The world of microscopy is a fun and educational one, and with the right knowledge and tools, there is no limit to what one can learn and discover. In fact, the clever use of microscopes have propelled modern civilization into a new era of science and technology.
But, when you’re just starting out, it’s often a good idea to invest in something small and easy to use, and most importantly, won’t break the bank. One of the best ways to do this is by trying out a USB microscope.
USB microscopes are tiny yet amazing inventions. These are digital microscopes that operate at a low power, and connect to a display device to view and observe the specimen image. They are small, portable, and easy to use, which is why they are so popular.
Read also: The different types of microscopes – Comprehensive guide
best USB microscopes
Out of all the many different USB microscopes available all around the world, these are the 8 best USB microscopes for the year 2020 that offer a lot of great features, such as excellent value, versatility, and portability.
I’ve included a detailed review for each product, as well as some pros and cons to help you decide on which is the best USB microscope for you. Plus, there’s also a detailed buying guide at the end to help you even further!
1. Jiusion 1000x magnification endoscope
Topping this list is the Jiusion magnification endoscope, which functions as a microscope, endoscope, and camera all in one tiny package. It’s an Amazon’s Choice product that falls just under 30 dollars, so it’s not only portable, but affordable as well.
It has a focus range of 1 to 90 millimeters and a magnification of 40 to 1000x, and can capture and record magnified images of the specimen using the Chrome OS camera and quick camera function. It’s also equipped with a measurement software for sizing microscopic specimens.
This handheld USB microscope features two adjustment knobs that let you manipulate the focus and brightness for the best possible image quality. It’s a great portable microscope for kids, students, field explorers, inventors, engineers, and scientists.
2. Plugable 250x USB digital microscope
The second best pick is the Plugable USB digital microscope with a 40 to 250x magnification power. It’s also an Amazon’s Choice product, and at just under 50 dollars, it’s a pretty affordable plug and play microscope.
It features a 2.0 megapixel camera that can take photos and videos, and it makes use of a standard webcam chipset and CMOS sensor, so it’s compatible with almost all operating systems that are equipped with a webcam software.
This microscope is designed with a flexible arm that allows it to be used with a stand or as a handheld microscope. Overall, it’s fun and easy to use for students, testers, collectors, and explorers of the microscopic world.
3. Koolertron 600x full color LCD USB microscope
Ranking third is the Koolertron USB microscope with a built-in 4.3 inch full color LCD screen and a continuous 10 to 600x magnification level. This Amazon’s Choice product falls slightly under 100 dollars, so it’s not terribly expensive given its amazing quality.
It’s equipped with a high resolution 2M image sensor for photos and videos, a rechargeable lithium ion battery that lasts for up to two hours, a specimen stage with its own measuring scale, and sturdy and weighted height adjustable stand.
It can also be used with a Micro SD card for saving captured images and videos of the specimen. All in all, it’s a great option for a portable USB microscope for kids, hobbyists, and professionals alike.
4. Aven 200x mighty scope handheld microscope
The next best pick for a USB microscope is the Aven mighty scope, which is a handheld USB microscope with a 10 to 200x magnification. It’s also an excellent Amazon’s Choice product, but coming up at above 100 dollars, it’s one of the pricier options on this list.
This microscope is equipped with a 5 megapixel camera that lets you capture still images and real time videos directly on your computer in high quality due to its ¼ inch CMOS color image sensor, and a USB 2.0 output for easy connectability.
It’s a lightweight digital handheld microscope that’s essentially a plug and play, making it great for classroom and field applications, including science and engineering, as well as assembly and repair projects.
5. Celestron 200x handheld digital USB microscope
Taking the fifth spot is the Celestron handheld digital USB microscope, which is largely similar to the Aven since it’s an Amazon’s Choice microscope with a hefty price tag of more than a hundred dollars, and a low magnification of only 20 to 200x.
What makes this great, however, is that it’s an excellent USB microscope for observing three dimensional specimens, and it can capture and save high resolution photos and videos of various specimens with the 5 megapixel sensor.
Plus, it also features an adjustable height weighted stand, a high quality glass objective lens, a superior shutter speed range, an easy focus capability, and an intuitive software that comes with specimen measurement functions.
6. STPCTOU 1000x magnification USB microscope
Another great option for those who need a high magnification microscope that’s still easily portable is the STPCTOU USB microscope, which has a magnification power of 40 to 1000x. And, at just under 30 dollars, it’s a highly affordable choice too.
This high magnification microscope offers a clear view of various specimens. It can be used to look at anything from plants, insects, skin, hair, jewelry, coins, and antiques. And, with a plug and play option, it’s also really easy to use.
Plus, it also easily connects via USB to various devices with an installed software to capture and record specimens, and even get accurate measurements using a Windows device. It also comes with a quick snap button to capture specimen images, and an easily compatible measurement software.
7. Opti-Tekscope USB microscope camera
A great mid range option for a USB microscope is the Opti-Tekscope microscope camera, which is priced at under a hundred dollars. This is a plug and play microscope that works through the camera or photo booth app on Windows and Mac devices.
It has a focal range of 5 to 30 mm, a maximum of 200x magnification, and it’s high resolution is guaranteed by the advanced CMOS sensor. This is a versatile microscope that can also be used as an endoscope and a camera.
Plus, it also allows the viewer to capture live images and videos right while the specimen is being examined, so it’s great to use for studying live, prepared, and inorganic specimens, as well as for jewellery and craft work. It’s durable and lightweight, making it perfect for home, office, and field use.
8. Dino-Lite 230x USB digital microscope
Finally, there is also the Dino-Lite USB microscope, which is a decent handheld microscope for students, hobbyists, and professionals alike. It’s just a little pricey at over a hundred dollars, but the specifications make it a worthy investment.
This microscope camera is equipped with a decent quality 0.3 megapixel camera that features an average image and video resolution, as well as a variable magnification of 10 to 50 and 230x, giving the user plenty of range in what specimens to study.
Moreover, it comes with a built in software that can save, annotate, compare, and analyze specimen images easily and conveniently, especially since it works on a variety of devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Best USB microscope buying guide
A USB microscope is a great and useful tool that can be used by kids and adults alike who just want to explore and understand the microscopic world, without investing in and committing to a more high end microscope that can easily cost thousands of dollars.
While they are certainly a good place to start, however, it can still be quite difficult to choose the best USB microscope that can deliver the performance that you want, and can meet your needs and demands.
To help you make the right decision, here are the most important things you need to consider when buying a USB microscope, including just what a USB microscope is, how it works, what you can use it for, what features you should look out for, and how much a USB microscope is:
How does a USB microscope work?
This type of microscope operates by making use of macro lenses with a variable range of magnification, typically ranging from 10 to 200 times, as well as incident illumination from LED light sources attached right beside the lenses.
The brightness of these lights are usually adjustable, as are the focus and magnification of the lens, and the height of the microscope stand. Oftentimes, the arm is also adjustable, enabling you to view the specimen in various angles.
What’s important to remember is that, since USB microscopes are digital, they are essentially cameras, and hence the megapixel of the camera and the quality of the sensor are important factors in determining the final quality of the image or video.
What is a USB microscope used for?
Due to their portability and simplistic design, USB microscopes offer a wide variety of possible usage, including studying live and inorganic materials and specimens of fairly small sizes, and can also act as an endoscope and a typical webcam.
As such, these microscopes are often used in science classrooms, home laboratories, field explorations, basic researches, and even in working on jewellery, coins, stamps, watches, and other objects that have minute parts and components.
However, USB microscopes also have their fair share of limitations, especially due to their low magnification. For example, these cannot be used to study cells, microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses, since these are too small to be seen under the lens of a USB microscope.
What are the important features of a USB microscope?
As with any type of microscope, the magnification and resolution are the two most important things, since these will determine what and how much you can see. Apart from that, however, there are a couple more must have features when talking about a USB microscope.
The megapixel and the sensor of the camera are also important, since these deliver the final image to your computer. And, speaking of the computer, it’s also a must to check whether the microscope is compatible with your device, and whether it comes with all the necessary software to operate it properly.
Other essential features to have are adjustable focus, brightness, and stand height, while nice to have features include tilting arms, LCD display screens, CD card slots, and long lasting batteries.
How much is a USB microscope?
USB microscopes can go anywhere from just less than twenty dollars, to almost a thousand dollars in costs, and this price range is largely dependent on the quality and specifications that the microscope can deliver.
There is a wide range of USB microscopes available on the market, from entry level ones that are basically webcams with zoom capacity, mid range microscopes that can be used in a classroom setup, and high end microscopes that are a must have for field scientists.
Having said that, however, it’s not uncommon to find great options at low prices. There are, in fact, plenty of USB microscopes that offer high magnification levels and other excellent features and specifications, including a few on this list.
The Best USB microscope in 2020
From this list of the 8 best USB microscopes you have seen above, here is my final verdict- the absolute best one is the Jiusion 1000x magnification endoscope. Here’s why:
It’s an excellently affordable USB microscope that is versatile, and functions as a microscope, endoscope, and camera. It also offers a high magnification of up to 1000x, which is not that common for a small handheld microscope. Plus, it has a lot of amazing features and capabilities, and it’s really easy to use!