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Minelab Explorer II
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|Options||Minelab E-TRAC||Minelab Explorer II|
|Battery Type||8 AA||8 AA|
|Operating frequency||1.5 - 100 kHz.||1.5 - 100 kHz.|
|Tone ID||Multi Tone||Multi Tone|
|Ability to change coils||Yes||Yes|
|Ground balance||Auto, Custom||Auto|
|Waterproof||Coil only||Coil only|
|Warranty||3 Years||2 Years|
|Number of Reviews|| 42
|Avg. User Rating||4.07||4.33|
|Avg. Durability Rating||3.56||4.40|
|Avg. Ease of Use Rating||3.33||4.00|
|Avg. Depth Rating|
Most helpful review for Minelab E-TRACPower and Simplicity
I've reserved writing a review on the E-Trac until I've used it for at least 200 hours. Having used the machine above that threshold I can finally write an accurate review of this machine from Minelab. Please note that these are my experiences in mid to difficult soil. My objectives are coins and I have not tried to use this machine on a salt water beach.
I use this machine alongside my DFX, and have found that the DFX is now collecting dust as this has become my primary machine for all my coin hunting needs.
A quick explanation is necessary to get a feel for the comparisons I will make in this review, specifically to White's users thinking about purchasing a Minelab. Firsts, I feel that the E-Trac is superior to the DFX in the same respect that it is superior to the V3, not by the raw depth which it achieves, but more of how it interprets and responds to signals in the ground, the operator inputs in regard to settings, and the legibility of what the machine is telling you. The E-trac is more of a behind the scenes detector as opposed to a fully customizable detector such as the White's E-Series and Spectra series detectors, in other words, think of the Minelab being akin to operating a Mac or Windows versus a White's operating in DOS.
The e-trac constantly makes adjustments in a way which are out of the operators control, yet optimize search conditions to the ground being detected, Whites top of the line machines can reach the same potential through user programmed data. In summary, when used side by side, you simply don't have to worry about making adjustments on the Minelab while achieving excellent results, results which take time to set up on other machines. This is difficult to put into writing, but it makes sense when you use the machines side by side.
Depth: The deepest machine I've operated, while retaining good target and tone ID. It looses a bit of depth in bad soil, but losses are minimal. It will pick over places other have missed, as it has produced in sites I've previously gone over with other machines in the past.
Discrimination: Outstanding. The machine will not false unless the target is borderline on the smartfind discrimination pattern. IE, if it's blocked out, it will null with no other spurious sounds. An incredibly quiet machine. From the perspective of a brand new user who has never held a metal detector this is what one would imagine a "discriminator" ought to do.
Iron Rejection: Good, and while there are tricks to finding iron, it will get fooled on nails now and again. By the nature of the way it uses discriminates via ferrous reading and conductivity it will produce a nice silver tone on some iron targets. I think the V3 and DFX are a tad bit better at allowing the user to determine whether its iron or not via the signagraph display. Still, when it does discriminate it out... It nulls and that's that.
The DD coil: makes for a great separator and good coverage though it pinpoints like a DD... Sometimes it's an inch or two off the mark. The build quality of the coil is excellent although the spoked design can get badly caught in tall grass or if you are hunting woods, will get stuck on small twigs etc. A small gripe, but very annoying. The coil cover which comes with it accumulates a lot of dirt and debris as do most other coil covers.
Battery Life: is adequate. About 8 hours on a full charge with no back light. Quite a bit longer on alkalines. If you are heading out for a long hunt, have an extra battery pack.
Buttons: Good quality and good feel although the verdict is still out on their durability.
Screen and Backlight: The screen is excellent and legible although the backlight is a bit dim during the "still light enough to see hours" where it doesn't do much good.
Menus and operation: Good, but it takes a bit of getting used to what gets saved and what doesn't under some of the user modes and discrimination patterns. Once you do get them saved, recalling is very easy and does not require much effort.
Quickmask and Smartfind: When I purchased this machine I assumed I would simply only look at the digital numerical readouts, in reality I now only look at the smartfind grid. It's easy to get used to and very accurate. The quickmask screen is pretty ingenous, you can load a secondary rudimentary discrimination pattern or simply go all metal and simply toggle between each by the simple push of a button. An excellent tool for sniffing out iron targets or targets which fall right on the edge of the discrimination pattern.
Auto-Sensitivity: All in all this is more of a user preference thing. I have found that that machine is at optimal setting at autosens +3. It is on the edge of stability, this can be confirmed by going to manual and cranking it up, the machine becomes very unstable. My dislike of this feature it that the E-trac will sometimes ratchet down the sens to a very low setting without alerting you, meaning you can miss deep targets if you aren't keeping an eye on it.
Depth Meter: Bad. It's simply inaccurate on anything beyond the size of a penny. The easiest way to find depth is in the pinpoint mode, by listening to the target, though it will get you in the ballpark. From experience the White's meter is superior.
Pinpointing: Good to excellent with a DD, though it takes some getting used to. The coil needs to be detuned by pressing the pinpoint button over the target to get an accurate pinpoint. Again, here I like the trigger system White's detectors use. It's simply more convenient, and I assume easier to fix if the mechanism finally wears out.
Build Quality: Not bad, though not as good as my White's detectors. The coil and shaft are quite good. The standard arm cuff is bad, the strap that it comes with is so bad I don't want to think about it. I'm still not sold on the rubber battery cover either. I feel like I'm going to loose it at any second. Overall the machine has stood up to abuse well so far.
The Tone ID: I hate tone ID, but Minelab did it right on this machine. It's consistent and really the only way to use the e-trac. A totally different experience from the quasi-tone-id on other machines.
Customer Support: Haven't used it yet, and somehow I don't think it would be the same trouble free experience I've had from either Garrett or White's. I can't make a judgement here though since I've not used it.
Overall my experience and results have been excellent. I have made comparisons to White's by virtue of many years of experience with White's machines. To be sure, for depth both are virtually identical, although you need minimal experience on the Minelab to get its full potential. This is not true of either the V3 or DFX.
Here is what I would like to see on this machine which isn't available. Non-motion all metal mode and modulation.
Overall I would recommend this machine to both the veteran hunter and the complete nOOb. It has virtually no learning curve, it's almost at maximum potential right out of the box and it works as one would assume a metal detector should. Quiet, deep and easy to use.
Artur C. from Duluth MN
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Most helpful review for Minelab Explorer IIExplorer ll takes time.
First off...I have tried most detectors. Even when I start liking another detector, I go out with the Explorer again... and it amazes me again. In my opinion, this is probably the best overall detector made for FINDING items in the ground at depth. When I first got/used the Exp. ll, I was ready to wrap it around a tree. The thing was constant noise!!! Now, I'd hate to be without it. I had a lot of encouragement from friends to give it time. Boy were they right! Rather than bore you with my stories, I want to give some prospective Exp. owners a few opinions and pointers...
If you are impatient and/or just a casual coin hunter, don't bother. There are a lot of light, short learning curve, detectors that will do well. Click the back arrow and look at something else.
Now, those of you still here, here goes...
The Exp. machine is superior to others in most conditions. Minerals don't seem to affect it. Get the probe. It helps locate targets in a deep hole.
Know that when you get the Exp, it will take time...it has a steep learning curve and by that let me say the learning curve doesn't mean alot to learn. It means it takes a good while for your brain to process and understand what you are hearing in the ground and know a good signal when you hear it.
Next, You HAVE TO HUNT SLOW!!! I can't say this enough. Slow means slower. Alot of the noise people complain about hearing is just all of the junk in the ground and going over it too fast. The slower you go, the more separated the sounds are, and easier to pick out.
The Exp. is very versitale, but not complicated. Once you get it set the way you want to hunt, it is pretty much a "turn on and go" machine. It is great in the ground or on the beach.
Again, if you are just wanting the 4-5" coins, most all machines will do that. If you are wanting to find coins the other detectors can't reach, the Exp. is for you. Just yesterday, I found a ring and two wheaties at about 7-8" (highly mineralized) in an old park in a small area that has been POUNDED FOR YEARS!!! I went slower than slow and was rewarded for doing that.
The Exp. is heavy. I recommend shortening the rods and hunt closer to your feet. In other words, don't extend the detector out in front of you. Or get a bungie strap to help hold it. Make sure you have NO metal in your shoes!
Once learned, this detector will increase your finds and go for the old stuff. It will, and has to, take time to learn it. There are no short cuts. Your brain has to have time hearing the machine's sounds to reprogram itself in to knowing how to, and when to, recognize a signal and what it means. That WILL NOT happen over night.
For those of you that want the best...this is what it takes. If you quit too soon, that's OK...it is just more for us other Explorer owners. The forums have a wealth of info and many users to help anyone. The only reason I scored it at four stars is because it is a little heavy. Good luck to you and Happy Hunting!
Chris in MO from Mid Missouri
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