While the Valentine V1 has been the benchmark unit for years (and still continues to be during tests), other manufacturers of radars haven't just been sitting around twidling their thumbs.
Check out the Escort Passport 9500ix:
It's lightyears ahead of the V1 in terms of technology (i.e. using GPS to mark & prevent false positives). The V1 is extremely sensitive and will chirp a lot more often for no reason. The biggest reason that I like the V1 is for their patented "arrows" that tell you where the signal is coming from - not sure how long Valentine has left on this patent, but that's the reason you don't see other manufacturers copy/replecate this in any, way, shape, or form.
You should search online to compare the 9500ix (or 9500ci - which is hardwired, more sensitive than the 9500ix, and comes with some laser "shifters") with the V1 if you're shopping in the upper/high end of the radar market.
Btw, here is an excellent forum (http://www.radardetector.net/forums/forum.php
) if you're interested in hearing thoughts from people that test and/or use these higher end units day in and day out.
Give that you stated these are above your price range, I would look into the Beltronics RX65 (
). I have two of these units and they are excellent. I'm sure you can even find them cheaper if you search on eBay/craigslist/etc. The GX65 is a bit higher end than the RX65 if you want to go that route since it includes GPS technology.