The Bel 980 is a terrific radar detector that surpasses most others in its class. We found its performance to be exceptional and its level of customization unbeatable.
Out of the box, the Bel 980 is easy to set up and use. However, because of its complexity, you'll need to briefly read the documentation in order to program the unit the first time. After that, you won't have to reprogram the unit unless you set customization modes.
You can set the Bel 980 to enter several different modes upon startup. The Standard mode displays several status messages when you power up the unit, while its Quick Start mode bypasses these messages. The Tutorial mode runs through a series of alerts and messages, which can be handy for learning the different alert tones and their associated messages. There's also a Programming mode, which allows you to configure the unit in a multitude of ways. Finally, a Voltage-Meter mode provides a constant display showing how much voltage the radar detector is receiving. This is useful for ensuring that the car's electrical system is producing the correct voltage (although in all modes the unit will alert you if it's receiving a level outside the normal power range). As with some other units in its class, the Bel 980's City mode decreases the alert level, rather than its sensitivity. In this mode, the unit generates an initial alert when it receives a faint signal; however, the Bel 980 then remains silent until it receives a signal strong enough to be of concern. In addition, you can customize the City mode to selectively disable certain radar bands. For example, if you know that the X band is not used within your municipality, you can turn that band off, preventing the unit from picking up common false signals from unrelated sources (such as perimeter alarms commonly found in banks and stores). The Beltronic 980's standard audio alerts are clear and easy to interpret. Each radar band triggers a unique tone, and the large, easy-to-read display indicates which band the detector is picking up. The alert pulses faster as the signal strength increases; a constant tone indicates that a radar signal is in very close proximity. The display also indicates the alert strength in nine different levels. During our testing, the laser alert sounded while we were parked near a neon sign, indicating to us that the Bel 980 may pick up some random signals.