LCM Buyers Guide 2014

Posted: December 30, 2013 in Reviews
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As of this writing December 30th, 2013, I consider there to be only 2 formidable laser counter measure (LCM) devices (Laser Jammers) on the market,  The Laser Interceptor (LI) and the AntiLaser Priority (ALP).  In order to assist those looking into purchasing a LCM device, I wanted to present a fair and honest review of these two systems in order to give buyers solid evidence so that they can make an informed decision when they eventually decide to purchase.  I have owned LI systems, a Blinder HP-905, LE10, and have tested against every LCM available including the original Blinder led system and shifters from various radar companies.  The reason I consider the LI and ALP to be the only choices when it comes to LCM’s is due primarily to the availability of updates and the performance of these systems against existing lidar guns.  Make no mistake there are other LCM’s available, but none match the performance or the consistency of the LI or ALP.

Let’s start with the basic specifications:

  Laser Interceptor AL Priority
CPU 200 mhz 32-bit RISC Dual Processor 100+ mhz
Voice Alerts Yes Bluetooth / HiFi Module**
External Speaker Support Power Cable Bluetooth / HiFi Module**
Bluetooth Support No Yes*
GPS Support No Yes*
Radar Detector Interface V1 V1 / STi-R
PC Interface RS232 Sub D-9 USB / Flash Drive
Firmware Upgradable LI Communicator Online / Flash Drive
# of Sensors Supported 4 5 (3 Front, 2 Rear)
Sensor Size 3-1/8″x 13/16″ x 9/16″  2.24” x 1.18” x 0.55”
Wire Sensor Length 18 Feet 16.4 Feet
# of Receivers 2 4
Rated Diode Power 115W 75W
Price for Dual System $599 $699

* – Bluetooth and RG modules are optional add-on modules.
** – As of this writing the HiFi module was not available for purchase.

Initial Observations:

What you will notice is the systems are very comparable side by side with notable differences being the rated diode power, number of possible sensors that can be connected to the CPU, number of receivers per sensor, sensor size, and upgrade interface (RS232 vs USB).  In addition, it should also be noted that in order to have voice alerts on the ALP system it does require a Bluetooth module and an Apple device (iPod, iPad, iPhone) in order to run the ALPConnect software.  Laser Interceptor is available out of the box with voice alerts.

Diode Power:

Now let’s start with the rated diode power.  The LI is rated significantly more with 115W vs the ALP at 75w.  Both are capable of JTG performance on even the toughest guns.  Keep in mind you are not trying to over power the gun, the goal is to talk to the gun in a way it understands.  In testing against various systems including earlier versions of the LI itself, the power rating of the diode has never translated into fewer punch throughs or better overall jamming capability.  In fact, we consistently noticed fewer PT’s at less than 100′ on the ALP system then we did on the LI 8.9 system. The determining factor is ability of the ALP to continue to communicate with the gun at sub 100′.  The difference is due to the optics in front of the diode and the angle of the beam as it exits the head.  There are plenty of details on each of the systems with respect to the output of each diode, but suffice it to say power had nothing to do with the performance in this case.

Number of Possible Sensors:

LI-CPU AL-CPU

What might be considered a small difference between the systems, is the difference in the number of possible connected sensors.  The ALP has 5 while the LI only has 4.  Again doesn’t sound that significant, but the ALP system provides discrete connections for front and rear in addition to the additional sensor.  3 for the front and 2 for the rear.  The purpose of having more sensors is mainly for larger vehicles.  A Yukon or large truck may require 3 heads on the front in order to accurately protect it.  That being the case if you have a large vehicle and intend to run front and rear sensors the LI is slightly limited as it would leave you with a single head on the rear when in fact many times on larger vehicles you need many more to properly protect the rear of the vehicle.

Number of Receivers Per Sensors:

This is probably the most important difference between the systems.  2 receivers per head on the LI vs 4 receivers per head on the ALP.  The reason this is so significant is that if the LCM cannot see the lidar signal it certainly cannot jam it.  In sensitivity tests performed against the 2 systems, the ALP outperformed the LI in reception by 3′ more than the LI.  Meaning the ALP was 3′ off vehicle more sensitive than the LI 8.9 head.  This is significant because it means the system will be less susceptible to PT’s in extreme areas of the vehicle and off axis.

Sensor Size & Position Options:

LI vs ALP Head Comparison

ALP vs LI Head Comparison

 

The ALP sensors are smaller in width than the Laser Interceptor by about 1″ making it ideal for stealth installations, and installations where space is limited in the horizontal plane.  The LI head is smaller in depth than the ALP making these heads ideal for placing on the outside of grilles, or under the overhangs of vehicle trim.  LI also has vertically polarized heads designed for vertical grille slots like you see on BMW’s.  The jury is still out as to whether a vertically polarized head is any more effective.  In tests that I and others have done, I have not encountered a reason to mount the heads vertically as they are just as effective mounted horizontal even in the lower grille.

Upgrade Interface(s):

First of all, the LI comes with a standard RS232 based serial port.  If you have one on your computer then you do not need anything else and can use the LI communicator to download and install firmware and voice packs.  If you have a modern computer, as most do, then RS232 ports are no longer standard as they have been replaced by USB. In order to connect your LI to the computer, you will need to purchase a USB to Serial adapter in order to perform firmware updates, change settings, or modify voice packs.  The ALP uses a USB KEY (jump drive) to perform all updates.  No software is required simply visit the website ALPriorityUpdate.com and put in your serial number, download a file to your USB KEY, and finally insert the USB KEY into the ALP CPU.  The website will allow you to change configuration of your system, perform firmware updates, and download system activity logs.

LI Serial ALP USB

 

Do They JAM all known Lidar Guns?

The question everyone wants to know and the answer is NO.  Lidar jamming is a cat and mouse game and that is why it is important to keep your system updated.  As of this writing, LI jams 93.33% of known lidar on the active conforming products list (CPL).  The ALP jams 96.67% of known lidar on the CPL.  These numbers might be a little high as I have included the DALA in these calculations when in fact there could be versions of the DALA that neither system has encountered.  The one thing to note here is that the ALP has a recording mode and can record new lidar guns and the data can be sent to AntiLaser for processing.  This is a very handy feature and makes it easy to tackle newer guns quickly.  LI must acquire the gun and process it at headquarters. Luckily though, LI has a reputation of providing updates quickly.  Hopefully this makes it clear that neither system is 100% and that you will be constantly updating to stay ahead of the game.

DET-Compact

Price Comparison:

Based on the LI’s default feature set.  A dual system would run approximately $600 whereas the equivalent ALP system would be $700.  The ALP is more expensive due to the fact you must add the Bluetooth module to have the same feature set as the LI out of the box.  (ie voice alerts).  Based on the default ALP feature set and utilizing all 5 ports, a 5 sensor ALP system w/Bluetooth would run $1400 and a 5 sensor LI unit with both rear and front alerts would run $1420.  This includes an additional CPU, and a total of 5 LI 8.9 heads. So comparatively speaking they are really close.  Both systems have forum discounts available from each of the respective forums I have listed in the sidebar.  Keep in mind in any configuration you will need to increase the cost of the LI to include a USB to Serial adapter running anywhere from $20-40 because without it you cannot update your system with the latest firmware or voice packs.

Conclusion:

If price is purely your motivator and you do not require Bluetooth integration, radar integration, or need more than 4 heads, then the price conscious choice is Laser Interceptor. IMO price should not be a deciding factor when it comes lidar protection, but I do understand that some have money constraints and cannot afford the price of a new unit. The one advantage LI has is there are numerous used units available at sub $400 price points!  A steal IMO for a quality laser jammer.  When it comes to jamming capability, both systems are very formidable opponents.  The only thing I will say is that there have been several groups that have done side by side comparisons against the LI and the ALP and have indicated they have similar performance.  If you’re only testing the ability of the system to JTG then I would say it’s hard to beat JTG performance as both systems are capable of it in real world scenarios as I indicated at the very beginning of this article.  If this is all the testing done then certainly the only conclusion that can be made is that the systems are of similar performance but take a deeper dive into the systems and you will see that ALP has an edge on LI that could translate into better performance down the road on newer harder to jam guns. Take note of single head JTG testing as this is a real indicator of the individual performance of a LCM head.  I personally have one vehicle running the ALPriority and one running a Laser Interceptor.  You can’t go wrong with either system, but the choice is yours as to which system is appropriate for you!

 

Links to JTG testing:

RALETC – Jammerfest featuring the ALPriority

Links to Sensitivity Testing:

AL Priority vs Laser Interceptor Sensitivity Testing

 

-Mirage 

 

 

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