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How much does brand matter with regards to oscilloscopes?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Michael, Apr 20, 2007.

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  1. Michael

    Michael Guest

    Hi - I'm looking at getting an oscilloscope for myself. Prices range
    drastically for oscilloscopes - from nearly free for 70s era
    equipment, to tens of thousands of dollars for really nice stuff.

    The name brands (Tek, Agilent, etc.) seem to (not surprisingly) always
    be the most expensive. Are they really that much better? I mean, for
    example, I ran into this scope:
    (25MHz, color LCD, USB, battery powered, 2 channels, $368). An
    equivalent scope from a better known brand would I suspect be well
    over a thousand dollars.

    Are the name brands worth the cost? Do you get what you pay for?



  2. The older ones were. The low end models from them all now come from China
    it seems.
    Yeah, I've wondered about those scopes. I'm anxious to hear some reports.
    I've heard one so far and it was positive, they bought the $329 special.
    They did say the dual-scan screen kinda sucked when viewed off-angle. I'd
    go with a higher end model if you can afford it and get a TFT screen, much

    I bought a Rigol DS1102C (100MHz, color TFT, USB etc). I'm really happy
    with the performance, the fan is kinda loud though. From reading manuals,
    reviews and looking at screen shots of Tek, Goodwill, etc. I think I got the
    best of the bunch for the money. The firmware is stable, does math well,
    and when using the math functions the way they are displayed on the screen
    is much more useful and professional-looking IMO. Rigol makes the low end
    Agilent scope so I figured they'd still be in business in a couple of years.
    Tech support by e-mail from China is incredible (not that I use them allot,
    just a couple of questions).
    On the low end, I'd say you're still paying something for the name. For
    example Tek wants over $1000 for a monochrome low end scope. The Rigol I
    got cost $1000, but was color and much higher bandwidth. It has amazing
    triggering and DSP filtering capabilities. They both are made in China.
    Tek does have a nice warranty though.

    I'd still recommend having a decent analog scope for a "second opinion"
  3. Tester

    Tester Guest

    This unit is very good for the money. They have a return policy. Why
    not try it?
  4. Michael

    Michael Guest

    Well for one thing, I realized shortly after posting that it seems not
    to have a FFT function...

  5. Not really, look at the specs.
    Yes and no.

    A *free* 20 year old scope can easily be better than a $1000 brand new

    Yes, the good brands are almost always worth the extra $$$$, when it
    comes to a digital scope, you do get what you pay for.

    Even Agilent are now re-badging the cheaper Chinese models like Rigol.
    You can buy an exact same Agilent 3000 series scope from Rigol for

    Although I have not seen one, that Owon unit would fall into the
    "suspect" category, I'd be very surprised if it has the performance
    (and firmware stability) of other "budget" (but fairly well known)
    models like say a Rigol or Goodwill. But the Owon is cheap because of
    the specs, only 25MHz analog bandwidth and an effective single shot
    bandwidth of around 10MHz (100MS/s / 10). That's pretty awful these
    days. But if it suits your needs and that's all you can afford then
    it's "worth the money". The big names don't really offer anything with
    that low a performance.
    I'm curious to know how the Owon performs though.

    When it comes to digital scopes, bandwidth, sample rate, and big
    memory do not come for free, the more of each you want the more you
    will pay.

    Old analog scopes on the other hand give unbeatable bandwidth/$$$, but
    if you need a digital scope then you will have to pay for it.

  6. The Rigol does. :) has the Owon scopes as well:
    This (PDSxxxx model) is a better model than the EDUxxxx versions I believe.

    I bought my Rigol from Test Equipment Solutions Today. Took about 10 days
    to get it. Also the Rigol is only about 6" deep (same as the Owon PDS
    models), and I really like that feature.
  7. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Most ppl will tell you that Tek scopes are simply very good. Well designed,
    reliable, durable, accurate, good facilities etc....

    The older HPs seem to be popular too.

    Then again it all depends on what you need !

  8. Well he wants opinions. You should tell him yours. :) IIRC, you didn't
    like the Tek DSO you've been working with.
  9. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    I have a Tek 465B. An old classic.

    Not for what I'm doing with it right now. I'm sure it would be great for other
    stuff. That's why I asked him to elaborate.

  10. I think there's more spread in quality with the lesser known brands -
    there's potential to get a good deal but also the potential to be very

    Goodwill's GDS2000 got a bad review here a couple months back:

    I wouldn't want to pay $1k and end up with something like that.

    On the other hand Rigol DS1000 has gotten good reviews from Anthony
    Fremont in various places. I would not buy an "off brand" unless I had
    an opportunity to handle one myself prior to making the purchase or
    unless the particular model in question had gotten good reviews.
  11. John E.

    John E. Guest

    I would not buy an "off brand" unless I had
    Or unless they had a very good, clearly stated, no questions asked refund
    policy (which I've yet to find...)
  12. I think it was 1 month ROR on my scope, it's not going anywhere. :) I
    took the chance on the Rigol because they made the low end HP scopes. I
    figured they were a safe bet.
  13. BTW, I would recommend that the OP download the manuals from the various
    manufacturers and look at them. Paying careful attention to screen shots.

    The Rigol blew away the others with the "cleanliness" and professional look
    of the display. No unnecessary use of bright background colors with text on
    them for labels etc.... The fonts look good, the math function displays
    position themselves on the screen sensibly. The triggering options and
    filters are absolutely amazing compared to any analog scope I've ever used.
    Deep 1M sample buffer too, 400MS/sec. Of course a larger full VGA screen
    would be nice, but hey you have to draw the money line somewhere. ;-)
  14. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    IMO,small companies may have an excellent product,but after-sale service
    and parts support may be lacking compared to a big company.

    and you may only have one service point in the entire country,or deal with
    "authorized service centers".
    Or you may have to send it out of the country!
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