Last updated Dec 3, 2021
Oscilloscopes are used for a number of different applications in medicine, science, engineering, automotive, art, and telecommunications. These instruments are used by hobbyists and professionals alike to measure various attributes of an electrical signal including amplitude, frequency and more. An oscilloscope is a must-have tool for anyone interested in electronics. We’ve done the detailed research to bring you our review of the best oscilloscopes.
Table of Contents
- 1 Our Top Oscilloscope Pick
- 2 Best Portable Oscilloscope
- 3 Best Digital Tablet Oscilloscope
- 4 Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyists
- 5 Complementary Products
- 6 Is an Oscilloscope worth buying?
- 7 Are Cheap Oscilloscopes worth it?
- 8 What can an Oscilloscope do that a Multimeter cannot?
- 9 What is the Best Oscilloscope for Beginners?
- 10 Is a 50 MHz oscilloscope enough?
- 11 How do you choose an Oscilloscope?
- 12 Summary
Our Top Oscilloscope Pick
The Siglent SDS1202X-E is definitely the best oscilloscope all round. It features premium specifications, and a robust brand name to back it up meaning it will reliably serve you for many years to come. It has a traditional oscilloscope form factor, making it the least portable oscilloscope on this list, though it is almost certainly the most advanced.
- 200 MHz Bandwidth
- 1 GSa/s Sample Rate
- 14 Million Points Memory per channel
- Standard serial bus triggering and decode, supports I2C, SPI, UART, RS232, and LIN
- 7” LCD Display
- 2 Channel
As you can see, the specifications of this oscilloscope are incredible for its price. With these specs, this scope is perfect for anyone, beginner or experienced user, and provides plenty of room for learning and growth. It is the perfect tool for anyone with the budget and space who can use an oscilloscope.
With the huge 28 Million point memory, there is tons of space to capture signals and analyze them. With added features like the standard serial bus triggering and decoding, this oscilloscope will be far easier to use for decoding bits and any signals you wish to analyze.
Overall, the Siglent SDS1202X-E is an excellent, sturdy, and reliable oscilloscope with stellar reviews which is sure to withstand the test of time, and serve you well for many years to come.
- Premium specifications and high bandwidth – perfect for capturing a wide range of signals
- Reliable brand name
- Excellent value for money
Not portable, needs a dedicated spot on the bench, which may be challenging for someone working in a tight space, or taking measurements on the go.
Best Portable Oscilloscope
Want an oscilloscope but don’t have space on your bench? Want a highly portable unit? Then this is the perfect oscilloscope for you. The Hantek DSO1102B is a high quality, professional oscilloscope in a portable package, perfect for anyone who needs to take measurements on the go, or simply doesn’t have the space on their bench for a more permanent scope.
To add to its space saving benefits, the Hantek DSO1102B also has a multimeter built in, and ships with multimeter probes, as well as oscilloscope probes. This added feature will reduce the number of pieces of equipment you need, and make your kit more portable, a huge benefit if you need to travel with your equipment.
With a built in battery rated for 6 hours of continuous use, and an included power supply, this scope is ready for any situation, whether a plug is available, or not! You certainly won’t find that feature in a traditional oscilloscope.
The Hantek also features an extremely rugged build, meaning you won’t spend precious time worrying about its safety. More so, reviewers indicate that this model has an improved cooling system over its predecessor, adding to the reliability of the scope.
- 100 MHz Bandwidth
- 1 GSa/s Sample Rate
- 1 Million Points Memory
- High Refresh Rate – 2500 Frames
- 5.6” TFT Color LCD Display
- 2 Channel
As you can see the specs of this oscilloscope rival most bench scopes, making it an excellent option for a portable scope that does not sacrifice quality and performance. While a little pricier than competing benchtop oscilloscopes with similar specs, the extra price comes with a clear benefit – portability.
- Portable and reliable
- Impressive specifications
- Built in multimeter
- Option for battery powered operation
- Rugged build quality
Expensive – the Hantek is priced higher than other competing bench top scopes with similar or better specs, so this is definitely only for someone who requires the portability and space saving features.
Best Digital Tablet Oscilloscope
If you’re looking for a portable oscilloscope with competitive specifications and much less expensive than the Hantek scopes, then look no further than the Yeapook. This is a new product in a 7” tablet form factor introduced in 2020. The Yeapook includes a powerful feature set in a sleek, compact and compelling designed product.
- 100 MHz Bandwidth
- 1 GSa/s Sample Rate
- 240 kbit Memory
- 1.32 lb Weight
- 7” Display
- 2 Channel
This product has received rave reviews from educators and hobbyists alike. It’s great for working with Arduinos and sensors. This scope comes with a number of handy features such as pulse captures and the auto function. You can connect to a clock oscillator, press auto and get a measurement instantly. It is very easy-to-use with a nice bright screen and an intuitive interface.
As with any tablet, the battery can be charged fully over USB in five hours and provides four hours of battery life. All in all, the Yeapook is a very compelling oscilloscope.
- Small, compact form factor
- Highly usable with intuitive menu controls
- The DC voltage is not very accurate. Errors can be as high as 10% for DC voltages larger than 5 Volts
- Poorly written user manual
Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyists
Interested in learning more about oscilloscopes, but don’t feel like investing in a multiple hundred dollar piece of kit? The JYETech DSO Shell is perfect for you! Cheaper than most, this instrument has everything you need to get started with Oscilloscopes. This handheld unit has the ability to measure signals up to 200 kHz which is good enough for many applications including audio. The unit comes with a 1x/10x BNC oscilloscope probe and allows you to measure signals up to 50 Vpeak.
While admittedly not perfect, some reviews say that it can be a bit finicky, most people agree that this is an excellent buy for the money, and can more than fulfill the needs of most hobbyists looking for their first oscilloscope!
- 200 kHz Bandwidth
- 1 MSps Sample Rate
- 2.4” LCD Display
- 1024 Point Memory
- 1 Channel
While the specifications appear decades behind the other oscilloscopes on this list, most people will not need the high sampling rate and bandwidth provided by the other scopes. The JYETech DSO Shell the perfect oscilloscope for beginners looking to learn about oscilloscopes before committing to something more expensive.
NOTE: You will need to order a 9V DC power supply as this unit doesn’t include one. Also if you want to operate as a portable instrument in the field, then you will also need the battery adapter and a 9V battery.
- Affordable – almost 1/10th the price of a traditional oscilloscope
- Portable – at 6.4 oz it is probably the lightest oscilloscope you will ever see
- Sufficient specifications for most hobbyists
Product consistency – reviews indicate that there is some issue with quality control, however the manufacturer has an excellent return policy and will replace your unit with a working one should an issue arise
As you build out your electronics lab with an oscilloscope purchase here are a couple of products that you might find useful:
This signal generator can generate a variety of signals that can be input to and studied with the oscilloscope.
The Koolertron uses a Dual-channel Direct Digital Synthesizer and TTL electric level output to generate precise, stable, low distortion output signal. Waveforms include Sine waves, Square waves, Triangle waves, Sawtooth waves, Pulse waves, white noise, user-defined waveforms and more.
An additional set of reliable, cost-effective probes and accessories that can be used with your oscilloscope.
These probes feature a robust design and are usable with oscilloscopes having bandwidth up to 100 MHz. The Hantek probes have a Modular Construction with a Coaxial Design and Coaxial Reed Switch. An Accessory Pack includes 8 Marker bands, 2 Tip locating sleeves, 2 Mini Alligator Clips and Ground leads, 2 Interchangeable Probe Clip Tips. As well the probes have the 1x and 10x attenuation options.
Is an Oscilloscope worth buying?
If you’re interested in working hands-on with electronics – building and testing circuits, then it definitely is worth it. The first instrument I bought when I started my electronics lab was an analog oscilloscope made by Hewlett Packard. While it lacks the bells and whistles of a modern digital oscilloscope, it is an amazing machine.
Are Cheap Oscilloscopes worth it?
Oscilloscopes are measurement instruments and the lower the cost, the lower the quality of the hardware and the measurement accuracy. Cheap oscilloscopes make sense in two situations:
- You’re a beginner and want a starter scope to learn and work with
- Measurement accuracy is not a major concern. For instance you want to want to see if there’s a 10 MHz signal and you’re not concerned with measurement precision – just that it’s approximately 10 MHz
What can an Oscilloscope do that a Multimeter cannot?
A multimeter is a handheld instrument that is used to measure voltage, current, resistance and continuity. An oscilloscope is a benchtop instrument that enables the measurement and display of time varying signals.
Here is a summary of what an oscilloscope can do that a multimeter cannot:
- Measure multiple time varying signals simultaneously and display them as voltage versus time
- Measure the frequency content by performing a fast fourier transform operation on the signal
- Perform protocol analysis on signals
What is the Best Oscilloscope for Beginners?
If you’re starting your journey into the world of electronics, the YEAPOOK ADS1014D is a great beginner instrument. A cost-effective product that’s packed with features including a built-in DDS signal generator.
The 100 MHz bandwidth allows you to measure digital signals on Arduino and other hobbyist development boards. The scope has two channels which allows the measurement of clock and data lines simultaneously as is often required.
Is a 50 MHz oscilloscope enough?
A 50 MHz oscilloscope is good enough you want to accurately measure square waves that have a maximum frequency of 10 MHz. A 50 MHz scope will allow you to observe signals up to 50 MHz, however the measurement accuracy will decrease as the frequency is increased beyond 10 MHz.
How do you choose an Oscilloscope?
There are many criteria and features and it is easy for a buyer to become quickly overwhelmed with specifications, definitions and numbers. We’ve done the heavy lifting of going through technical specifications of various products and through our experience using oscilloscopes, have narrowed things down to six major considerations. Here is the final list with an explanation of why they matter in our analysis.
this is one of the most important specifications of an oscilloscope. If the bandwidth of an oscilloscope is 100 MHz, that means that it can measure signals with frequencies between DC and 100 MHz. Input signals at frequencies higher than the bandwidth cannot be measured accurately.
This is a measure of how fast the scope samples the input signal. A good rule of thumb is for the sampling rate to be at least five times the maximum input signal being measured. With our top pick Siglent Scope you can see that the sampling rate is exactly 5x the bandwidth while in the case of the Hantek it is 10x the bandwidth. The higher the sampling rate, the better the resolution of the measured signal and the greater the likelihood that glitches and other intermittent events will be reliably captured.
This depends on the use case for the oscilloscope. Do you want to use it in your lab or take it on the road? As the form factor changes, there are a number of performance tradeoffs that can be made to keep the product affordable.
Typically, a larger unit such as the Siglent benchtop is able to accommodate more sophisticated electronics, larger internal processors, screen size and has better usability. As well a portable unit with specifications comparable to a benchtop will be more expensive. This is indeed the case with the Hantek relative to the Siglent.
This allows the oscilloscope to store data samples associated with the input signal. Put simply the larger the size of memory the longer your captured waveform can be. The longer the captured waveform the more likely you are to catch intermittent events. However, as the memory is increased so also does the amount of processing required to access it. As the processor then turns its attention to accessing this memory, there is a risk that it will miss other intermittent signals. So there’s really no free lunch here!
Number of Channels
This is important as it represents how many signals can be captured simultaneously. You may for instance want to use your oscilloscope to observe one or more control signals as the power is turned on. You may want to look at time delays between two signals. A single channel won’t do in this case. The oscilloscopes we have presented in this review have either 1 or 2 channels. However, there are scopes with 4 and more channels.
This is an important factor to consider when purchasing any product. Aside from a few quirks here and there, all the scopes we have listed in this review are quite user friendly.
This is always a consideration when purchasing any product. In this article we have presented products at four price thresholds with performance that is consistent. If you are committed to learning about electronics and building out your lab then it makes sense to go with the Siglent. Alternatively if you’re just starting out and don’t want to make a $300+ commitment, then the JYETech unit is a good option.
An oscilloscope is a must-have tool for anyone working with electronic signals. Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional, an oscilloscope is one of the most useful pieces of test equipment. In this article we have recommended four different oscilloscopes, each of which have unique attributes and score very high when you consider their specific use case.
To summarize here are our top oscilloscope picks:
- Best Overall: Siglent SDS1202X-E
- Best Portable: Hantek DSO1102B
- Best Digital Tablet: Yeapook
- Best for Hobbyists: JYETech DSO Shell