Have you ever had to decide between two models of hardware from the same manufacturer that differ only in a feature or two? For example, you know you'd love to have a little extra bandwidth on your oscilloscope but found the additional cost of the higher-end model a bit prohibitive?
Well, it isn't unheard of for a company to actually release identical hardware in multiple models with the "additional" features present, but disabled on the lower-end versions. In some cases, these features can actually be unlocked!
If you think about it, this practice can make financial sense in some cases. There is less design time and probably some saved manufacturing costs if you only have one set of hardware. Assuming the cost difference in the components isn't that big, it may very well be cheaper just to ship out the more advanced hardware and cripple the features in software, or possibly omit a jumper or two. This would allow you to have multiple price points for specific target audiences with a single piece of hardware.
People have seen this in consumer electronics for years. You can open a home stereo and find spots on the PCB for additional features of the next model up. Why should scopes and meters be any different?
Join us on the next few pages as we explore two great scope upgrades and two multimeter improvements.