From wrist watch to pocket-sized device, inexpensive portable test and measurement tools have captured the imagination this year as never before. Readers understood that, even though small doesn't always mean less powerful, the aphorism "you get what you pay for" still holds true. It's buyer beware for these lightweight mobile test devices.
Even so, some readers wrote in that they'd prefer the new, cheap test toy to its low-cost alternative -- finding the high-end, previously owned (and abused?) tools on eBay.
Here are some of the interesting small devices for test and measurement and what engineers said about them.
Dick Tracy-style oscilloscope watch
In the past, portable meant you had a cart to wheel your 50-pound oscilloscope around. In 2014, we'll be wearing one. "Nothing will say 'geek' like an oscilloscope as a fashion accessory. But, oh, man, I want one of these," said Jack Ganssle, embedded systems engineer and columnist on Embedded.com, a sister site.
Gabotronics, the manufacturer of the xprotolab portable, says you should preorder your oscilloscope watch now for a June release. The watch will basically have the same features as the Xprotolab (oscilloscope, waveform generator, logic analyzer, protocol sniffer, and frequency counter).
Embedded systems engineer and Embedded.com columnist Jack Ganssle says:
One of the coolest things this year, which actually won't be available till mid-2014, is Gabotronics oscilloscope watch. This is, or will be, a two channel scope with 8 logic analyzer inputs and a waveform generator, all worn on the arm. It will do an FFT and has all of the features one has come to expect in a tiny scope. Unlike the current generation of USB instruments that rely on a PC for display and control, the scope-watch has a tiny LCD display! The specs don't say, but it may even tell time.