If you’re thinking about getting a telescope for yourself or your kids, then starting with a USB microscope might be a good idea. Depending on what you’re looking for, a USB microscope may be a better choice for you than your average digital microscope.
This is because they can provide a much for cost effective, cheaper option in comparison to more expensive microscopes that are generally used for science. Of course, you’re not going to get the same magnification and usability out of a small USB microscope, but it depends entirely on what you’re looking for and what you need. Although I’d advise checking out my favorite microscopes list if you’re looking for something a little more serious, for beginners and newbies a USB can be a really fun place to start.
So, lets take a look at some of the best USB microscopes out there and compare them to each other to determine which might make a good choice for you.
Best USB Microscope
If you’re looking at buying a USB microscope, then the majority of them are very similar. The majority of them are made in China and are very similar, and although Amazon is a good place to purchase a USB microscope, it’s worth trying to differentiate between them to ensure you’re getting a good deal.
Plugable USB 2.0 Microscope
- HOBBY FOCUSED - Useful and fun for students, collectors, testers, and anyone interested in exploring the microscopic world. Cannot be used as a document camera.
- HIGH DEFINITION - 2.0 Megapixels, up to 250x magnification (Note: Final magnification corresponds to monitor size)
- BROAD COMPATIBILITY - Uses a webcam chipset and sensor to support nearly any operating system using standard webcam software. Users with an Oculus Rift may require additional setup
One of the most popular USB microscopes on the market is this one made by Plugable. For those looking for something to use casually or perhaps students, this model really offers the best value for money that you’re going to find on the market. You can use it pretty much straight out of the box, and the software barely takes up any time to install and get going.
This USB microscope offers true 250x magnification, which is around the highest you’re going to find for this price (other brands may say that offer 500 or 1000x magnification, but this is rarely the case). This kind of powerful USB microscope can prove extremely useful for a variety of different things, with practical things like soldering being one of the most common uses, or for inspecting your pets at home (think fish and insects!).
Another good thing about this specific model is that it works really well for recording video, and you’ll be able to record in pretty high quality. So, if you’re looking for the best USB microscope and you’re on a pretty tight budget, then this is the best option currently available in my opinion.
Dinolite USB microscopes
- 10x - 50x, 230x OPTICAL magnification, 640 x 480 0.3MP image resolution, 30 FPS (video)
- 4 LEDs that stay on
- Easy to use for both students, hobbysists, and professionals.
If you are looking for a proper USB microscope than can hold it’s own with other higher powered options, then Dinolite is probably the brand to opt for. They’re known for being one of the biggest producers of USB microscopes in the US, and they make them for individual and professional use, too. This option is one of the cheapest that Dinolite have to offer, although they do make USB microscope that go up into the thousands of dollars range. This model offers true 220x magnification for those that are looking for some serious power.
For those that need a proper tool as opposed to just a toy to play around with, then it’s likely worth considering option for a Dinolite USB microscope like this model. If you want something even more powerful, then Dinolite do have a range of more professional USB microscopes too.
Smeftelyy USB Microscope
If you want something cheap and cheerful, then this USB microscope is definitely going to do the trick. The majority of USB microscopes are all cheap and are imported from China, so it’s a good idea to try and find a cheap one. This way, you won’t pay a fortune for a microscope when the likelihood is that it costs relatively little to make.
The good thing about USB microscopes like this one is that it’s extremely easy to link it up to your smartphone or your laptop. You can easily link it up with your Mac or phone, and for it’s cheap price, it has a surprisingly decent quality of image. The 1080p camera makes it great for viewing objects in fine detail, so it’s a good choice if you want high resolution images.
You also get the opportunity to adjust the illumination depending on where you’re pointing the microscope so that you can illuminate your focal point yourself, which is necessary for a microscope. Overall, this is the best option if you want a cheap USB microscope to play around with. You can plug it in straight away and use it without spending an age setting it up, which is exactly what we want from a USB microscope.
Depstech USB Microscope
- Digital 2.0 USB microscope allows you to work quickly and effectively at the microscopic level. 0X-1001X Magnification range make it can be used on classroom exploration, stamp or coin analysis, micro-soldering, garden parasite identification, and much mo. (Note: Final magnification corresponds to monitor size)
- Built-in 9 SMD LEDs (dimmable) with brightness adjustment control can improve images quality (with adjust controller on USB cable).
- 0.3M HD CMOS sensor, save the view directly to your hard drive in JPG or video files. Can be used on computers running Windows, or Linux simply by plugging it into a spare USB 2.1 port and it requires no external power.
This Depstech USB microscope is a great option if you want something that you can use with a metal stand, as this can make it a lot easier to see things clearly. Microscopes are ideal for using with thin or 2D objects to examine, so having a stand that you can easily attach your subject to makes this a lot easier. The stand has a securing clip and you can easily measure your object too.
You can easily detach the microscope itself from the stand if you want to use it, which makes it more versatile. It has a lot of different illuminative lights that you can use with the scope too, which easily allow you to choose whatever is suitable for your subject. For the most part, you’re going to want to have a really bright light so that you can get a good view – but, this isn’t always the case, so it’s nice to have some variation.
Although it offers 1000x magnification, you’re obviously not going to get that with any cheap microscope like this – it’s more like 50x magnification maximum, which is enough for the majority of home purposes. It’s a good, cheap USB microscope that works well and does exactly what the majority of us want from a cheap microscope.
Celestron USB Microscope
- True 5MP sensor to capture and save high resolution images and videos of your specimens
- 5 Element IR cut high quality glass lens ensures sharper images. Shutter Speed 1 second to 1/1000 second
- 20x to 200x powers, great for low power observation of 3D specimens (Note: Final magnification determined by monitor size)
If you want to stick with an established brand as opposed to something cheaper from China, then you might want to opt for Celestron. Although the reality is that a lot of Celestrons cheaper products are actually made in China anyway, so it might not be worth opting for them over other brands in the end.
Unlike most other USB microscopes, this model has a much more realistic maximum magnification of 200x. Although this isn’t huge, it’s more than enough for most people and it can give you a decent view of a subject in pretty close up detail. It was give you a clear and sharp images due to the high quality of the camera, too.
The microscope itself is large and sturdy in comparison to other USB microscopes that are available. Although it’s not the cheapest, which is one of it’s drawbacks, it’s a decent microscope for the price.
Koolerton USB microscope
- 4.3inch full HD LCD screen.10x-220X continuous magnification.Infrared remote control for easier operation
- High-quality height-adjustable stand. Can adjust the magnification and the distance between the camera and the object by the controller
- UV filter Assembly, not only protect the lens but also reduce the reflection and stray lights.Images and videos obtained during your observations are saved to a microSD card, Maximum supporting 32GB (Please remove the lens protection cover and install the UV filter when using the microscope.)
If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, then this Koolerton USB microscope might make a good choice. It’s great for dealing with phone repairs, jewellery and other small repairs. Most of this is due to the large LCD screen that you can use with the microscope – this makes it much easier to use, particularly for repairs.
If you’re actively doing something under the microscope and not just inspecting something, then it makes sense that you get a microscope with a screen attached. This can make it much easier to fix things, because even if you link your microscope up with a Mac or your iPhone, you’re constantly going to have to tilt your head to look at it, which can be bad for your orientation. Have an LCD screen attached makes it much easier to see things whilst you’re making changes and repairing, which is a necessity for those in that type of business.
Though most people won’t need a model like this one, for some people a USB microscope with an LCD attached is ideal.
- SEE EVERY DETAIL CLEARLY Advanced CMOS sensor provides high-definition 1600x1200 resolution, so you can fully view fine details
- PLUG AND PLAY- for Windows 10 and Mac- simply use the Camera App already installed on Windows 10 or Chromebook. For Mac open and run the Photo Booth application already installed on the Mac. Additional software for Windows and Mac supplied. Contact us for additional software options if needed.
- PROFESSIONAL DESIGN Aluminum construction makes this microscope durable enough for daily use on the job, but it's also lightweight and easy to store for home use. Full size software and instructions disc included
If you want something that looks as high quality as it actually is, then it might be worth looking at this Opti-Tekscope model. It’s looks much higher in quality in comparison to the other USB microscopes I’ve listed here, due to the high quality aluminium plating that’s used throughout.
With this model, you’ll get the option to adjust the lighting with 8 different light settings that you can use to get things as bright or as dim as you wish to – we all know lighting is one of the most important things to seeing things in great detail. You can also capture footage whilst you’re searching too, which is a necessity for any USB microscope.
This is another option for a well made microscope with a professional finish. It’s easy to store away when you’re not using it, and you’re likely to get a lot of use out of it too.
What to look for in a USB Microscope
When you’re purchasing a USB microscope, there are some things that you’ll want to consider beforehand. Although there isn’t a lot of difference between these models, there are some things that might make a difference. If you do this, you can ensure that you get a decent option for your needs.
A USB microscope provides a valuable alternative to your more standard compound microscope. But typically, a USB microscope is more for fun than anything else, whereas a compound microscope will be used for higher magnification purposes.
You’ll want to consider the magnification levels of your USB microscope. If you look online, you’ll see a lot of exaggerated claims about microscopes that they can get ‘1000x magnification’ with a $20 USB microscope. The majority of cheap USB microscopes will give you around 50x magnification, which is good enough for most people, and definitely good enough to practice with. So, even if a cheap usb microscope advertises itself as having high amounts of magnification, bear in mind that this might not always be the case. If you go for an expensive brand like Dinolite, then of course you’re going to get more a more accurate magnification measurement.
USB microscopes tend to be pretty cheap in general, so there isn’t a lot of difference between the options that are available. Of course, you’ll want to consider something that’s within your price budget, though the majority of USB microscopes are less than $50 anyway.
Depending on the level of USB microscope that you purchase, you’ll have to ensure that you have the right software on your computer or laptop. For the majority of USB microscopes, this isn’t really much of an issue as they generally will come with the correct software to be used with either a Mac or a Windows computer. Depending on the brand of the USB, you can often head over to the brands website to pick up their software e.g. like the Plugable Software.
All in all, getting the right USB microscope is actually easier than you might think. Unless you’re willing to pay more an get a more professional microscope, then a cheap USB option is likely going to be the best way for you to ensure that you get something of a decent value. If you aren’t looking to anything too serious, then a USB microscope can be a fantastic way to play around with looking at stuff in great detail.
Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API