Portable microscopes – Buying Guide & Comparison
If you are short on time and you just want to find the best portable microscope, this short paragraph should help you get exactly the model you need. According to our research, the Plugable USB-MICRO-250X is the best as it is compact and easy to utilize and does not raise too many difficulties to less tech-savvy users who might want to have a chance at learning how to use such a magnifier. The model has been outfitted with a 2.0-megapixel digital camera with the help of which you can take shots of your samples. Besides, this unit features a flexible arm that enables you to utilize it even without the observation stand that it comes with. Last but not least, it’s worth noting that this alternative has been equipped with a LED halo light with adjustable brightness. If the Plugable USB-MICRO-250X is unavailable, your second option should be the Opti-Tekscope OT-HD.
What is the best pocket microscope out there? This is a question that has been bothering us for a while, and that’s why we’ve completed an extensive research process so as to see which models are worth investing in. To make it easier for you to choose wisely, we have created a short buying guide that can assist you on your decision-making journey. Find it below.
Consider your purpose and application
Portable models differ largely in terms of their design, and they do so from one model to the next. There are roughly two kinds of units that you are likely to stumble upon while sifting through the countless options available out there. Some are larger and more powerful whereas others are handheld, also known as pocket microscopes.
The crucial difference between the two styles consists of their magnification capabilities. While super-compact alternatives can increase the image of your sample by up to 500 times, most full-size models have a magnification range of around 40x to 1000x.
Some say that due to their design and dimensions, larger models shouldn’t even be considered portable at all. We disagree; if we’re tackling the subject of a microscope with batteries, it can be taken on the road.
Of course, you will have to determine the amount of space you have available and whether carrying a too large or too heavy microscope isn’t cumbersome for you. Nonetheless, we’d like to point out that a larger magnification range is always better than a smaller one, and that’s because you’ll be able to look at both smaller and larger objects, specimens, or samples.
Should you go digital?
It stands to reason that pocket microscopes are always digital as the majority of those we have seen don’t even come with eyepieces. That’s why they have to be outfitted with a camera or equipped with a small display with the help of which you can visualize your subject.
Several monocular and affordable full-size microscopes do not come with a camera and what’s worse, aren’t compatible with one that you can purchase separately. Obviously, this means that you won’t be able to get the most out of the product. However, if you do not require one that comes with a camera, you might have to reassess your expectations as such limited models can cost less than their digital counterparts.
Resolution and software
If you decide to go for a digital microscope, you need to make the difference between a unit that comes with a decent camera and one that you can do without. Ideally, you should stick to models that enable you to capture images at a more than decent resolution, which would mean 1,280 x 1,024 or higher.
Although a resolution of about 640 x 480 will usually be satisfactory for most amateur microscope users, you might come to the conclusion that it is not as good as you might expect it to be when displayed on a monitor.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not the model comes with its own software. You will need a particular driver to get the microscope up and running and be able to transfer the images to your computer or laptop. To avoid any mishaps, we recommend getting a microscope that works with most operating systems. Although we’ve seen that some are strictly destined for Windows OSes, many users have a Windows computer at home and work on a MacBook laptop when they’re on the road.
Top portable microscope reviews in 2017
If you’re having a bit of trouble separating the wheat from the chaff, we’re here to help you. We’ve showcased some of the critically acclaimed choices below, and have done so based on the best portable microscope reviews.
Despite the fact that it is one of the most budget-friendly choices available for sale these days, this Plugable model has become quite popular over time. Since it is equipped with most of the handy features that you will require, many owners seem to think that it is the best pocket microscope.
The unit has been outfitted with a 2-megapixel camera and a magnification range that goes up to 250x maximum. What this means is that this model is an excellent choice for individuals who would like to study the appearance of larger items, plants, jewelry pieces, and electronics.
While it might not be an excellent unit for looking at tissues and small cells, it still does the trick for most hobbyists and even physicians who are on the run. For example, both dermatologists and veterinarians assessing the presence of ectoparasites can successfully utilize this product.
Another notable detail about it is that the software comes with the main unit.
Perfect for testers, students, collectors, and virtually anyone who holds a fascination for everything microscopic, this instrument provides up to 250x high magnification to enable the user to see the finest details that can’t be viewed with the naked eye.
The device employs a webcam chipset and sensor for supporting almost any operating system utilizing standard software for webcam use.
The LED halo light comes with a brightness adjustment control to shine the exact amount of light and get a detailed view of the specimen under observation.
The unit features a flexible arm stand with a convenient observation pad and graduated marks to enable an easy measurement of the components of an object under observation for trouble-free note taking and comparisons.
This model comes with an optional software for trouble-free use on Windows and OS X and for an additional functionality as well.
Although this is a digital microscope, it is not designed for use in a professional lab setting with specimens mounted on slides.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($34.95)
The OT-HD is another alternative that has received mostly favorable compact microscope reviews, and that’s due to the fact that it comes with loads of helpful features. For example, since the unit has been equipped with a camera that has an advanced CMOS sensor, you’ll probably appreciate the high resolution of your stills and video files.
The main component can be taken off the stand so that you can utilize it as a handheld microscope. The high-quality industrial base renders the setup durable and enables you to benefit from the reliability offered by the product.
As is the case with the Plugable model we were mentioning earlier on, the Opti-Tekscope OT-HD has been outfitted with an illumination system which, in this case, consists of eight LED lights of which the brightness can be adjusted depending on your momentary requirements.
The software provided in the package is compatible both with Windows and Mac OS X operating systems.
Great for numismatics or coin collectors, hobbyists, stamp collectors, circuit board manufacturing purposes, and detailed work on hobbies and crafts, this microscope is equipped with an advanced CMOS sensor that delivers a high-definition resolution of 1600×1200 to enable the viewing of fine details on different objects.
The 8 LED lights provide a fully adjustable lighting that can be made bright or dim depending on the ambient light conditions for optimal viewing.
This instrument comes with a professional aluminum design in its construction to ensure enough durability for everyday use while being lightweight and easy to store for use at home.
You can capture the footage of your observation while you are examining the sample thanks to how you can connect this scope to a PC
This device can serve as a 200x magnification microscope, an eye, ear, and throat endoscope, and a USB web camera so it’s quite versatile.
The device does not really perform that well when used at high magnifications but it works well enough for detailed observations using low-power objectives.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($89)
As we were saying in the buying guide, there are two main types of portable microscopes you can choose from. Some are pocket or handheld alternatives whereas others are heavier and larger but can be used with batteries. The AmScope M100C-LED is the second as it is a monocular option with a magnification range of 40x to 1000x.
On this account, the AmScope model is far more convenient and versatile compared to many compact choices as it will allow you to look at many kinds of specimens. Besides, the unit has been outfitted with a 360-degree rotatable monocular that can enable you to show your discoveries to a colleague or friend who might be into microscopy, as well.
The metal framework that the product has been outfitted with is a net plus as it renders it durable. What’s more, the fully coated optical system gives a pointer as to whether the components are high-quality or not.
Equipped to deliver five magnification powers up to 1000x, this superb microscope can help young learners explore the world of microscopy.
This microscope is outfitted with a 45-degree inclined, 380-degree rotatable, monocular head for comfortable adjustments and viewing.
The single-lens condenser with disc diaphragm collects as much light as possible from the surroundings and focuses all that light to the object for the effortless viewing of specimens on the stage.
The metal framework provides the needed element of durability to provide years of use for the microscopy student, serious hobbyist, or avid collector of stamps, coins, and other similar items.
The built-in LED illumination provides as much light as possible to enable the clear, crisp viewing of fine details in specimens.
The instructions are not too helpful in making the device easy to use for those who are not that familiar with how microscopes work optimally and for beginners who are groping their way through the full functionality of the microscope.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($69.98)
Given the fact that it costs a bit more compared to other models in the same line, you’re probably wondering why we bothered to include the Crenova in our selection. The fact of the matter is that this microscope has a unique feature that positions it above all the other ones we’ve addressed above.
The UM012C has been equipped with a 5-megapixel camera, which means that your shots will turn out looking both crisp and clear. It’s so good at taking pictures of specimens that the images can even be showcased in scientific papers, if that’s what you have in mind.
Besides, the unit is entirely compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X computers, which means that it is a winner in terms of versatility. Plus, connecting the unit to your laptop or storing device can be done via the USB port, so it is relatively easy to start working with this device.
With its 5MP sensor, this microscope magnifies objects up to 300X so you can view and be amazed by vivid details in specimens, perfect for educators, professionals, and hobbyists.
The microscope comes with an innovative software that lets you capture your observations of specimens so you can create interesting videos as well as still photos of your microscopic findings for recording or archiving.
Once the microscope has been calibrated properly, it enables the user to measure specimens precisely for the effortless comparison, recording, and studies or for research purposes.
This is a powerful device that is simple to use so there’s no significant training required to make full use of it.
The scope can be plugged into a USB port, after which the software is installed and the user is ready for some serious microscopic study.
This model does not provide a means to vary the depth of focus or magnification, based on the experience of one customer who is not too familiar with microscope use.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($120.99)
In some respects, this Celestron model resembles the Crenova one we tackled earlier on. The device has the same camera resolution as it can utilize as many as 5 megapixels to make your pictures sharp and detailed. The main difference between the two alternatives is that, while the Crenova could have been used to magnify areas of interest on one’s specimens by up to 300 times, the Celestron can do the same by up to 200 times.
You will require a computer or laptop at all times when using this device as it relies on the power provided by the USB port of such a system. Since some prospective buyers might think of this detail as a disadvantage, the manufacturing brand has equipped this model with a 4-ft USB cable so as to allow you to benefit from enhanced mobility.
The software that accompanies the Celestron unit is user-friendly and can be utilized to perform measurements of your samples.
Geared with a true 5MP sensor, this microscope is able to capture and save high-resolution images and videos of your specimens for an easy observation and study of details after viewing.
The 5-element, infrared-cut, high-quality glass lens offers magnifications from 20x to 200X to enable the low-power observation of 3D specimens and the convenient measurement of dimensions of the object for comparison and collection studies.
The professional, adjustable height stand facilitates a hands-free operation so you can bring the specimen closer or farther away during focusing under the different objectives.
The 4-foot USB 2.0 cable provides an effortless maneuverability when you need to view large surfaces when using the microscope.
This instrument ships with an intuitive software that enables its easy integration with your computer, enabling you to optimize its use with either Windows or Mac OS for digital microscopy studies and research.
Although the scope calibration is quick and easy, having to do it every time the instrument is used can become tedious and time-consuming.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($76.97)