Escort steps further into the world of GPS with its first portable navigation device, the Passport iQ. And since old habits die hard, they've tossed a radar/laser detector in for good measure.
Escort is a brand that's probably best known for its line of radar and laser detectors, but it got its toes wet in the world of GPS with its Entourage line of GPS vehicle locators last year. Today, Escort has stepped further into the world of GPS with its first portable navigation device, the Passport iQ (unless you count the SmartMirror, which is hardly portable). And because old habits die hard, they've crammed a radar and laser detector into its chassis for good measure.
Superficially, the Passport iQ looks like a standard portable navigation device. It's got a 5-inch touch screen, displays 3D Navteq-supplied maps, and mounts to the windshield with a suction-cup mount. The unit features spoken turn-by-turn directions, graphic lane guidance, and--like many GPS navigators we've tested--displays the current speed limit where available. However, where normal GPS devices may offer the ability to overlay POI icons for gas stations, hotels, and the like, the Passport iQ is able to overlay Escort's Defender Database icons marking red light cameras, speed cameras, and known speed traps. A 90-day trial of the Defender Database is included with the unit, after which a subscription will be required.
Things get interesting when Escort mentions that it has integrated a fully functional radar and laser detector based on its Passport 9500ix detector. This means that the Passport iQ is able to monitor X, K, Ka, and Ku band speed radar, as well as Laser bands. The iQ also features Escort's AutoLearn feature, which automatically identifies and analyzes radar sources, locking out false alarms such as automatic door openers or motion sensors. Users are able to display a wide range of radar-based information on the unit's color screen including breakouts of the detection strength of the various bands. Users are also able to overlay the radar detection information over the navigation screen and vice versa.
The Escort Passport iQ is available at an MSRP of $649.99 or about the same price as buying the previously mentioned Passport 9500ix ($499) and a reasonably priced GPS device of similar size. For that price, users get the convenience of only fumbling with one device while getting in and out of the car, compatibility with Escort's line of accessories (such as the questionably legal ZR4 laser shifter), and, while Escort will probably never say this itself, a bit of radar detector stealth and deniability in states where radar detectors are illegal.
Escort has also announced plans to release a second version of the Passport iQ that includes Bluetooth hands-free calling and traffic data. At this price range, that's the one we'd wait for.