Previously we did a post comparing some of the preliminary stats of the Milwaukee M-Spector AV vs Explorer however at that time we were just looking at the numbers from the M-Spector AV press release. Now the M12 M-Spector AV is in stock (at Ohio Power Tool at least) and we can do a more hands on comparison and see some of the differences between the two models.
Right off the bat you’ll see a good size difference in price, Ridgid Explorer 30063 ($690) vs Milwaukee M12 M-Spector AV 2311-21 ($399). So what does the extra $291 get you with the Ridgid and is it worth it? On the surface these two models look very similar, both feature 320×240 resolutin 3.5” screens, 17mm heads and ability to record still images & videos.
The Milwaukee M12 M-Spector AV 2311-21 even has several advantages despite the cheaper price tag. By simply being a part of the Milwaukee M12 line it gets a natural advantage as many people already have batteries, chargers and other tools. The actual M12 battery also lasts longer and charges faster than the Ridgid Explorer lithium battery, although I haven’t heard any complaints about Explorer battery life, it is always a big plus to have more time between charges. The Milwaukee also features a built in microphone for recording where the Ridgid requires a separate microphone.
The Ridgid Micro Explorer 30063 as you would expect for the price, obviously have several advantages over the Milwaukee. A big feature which is very clear when comparing them side by side is the self-leveling feature on the Explorer. This automatically keeps the image right side up which can be important when you are inspecting a pipe that takes a bend or just to keep you sanity. The Milwaukee does have a 180 degree flip option (shown above) which helps sometimes but other times just goes from one awkward view to another.
The Ridgid also wins against the Milwaukee with a much better designed camera head. The Explorer has 4 LED lights vs the Milwaukee single LED light. The head is also a better design with rounded metal face vs Milwaukee’s flat plastic piece. The Milwaukee head makes me nervous because it is very common to see abuse to these heads. The tips get pushed with considerable force to make any turns and all that pressure on that plastic piece… The Explorer also comes with the magnet, hook & mirror attachments (see below) which have proven very useful for specific tasks like pulling wires, recovering dropped screws or jewelry, etc.
The final reason you might pick the Micro Explorer SeeSnake over the Milwaukee is that while Ridgid isn’t building more products to use the same battery they are building products to work specifically with the Explorer. The microDRAIN 33103 for instance is a 30’ SeeSnake reel build specifically to attach to the Explorer and do line inspections. Although the microDRAIN has only been out for a number of weeks it has already had huge success among plumbers. This is the first and only camera that can pass through a toilet trap and is powered off the Explorer power supply. The Micro Explorer also features an expansion slot for future upgrades which, my best guess, could include thermal imaging or other cool technologies.
The verdict, while these two units look similar I would argue they are different enough that there are good reasons to select each. The Ridgid Explorer is a better unit all around but for many applications the added features may not justify the added price. If you need a simple handheld inspection tool you may consider the M12 M-Spector AV 2311-21 ($399) over the Ridgid Micro 31118 ($223) or the standard M-Spector 2310-21 ($249). Also if you need to simply document the inspection with images or video but don’t necessarily need to give the video to a customer the M-Spector AV is a good option. If you are planning to provide a copy to customers I would strongly suggest the Explorer using self leveling and keep them from getting seasick from an upside down spinning videos. Also I would recommend the Ridgid Explorer to any plumber hands down. Even if you are not yet ready to invest in the 30’ microDRAIN there are many additional products that will all be based on this platform coming down the pipe and when you are talking about SeeSnake reels which can cost thousands, paying a few hundred extra now is well worth it.
For many more pictures checkout this Facebook Photo Album. If you have any other questions on any Handheld Inspection Equipment give the professionals at Ohio Power Tool a call 800-242-4424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.