The Cobra DSP 9200 BT is not quite at the level of the top detectors from K40, Valentine, or Escort, but it’s close. Due to the merger, it’s entirely possible that Cobra will be doomed to play second fiddle to the premium brand of Escort. But if this model is any indication, the infusion of Escort DNA into Cobra’s detectors marks the beginning of a significant performance improvement for the brand, and will keep them relevant at their price point.
I was primarily interested in reviewing the DSP 9200 BT to explore the idea of a radar/laser detector connected to the internet to share its data, a feature that K40’s detectors that I reviewed don’t offer. iRadar is a great idea, but it falls short in its execution. The DSP 9200 BT is an excellent mid-range detector that’s being held back by the imperfect iRadar app. It does what it’s supposed to do, but not consistently or reliably. This is acceptable in an inexpensive $46.99 iRadar 200, but not in Cobra’s top-of-the-line detector. And I think that’s part of the problem – the iRadar network is a relic of the pre-Escort Cobra, using inferior software and outdated hardware. New detectors like the DSP 9200 BT address the hardware, but not the software.
The great thing about an app, though, is that it’s just an update away from addressing the issues that I’ve raised. I appreciate how quickly Cobra has already reacted to customer and market demands, such as the screen readability issues. I’m hopeful that Cobra is listening to criticisms of iRadar, and already has software developers working on updating the app to fix bugs and improve performance. Alternately, top end Cobra detectors could begin using the superior Escort Live network instead. The hardware is up to snuff with Escort’s offerings, so it wouldn’t bring down the quality of the data. On the flip side, is it fair to paying Escort users to let Cobra freeload? Or should iRadar remain a separate network as a case of “you get what you pay for?” I don’t know the answer. One way or another, though, Cobra’s new DSP detectors deserve better apps to go with them.
Cobra originally charged $399.95 for the DSP 9200 BT when it was introduced. This is the same as the K40 RLS2 and Valentine One, and only $50 less than the Escort Passport 9500ix. It didn’t sell very well at this price. I can see why, because it’s not in the same league as these top end units. Cobra seems to have realized this as well, and while they haven’t officially dropped the retail price, Cobra has it on sale for $299.95 on their web site, and $249.99 on Amazon. It may not be worth $399.95, but it’s certainly worth $249.99.
Cobra has joined the 21st century with the DSP 9200 BT. Its arrival may be later than some other major brands, but with an infusion of Escort’s technology Cobra is poised to become a radar detector brand to take seriously. This is only the first DSP detector from Cobra. More are sure to follow, and they’re bound to be even better.