Expert Fitting Service

Northstar Radar/Laser Detector Field Test.

Above: Northstar Unit
Also in Matt Black with Titanium Effect Buttons

This new radar detector is very simple in use, Power it up and all 5 bands come on, you can't turn off any of the bands. It is one problem area as far as I am concerned as we don't use some of the bands it has in the UK and the X band is the biggest problem in my eyes as it causes the most false alarms. Selectable bands on radar detectors are very important.

4 buttons grace the top of the unit, Power, Test, Scan and C/H (City or Highway). The POWER button is simple, press it and the unit turns on or off. The TEST button runs the unit through a simple test mode and demonstrates the various alarm modes. The SCAN button gives you a knight rider look, the LED's sequential light on and off from side to side, it does nothing to the unit apart from make it look flash or annoying which ever way you decide to look at it. The C/H Button is more important, to reduce false alarms around town you are better off in the City mode, on longer open stretches of roads then you must use the Highway setting as this gives the best range. One odd thing I found when going into City Mode the volume dropped. On the side is the power connector and the volume dial.

The warnings are via LED's and Audio. Both do the job well enough but you get no signal strength meter on this unit. The Audio Chirp gets faster as you get closer to the Gatso.

Mounting the unit via the Visor clip or the dash Velcro was a problem for me as my dash is lower than the windscreen base and the visor is higher than the top of the screen, Gendan are addressing this by making the more traditional windscreen sucker mount that should be out soon, (check with Gendan for availability), so I had to raise the unit for my tests.

Looks are odd as far as I am concerned, gone is the traditional black unit, they have gone for black and Walnut effect, I feel it makes the unit look a bit odd and I don't really like it but wood effect in cars is not to my taste.

The power lead is more than long enough and the user guide is very good even covering what it will and won't detect. Over all it is not bad for £120 The real test is does it work?

So what tests did we do?

I did the usual tests on this unit and got odd results, the times shown are the best I got. When I refer to odd results this is what I mean. I did a run round the North Circular road in London, no not the full length but from the A10 to the M4. The unit did false alarm but not by much, Gatso warnings were very good at times but at other times I was almost on top of the Gatso, I did a drive by on some Gatso's using the Valentine One to get a signal reading to make sure the gatso's were on full power most were.

The most important one is the Gatso Test. We have a section of road that we use for all Gatso tests, it has one of the lowest radar scatter fields making it more of a challenge to Radar Detectors it also allows us to do the national speed limit if we want to. All the Radar detectors are tested in the same vehicles and in the same position on the windscreen.

The Northstar was subjected to three passes using a stopwatch to time the unit from the first beep to the point of passing the Gatso to establish an average warning time . Speed was 50mph. Please note warning times can vary subject to conditions.

Times for the Gatso Test. Roadside FIP

Approaching Back of Gatso Approaching Face of Gatso.
  • Average 5 seconds
  • Average 7 seconds

Times for the Gatso Test. M25 Gantry Gatso.

Important Note: The Gatso Used was a solo Gantry Gatso on the M25 Motorway. Speed was 80mph
No other Gatso was working within 2 miles, this is important since another Gatso near the area can effect the results in a major way since they are mounted so high.

Approaching Back of Gatso Approaching Face of Gatso.
  • Average 11 seconds
  • Average 12 seconds

Laser Gun Test.

The Laser gun was used in two ways, the first test was directly at the car with the detector in it, although the detector worked and was instant on alarm, if the officer used the first reading you were in trouble. However they often take a few readings so you may have a chance to slow. The second test was to have two cars in front and the operator target the first car and see if there was enough scatter for the third car to get an alarm, it was not a problem for the Northstar we had an alarm in all three runs.

In our opinion you could get a warning or you could get nicked when it come to the Laser alert mode.

K-Band Radar Gun.

It picked up well at about 1 mile so it would give you a good warning if the police were targeting other cars in front of you. Most radar guns are instant on as with Laser so if they target you directly you won't have time to slow, but that would be the same for any radar detector.

False Alarm Test.

False alarms are not too good, as we could not turn off X-Band we got quite a few false alarms around built up areas.

Can we recommend it? Yes.

This is a low cost unit, offering quite a good range, at sensible speeds
if you are using a GPS based system and want to know if the Gatso is working then this could be a good option.
False alarms are higher than units where non UK bands can be turned off but this
unit is £115 so what more do you want,
if you don't want to spend £200+ for a radar detector then this may be the one to get.
Try to get it on a 14 day approval, you may have to talk them into that as
they don't offer it and see what you think.

What do we like. What don't we like.
  • Price
  • Clear Sounds
  • Instructions
  • No user selectable frequencies
  • Poor mounting
  • No windscreen mount
    (They are working on that though)
  • False alarms
  • Looks, the wood effect.



Review: 19th Jan 2002
Important: Results shown are the findings of this site, you may get different results in your own vehicle.


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