* Prices may differ from that shown
****What is it****
The Sapphire is a speed camera detector system that works using a GPS signal. However, unlike conventional and similar products the Sapphire also warns of other road hazards such as exceptionally tight corners (you know the 'U-bend' type), schools, hidden dips, dangerous junctions and the like.
****In the box****
The box weighs in at 1.1kg, most of which is excess packaging although there are some accessories in addition to the unit itself. The box includes:
i)The Snooper Sapphire
ii) A wall charger
iii) An in car charger
v) A dash mount
vi) A windscreen mount
Other than a protective case and a dual car-charging plug (of which you may not need), the box contains everything you need which is a good thing as I have not found any additional accessories for this product, which surprises me.
The headphones are provided to allow the Sapphire to be used on a motorbike. I have tried this but the headphones are of such poor quality that it is almost impossible to hear the audio warnings above 30 mph. I have not tried other wired headphones since I find these uncomfortable under a helmet. The answer would be a blue tooth earpiece but the Sapphire does not have blue tooth technology, which is a bit of a shame.
Measuring a mere 5.3cm x 10.5cm x 20cm, and weighing in at 200g, the Sapphire is a small and unobtrusive unit that suits even the smallest of vehicles.
There is a 1.75" TFT digital LCD screen to display all the necessary information. Whilst the screen is not that large, it is colour and there are up to 10 different combinations available to suit all light conditions. Some may consider the screen too small, but considering the amount of information it needs to display at any one time I do not see this an issue. In addition, a larger screen would mean a larger unit, which defeats the objective of having a small and sleek unit that doesn't take up too much space.
According to the literature in the box the Sapphire will detect "all types of fixed and mobile speed cameras including Gatso 'daddy' cameras, truvelo cameras, Specs average speed cameras, DS-2s, Speedcurb, watchman and multi lens Gatso 'daddy' cameras". Unfortunately I am not up to date with technological advancements in speed cameras and wouldn't know one speed camera from another so I can't comment on the accuracy of Snooper's claim. That said, I can honestly say that it has picked up all speed cameras I have encountered. The Sapphire will also inform you of mobile laser sites, accident blackspots and high risk zones.
Snooper have covered all bases with the Sapphire and the unit will give both audio and visual warning to ensure that you don't miss anything. This is a great feature and very useful.
Thanks to the GPS technology the Sapphire can be used all over the world, including the UK and Ireland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Romania, Russia, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
This product is available all over Europe and the language can be changed between English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Flemish, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish at the touch of a button. Whilst useful for our foreign friends this feature is not useful for me.
****Using the Sapphire****
The Sapphire is very, very easy to use. It is simply a case of attaching the mount to the dash or the windscreen, clipping the unit in, turning it on and then driving off. It is a plug and play product that takes seconds to become familiar with.
I have experimented with both the windscreen mount and the dash mount and prefer the windscreen every time. Not only is the unit closer to the atmosphere (allowing a stronger GPS signal - although I have never had any problems with this) but the windscreen mounts seem to hold the unit more securely preventing it from jumping around all over the place.
With some GPS devices I have found that there is sometimes a weak signal and the unit fails, or an external antennae is required. I have never had any reception issues with the Sapphire or had the need for the external antennae. Snooper claims that the Sapphire has an "ultra sensitive GPS aerial to give excellent reliability". Whilst owning and using this product I cannot disagree with this claim.
****How is the Sapphire different from similar products?****
As previously mentioned the Sapphire also shows accident black spots and other 'hazards'. I do not know of any other speed camera detector that does this.
Apart from the above what makes the Sapphire so good is it's database. The Sapphire is linked to AURA which is unique to Snooper. The AURA database allows users to download updates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Other products allow the users a quarterly update so their products can be up to 3 months out of date. In addition, when a new camera is installed it will appear on the AURA database within 48 hours, which is pretty damn quick.
Unfortunately the downloads are not included in the price of the product. However, for a one off payment of £50 you can have unlimited downloads for the life of the product. Bearing in mind a speeding fine is usually a minimum of £60 I don't think this cost is too excessive.
****Price and availability****
The Sapphire is not the cheapest unit around and there are many cheaper alternatives available. That said, the Sapphire does have the additional hotspot and hazard feature, which will come at an additional cost.
I paid £125 for my Sapphire and got it from Halfords. At the time of writing a Sapphire can be bought for £79.99 (excluding P&P) from Car Audio Giant. As with most products it pays to shop around, since there are lots of offline and online retailers, in order to get the best deal.
Whilst I admit to driving over the speed limit on occasions (I'm sure that 99% of drivers also do this) I must point out that I am not a serial speeder and think that the speed of some drivers is ludicrous (especially the 3 figure speeds) and they should be banned.
I can remember when speed radar detectors first came out and the controversy they created. Most of the public believed that they were only useful for the boy racers and persistent speeders (such as sales reps and professional drivers - although I fully appreciate this is a sweeping statement and not all of these people speed!) who are scum for tearing around the UK roads.
I have heard that the current speed limits were set donkey's years ago, and during the time when a Ford Cortina was used to set the braking distances detailed in the highway code, and many people now think that some limits on some roads are now too low.
As times have changed and speed cameras are getting more and more common place I think the attitude towards these speed radar detectors have changed significantly. If you have one in your car then I don't think it is frowned upon as much as it used.
After all, how many times have you been driving through a 50mph limit (at 50mph) and it has changed to a 40mph limit and you missed the sign? I know it has happened to me on more than one occasion and it is common place on unfamiliar roads. Worse still are those limits that suddenly change to 30mph (form a 40mph or 50mph) and if you carry on at those sorts of speeds then you are facing a ban and if you are caught on camera then you are basically stuffed, however, if you are caught by a police officer then you may get away with some points (by arguing good visibility, good driving conditions, poor signage etc) but keep your licence.
Whilst the Sapphire is predominantly a speed trap detector the other features it has make it so much better than other devices. I like the fact that the screen displays the speed limit of the road you are driving on (making it useful for those occasions when the limit changes and you miss the sign) allowing you to adjust your speed accordingly. What's more is the display is so large that it is impossible to miss.
I also like the 'hazard' feature of the Sapphire, which I find particularly useful on unfamiliar roads. The Sapphire pre warns you about the extremely tight u bend corners, schools and dangerous junctions and the like. The warnings are both audio and visual meaning it is difficult to miss.
The Sapphire is small, sleek and I think it looks quite stylish. It is a nice addition to any dashboard.
The Sapphire will not link up to any other sat nav device, which is a big negative. Whilst driving I find that 'Janet' (on my TomTom) will be chattering away and telling me where to go and the Sapphire will be bleeping away to warn me of speed traps and other hazards. The two units can interfere with each other and it is possible to miss important directions (or hazards).
Despite the problems when using both a TomTom and the Sapphire they are both useful and, in my opinion, well worth using. I know that TomTom have the facility for speed camera detectors etc but I do not trust the TomTom website. I have had fun and games when updating maps and their technical help line and customer support department is awful. It is for this reason that I do not use all the features of the TomTom and prefer to have the Sapphire as well.
Overall the Sapphire is a fantastic piece of kit and the additional features are well worth the additional cost, besides how much of a value would you place on your licence?
1.75" TFT Digital LCD - Up to 10 screen colour combinations - Voice Alerts - Speed Limit Alerts - Camera updates via USB - Earphone socket for motorcycle use - Widescreen or Hardwire mounting options.