Its nice to see that Agilent has finally caught up with Oscium.
In addition to Scopes, Oscium produces Logic Analysers and Power/Spectrum analysers. They are more convenient to use than a large bench scope as they utilise the User Interface of your iPad, iPod or iPhone.
In Europe, Oscium instruments are stocked by The Debug Store based in the UK.
I've been saying the same thing to T&M companies over the last few years. If students in chem lab can run their instruments with an iPad.... Anyway, one of the most memorable implemetations I saw of a touchscreen interface was last year on Keithley's SMU.
It is only that Apple changed their icons lately in a very horrible design. Yikes! (Crying out loud:) " I want my icons back "....
Back on topic: This is a very good idea, but not more than a logical development step. The interface has been done, it is there, the iPad. I always wondered why people would pay for a windoze computer in a box, while the rest in the same box is from the '70s (well often, but not always as with modern oscilloscopes) But hey, lots of us have to agree that our old HP stuff from the '70s and '80s still is doing a good job for us. The IEEE interface is a bit cumbersome, but playing with IEEE to USB dongles takes the old gear to a higher plan.
Personally -as an engineer- I think that the measurement equipment manufacturers are going to get a hard time: Less and less companies dare to do hardware design. It is all box-2-box design (unfortunately) and thus software developement. This is good and bad for our industry, but I think bad for the measurement equipment manufacturers.
Buying generators, network analyzers and spectrum analyzers I always had a reference: How many MHz for a buck on the 2nd hand market. Nowadays I do not dare to do this anymore: A friend of mine bought an Anritsu 3GHz analyzer for EUR 1100 (= $1400) while my reference 10 years ago was EUR 1000 for each GHz. Wow!
I'm one of the fuddy duddies that Agilent has apparently been dragging their feet for (or listening to). Smudged screens and imprecise back-and-forth attempts to get a touch-screen interface to guess what I want - yuck! Give me a dedicated knob with detents and I'll get there in 25% of the time with 10% of the swear words.
Still, I welcome the presence of a touch screen interface (even though one of my pet peeves is co-workers who cannot point out something in a waveform without leaving fingerprints) as long as the knobs are available. If (I guess I should say "when") I have to pay extra for a knob-interface box, I'll scrape up the $$ somehow.
My engineering guts feeling tell me that the only thing to replace IEEE interface is a proper 10baseT or 100baseT interface. It is sooo easy to connect those, transformer coupled, wonderful interfaced devices. But hey, then it depends on the software running on your newly bought equipment if (and how) usable it can be for you. Also, it depends on the application on your PC or MAC.
Lots of devices have USB interface. In field use USB absolutely is not stable enough to do long term measurement jobs, not to speak about stand-alone applications. So for quick and dirty measurements it is nice to have USB at hand for screen dumps, etc, but nothing else (in my opinion)
In my younger years I have written assembly language. Over the years I grew towards an analog/RF engineer. Realizing the amounts of firmware in measurement devices I see that it often became too complicated to use. As an example: I love the old LeCroy home brew OS. Compare it to the newer ones with Windoze... Horrific. But on the other hand I realize that a windoze PC in a box is handy to share spread sheets etc. But for IEEE lots of free software is around to be able to get measurements into your PC or -preferable for me- my MAC.
Also. you already know about my "give it away" statement. The *reason* for software deveiopment written against a piece of measurement hardware (spectrum analyzer, RF generator electronics, etc) is to *expand* and *ease* the possibilities of the equipment. So I never have understood why equipment companies ask money for this and that and all the rest per each bit they have programmed. It is already there, finished, tested and programmed. I am happy to interface to the IEEE interface, as long as I can generate that specific modulation form, or analyze I2C, so why not give these options away.... ;-)