LAST UPDATED: January 13th, 2021
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Be it for work, education, or as a hobby, a good oscilloscope is the basis for accurate voltage wave measurements. As companies are exploring and adding different features, it may be difficult for even the expert to make a firm decision.
The first place to start is deciding which version of an oscilloscope to get. We are here to help you make that decision through this analog vs digital oscilloscope comparison.
While some may argue, there is no right answer to which one is better. Everyone has different reasons and opinions. So, we leave it up to you to make the decision at the end.
Analog vs Digital Oscilloscope Comparison in 2021
Last update on 2021-01-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Analogs are the first-ever oscilloscopes to exist. They typically have a CRT or Cathode Ray Tube screen. It displays the waveform and images to help identify the faults in the electronic.
The screen shows the signals in an X and Y axis; with the X-axis representing the waveform and the Y-axis representing the voltage.
Because of this, the screen displays a horizontal pattern of waves. Analog oscilloscopes are cheaper, making them suitable for general people to buy.
They are also typically bulky, although modern analog ones have LCDs and lighter components to make them more portable.
Recommended Analog Oscilloscopes to Buy
While some people may consider analog oscilloscopes to be old, we have listed below some of the best ones that may change your mind.
B&K Precision 2160C Analog Oscilloscope
From a 60-year-old reliable company experienced in the business, this is a great budget oscilloscope. Thanks to its built-in component tester, it is also a great tool for in-circuit troubleshooting.
It has a bandwidth of 60 MHz, which works great for detecting the current in any mechanism, device, circuit, etc. Along with that, its two channels have dual trace operations, allowing you to adjust the device with accuracy.
Besides, its 5 millivolts per division sensitivity makes it possible to amplify any weak signal for proper analysis.
This means it can detect as low as 5 mV per division, where the lowest voltage rate detectable by an oscilloscope is around 2 mV per division.
The device has a calibrated range of 23 for both the main and delayed time base. This is excellent for research, as it provides more accurate results. Furthermore, the x10 magnifier makes the work easier and precise.
This instrument measures around 7 inches in length, 14.2 inches in width, and 14.5 inches in height, making it quite a compact and easy size to carry. It is also not that heavy compared to other oscilloscopes, weighing only 7.8 kilograms.
Furthermore, it has a universal 120v/220v power supply voltage, making it easier for most people to use it in their homes. Besides that, it uses a typical CRT screen for displaying the graphs of electric currents.
Related comparison: SIGLENT SDS1104X-E VS. RIGOL DS1054Z
If you are looking for something more advanced, then this is it. It has a total of four channels powered by 300 MHz bandwidth. This has a record length of 10 kpts per channel. So, you are getting more advanced triggers.
This makes it a suitable instrument for electronic applications for servicing, repairing, assembly lining, product design, as well as electrical engineering education. The device comes with a real-time sample rate of a maximum of 2.5 GS/s per channel.
Moreover, thanks to its 3600 wfm per second continuous waveform capture rate, it can identify even the smallest of faults in the electronic. This makes it easier to do servicing, or to learn the mechanics.
As a result, it is easier to isolate faults using advanced triggers such as pulse width, video, extended video, edge, runt, pattern, rise or fall time, comm, state, and ALT. This helps to capture and display more detailed waveforms.
Besides, the oscilloscope has USB ports and Ethernet for communication. You can also buy additional ports that come with an optional TDS3GV communication module. The TFT LCD 6.5-inch color screen has a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels.
Furthermore, it has been approved by CE and CSA, along with meeting EN and IEC 61010-1 safety standards. So, you are sure to get your money’s worth with this device! The package also comes with a user manual.
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Although analog oscilloscopes are more economical, the best ones don’t come cheap. But you can still find great ones such as this, with dual trace analog at a very affordable price.
Thus, this is great choice for you if you are looking for a cheap analog oscilloscope. It has two channels, with which you can choose to display either one single channel or dual channel waveforms.
Its vertical axis sensitivity is from 5 mV per division to 5V per division, which means it can detect these current-voltage levels. The bandwidth frequency is DC~20 MHz and DC~40 MHz, with the lowest limit of 10 Hz.
Along with that, the AC has a maximum input coupling of approximately 250 kHz, while the DC has a maximum input voltage of 400 V.
The AC frequency is 1 kHz or lower, and its most effective readout is at 400 V pp. Its common mode rejection ratio is 50:1.
All of these mean you are more than likely to get accurate results. You can also alternate the triggering of two different sources by pushing in the TRIG.ALT switch.
Plus, you can observe the entire vertical picture of a television signal using the TV-V setting; while using the TV-H to monitor the horizontal picture.
Since it is a benchtop analog oscilloscope, it is not the most lightweight or compact in size. It weighs around 23 pounds or 10.4 kilograms. The display size is around 3 to 4.9 inches, with a resolution of 128 x 64 pixels.
Between the two versions, digital oscilloscopes are very popular in the market. They usually use TFT LCD screens that convert the waveforms into digital numbers. This makes it possible to analyze a single random signal, resulting in more accuracy.
It also has many advanced functions, which contribute to an easier and more precise data analysis. The device has a bandwidth to limit the amount of frequency that can pass.
Some even support a Wi-Fi connection along with a web server, which means you can control the oscilloscope through your PC or smartphone.
Moreover, if the screen resolution is around 800 x 480 pixels, you can display more than one channel signal, making things more convenient than ever. They can, however, be extremely expensive. But, there are budget-friendly ones as well.
Recommended Digital Oscilloscopes to Buy
There are many high-quality digital oscilloscopes in the market. But not everyone can afford a thousand bucks. So, here are some great choices for you within a budget.
Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E
In just under $400, the SIGLENT’s SDS1000X-E series offers a lot of features and modes you would find only by spending a thousand bucks! Their Super Phosphor oscilloscope is a great start to learning about the device.
It has two modes for capturing waveform rate- normal and sequence. The normal mode has a rate of up to 100,000 wfm per second, whereas the sequence mode offers up to 400,000 wfm per second. It also has lower background noises.
Thanks to the Gate and Zoom measurement, you can analyze any random waveform from the statistics to avoid measurement errors. So, you are getting the most accurate and valid data analysis possible.
Moreover, you can easily access and playback the previous and or latest triggered events using the history function.
This program can store trigger events up to 80,000 multiple memory segments. All of them even have a timestamp, making it easier to navigate through.
Besides that, it comes with a standard free serial decoding function, which includes UART, IIC, CAN, LIN, and SPI. It has up to 4 channels, all of which you can control using Wi-Fi. The bandwidth is around 100 to 200 MHz.
Furthermore, thanks to its embedded web server, you can control the device with your browser anytime. The web page supports the mobile browser as well, so you can control it using both your PC and mobile. It has a large 7-inch 800 x 480 resolution TFT LCD screen.
Known for being one of the best-selling oscilloscopes globally, this one is worth the money, whether you use it for work, school, or just a hobby. The brand has established a great reputation with the success of this oscilloscope model.
Measuring 13 inches in length, 7 inches in height, and 5 inches in width, it has a compact size. The front has been mostly covered by the screen. But it has a set of buttons on the side for measuring, including menu buttons.
It is lightweight, weighing only 6.6 pounds or 3 kilograms; which also makes it a popular choice. The allover compact size and weight of the device give you the option to carry it with you if necessary. Its bandwidth or frequency is 50 MHz.
Besides, its four analog channels have a maximum waveform capture rate of 300,000 wfm per second. The package also includes a free software bundle that offers multiple useful functions like memory depth upgrade, real-time record of the waveform, advanced triggering, serial bus analysis etc.
A major reason for its popularity and being featured our list, besides all of this, is the price. You are getting all these features and functions under just $400! With a budget price but premium features, it is clearly loved by everyone.
Digital oscilloscopes are well known for their extreme prices; which makes it the ultimate budget digital oscilloscope. Thanks to its 800 x 480 pixels display, you can view all the channels on one single screen.
Costing just under $300, this digital oscilloscope is a good competitor to the previous budget-friendly one we reviewed. Its slick design and ultra-slim body make it stand out from the rest.
As you can probably already guess, it is also ultra-lightweight, weighing only 3.5 pounds or 1.5 kilograms! Following up on the measurements, it is 11.8 inches in length, 5.9 inches in height, and 2.7 inches in width.
The bandwidth of the device is 110 MHz, with a real-time sampling rate of 1 GSa per second. It also has two channels having a range around 2 ns per division to 1000s per division. And despite all that, it is very quiet; which just seals the deal for some people.
Besides that, it comes with a built-in 6-bit hardware frequency meter. This can measure from 2 Hz to 20 MHz frequency, making it a more versatile oscilloscope for the price. It also has a current measurement function ranging from 100 mA per volt to 1 KA per volt.
Moreover, its 30 different auto measurement functions let you customize the measurement menu to your needs and requirements.
It supports LABVIEW communication and secondary development, along with vertical, horizontal, single, and multi waveform tracking.
Furthermore, the 7-inch display screen is TFT LCD, containing 65535 colors for a clear and bright view. It has an auto cursor function.
Also, it supports multiple languages, including Russian, French, Chinese, English, Japanese, Italian, German, and Spanish.
Analog Oscilloscope or Digital Oscilloscope?
Although they both work the same way and have the same purpose, we have found some of the major differences between the two types of oscilloscopes that set them apart.
Features and Functions
One of the most apparent factors that is different between them is the number and variety of functions you can get in a digital oscilloscope, compared to an analog.
However, even with fewer measurement functions than a digital one, some analogs give pretty accurate results. Some even work better than digitals.
That being said, people do prefer the digital version more because of its wide number of functions and flexibility.
It also comes with a software bundle, which the company can update to add more features or fix bugs etc. for fewer errors. This is something analog oscilloscopes don’t have.
The major difference between the two, and possibly what sets them apart, is the waveform. In case of an analog oscilloscope, you can see the original waveforms.
On the other hand, digital oscilloscopes use analog channels, so they show analog waveform. However, these waveforms get converted into digital numbers via sampling.
Digital oscilloscopes, having more functions, are pricier than analog ones. Most digital oscilloscopes in the market cost around or over $1000.
They also offer the highest quality and accuracy of results. But there are some exceptions, such as the ones on our list.
Likewise, analog oscilloscopes are economical and generally cost way less than the other. There are some costly ones, but you can typically find a good one at a reasonable price. But the digital version, understandably, outdates the analog in the current market.
Although there are significant differences between the two, they are both great in their own way. We hope that we have helped you to make your decision with this analog vs digital oscilloscope article.