Apr 29, 2011

Passport IQ... A Car Guy's I-Phone?

Any review is best done with the actual product.  Unfortunately, countless attempts to reach Escort for a free demo unit have failed (well maybe not "countless").  Why they ignore a blogger of my prominence, I don't know.  Surely they're aware of  my global reach.  Just last month a guy from Australia visited my blog, which is half way around the globe!  (Actually, he was responding to my "naked lady" meta tag).  Anyway, I'll put my hurt feelings aside for now.  So here goes my review with the limited, but exciting, information I do have so far.
police-lights3
I got my first Camaro in May of 1989, got my first license suspension in September that year.
My Passport radar detector  from Cincinnati Microwave bought me 5 months, thanks guys.

I think I might want the new Passport IQ by Escort.  The IQ is the latest tool for serious drivers.   It offers a slew of goodies most sports car drivers want, all in one package.  Navigation, so weekend drives can be free of map and sign reading (reading is bad).  Bluetooth, so  focus can stay on what’s important when driving, like one’s coffee.  Radar/laser detection, to detect stray radar and laser signals.  Lastly, the Defender GPS database, which keeps track of speed traps, traffic cameras etc.   All cool stuff many people may already have.  But, now that it all can have just one cord; you can cut down on accidental strangulations.  So for the sake of safety the Passport IQ must be considered.  The life you save might be your own.

All in one gadgets have burned me in the past.  My current printer scanner fax machines simply sucks at one or two of those tasks.  But, space is limited in most sports cars.  This is definitely worth serious, if not excited, consideration. Decent photos of the the IQ are hard to come by,   Talk about new eh?   www.escortradar.com has some screen shots, but nothing demonstrating the appearance on one's windshield yet.
      
Navigation is cool.   I’ve never claimed I didn’t love it.  I just hate the way car manufacturers try to reinvent something other’s have already mastered.   My 2006 M3 required I use a dial to select the letters, spelling out my destination.  Also, have you ever tried to update your map software? It cost me  $500 just for a disk.   Lastly, how good is 2006 Nav going to be in your car when it’s 14 years old?  About as good as the car phone found in a ‘96 Mercedes.  It’s just not a wise idea to permanently mount something like a computer in  a car.  Well, perhaps it's okay in a car that you'll keep about as long as your laptop or phone.  But it's not okay in your “last sports car."

passportgarmin
My trusty Garmin Nuvi 260W is unmatched. On long business trips the Garmin’s voice is my wife’s trusty travel companion.  Bought this one at Bartell’s Drug Store for $130.
  
Now nav in concept is great, but I’ll need to know more before I put the IQ on my Christmas list.  A crappy one can really be quite  frustrating, so there are some things I need to know.  First, who is Navigon?  I’ve never heard of them.  Second, it better have a QWERTY keyboard.  Third, how does it search for addresses? No answers exists to any of these questions yet.

I love  Garmin’s user interface  and hope Navigon is similar (otherwise, I may rename it "Navi-goon")  It should search in concentric circles from my current location. I should be able to stop the search when my destination is apparent, rather than waiting to gather up a whole list or enter a city or state.  Who wants to enter a state or city?  That's just dumb. If in Ohio you don’t need directions to a street in Arizona. So what if Arizona comes first alphabetically.    I’ll be waiting so see the IQ in person and get answers to those questions.  Mostly for myself, but I may share them with my 3 readers Craig, Nigel and Catherine.

compass
I find nav frees me to drive and enjoy myself more. Setting up a route ahead of time allows me to look around rather than scan for street signs. My father and grandfather were surveyors, I so reading maps should come more naturally.

Hands free is always a good idea.  I’m anxious to know if it’s any good. The IQ needs to be as good or better than my $20 Motorola M300 hands free. We all know that a crappy hands free setup really irritates everyone.  If  your Bluetooth sucks, people will tire of speaking to you.  For  over $600  I expect  100% of my dazzling personality to transmit clearly.   A good hands free will need good noise reduction too.  For this we’ll just have to wait for some of those Epinion or Amazon reviews.  Not, not all mufflers and motors are the same,  sports cars can have a wide variety of noises.  So here’s hoping Escort knew who was going to buy the IQ and sorted this out.


passportmotorla
Driving the 911 with a Motorola M300 has worked well so far.
It uses a AAA battery so you can toss it in the car with some
batteries and never need a charger.

Radar/laser detector.  Hell yes.   I’ve been driving w/out one for a long time now.   I just pay lawyers instead.   Those lawyer fees have climbed recently.    It’s time for something again.  I’m in a holding off till a radar test is done by the magazines.  The shape of the IQ is odd for a radar detector, so they had to change the shape of the receiving antenna.  I’m hopeful, performance is still on par with other premium Escort products, but a new receiver shape means a whole new game, we’ll see.

passportv1
Valentine did have something figured out with that bogey counter.  It did, however,  require the driver to think a lot.  I'm not prone to thinking much,  I prefer daydreaming.   If you are really focused on your speeding it works fine.   Just moments after posting this blog I've been gifted one from a friend who upgraded to a Passport.   I guess I'm lucky he didn't opt for Escort's  new $80 trade in credit. 
   
The Defender database.  This is clearly the future of authority avoidance.   Sounds cool doesn't it?  Passport is the best candidate to create a database for traffic cameras and such.   I’m confident they will deliver all they advertise.  Furthermore, I think the GPS tagging of  false alarms  is a great idea too.  For those who don’t know, basically when you mute a false alarm you can have the IQ remember it’s location and never bother you again.  Keep in mind a sneaky cop can hide just beyond the Safeway to mask his/her signal.  But wait: Passport's even got it's own count of radar sources now.  Kind of like the bogey counter on a Valentine-1.  So that old Safeway trick won't work so well any more.   Perhaps they should hide behind Krispy Kreme instead. 


This one was on Craigslist for $650 WTF?  I hope that's not a negative endorsement. 
Good or bad, $650 is not Craigslist pricing.
Other questions come to mind, like ease of mounting, theft deterrence, and wiring options.  Expect to mount and remove the IQ often, and in multiple cars, so it needs to do this well.  Also, it’s not the kind of thing you want to leave on your dash at the shopping mall either.  Not if you want to keep it anyway.  

The Passport IQ could possibly be something we all just can't live without. If you add up the cost of a radar detector, hands free set and nav it  looks like an okay value. That’s only if they execute each of those applications exceptionally.  Furthermore, let's keep in mind, most of us already own excellent examples of these toys separately.  So why buy them all again?  Coolness and clutter reduction, that’s why.  If your car has 3 cigarette lighters; it’s not a sports car, it’s a minivan.  Installing 3 units separately takes up space and is ugly.  It remains to be seen but I’m hoping it's good enough to become the enthusiast’s equivalent to the I-Phone.
While you’re checking it out, might I suggest another interesting offering from Escort, The Smartmirror.  The Smartmirror is a mirror, backup camera, GPS, and hands free system.   It’s cleverly packaged into a rear view mirror.  Might be perfect for that street rod eh?
http://www.escortradar.com/smartmirror.php



I tried counting the number of early warning devices I've owned, but there were too many.
Chips detectors, Escort(original), Passport(original),cb radios,Uniden,Cobra,Radio Shack and Fuzz Busters.
It's not that I'm a big speeder, but cant resist cool toys lik these.  Sadly, finding phots of these classics is much harder than you might think.  

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not so fast on the Passport iQ. I got a ticket with the damn thing.. And it was all my fault the unit didn't work when I needed it to. Bomber!!!!

Anonymous said...

"The Car Guys iPHONE ?"
Ironic that you should use that comparison when Escort STILL OFFERS NO MAC UPDATE SUPPORT !