During my younger years, I devoted a significant amount of time to collecting various items within my house and exploring them using a USB microscope. Although I immensely enjoyed examining these objects, there was one drawback: the inability to capture images. While there were USB microscopes available on the market that possessed this functionality, they were generally quite expensive and not easily accessible.
In this regard, our review centers around the Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope—a USB-powered microscope boasting 250x magnification and the convenient capability to effortlessly capture your discoveries. To learn more, continue reading our comprehensive review!
Specifications of USB Microscope
The Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope we evaluated encompasses the following features and specifications (customizable during the ordering process):
HOBBY FOCUS: Designed to be valuable and enjoyable for students, collectors, testers, and anyone intrigued by delving into the microscopic realm. Please note that it cannot be utilized as a document camera.
HIGH DEFINITION: Boasting 2.0 Megapixels, it offers a maximum magnification of up to 250x (Note: The final magnification is dependent on the size of the monitor).
Broad Compatibility: The Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope is designed with a webcam chipset and sensor, guaranteeing compatibility with a wide range of operating systems that utilize standard webcam software. Users with an Oculus Rift may need to perform additional setup.
BUILT-IN ILLUMINATION: Equipped with an LED halo light featuring adjustable brightness control. The flexible arm stand includes an observation pad with graduated marks, facilitating easy measurement.
2-YEAR WARRANTY: We hold great pride in our Plugable products and sincerely hope you will as well. Therefore, all our products come with a 2-year limited warranty covering both parts and labor, coupled with email support based in Seattle.
Chipset: Sonix SN9C292A
Capture resolution: 2.0MP, saved in JPEG format with a resolution of 1600×1200 pixels
Video resolution: 1600×1200 pixels at 30Hz
Connection type: USB-A 2.0 (480Mbps)
What’s in the Package of USB Microscope
The package includes the following items:
- Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope (2MP, 250x Magnification)
- Observation Stage
- Suction Cup
- Quick Start Guide
The Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope arrives in four separate pieces that require assembly. The assembly process will be discussed in the following section, while this section will focus on the unit once it has been fully assembled. The microscope is positioned on top of a sturdy plastic base measuring 5 1/2 by 8 1/4 inches, referred to as the observation stage. To securely attach it to the observation stage, a small circular suction cup, approximately 2 inches in diameter, is employed. The suction cup is equipped with a convenient clip, facilitating easy attachment and detachment from the observation stage.
On one side of the observation stage, there are centimeter markings, allowing for precise measurements, while the other side features inch markings. Notably, around two-thirds of the stage surface is adorned with a grid consisting of 20 by 24 squares, each measuring 5 by 5 millimeters. This grid serves as a helpful reference when determining the actual size of the objects being examined on the observation stage.
The USB microscope easily attaches to the flexible gooseneck, which stretches out to a convenient six inches. The attachment is secured by a small c-clip, making it hassle-free. Now let’s take a closer look at the microscope itself! It stands at a height of approximately 3 1/2 inches and has a diameter of 3 1/8 inches. The microscope has a sleek design with three distinct sections. The top third is a stylish black, followed by a middle section in a soothing grey shade, and finally, the bottom third consists of a smaller black area that transitions into a transparent plastic cover.
Embedded within this cover is the LED halo light, providing illumination for your observations. Just above the plastic cover, on the black section, you’ll find the word “FOCUS” accompanied by a -/+ sign and scales extending to the left and right. It’s important to note that this isn’t the actual focus ring; instead, the focus ring is located in the grey region in the middle. This focus ring is designed with a dimpled rubber-like material, providing a comfortable grip for adjustments.
Above the focus ring, you’ll notice the recognizable Plugable logo and a small grey dial, which allows you to conveniently adjust the brightness according to your preferences. To make capturing images effortless, there’s a camera icon printed on the top of the microscope. Simply touch the icon, and voila! You’ve captured an image. The design of this microscope combines functionality with an appealing aesthetic, ensuring an enjoyable and user-friendly experience.
Lastly, the 4 1/2-foot USB cable emerges from the underside near the top of the USB microscope, allowing for convenient connectivity. It utilizes a USB-A connection to link with your computer. However, if you prefer to connect it to a USB-C port, there is an optional bundle available on Amazon for an additional $5, which includes a USB-A to USB-C adapter. This provides flexibility in connecting the microscope to a variety of devices based on your specific needs.
To set up the Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope, a simple assembly is required, and the Quick Start Guide provides easy-to-follow instructions. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Start by attaching the gooseneck to the suction cup base. Twist it in a counter-clockwise direction until it securely locks into place.
Next, affix the c-clip to the top of the gooseneck attachment. Ensure it is firmly attached, as it will play a crucial role in the assembly.
Now, connect the suction cup to the observation stage. Press it down firmly and then push the clip down to create a secure seal. This step completes the attachment of the suction cup to the observation stage.
Slide the microscope into the c-clip. You’ll notice two small divots on the sides of the microscope, which will align with and securely hold the microscope in place when clipped.
Finally, connect the USB cable to an available USB-A port on your computer. This will establish the necessary connection for the microscope to function.
By following these straightforward steps, you’ll have your Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope fully assembled and ready for exploration.
The Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope can be used with the Windows Camera app. However, for more functionality, you can install the Plugable Digital Viewer from their website. This app enables you to adjust settings, capture images, create time-lapse videos, and record videos. The user interface is intuitive, featuring six buttons in the upper right corner, a file system window with a preview panel for previous captures on the left, and the main live view window on the right.
Within the settings menu, you can choose between the digital USB microscope and your onboard camera (if available). You have the flexibility to adjust the image capture quality, ranging from 320 x 240 to 1600 x 1200 pixels. For time-lapse recordings, you can customize the number of shots per minute and the duration of the time-lapse. The video feature allows you to set the video resolution at either 320 x 240 or 640 x 480 pixels, along with the maximum file size. Additionally, you can personalize the save location and language settings according to your preferences.
The Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope can be considered as an enhanced webcam. It features a 2.0 MP sensor, which may not sound very impressive, but it offers a maximum resolution of 1600×1200 pixels. Despite the modest specifications, the captured images are more than satisfactory for viewing on a computer screen. The image quality is also influenced by your patience and precision when focusing on the object under examination. While it would be desirable to have an updated version with a higher resolution sensor, the current one is certainly more than sufficient for its intended purpose.
Priced at an MSRP of US$39.95, the Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope offers excellent value for its cost. It is straightforward to set up and use, providing hours of enjoyable exploration and discovery, especially for younger kids.
In conclusion, the Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope is a fantastic device for individuals who have a keen interest in examining everyday objects in greater detail. Its user-friendly nature and affordable price make it an appealing choice for those seeking a closer look at the world around us.