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|XCSOURCE TE71 USB Digital Microscope||300x|
|Crenova USB 2.0 Digital Microscope UC012||300x|
|Maozua 5MP USB Microscope||300x|
|XCSOURCE 1000X USB Microscope||1000x|
|Flylinktech USB Inspection Microscope||200x|
The digital age has brought us many revolutionary concepts, and these days just about every household in the UK will have some form of home computer. It’s a curious thing that, back in the 1940’s when computer technology was in its infancy, the president of future computer giants IBM predicted that there was no market for them! How wrong can someone be? We use computers in the home, at work, and even on the move – thanks to the rise in popularity of tablets and smartphones – but have you really tapped the full capability of your PC or laptop?
Don’t miss: USB soldering irons
We’re not talking about the computing power here – although it’s fair to say that you haven’t come close to exploiting that – but the handy little USB port, that you probably use for transferring data from your smartphone or charging it up. You see, along the way, some bright spark realised that if the power of the USB port was enough to charge a smartphone, it could also have other uses, hence a whole host of USB-powered devices have come to be. You can get lights, great for seeing your keyboard when it’s dull, plus many unusual items such as soldering irons and endoscopes, but here we are going to take a look at USB microscopes, which have a wide variety of uses.
Before we go on to list the top 10 best USB digital microscopes, let’s look some more about how they work, and what they are all about.
Best USB Microscope Reviews
We begin our search with this very typical USB microscope, and it’s one from the XCSOURCE brand, from whom we have included a couple of models. They are a known brand with a strong reputation, and this is a very capable device indeed. It has a lens focus range from 0 to 200mm, which is more than adequate, and as it is manual focus you have full control at all times. It runs on any computer with a Windows operating system – even if you are one of the unlikely few still running XP – and it has some very neat features.
You can take snapshots with this one and it also features video capture, and each is high definition so the results are impressive. Format for video is AVI, while still pictures are JPEG form, so both are industry standard. It has a powerful LED light source, is neatly designed and it comes with a very nice stand that makes it a sensible and popular package. In short, it does everything one of these should do, and at just £15.99 is a sensible price.
Pros: Cheap, quality item
Cons: Some are more powerful
This is one of those rare items that you can tell is top quality simply by looking at it. It is well designed, beautifully made and very capable. This one comes with magnification up to 300X, so is powerful enough for some scientific uses, and perfect for schools and other teaching purposes. It is software compatible with Windows from XP to 10, and also with Apple Mac operating systems. It comes in three parts and is easy to put together, and the stand is fully adjustable for added versatility.
As with all of these, it operates via a 5-volt USB port, so is not suitable for mains use, and it has a powerful 8x LED light for better vision. The sensor is a 5MP model, for high-definition results, and it has both still and video capture capability, with the software for each included in the package. The stand is a sturdy, and built to last, and this one is designed for purpose rather than to look attractive. It’s safe to say that this one is a cut above the one we reviewed above, and that is indicated in the price, which is around £50. If you want top quality results, this appears to be the price you need to pay.
This is another model that is beautifully made, and it uses high quality optics for excellent results. It offers magnification up to 300X, so you get full detail from your subjects, and it comes with an 8x LED light for added clarity. The 5megapixel device is powerful enough for scientific use, and perfect for schools and home hobbyists. This has measurement capability – using software available on both Windows and Mac, and will run on any Windows machine from XP to 10.
The stand is another impressive piece of kit; it’s sturdy and well-made, and the microscope itself is a neat and clever design. It can be fully manoeuvred up and down the shaft, so you get a better chance of high detail. As this is a digital USB microscope, the image itself is not seen through an eyepiece, but on your computer screen; this makes it very useful for teaching purposes, and it also has JPEG and AVI video capture capability. Perhaps the only downside to what is a very impressive microscope is the price, which is similar to that above at around £50. However, we have to say we think it well worth the price.
This is an impressive package, and we believe you’ll be even more impressed when we come to the price. It’s another from XCSOURCE, who have a full range of such devices, and it is cleverly designed for use in a variety of situations. It has manual focus so you are in control at all times, and it comes with a full set of accessories, including a stand with a sturdy and safe base, the microscope itself, and length USB power cord. Again, this is a 5-volt model, so is not suitable for use with mains adapters.
It offers video capture using AVI, and stills with JPEG, and comes with the software required for projection onto your computer screen. It can be adjusted up and down the stand and is easy to use, and operates on Windows from XP to 10. Now, here’s the interesting thing: this one offers magnification up to 1000X. To explain, that means whatever you put under the microscope can be enlarged to one thousand times its actual size. That is impressive power, especially from a microscope that you can buy for a shade less than £20!
Let’s start by saying this model, from Flylinktech, is a very beautiful item; it looks modern and stylish, and we would buy it just to put on a desk and look at! It is a very original design, also, so would undoubtedly be a talking point. But that’s to overlook what it is designed for – magnification. This is not the most powerful – it offers magnification up to 200X – but it makes up for that in quality and style, and it is very slim so can be used in tight and awkward situations. Oh, and did we say it’s very pretty?
Back to function, and where this one wins is that it can be powered not only by a standard USB 2.0 port – as found on your laptop or PC – but also Micro USB ports, so you can use it on conjunction with your tablet or smartphone. The camera head itself is waterproof and, as the shaft of the microscope has a diameter of just 11mm, it can be used as an endoscope – perfect, then, for finding your keys if you drop them down a drain! It comes with adapters for use on smartphones, and operates on Windows, Mac and Android systems, so is very versatile indeed. We love it, and although it’s £30, we reckon it to be one of the best choices on the list. In fact, we want one!
We find the difference in performance, price and capability among the selection interesting; some of the more powerful microscopes can be found among the lower prices, and this one – from DLand – ranks among them. It’s not the most powerful, it offers a magnification level of 500X, but that’s pretty impressive, and perfectly adequate for teaching, scientific or home hobby use. It operates from the 5-volt USB port – not from a mains adapter – and comes with an attractive stand which is fully adjustable.
You get all the software you need to operate the microphone, and it offers video and still capture using the standard formats, but there is a downside to this one which we believe is worth highlighting: although it operates on Windows (no mention of Mac in the specifications) it only runs up to Windows 7, and will not run on a 64-bit machine. This makes it rather obsolete in our opinion, but if you want a cheap, capable microscope, it’s only 15 quid.
This is an interesting model, and one that differs a little in design from some of the others. It is a very small, neatly designed device, and is aimed at students for study purposes. It comes with 250X magnification – not the vest but perfect for educational use – and is easy to use. What we like most is that it has a stand that has a bendy arm – you can direct the microscope wherever you want – and it is very nicely made, too. It is also fully lit, and you get all the software you need to get up and running right away.
Now, here’s the interesting bit: while some of these have proved rather lacking in terms as adaptation to operating systems, this one runs on all Windows, Mac and also Android devices – you are advised to check if your android device is compatible – and you can get an adapter cable for tablets and smartphones. It also runs on Linux machines, which is practically unique among this list. We like it, but at a shade under £35, it is one of the more expensive options, although the quality cannot be denied.
This is another one that is worth having as a sculpture, so beautifully presented it is. It is finished in a chrome-effect, and is designed with style in mind as well as function. We love the clean, simple lines that are reminiscent of modern design and architecture, and it wouldn’t look out of place as a display item. What’s it like as a microscope? Pretty good as it happens! It has a high-definition quality display, so you don’t miss any detail, and offers both video and still capture, and is easy to use with manual adjustment.
Magnification is up to 500X – so not the most powerful but perfectly adequate for a range of uses – and it is lit by an adjustable 8 x LED light source for better results. The stand is sturdy as well as being very attractive, and it would grace any desk without fail. What’s not to like? Well, the price – it’s around £50 – but we believe for a quality item such as this, it’s not expensive. If you’re on a budget, this is perhaps not the choice for you, but otherwise it’s worth a second look.
This is a neat model that looks sturdy and safe when you first view it, and proves to be so. It is also one of the most ‘traditional’ looking models here, and comes with a very nice stand that keeps it upright all the time. It’s easy to use, manually adjustable, and offers magnification between 50X and 500X; that’s perfectly adequate for student use, or for displaying results to a class or group.
It has a high-performance, sensitive chip for excellent results, and operates on Windows up to 7 (both 32 and 64-bit), but there’s no mention of compatibility with Mac systems. It offers HD resolution on both still and video capture, and comes with software for both operation and measuring capability. Once again, this operates from the 5-volt USB port, so is not suitable for use with a mains adapter. It’s a capable machine, and very nice to use, but it’s up to you whether you pay £25 for this, or ten quid less for one more capable (or even a little more for one more beautiful).
This is a nice model from a known brand – Veho – who have a full range of such devices, and it comes with many fine attributes. It magnifies up to 400X – that’s great for student use, but not the most powerful here – and is a nice design with a fully adjustable stand and LED lights for illumination. It’s easy to use, both Windows and Mac compatible, and is perfect for home use as a hobbyist.
Interestingly, this one also has a built in webcam function, compete with record, so can be used for that purpose too, and it has still and video capture with high resolution. All in all, this is a very nice model, and one that we found to be very capable and simple to set up and operate. However, there is a potential problem: at £35, it’s in the higher price bracket, and that’s massively discounted from the RRP, so there are others we would consider before this one.
How It Works
If you were not aware that your USB port could be used to power electrical devices, prepare to be surprised! Generally, USB ports provide a power output of around 5-volts, so enough to power small devices. Many manufacturers have designed and produced items specifically intended for this use, including the microscopes we are going to look at. Also, with technology becoming cheaper as manufacturing processes are improved, it’s no surprise that such items are becoming very popular.
So, what can you do with a USB microscope? In fact, these are very versatile items, and as they are cheap and offer high quality imagery, they are becoming popular in schools. They can be used to study everything from school projects to studying insects, or for inspecting computer parts and plant dissection, and much, much more besides. They tend to be small and surprisingly powerful, so you can carry one around with you and use it wherever you may be, and there are many different models, with various attributes, available on the market right now.
Let’s have a closer look at the top 10 USB microscopes right now, and help you decide which is for you.
Important Features to Look For
If you’re looking for a USB microscope – and we think they are very cool – then there are certain things you need to consider, so let’s have a quick look at the features you are looking out for:
Magnification – this is the main aim of a microscope, to magnify things! The greater the magnification, the more capable your microscope, so look for the one with the biggest range if this is important to you. We should say, for most uses, around 500X is enough, so you could make that your benchmark.
Compatibility – unlike a traditional microscope, a digital USB device will display the images on your computer screen, rather than through the eyepiece. Therefore, you need one that is compatible with your operating system. Not all of these are compatible with Mac, for example, and only a few for Android, while some are only usable up to Windows 7, and not beyond. Be sure to check the specifications before you buy, or you may end up with an item you cannot use!
Price – cost is always a consideration, and the prices of these range from £15 to £50, so there is some variation. Check the specifications of each, and buy the best one for you at a price you know you can afford.
So, those are a few of the main things to look out for when buying a USB microscope, and there are more if you look closely. We hope this guide has gone some way to helping you choose, and all that remains now is to wrap things up!
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Let’s Wrap It Up!
OK, so there are two ways of looking at this: if you want the most magnification power for the lowest price, you cannot beat the 1000X provided by the XCSOURCE model at number 3, which gives you that level of magnification for less than £20. It really is an excellent price for the best USB microscope and is very much one that we would recommend.
However, if you want a microscope for only occasional use, and you like modern, stylish design, you have the perfect choice with the Flylinktech model, at number 5. Look at it: it is utterly beautiful, superbly stylish, and while not the most powerful, it doesn’t matter. It is a perfect desk ornament, and can even be used as an endoscope, so slim and sleek it is! It’s only £30, so what are you waiting for? You know you want one, so go and buy one and enjoy looking at tiny objects on the big screen!