USB Microscopes are a modern innovation which have made the use of microscopes far more convenient and accessible. They can be used by both the professional and the hobbyist and although they lack the magnification and precision of classical microscopes, they are still a useful and fun tool to have at your disposal.
USB microscopes allow specimen images to be saved at the click of a button to be viewed at a later date or to be printed straight away. There are many USB microscopes, that’s why it’s a wise idea to understand how they work in order to ensure you secure a good model.
What is a USB microscope?
It is basically a small digital microscope that can connected to your via a USB port. This allows you to view the image on your computer screen as opposed to looking through an eyepiece, this is achieved using software that accompanies your microscope.
Due to their basic design and materials they are incredibly cheap to manufacturer and as a result can be bought for next to nothing. However this has resulted in a myriad of new companies popping up and producing very low quality versions, so how do you choose the best USB microscope?
They can be used by an array of different people from the professional to the hobbyist, you can even have good fun with the kids and carry out a fun and engaging learning experiences with them. Stamp, coin, rock and other collectors also benefit greatly from the convenience and affordability of them.
What should you look for in a USB microscope?
Image quality – in terms of image, you shouldn’t be expecting the most high quality image, however you should have some reasonable expectations. For instance, the best ones typically have a 200x zoom, yet you’ll find the cheaper models don’t provide this and the 200x will seem more like 40x zoom. The image quality and optics is the most important criteria when selecting your microscope, as let’s face it, what’s the point in having one, if the image is bad?
Software – nearly all digital microscopes come with software which allows you to install your new microscope, take photos and film your investigations. For this reason, it’s essential your software is easy to use and appealing.
Functionality – one of the key reasons they are so popular is that they are supposed to be easy to use. Therefore you want to opt for one with easily operated and clear controls.
Structure – all things small are that much easier to break or damage, that’s why it’s crucial to choose one that is well made with robust components. You will find that the very cheap models are incredibly delicate, while the ones that cost a little more will be a bit more enduring.
Price tag – the average one costs around $70, therefore if you pay more you should be expecting much more in terms of image quality and a more resilient structure.
Top Rated Computer Microscopes Reviewed
1. Celestron 5 MP Handheld Digital Microscope Pro
Celestron is a brand with a solid reputation in the industry with many years experience in microscope manufacturing, so for that reason alone is our preferred USB microscope model. The Celestron 5 MP Handheld Digital Microscope Pro is a well built model capable of capturing images and videos at a powerful resolution. This USB microscope is designed with hobbyists and students in mind looking for a highly portable and proficient unit for everyday use.
The microscope comes equipped with a selection of helpful and enhancing features including a 5MP sensor so you catch every detail, perfect for examining bugs, coins and stamps, as well as a glass lens with 20x to 200x magnification and a professional, adjustable height stand, enabling hands free use. This microscope is great for kids, adults and professionals due to its robust structure and powerful optics that are guaranteed to provide an image with detail and precision. The Celestron 5 MP Handheld Digital Microscope Pro also features a USB 2.0 cable at 4 feet length. It is supports Windows and Mac.
As a digital microscope, viewing of the images is done via a laptop or computer monitor and the LED illumination that comes with it is adjustable when it comes to brightness.
2. MAOZUA Optical Zoom with Professional Base Stand for Windows
This is the cheapest option in our review list, and in our view offers the best value overall. It can be used by a range of handlers from students, collectors, testers to just about anyone interested in discovering the microscopic world. This USB microscope has a 5.0 megapixel sensor inside and an optical magnifier that can adjust from 20x (for simple inspection) to 300x (for thorough inspection). Furthermore it’s equipped with 8 LEDs that are angled right onto whatever you’re investigating so you get enough lighting to see, and are easily adjustable via a dial on the side.
The lighting isn’t as good as the other models, yet this can be resolved by using light from other sources. Either way, this model is a great option for those on a budget; it’s easy to use and provides a good image.
3. DBPOWER USB Digital Microscope Magnifier Video Camera with 8-LED
DBPower is a lesser known microscope brand but certainly an amazing option for those on a budget. It’s also a good option model for those wanting to buy their first model but who don’t want to invest too much. You get all the typical USB microscope features such as a 5.0 megapixel sensor inside and a magnification power ranging from 20X–300X magnification allowing you to adjust to the amount of detail you want to observe accordingly.
The DBPower is also fitted with 8 LED lights with brightness adjustment control, enabling clear observation. LED lighting is much preferred to older fashioned microscopes that utilise tungsten and other types of bulbs since they have a much longer life and remain cool to the touch, making them safer for students and children.
This is a great option if you plan on looking at stamps, coins, rocks, industrial parts, etc, additionally the software is incredibly user friendly which is always important for a USB microscope. Overall this is a great choice for the professional or the passionate microscope user.
- Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope
- Price: $
- Magnification: 10x-250x
- Light source: LED halo light
- Other Features: Flexible arm stand, software, built in lighting
- XCSOURCE 20X-800X 8 LED USB 3D Digital Zoom Microscope
- Price: $
- Magnification: 20X-800X
- Light Source: 8 White Light LED (with controller on USB cable)
- Other Features: Stand with Calibration Ruler, 3D Digital Zoom
- Crenova USB Digital Microscope
- Price: $$$
- Magnification: 300X
- Light Source: 8 LED
- Other Features: Correction Ruler, Stand, 5 Mega Pixels (Real Resolution)
- JZHY Microscope USB Microscope
- Price: $$
- Magnification: 1000X
- Light Source: 8 White LED Lights
- Other Features: OTG cable (for android phones), universal base, convenient one-hand operation
Choosing which microscope to buy can be confusing especially if you don’t have much knowledge of microscopes. However, by assessing exactly what you’ll be using your microscope for you’ll be able to decide which one suits your needs most appropriately. The USB microscope review above should serve as a starting point, however you should match your purchase with your requirements.
If you plan on using your microscope with the kids or for your own leisure then perhaps your best selecting a cheaper option; or maybe you’re a professional or intend to explore things in more detail, in which case you’ll be better investing in a model with higher specifications.
These types of microscopes are a fun and easy way to view things in detail. However they are unlikely to meet the requirements of a committed scientist, yet can provide convenience like no other type of microscope.