It's been a while since I've had an opportunity to field test a White's metal detector. So, you can well imagine my excitement when I was asked to conduct a test of their new, compact, Prizm IV. For months, I had been hearing rumors of a new lightweight, full-featured, tone and meter ID White's unit that was said to be priced at about half the cost of their top-end XLT and DFX units. Needless to say, I was curious! Well, the chance to satisfy my curiosity finally arrived by way of an e-mail from Lost Treasure magazine informing me that a new White's Prizm IV was on its way to me for field testing.
The following week, the new Prizm IV arrived. Upon unpacking the detector, the first thing I noticed was that the depth of the control box was much deeper than what it appears to be in the White's ad's. Not that this is a problem, but it looks much thinner-profiled in their advertisements. My next impressions were of how well 'laid out' the touch pads are and how large and easy to see the display is. The Prizm IV is very lightweight weighing just 2.5 pounds. It is comfortable to hold, but is just slightly front heavy. I guess this is to be expected though, as the search coil is probably the heaviest component of this featherweight unit. Upon powering-up the detector and viewing the LCD screen display, I was immediately impressed by the amount of 'at-a-glance' information that was available and just how intuitive and easy to understand it was. In a way, it reminded me of the earlier White's Eagle series display, with all of the viewable information 'up front' and not layered in navigation menus. Experimenting with the touch pads, I immediately noticed their ergonomic shape, layout position and size, and that they have a nice tactile, positive-action feel to them.
The Prizm IV has the following touch pads and features:
ON/OFF Powers the detector On and Off
DISC(RIMINATION) Up/Down arrows. Adjustable 5-range. Iron, Foil, Nickel, Pull Tab, Zinc
SMART NOTCH This feature automatically sets the discrimination notching depending on what level the DISC is currently set at
TONE ID Low for Iron. Medium for Jewelry/Trash. High for Coins
P/P PINPOINT - Enables the Pinpoint mode if pressed and held, or the All Metal mode if quickly pressed and released
SENS(ITIVITY) Up/Down arrows set the level of operating sensitivity
HEADPHONE JACK Right side-mounted
SEARCH COIL 8-inch waterproof
BATTERIES Drop-in design. Two 9-volt. 20 hour detecting life (approximate)
LOW BATTERY ALERT Icon and text
Large and easy to view L.C.D. display. The target ID arrows are very effective and make visual target identification easy to see. The following display indicators and icons are visible as follows:
LOW BATT Indicates when the battery is low
TONE ID Indicates when Tone ID is selected
DEPTH Indicates target depth from 0 to 8+ inches
SENS Indicates the level of Sensitivity selected
ALL METAL Indicates when the All Metal mode is selected
NOTCHED OUT SYMBOL Indicates which target categories are notched (discriminated) out
ID ARROW Moves across the meter's face and points to the target ID icon to indicate what you have found.
In almost every metal detector field test that I conduct, there are usually one or two features or design aspects that significantly stand out. Sometimes these 'standout' items are pros sometimes they are cons. The Prizm IV, overall, is a very well designed metal detector, with an excellent combination of features. One thing that really stands out and impresses me though is its excellent and pleasing audio tone and audio characteristics. It's hard to describe without first hearing it but it contains a certain ambience or richly harmonic sound that is neither harsh nor mono-toned in any way. It is actually very pleasing to listen to. The tone ID has enough separation in tone frequency to easily distinguish the various target categories - with Iron targets producing a very low 'growl' sound and coins being much higher pitched. Likewise, the pinpoint and all metal audio are strong and 'solid' on surface to medium depth targets, but the deeper items produce a somewhat softer (modulated audio) sound, which many detectorists, including myself, prefer. Overall, White's has done an outstanding job on the Prizm IV's audio design!
Operating the Prizm IV is basically a 'no brainer'. Although it has many user-selectable features, it is truly a turn-on-and-go metal detector. One thing that I like about the Prizm IV, is how fast and easy it is to control all of its functions. Every feature and function is literally just a finger-touch away. I found its ease of operation to be a big benefit as I searched and moved about various locations while detecting. It is so easy to make quick changes, such as sensitivity, discrimination and notching. White's Smart Notch is a feature that makes discrimination notching very easy. It will automatically place the discrimination notch in the correct location, dependent on how you have your discrimination set. This feature helps to eliminate certain trash items while giving you the best chance of finding Nickels, some gold rings and coins. The Prizm IV discriminates Iron and other troublesome items very well. When I was searching trash-filled areas, I disc'ed out most trash items easily and I retrieved very few trash items. I am happy to see that White's designed the Prizm to have both an All Metal mode and a Pinpoint mode. It's Pinpoint mode works well and the auto-tuning speed is just right. If you press and hold the Pinpoint touch pad, the Prizm will enter its Pinpoint mode, but if you quickly press and release the touch pad, the Prizm will enter its All Metal mode. I had a chance to use the Prizm IV at three different locations and found it to be easily adaptable to each site. For park hunting, with all of its typical modern day trash, the Prizm IV was very much at home 'picking out' coins amongst a myriad of trash items. However, in searching the very heavy trash areas, a smaller accessory search coil may be needed. The Prizm IV is very smooth operating and extremely stable. At times, it was so quiet that I actually thought something was wrong. I would stop detecting to wave a coin across its search coil to see if it was still working. It was! During my field test, I found 78 coins. Most where clad and newer cents, but included in that total are five Buffalo Nickels, eight Wheat cents, a 1951 Roosevelt dime, a 1920 Mercury dime and a 1941 Washington Quarter.
It's enjoyable to use a detector that does not 'get in your way'. With the Prizm IV, I was able to concentrate totally on detecting and much less on control settings. The last time that I felt this way was during the White's Quantum II field test. The Prizm IV contains an almost perfect combination of features, display information and user friendliness all combined in a lightweight, comfortable-to-use 2.5-pound package. I found it enjoyable to use, easy to operate and very easy to understand and control. It has adequate depth, discriminates very well and was effective to use in both open and trash-filled search areas. I do feel though that a smaller accessory search coil is needed in the heavier trash sites. I think for it's price, the Prizm IV is going to be a 'hard act' to follow! White's expertise, production and engineering skills are clearly evident in all of their products. The Prizm IV continues with that tradition. As someone who has spent a lifetime in the electronics hobby and industry, I've come to appreciate a well done, well thought out design. White's products are always just that well done! As an additional, personal comment I am glad to know that White's is an American company. In a time when far too many relatives, friends and neighbors are affected by 'off shoring' and 'downsizing' of their jobs, it makes me feel great and proud each time I see the American Made or Made in America label on a White's product! I believe that we owe these fine American companies, like White's, our support! The Prizm IV retails for $449.95 and is covered by a two-year parts and labor warranty. A 'How and Where To Hunt' instruction video is included. If you are in the market for a mid-priced, feature-filled and easy to use detector, make sure you take a look at White's Prizm IV. It could well be the only detector that you will ever need or ever want!
For additional information, contact: White's Electronics, Inc., 1011 Pleasant Valley Rd., Sweet Home, OR 97386. For a White's dealer near you call: 1-800-547-6911. Visit White's on the web at: www.whiteselectronics.com