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The Uniden R8 debuted at CES 2022 as the upgrade to the popular R7. Like the Uniden R4 (the upgrade for the R3), the R8 is built on a new platform with two Low Noise Amplifiers (LNA) to increase detection range. Uniden also added an Auto Mute Memory feature and an Auto Sensitivity mode to the R8, both of which are convenient while driving in heavy traffic.
The Uniden R8 sits alongside units from Escort, Cobra, Radenso, and K40 in my collection of radar detectors. I also own a Uniden R3, R4, and R7, the latter of which I really like because of its large display, directional alert arrows, and Ka Narrow segmentation option. It’s not just me either. When browsing through the Radar Detector forum, I always see a lot of positive feedback on the R7, so it would seem the R8 has big shoes to fill.
I’m constantly navigating stop-and-go traffic here in the Detroit metro, particularly on main roads like M10, I-696, I-94, and Telegraph road. One moment, you can be crawling along, and then you are back up to highway speeds. I rely heavily on the R8’s Auto Sensitivity mode, one of the unit’s finer upgrades over the R7. Essentially, it’s a speed-dependent mode, automatically switching back and forth between City and Highway modes at a pre-set speed. In the settings menu, look for “Auto City Speed,” where you can set the R8’s switching point between City and Highway in 5 mph increments between 10 and 60 mph.
Complimenting the Auto Sensitivity mode is the undeniable range and reliability of the Uniden R8, a key characteristic of the unit’s dual LNA design. On my daily drive in the Detroit metro, it’s not uncommon to see the Michigan State Police, the Oakland and Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies, and other local police patrols, depending on what suburb you are going through. All run a combination of constant-on or instant-on Ka radar (at the time of this writing, the State of Michigan has a contract with DBA Stalker Radar & Video).
With the traffic volume and curved roads around the Detroit metro, officers don’t really need to hide. With generic, run-of-the-mill Ford Explorers and Chevy Impalas, law enforcement around here blends in like the color yellow at a pineapple festival. I’ve had speeders fly around me on I-696 like I was standing still. A few moments later, my R8 picks up a Ka band, and a bright red forward arrow lights up the display. And guess who is pulled over just the other side of the exit ramp?
If you live in an area with heavy traffic and a strong law enforcement presence, the Uniden R8 is an excellent choice.
The R8 comes with a 12V DC power cord with an RJ11 connector, hook and loop tape for dashboard mounting, and an owner’s manual. Included are two different windshield mounting brackets. There is a larger single suction cup bracket and a bracket with two smaller suction cups. Uniden includes a carrying case with a Neoprene sleeve too.
The Uniden R8 includes a built-in GPS, which determines your geographic location and then identifies “set frequency locations” in your area from a database. Set frequency locations often include things like red light and speed cameras.
The Uniden R8 is built on an all-new platform, giving it an advantage over the R7 in terms of detection range and available features. Regarding the R8’s platform, a good comparison is a vehicle platform, or rather, the architecture and chassis. Every vehicle has a “platform” on which it’s designed, engineered, and manufactured. Imagine the difference between a vehicle built today and a decade ago. The new vehicle will be safer, more fuel-efficient, ride and handle better, and have more tech features. The updated architecture, or platform, allows such things to come to fruition.
The same analogy applies to the Uniden R8 and R7, just a little smaller.
This new platform allows the R8 to have things like the aforementioned Auto Mute Memory function and upgraded dual LNAs to detect radar sources from farther away. Likewise, the R8 has a laser gun identification feature and can detect Gatso radar used by the latest speed cameras. These are differences between the Uniden R8 and R7 and may help you justify the price bump.
The Uniden R8 will alert you to X, K, and Ka radar bands and laser (LiDAR) guns. I have X bands turned off, but the Downriver communities south of Detroit do use some K band, so I’m hesitant to have my R8 ignore K band outright. While you may have the occasional K band false with the R8, the Auto Mute Memory feature quickly saves them.
Like the R7, the Uniden R8 has a City and Highway mode. In City mode, X and K band sensitivity is reduced to prevent false alerts, while Ka bands stay at full sensitivity. In Highway mode, all bands go to full sensitivity to give you the most reaction time on the open road. You can further optimize the R8’s sensitivity levels through the Advanced mode. Similar to the R7, you can adjust the Rear Balance of the R8 in the settings menu.
OLED Display & All Threat
The R8’s OLED display is similar to the R7 and will show the frequency when a particular radar band is detected. The corresponding signal strength indicator moves from green to yellow and then to orange and red, depending on how close you are to the threat. Audible alerts are issued simultaneously, with the tones becoming more rapid the closer you are to the radar source. Similar to the R7, the Uniden R8 shows which direction the threat is coming from via a solid red arrow.
You can set the R8 to announce the type and frequency of any radar bands you encounter. If so, it will also announce the direction. There are three different alert displays to pick from in the settings menu, so play around and see which one you like best (this is a subtle upgrade as the Uniden R8 offers one more alert display than the R7).
Of course, no Uniden radar detector would be complete without the All Threat feature! Although the factory setting for this is off, it’s something you want to switch on right away. With the All Threat engaged, the R8 will simultaneously detect up to four radar bands, showing each of them visually on the OLED display. The strongest signal is designated as the priority and will appear front and center. Up to three other signals can appear on the left side of the screen in what resembles a little digital chart (for lack of a better word). This digital chart shows the individual radar band, its signal strength, and direction.
You can experiment with the K and Ka filters in the settings menu, including a segmentation filter. To access the segmentation filters, change the “Mode Display” in the settings menu from “Basic” to “Expert.” For K bands, the R8 gives you three segmentation filters: Wide, Narrow, and Extended. Ka bands have two segmentation filters, Narrow and Wide. The R8’s Ka Segmentation lets you customize a Ka band sweep from nine different filtered settings.
I like Narrow segmentation as my R8 scans only for U.S.-spec guns, nor will it span the entire frequency range. This cuts down on the false alerts and increases the R8’s response time, which is helpful in an area where instant-on Ka band radar is present. The R8 can also detect POP transmissions, MRCD, MRCT, RT3, and RT4 (RT3 and RT4 being the separate frequency ranges of Gatso radar).
In exchange for the higher price of the R8, you are alerted to a wide variety of radar sources, from patrol cars and speed traps to traffic cameras and other photo enforcement devices. When warning you of an upcoming red light or speed camera, the R8 will show traffic light or camera icons and the corresponding distance (in feet) to the alert.
Mute Memory & User Marks
When you encounter an alert you know to be false, press the Mute/Dim button on the front of the unit or the Mute button on the power cord. You will then see “Mute On” appear on the display. Press one of the buttons again to save that GPS location and frequency to the R8’s memory. When you pass that location again, the R8 will display the alert and the frequency on the OLED display, but it won’t make a sound.
User Marks (also called “location marking” in radar detector lingo) work similarly, but you will use them for areas with a known, recurring radar source. When passing by this area, press the Mark button to save that location. The R8 will issue a voice prompt the next time you are near that saved location. One thing to note: you cannot save a new location if there is a previous User Mak within a 1,600 ft radius (I have never run into an issue with this).
Memory Quota lets you set the individual number of Mute Memory and User Marks. In total, the R8 can save up to 2,000 points between the two, but you can allocate that one way or another in 50-point increments.
For example, I have my Mute Memory set at the maximum of 1,750 allotments, meaning I have 250 for User Marks. I tend to encounter more Mute Memory locations here in Detroit, so I want the highest allotment possible. Although, if I ever need more room for User Marks, I could drop that allotment for Mute Memory in 50-point increments.
This is a valid question, considering the Uniden R8 is one of the more expensive radar detectors on the market. Ultimately it comes down to what you will realistically need and use on your daily drive.
If you are working on a dedicated budget but are still interested in a Uniden radar detector, both the R3 and the R4 are good options (this helpful guide will explain the difference between the two). The R3 and R4 are a little smaller in size and have a few less features but still offer excellent detection range and reliability. Although I love my Uniden R8, I still use my R3 and R4 here in Detroit.
If you don’t mind spending the money, the R8 will give you the most situational awareness with the least amount of effort. This is what I appreciate most about the R8. With the directional alert arrows, voice notifications, Gatso detection, and All Threat feature, I have a good idea of what’s happening around me. Then, with the R8’s new Auto Sensitivity mode, I don’t have to worry about messing around with anything while I drive.
For additional insight, browse through the Radar Detector forum, which has an entire discussion section dedicated to Uniden radar detectors. There are tons of people on there (myself included) who can help you make the best decision.
Otherwise, if you are sold on the Uniden R8, you can grab it on Amazon for about $700.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. He serves on the board of directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, is a past president of Detroit Working Writers, and a loyal Detroit Lions fan.