've been using the Uniden GPSRD quite a bit. Its
first and obvious duty has been as a radar detector to help us
stay on the right side of Johnny Law...pardon me...to remind us
to check that our speed has not varied over the legal limit, should
a radar or laser signal picked up. For this article, we're going
to assume that you already know what a normal radar detector
does and how it works. We're going to focus mainly on what separates
the GPSRD from the other run-of-the-mill units on the market.
When you first
turn on the GPSRD it goes through all of the normal self-tests
that a radar detector typically does. It displays the various
types of signals it can detect and chirps the corresponding sound
as they are tested. Once this self-test is concluded, the display
then reads "Searching for Satellites." Here is where
it gets really interesting. GPS technology is based on satellites
that are in orbit all around the globe. In order for a GPS to
properly work, it must pick up at least 2 satellites for 2-dimensional
navigation and a minimum of 3 satellites for 3-dimensional navigation.
By triangulating the distance between satellites, the GPS can
then determine quite accurately where on Earth you are. OK, that's
a pretty simple explanation, but it's all you need to know for
Now that the
unit has found enough satellites, the LED light turns green. Game
on! So what is the GPS used for? If you travel in the same areas
reasonably often, you can set the GPSRD to remember up to 1,000
speed trap locations. For example, if you see a trooper sitting
in a median on the Interstate, you'd press the Select/Trap
button. Because the GPS is being used, the coordinates are marked
in the unit's memory. Next time you approach that same area, the
radar detector will give you warnings as you get closer. How cool
is that? Of course, these traps can also be deleted in the future,
should you choose to do so.
radar detectors, the GPSRD has a City button which is
used to vary the sensitivity when you are driving in town so you
don't get warned every time you are near a grocery store with
an automatic door. There is a Highway setting and four
levels for City. In addition to this, the GPSRD also
records data on false signals so when you return to the same area,
it remembers the previous detection and depending on your settings,
will only warn you if the signal exceeds the level that you have
control all functions on the top of the unit |
unit so far, right? Well we've just begun! In addition to 360
degree laser detection, radar detection, and all the GPS-based
goodies above, the GPSRD also can double as a basic GPS unit.
You can even mark a few of your own custom waypoints that you
navigate to often, such as "Home", "Work",
"Airport", "Hotel", and three other points,
named simply "A", "B" and "C." So
the first thing we did with our unit was mark "Home"
so that wherever we traveled, we always could find our way home.
At any time
while you are traveling you can display your position, for example,
132o35'5. If you have a map you can then pinpoint
exactly where you are. This can also be handy if you break down
and need to call for help. You can tell someone exactly where
to go to rescue you.
Sample displays |
So now we
know where home is and we know where on Earth we are right now.
Now what? The single most used feature of the GPSRD for us has
been figuring out the distance to our destinations when we hit
the highway on a road trip. The unit has an onboard database of
every major city in the US and many mid-size and small cities,
as well. Let's say we're leaving home and we are going to Austin,
Texas. First, we'd scroll through the menus to find "Texas."
Once we select our state, we then scroll through whatever cities
and towns are available and pick the one we're going to or the
closest to it. Not all towns are in the database. For example,
Moab, Utah is not in there, so when we traveled from Birmingham
to Moab, we had to pick Salt Lake City and estimate from there.
Once you select
your destination, the GPSRD can instantly tell you how many miles
it is from where you are, show an arrow in the direction you need
to travel to get there, and also how much time at your current
rate of speed it will take to arrive. One thing to note is that
distances are as the crow flies, meaning a straight line
between you and there. Obviously, roads take turns and go out
of the way, so the further the distance is, you need to adjust
mentally along the way, because the unit doesn't know about these
while the GPSRD is doing all of these calculations in the background
and scanning for radar and laser, it also knows how fast your
going, by virtue of how quickly your coordinates are changing.
I like using the speed display, because of the way I hold the
steering wheel. My arm often blocks my speedometer. The speed
display on the GPSRD comes in handy for me for quick checks of
my speed and is usually accurate to within 2 mph of my speedometer
(stock truck with stock tires).
if all of that fun stuff isn't enough, the GPSRD also displays
average speed, elevation above sea level, top speed and a travel
timer. The unit is also compatible with SWS™
Alert systems, which are used in some areas to warn you of potential
construction hazards or emergency vehicles.
interesting to note, is that for a unit whose main purpose in
life is not as a GPS, the GPSRD has better reception inside of
vehicles than our dedicated Garmin GPS III. The GPSRD has worked
in every car and truck we've tried it in and even works in the
woods, however, reception can be spotty because of tree-cover.
By contrast, our Garmin GPS does not work in most hard-top vehicles
without an external, roof-mounted antenna.
GPSRD has quite honestly been one our favorite toys. Not only
is it a great radar detector, but we've found many occasions to
leave our regular GPS at home and just use the radar detector
instead. For day-to-day and basic road trip navigation, the GPSRD
just can't be beat. You practically can't get lost and you always
have a rough idea when you'll get where you are going. Currently
priced at $199.99 at the Uniden
Online Store, the GPSRD is one of the best buys of
Uniden America Corporation
4700 Amon Carter Blvd
Fort Worth, TX 76155