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beginner oscilloscope buying guide

LAST UPDATED: May 2nd, 2020

Working with electrical appliances and designing flawless circuits is critical on its own. On top of that, if your supporting tools are also tricky, then your job gets twice as hard.

We know that voltmeters, amp-meters, oscilloscopes are tried and true partners for any technician or hobbyist electrician.

best beginner oscilloscope

However, what if you were starting and cannot deal with all the problematic tools. Well, in the case of oscilloscopes, we have the best beginner oscilloscope list lined up for you.

Besides that, you can also learn about other essential features and the best brands for oscilloscopes from this article. So, if you want to know more about some of the best entry-level oscilloscopes, then keep reading.

Best Beginner Oscilloscope Comparison 2020

Last update on 2020-08-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6 Best Beginner Oscilloscope Reviews 2020

beginner oscilloscope reviews

In this segment, we have gathered our top oscilloscopes for a beginner. Whether you want a handheld, or desktop, or digital oscilloscopes, you will indeed find one for your needs from this list.

Rigol DS1054Z Digital

Rigol DS1054Z Digital

When it comes to electronics and mechanical appliances, anything digital is always the best. That is because digital electronic removes a lot of manual work, and gives an array of functions.

Hence if you got tired of setting individual bars for frequencies, and wanted a digital oscilloscope, then the DS1054Z by Rigol oscilloscope can be an excellent contender. It has all the features you can imagine and works like butter.

A fantastic feature of this oscilloscope is the four different channels. So, it does not take long for this machine to process data, and it passes through four channels at once. Moreover, this model can work with analog signals as well.

Thus you get diversity and speed all in one place. The 1 GSa/sec sampling rate also makes sure that data does not accumulate. It immediately processes the frequencies and converts into simple waveforms.

The 24 Mpt memory space works hand in hand to enable the data to be on hand for long before the unit needs to dump it. As a result, the monitor can display the result for an extended period, allowing you more time to deduce.

To assist you further with deducing, the brand also includes a seven-inch display with the oscilloscope. So, you can determine the blatant errors with one look on the monitor. The resolution on this device is 800 X 480 pixels.

Hence you can view all four channels at once. Besides, the 50 MHz bandwidth will allow you to capture 30000 waveforms super fast. But the best is the usability of this tool. Every function is on display, and even a beginner can navigate through the panel.

PROS

  • User-friendly
  • Capture 30000 waveforms
  • 1 GSA/sec sampling rate
  • 24 Mpt memory capacity
  • 50 MHz bandwidth
  • 7-inch display
  • 800 X 480 resolution
  • Four channels

CONS

  • The trial modes become useless after a while

Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E 200 MHz

Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E 200 MHz

Oscilloscopes are almost like processing units, but a whole machine. Its main job is to feed on the data it gets and create frequency waves out of it. So, the bigger the bandwidth, the better will be the oscilloscope.

So, if you have to deal with massive amounts of data and a general oscilloscope cannot handle it, then you might want to try the SDS1202X-E model by Siglent. It has a bandwidth of 200 MHz.

A typical oscilloscope has 50 MHz bandwidth. So, you get four times more with this device. Plus, other features also make this device worth the cost.

You can measure up to 12M points, which drastically improves the accuracy of your reading. You can also zoom in on specific portions of the wave.

The 256-level intensity grading display makes sure you can view colors as well. You can differentiate between frequent and idle events as they will appear as different colored waves.

Thus this model removes a lot of guesswork and makes your job more authentic. It also has a 12 Mpt storage capacity, which works great with the high bandwidth.

Moreover, this machine has a standard 1 GSa/sec sampling rate as well. With all these features, it can easily capture up to 40000 waveforms per second.

You can connect this model with other devices pretty quickly too. You can use USB cables, or if you want a hassle-free connection, it is also compatible with LAN mode.

So, it becomes easier to set-up. Hence beginners can avoid the complicity of oscilloscopes. This device is also excellent for professionals as it has numerous triggers and math functions as well.

PROS

  • Can capture 40000 waveforms per second
  • 200 MHz bandwidth
  • Two different channel
  • 12 Mpt spacious memory space
  • 1 GSa/sec sampling rate
  • Easy connectivity features
  • Sophisticated color grading monitor

CONS

  • Costs more than regular digital oscilloscopes

Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL+

Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL+

An oscilloscope reads the frequency and develops the wave, but it is the user’s job to deduce the meaning of these waves accurately. However, for a beginner that can be challenging. So, how cool would it be if the oscilloscope could measure as well?

If you thought about that and dearly wished for such an oscilloscope, then go ahead and immediately purchase the SDS1052DL by Siglent. It is not only a fantastic analyzing tool, but it is the best oscilloscope for complete beginners.

This model has in-built 32 auto-measurement features. So, whenever you get numbers foreign to you, you can input them into one of the modes, and the machine will give you the result. Besides that, the high-speed bandwidth of 150 MHz can handle all your inputs and process frequencies at the same time.

It also reduces the pressure of the two channels and keeps them active. Meanwhile, the two channels have a different purpose. One of the channels handle the sampling with 500 Ms/sec rate, and the other one works with the 32 Kpts memory space.

As a result, the device can fluctuate between 50 to 150 MHz bandwidth. This feature can appeal to professionals as well. Moreover, how can anyone not be impressed by the seven-inch display on an oscilloscope? The TFT LCD makes for a high-resolution screen.

It also features five parameter display, and pass/fails feature. To closely monitor the activities, you can use the zoom feature as well. Hence you can use this device for technical work and educational work.

PROS

  • Flexible 50 to 150 MHz bandwidth
  • 32Kpts memory depth
  • TFT LCD monitor
  • 32 auto measurements
  • Beginner-friendly
  • 7-inch display
  • Five parameter display
  • Zooming ability
  • Two channels

CONS

  • The sampling rate is not suitable for vast data

Rigol DS1102E 100MHz Digital

Rigol DS1102E 100MHz Digital

Digital oscilloscopes can have various shapes. And often, a big oscilloscope can be problematic for beginners. As they have multiple features and are very technical, a person who is just starting can get lost. So, if you are a beginner and wanted a more manageable and portable oscilloscope without compromising any quality,

then certainly go for the DS1102E by Rigol. It has all the features for completing a project and debugging but is also beginner-friendly.

The first thing you will notice when you get this product is the large screen and function-button panel. It is all on display, and the user can navigate through the functions with ease. Moreover, the monitor is 5.6 inches with TFT display and has 320 X 240 pixels resolution.

So, the brand made sure you get a crystal clear image even if the machine is relatively small. The display is also 64K color supported. So, when two waves appear on-screen through two different channels, the color grading will allow you a better understanding. Consequently, you can analyze the problem with more accuracy.

Besides that, this model also has 1 Gsa/sec sampling speed despite its small size. So, it can work faster and smoother. To help beginners deduce, this model also features 20 different auto-measurement modes. As a result, the users can get immediate results with the push of a button.

It also comes with an extensive manual that can clarify any questions a beginner might have. The interface of this device supports multiple languages, as well. So, this model is a sure success for any beginner working with circuits and debugging.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and portable
  • High sampling
  • USB storage option
  • Easily connectivity
  • 20 different auto-measurement features
  • Supports multiple languages
  • 5.6 TFT display
  • 320 X 240-pixel resolution

CONS

  • Not of much use to professionals

SainSmart DSO212 Pocket Size Portable Handheld Mini

SainSmart DSO212 Pocket Size

These devices can be even more portable and handy. They can be as big as a personal computer or be the size of your phone. So, if you wanted an oscilloscope that was extremely portable but included all the features, then we have the perfect product for you.

With an exterior like a cell phone, the DSO212 by SainSmart can fit right in your hand or your pocket. But that does not mean that you cannot go hands-free. Place the device on a plane surface, and the machine should be able to read without interruptions.

Another reason why this machine works as a portable device is because of its secure connectivity. So, with USB cables, you can effortlessly transfer data from your computer or phone to this device, and it will process immediately.

This tool also has necessary features that enable smooth processing and data formation. Such as the 1 MHz analog bandwidth makes sure that the mini device can handle the passage of analog signal without causing malfunctions.

It also facilitates two channels, one of which controls the operational work. The other channel works in keeping the data in the storage. As the maximum memory depth is 8K, this tool can sample at a rate of 10 MSa/sec. With this speed, the machine can easily form waves and display them immediately on the screen.

As the DSO212 is a mini oscilloscope, it is bound to have a smaller dimension. So, this device has 100 X 56.5 X 10.7 mm dimensions. But even then, it fashions a 2.8 inch TFT LCD, which also has a resolution of 320 X 240 pixels.

So, all your work will be visible and easy to decipher. This model runs on a 500 mAh battery. Thus it is likely that the device will not run out of power mid-work.

PROS

  • Extremely portable
  • Easy to use
  • Multiple math functions
  • 320 X 240 pixels
  • TFT LCD
  • 1 MHz bandwidth
  • Dual channels
  • Spacious memory
  • Effortless connectivity options

CONS

  • Only supports analog signals

Hantek DSO5072P Digital Oscilloscope

Hantek DSO5072P Digital Oscilloscope

Having a proper framework for your data to pass through is one of the most important factors when it comes to oscilloscopes. However, as a professional, you may have to work with a varied amount of data. So, how convenient would it be if your oscilloscope had variable bandwidth?

Well, with the DSO5072P by Hantek, you can control the data you want to process at a time. With this tool, you can start with 70 MHz and bump it up to 200 MHz whenever you want.

You can even work with 100 MHz if your project requires so. However, the disclaimer is that this model works best with 70 MHz. Besides that, you also get other sophisticated features to help with data processing. Such as the 1 GSa/sec sampling rate that happens in real-time.

That means, as soon as you plug the device with the computer or phone, it will start working and showing results. Real-time data analysis also helps in detecting the errors quickly.

As a result, you can debug the problem from the root. It also offers a plus/minus 50 ppm time base accuracy. So, you can be sure that it not only works fast but also delivers precise output. You can view the output on a large 7-inch color display. The color factor brings more diversity in how the waves can appear on the screen.

So, it becomes easy for the user to decipher precisely what frequency and range the wave is functioning with. Besides that, this model also has tons of rare math functions and unique triggers. All the math functions are FFTs standard and will make it a suitable option for beginners. The triggers are also user-friendly.

PROS

  • Real-time data analysis
  • Two-channels
  • 40K memory depth
  • Unique math functions and triggers
  • 7-inch color display
  • 70 MHz bandwidth

CONS

  • A bit more costly as a beginners oscilloscope

What to Look for in a Beginner Oscilloscope?

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN An OSCILLOSCOPE

Oscilloscopes may come in various models and designs, but to understand how it functions, you need to know about the components separately.

Only then will you know which product will suit your needs the most. Hence we have gathered all the main points you need to consider as a beginner.

Ease of Use

First and foremost, choose an oscilloscope that has a user guide. The manual will not only tell you how to use the device but might also have short-cut keys and other vital insights.

Some oscilloscope also has an interface with several languages besides English. So, if you want more language, make sure to choose an oscilloscope that can quench that need.

Also, make sure to pick a device that has all the buttons on display, and you get familiarised with them. That way, you can avoid being confused while you are working.

Bandwidth

oscilloscope bandwidth

As we have said before, the bandwidth of an oscilloscope is crucial. It determines how much data can pass through and how much the machine can process. Now, we can assume that a beginner might not need bigger bandwidth.

However, to save money, you can buy an oscilloscope that is easy to use and has substantial bandwidth. That way, when you learn more skills, the oscilloscope will still come in handy.

Moreover, your output will be much faster with an oscilloscope that has more bandwidth. 50 MHz is usually great for beginners. But we recommend oscilloscopes that have 100 MHz at least. Some oscilloscopes have variable bandwidth as well.

Triggers and Functions

Although triggers and monitors are for professional use, it can also come in handy for a beginner. Math functions make things easier when calculating specific outcomes. So, if the oscilloscope has all these functions pre-installed, the user can get results with the push of a button.

The case is also similar to triggers. Some of the brands on our list have unique triggers. If you have data sets that call for such functions, then you should certainly go for those models.

Monitor

A beginner should be cautious about the monitor of an oscilloscope. Since the users are not used to the device, it can be tricky to identify the faults in the frequency and circuit.

So, if the monitor is also faulty and cannot provide clear images, then the user will face more difficulties in concluding. Thus their accuracy in terms of deduction will eventually fall.

So, it is better to go for TFT LCD monitors and also check the resolution. Anything below 320 X 240 pixels is not of good quality.

Speed

The speed of an oscilloscope is dictated by how fast the machine can sample data. Which means it converts the signals, samples them, and presents it in the form of waves. The storage capacity of the device also plays an essential role in this action.

Usually, medium speed will accommodate a beginner, but if you do not want to buy another oscilloscope in the future, it is better to choose one that has excellent speed. 1 GSA/sec sampling rate is a standard limit for the best oscilloscopes in the market.

Storage Capacity

This factor is particularly important as it determines how long the wave will appear on the screen. The bigger the storage capacity, the more screen time. So, as you can guess, for a beginner, it will be helpful if they get more screen time.

That way, it will be easier to deduce and debug. As they are beginners, they might need more time to figure out the problem. So, when you are looking for an oscilloscope, be sure to pick one that has more storage capacity.

Some models even have USB storage options. If you pick a mini oscilloscope, you should know that the space on those devices is usually low.

Dimensions

As a beginner, you would not know which size is more suitable for you. Your data type might call for large oscilloscopes, or a mini oscilloscope can do the job for you as well. That is why you need to know your options before settling on a product.

There are desktop oscilloscopes, panel oscilloscopes, mini oscilloscopes, and many other types. Each of these types has different dimensions and settings. For a beginner, we do recommend a mini oscilloscope as they are more affordable but has all the functions.

However, they have limitations when it comes to the amount of data it can handle. So, even if you are a beginner, you can try bigger oscilloscopes as well.

Connectivity

There are many ways you can connect your device with the source of signals. If that option is not readily available, then you probably should not buy it. If you are a beginner, you should not have to connect the model to your computer or phone manually.

Some brands offer USB support. Others have LAN or Bluetooth options. Choose a model that has at least one of the options mentioned above. That way, it will be super easy to handle and transfer data.

Top Oscilloscopes Brands

top oscilloscope brands

When you hear about a brand constantly, it usually means that its products are trustworthy and will last a long time. In the case of oscilloscopes also, there are a few brands that dominate the market.

Rigol

With reach on over 60 countries, Rigol is one of the best digital solution tools company. It claims that you will never have to compromise with quality and output, and as you can tell from our list, we are also a fan of the brand. So, whether it is a mini oscilloscope or the bigger one, you cannot go wrong with Rigol.

SainSmart

We are pretty sure that in every other oscilloscope review, the name SainSmart will surely pop up. That is because this brand brings uniqueness and innovation to the table.

That is why their portable oscilloscopes are one of the best in the market. Besides that, the regular size will also not let you down.

Hantek

The Hantek products may look old-fashioned, but they certainly know their ways around oscilloscopes. They have several years of expertise and knows what the consumer need. Hence they include all the necessary features a user might want. From beginners to professionals, everyone can find something from this brand.

Siglent

Another oscilloscope giant is Siglent. Their stock of oscilloscope is so impressive that an average person will get confused among the plethora of products they offer.

However, with the right advice, you can certainly find a top-notch product from Siglent. After that, you will never have to think about another oscilloscope.

Tektronix

Although they specialize more in desktop oscilloscopes, we still thought Tektronix oscilloscope deserved a spot on our list. Their products are sophisticated and work smoothly. Even if you are a beginner, you will not be dissatisfied.

Beginner oscilloscope Faq’s

How can I transfer data from the source to the oscilloscope?

You can use the recommended USB or LAN mode if the product features it.

Is a portable oscilloscope beginner friendly?

Yes, a portable oscilloscope is more suitable for beginners.

Is a portable oscilloscope beginner friendly

Can I upgrade the bandwidth of my oscilloscope?

No, the oscilloscopes function with the same bandwidth. However, some oscilloscopes have variable bandwidth that you can change at will.

Is the storage capacity necessary for oscilloscopes?

Yes, without it, the device cannot function.

What is the recommended sampling speed?

It depends on the user’s workload. But a standard oscilloscope has 1 GSa/sec sampling speed.

Final Word

So, you know now that just because you are a beginner, does not mean you cannot play with oscilloscopes. Because these tools are such an integral part of electrical analyzing work, it is wise to keep one in hand.

And with these suggestions, you can decide which model will suit your beginner skill-set the most.

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