Review of Agilent U1620A 200MHz Handheld Oscilloscope

Table of contents

RoadTest: Agilent U1620A 200MHz Handheld Oscilloscope

Author: migration.user

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:

What were the biggest problems encountered?:

Detailed Review:

Hi all,


I'll start my review as usual with the basic hands on and package content with some photos included, I will continue later on with more usage details etc.



Here is the first view of the nicely packed box after it arrived.



I do always prefer to have the contents padded on each side but the package was marked fragile so it should be safe.




Next box image



Product box itself opened, neatly packed and the meter is very well cushioned.




The paperwork, calibration certificate is included.




Overview of the rest of the box contents. The powercable is old UK/South Africa style if I'm not mistaken and not very usable here, but as it is a standard 3-prong cable that is not a problem.




The heart of the box itself in it's comfortable cradle... First impression: It's bigger than I expected image




The meter on hand, the strap is quite comfortable.




Look of the buttons, nicely placed, not too crowded. The buttons feel good, they can be pressed from any angle and work fine. Plus they make a comforting "click"-sound when pressed so you really feel that the button was actually pressed image




View of the top connectors, the trigger input is also used for calibrating the probes.




Side port cover and locking cable hole.



Rear of the meter



The rear of the meter with the stand "leg" out. The latch that holds the leg is quite stiff, the leg bent quite a lot until it lets go properly. Probably it will get looser in use.



The meter with the stand open. Sits in a good comfortable angle.



The view with the stand open.



The hand-strap tightening system, easy to use for sure and well adjustable.



The side USB and power connectors under the cover, well protected by the thick rubber.



The power supply, hefty piece.



Instructions for the power supply image




BNC to probe adapter for adjusting the probes.The thickness of the ground side is a bit too much for the ground alligator-clips of the probes so it easily slips off.



DMM side test leads



Package opened. Everything is plugged with good quality banana connectors and the wires are nice and flexible, good quality stuff.



Two packs of 1:10 probes wer included.



Package opened, again very good quality.



And parts put together.



And paperwork of the probes, first side.



Second side.





Clip from the manual (


Before using the handheld scope for the first time, fully charge the

battery for at least 5 hours, with the handheld scope turned off, using

the AC/DC adapter provided.

The power key will turn constant yellow when the battery is fully



Looks quite green to me.






Ok that's the first part, more to follow of course with the actual usage part of the review.








Update: Problems with the USB connectivity were on my PC side, now it works perfectly. The meter mounts as a windows mobile device, which was quite unexpected, the ScopeLink works perfectly and basically shows realtime screen from the meter!


Update2: Rest of my review is on hold unti further notice as the meter broke down. I was measuring a simple crystal when the screen went blurry all of a sudden. I tried to reboot with the same result, except this time the meter couldn't be turned off either. Removing the battery shut the device down but when trying to turn it on now only the power button lights up, nothing else happens. I contacted Agilent and they told be to contact Farnell for a replacement. So the meter is officially bricked. I'm currently waiting for info from Christian.



I just had a conversation with a very nice guy from Agilent, going through the specifics of the issue.

A replacement will be arranged so I can continue my review within couple of weeks or so.

Alltogether very good communication from Agilent so I can only recommend them as a company, as after-sales services are working very well.

Though it wasn't really a planned part of the review, this has also now been tested and I can give 10/10 to Agilent in that area




Part 2:


Hi everyone. Sorry for the delays, damn work taking time... image


I have done some usage testing and have no major complaints, I like the way the scope and the software work in general.


The biggest shortcomings are in the logging capabilities as I think the functionality is not enough to have good data to analyse.


The attached image shows the logged waveform, realtime data and the logging window.



Image of the scope itself in use:



So it seems we can't just log raw waveform but only statistics of the measurements that are set in the measure menu, when using the scope itself.


With the scope link software one can save a snapshot of the waveform but it is just the current view and nothing else, also, I didn't see any way of doing measurements with the saved waveform so it is more or less a screenshot but can be adjusted a bit.


On the other hand I do like that you can fully remote control the scope with the software so it is definitely handy.




The screen clarity is very good with each of the display modes so I have nothing to complain about that.


After about 30min of usage I measured about 41 degrees celsius on the back side of the scope, so it definitely needs the internal fan to keep the running temperature in spec. After 1.5h hours of continuous use the max temperature on the back side has reached 50 degrees celsius.




All in all, the only negative sides I have found that the logging capabilities are more dumbed down then was expected, and that the battery runs out when the scope is not used. Plus that it mounts a WindowsCE device and drive to my computer image





Thanks again to Agilent and Element14 for the opportunity, I will keep updating the review if something new comes up!







  • I would definately approve of a harness as long as no weight is near the neck.

    I did not know how fragile they were until I broke mine.  Luckily my years of contact sports in high school left me with a good muscle structure, which saved me from death during the accident.


    Even with the harness, I would have great difficulty in looking down at the display.  My mobility issues affect left and right plus up and down.  So it is best if I can keep my devices at eye level at all times.

    Projection glasses might work if they had good resolution, but I suspect they would be more annoying than useful when you are trying to trace signals.


    Thanks for your ideas.  Hopefully the manufacturers will include our discussion for future useability of their products.



  • Hi DAB,


    What I had in my mind was more of a harness type solution that goes over the shoulder and around your waist, what would be your take on that?


    If there would be a hinged stiffer piece around the belly/chest area that you can adjust for viewing angle, would that make it possible to have a unit with you without having to set an external display around?



    Just trying to think of possibilities.




  • Hi Peter,


    I appreciate your inquiry as to making Oscilloscopes more usable for the disabled.

    From my perspective I can lay out some general requirements that would aid myself and others struggling to continue making.


    A large screen which is either tethered or wifi from the control box, say 8-inches high and ten inches wide.  It should be very thin and light weight.  The main issue for me is limited neck movement, so I would like a viewing screen large enough to be seen without putting it close to my face.  Having touch screen and large control buttons would be very useful.  As I stated, I have big hands, plus people with limited finger movements need to be able to easily find and touch the controls.


    At least four digital/analog inputs that can be configured for various methods of triggering from the circuit under test.

    At least two channels of 100 mega samples per second, so that the device could be used on high speed digital and analog data.


    Long time data logging to either a memory stick or extended HD card is needed, with an ability to step through the data on the screen, plus advanced signal searching capability of the data.  Sometimes you need to search through a data run to find the one signal of interest.  The device should also allow some complex trigger conditions based upon time/signal conditions.


    These capabilities are on my short list.  I have two standard oscilloscopes and use them for my bench testing, but I need something more portable for testing and verifying signals after I have packaged my data collection devices after installing them.  So I need something small and light enough to carry, I have a 20-lb weight limit carrying capability, and still be large enough to clearly see the signals.


    A neck strap is NOT an option.  One was responsible for my injury so I greatly encourage everyone to avoid using them. 

    I have seen the Cable TV guys carrying those things around.  I could never use such things and I worry about them damaging their neck as I did.


    Given the current smart phone implementations, I am surprised that someone has not adopted that approach for oscilloscope applications.  They would be ideal for disabled engineers and a great boon to others who just need a light wieght and versatile scope in a small package, but with a bigger screen.


    So those are some of my issues.  I hope some of the other disabled engineers chime in with their observations for such a scope.  Everyone would benefit, but for some of us, it is essential.


    Just my opinion,


  • Hi Peter,


    You make some good points, the buttons are very good as I mentioned earlier.


    Very easy to use and give a nice feedback and there are no rotary switches.



    I think with this meter a combined waist and a longer shoulder strap would allow it to be held without using hands in a good position, which would allow more mobility.




  • Hi Dab,

    As a disabled engineer, may I ask what type of oscilloscope you are looking for Bench or Handheld and what types of measurements you are looking to make?

    The big advantage for you in this scope is the very small footprint and clear display so can easily be moved and positioned exactly where you need it. The buttons have a positive feel when pressed and are big and clear. The disadvantage with a bench scope is that the scale and time base adjustments are by rotary knobs and this might be difficult for less able people like yourself.

    I might be able to help you find a suitable instrument that would suit your needs

    Best regards


    Test & Measurement Specialist (Farnell - Element14)

  • Thanks DAB, the size of the meter is indeed reasonably hefty and I think the shoulder strap is a bit too short to be usable in holding the meter nicely up propped against your body.


    I'm about 183cm tall so not a giant.




  • Good start and you answered one of the key questions I had about this scope, which is would it be useful for a disabled engineer.

    From your comments and pictures, I think that answer would be no.


    While my hands are large, it appears that the device would be a lot for someone to handle if they suffered from dexterity issues.


    I look forward to your detailed review.




  • Just noticed where to actually get to the write review part so I posted also here.


    I will add the following parts of the review here when they are ready.