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Minelab has a lot of critics that accuse them of "drip feeding" us the technology. The SD 2000 was introduced in 1995 followed by the SD 2100, SD 2200, GP Extreme, GP 3000, GP 3500, GPX 4000, GPX 4500, GPX 4800, and finally GPX 5000.

As if any of the critics have ever brought a successful product to market and then tried to make genuine improvements to it. It is not as easy as it looks. Genuine breakthrough products are very rare in the metal detecting industry, so most of what takes place is just tweaks and twiddles of the breakthrough after it occurs.

Yet I would submit that although the improvements were incremental, the reality is Minelab with each succeeding model did make genuine improvements. These have added up over time to where the gulf between the original SD 2000 and GPX 5000 is quite considerable. Night and day really. See my page at http://www.detectorprospector.com/gold-prospecting-guides/steves-guide-differences-between-minelab-sd-gp-gpx-models.htm for details on the differences in the Minelab models.

Now let's take a look at White's Electronics recently. The White's MXT was introduced in 2002. Then we got the MXT 300. Exact same detector with a matte black paint job and a larger coil. Then came the MXT Pro. The MXT Pro added multi-tones and a meter backlight plus a redesigned pod with a touch pad. Nice touches but the actual detecting modes offer no change in actual performance. It is still just an MXT. Then we get the MXT All Pro - another change up in the coils offered as standard.

Along the way we got the M6 and the SST, which are stripped down feature limited versions of the MXT. That is 6 models over 12 years, not one of which is any better at detecting a target than the original MXT. Finally, in 2014 we get the MX5, which not only gets a new housing but a faster processor. Finally, a genuine functional difference. Sadly, they locked it into ground track mode and narrowed the possible ferrous range settings to just a few, making it hard for me to consider it an improvement. I guess I will wait for the MX6.

I honestly am not trying to pick on White's here. At least they are mixing it up a bit. That is better than the situation with the poor Garrett Gold Stinger, neglected and unloved since 1990. Coming up on 25 years as the detector with the worst battery replacement scheme in modern detectors. It really has functionally been replaced by the AT Gold, but the Stinger lives on, the model that wouldn't die.

All the manufacturers are guilty, or none of them are guilty. It is just the way the consumer electronics industry works. Apple and Android put the metal detecting industry to shame when it comes to continual drip feeding of incremental improvements designed to keep people on the upgrade path forever. With the added double whammy of new software or apps that will only work well on the newer hardware which almost forces an upgrade at some point. At least that old Stinger will work for as long as you want to buy batteries for it!

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Steve, once again you have provided the detecting world with your professional, unbiased, indepth reporting. Minelab is a great company that spends millions on R&D. Their results can be found on many of the forums, not just some gold, but lots of it all over the world. Sure they don't have the cheapest metal detectors available, but sometimes you just have to go big or go home. When I went to Alaska this year, Minelab detectors beat everything else being used during the week! I don't buy any detector without first reading your reviews. :D

 

I also just wanted to say Thank You! for providing us with the best knowledge based writing on real metal detecting adventures. Your Wade Creek stories of 2013 - 2014 are just amazing with lots of pictures and historical information. I felt like was sitting in the passenger seat for all 11,519 miles of your 2014 trip. Thanks to your story, I just bought an SDC 2300. Keep up the great work.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to you and your family.

 

Bill Moore

Laporte, CO. 

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What is the total $ size of the word-wide hobby metal detector market?    I dunno.   I'll guess that it is so small that no market research firm even studies it, hence we may not get any objective answer to my Q.

 

The biggest reason that there are few market releases of breakthru products, is that the market is so small there is relatively little money put into it.   

 

If there was a big growing market, consumer product companies with big $ would put more serious R&D into it.

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Minelab alone did $166 million worldwide in 2013, which we know because the parent Codan is publicly traded. Most everyone else is private so harder to put a number on, plus Minelab enjoyed a spike in 2013 due to the gold rush. It is not a huge market per se, but I am guessing a half billion a year worldwide would be conservative. And innovation is not that hard to do - just look at XP. They just took obvious ideas people have been requesting for years and applied them. Wow, wireless, what a concept! More depth is hard to do, but lighter weight, better balanced detectors with color displays, wireless communications, and Internet upgradeability are all low hanging fruit the U.S. manufacturers seem reluctant to pick.

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Thanks for the guess Steve.

 

I worked 7 yrs in a consumer/B2B market estimated at $2B worldwide.    There was one noteworthy market research firm covering that market which was dominated by 2 companies worldwide for the last 25 years.  That $2B market was not big enough to get Apple/Panasonic/Samsung/ ... interest nor get serious, well funded new player.  So, it stays a duopoly today and also lacks innovation.

 

Innovation is hard to do profitably.    The general public only sees the successes (Steve's XP example above) not the failures and wasted $.     Failures inside big well known companies and the myriads of failed start-ups.   This makes financially tightly managed companies tentative on innovative new product development and market introduction.    

 

Having said that, as a newbie detectorist, and > 30 year wireless engineer, executive, entrepreneur, (now well armed after reading Inside the Metal Detector !!!) I agree with Steve there is low hanging fruit for innovation in the MD industry.   

 

In addition to Steve's list I gotta believe there is much to be gained in digital signal processing in MDs for better discrimination -  the much desired "discrimination in a PI at depth" does not seem to me to be as much a pure physics problem as an application of minds and $ problem.

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Steve, I don't know how much the MXT has improved over the years but in 2002 I hunted with a fellow in Redding who used an MXT. I had a Golden Hawk and GB2 at the time. We decided to do some testing and as it turned out the Golden Hawk could hear test pieces of gold better than the MXT. And that ain't saying much. The Hawk was probably the deadest detector I have used. Needless to say, the GB2 was way better then either one of the others. The Hawk was supposed to be an improvement over the 18000XT. No way. I had to go back with GB2 to find the pieces I missed with the Hawk. Now the Eureka Gold, that is a different story. Very good detector.

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