Review of Agilent U1620A 200MHz Handheld Oscilloscope

Table of contents

RoadTest: Agilent U1620A 200MHz Handheld Oscilloscope

Author: timryder

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?: Fluke Handheld Oscilloscope

What were the biggest problems encountered?: -Had dead Lipo from the get go (Was replaced) -Very poor options in Multi-Meter mode -Refresh rate on the Multi-Meter mode 1sec, way too slow for my needs and applications. -Found when using the scope outside in cold climates that the LCD screen had slow refresh rates and blurred image rendering.

Detailed Review:

I know it's been a while since I have received this product and I hadn't written the review yet, but I hope that my extensive and comprehensive review will make up for the long delay.  Besides, something so powerful like this needs a good bit of time before you realllly test it all out.  And no, i didn't sell it on eBay, that's shady...


My initial impression of this product when I opened the box was VERY good.  I thought Agilent did a fantastic job packaging this thing up and everthing had it's rightful place in the box.  The cardboard enclosure was designed very well and you can tell they put a lot of thought into how the customer would open it.  My one qualm which I can't really hold against them is that they shipped the product with a European style power cord which plugged into the brick power supply.  You know the one that every tech/nerd has about a million of, so it wasn't a big deal swapping it out with another one I had lying around.


I read through their quick start guide which made perfect sense and their detailed drawings and 2D data was well placed.  Often times when you get a product from overseas the verbiage is "Chinglish" and barely recognizable.  Seeing as how this is a global manufacturer but based out of Malaysia I was very happy to read perfect English instructions.

I decided before I get my grubby little fingers into this thing and start playing that I should let the battery charge overnight and let the battery have its' best chance of a good life.  Well I plugged it in and found it unusual that the led behind the power button was blinking Red...  there was nothing in the documentation about this indicator.  I let it continue to charge overnight thinking it just was very low from shipment and needed some time.  So I woke up the next morning and saw that the power light had still a red blinking backlight.  That didn't stop me from turning it on, I powered it up and saw that the battery indicator was saying it was about Half and still charging.  I wondered if that was normal and maybe I was being too optimistic on how long it should take to charge a lipo.  I mean I use LIPO batteries all the time and haven't ever heard of one taking this long but what do I know?  These guys make TOP Notch products.


Well much to my regret, it turned out that I had a bad battery image.  The Scope worked perfectly when you plug the battery charger in while using it, but alas its portable functionality wasn't able to be tested.


I tried getting in contact first with Agilent directly and unfortunately I got a bit of a run-around since the product was not "Purchased" but rather it was used in the Road Test.  There were no purchase ordered or reference documenations I could give them to satisfy their requirements for service.  They suggested after I spoke with a manager that I get in contact with Element14 which I then did by e-mailing our wonderful director of the Road Test program.  She was able to contact Agilent directly and within a few days I had a phone call from an engineer in California at Agilent directly.  He was very nice and after a few simple questions I gladly answered about the unit and it's behaviors, he said he would send me a replacement battery for the unit because my assesment was right and it sounds like I have a bad LIPO.


Well I wouldn't have thought it but the very next day after I got home from work I found a package on my door from Agilent and it was a replacement LIPO for the Scope.  They were also nice enough to include for free a little LED which clips onto the testing Probes!!!! how cool is that! (Picture to come).  So needless to say once I was able to get in touch with the right person, support and servce was outstanding!


I had finally been able to successfully charge my Handheld Scope up and use it to it's full potential.


In my profession I use mostly benchtop scopes to analize noise and feedback of all types of Position Encoders and Resolvers to find errors in servo motor positioning systems. This scope worked just beautifully for that! I could connect X and Y feedback from my 2 axis machine and plot the data on the scope in 2D. I loved it.  The portable handheld feature with the very nice strap was my best friend for a few days as I didn't have to lug a bulky benchtop one through my plant to do some troubleshooting.  I was especially happy with the should strap which I slung over my shoulder and didn't have to carry the scope directly freeing my hands for holding other things... like.... pens.  . . . and a notebook.  While using the device as a right handed individual, the hand strap along the left side of the Scope I thought was nice. I have large hands so I didn't find it difficult at all to hold the scope and use it with my right hand. It had a very nice feel to it as well.


My favorite feature of this scope was the ability to LOG data without having sit and watch this thing until I saw an error in the graph on-screen.  I could hook it up to the machine and start recording the plots.  Then when I take and download the saved plots to a USB stick, bring it over to my laptop, I easily found strange patterns in the feedback with consistant results which helped me to identify the problems much easier!  The software which you need on a windows based computer to view the logged data more accurately was a bit tricky to understand, but them I'm not known for reading the help files like I should.  After 20 minutes of clicking through it however, I had enough experience to do something with the saved plots.


Ok so it's a very versitile well rounded and useful HandHeld Scope which I can say I am very happy to have in my toolbag.  But what didn't I like about it.



I can honestly say that I wasn't too impressed with the Multi-Meter aspect of this device.  There are not as many options which I use regularly with my Fluke to justify only carrying this arond with me and not the Fluke Meter also.  The response time is very slow, it refreshes every 1 second, this can be useful if all you're trying to do is find out what voltage you have coming from your transformer or stick it in a socket to make sure its not HOT. Plus the refresh rate of 1 second I'm sorry to say is just no good.   There aren't any display options either when in the Meter mode, youre stuck with the stark White background and black lettering.


I thing for a few more dollar Aglient can include a bag or something to hold all of the wonderful accessories which come in this kit.  I found myself dropping or losing my test probes when lugging it around from place to place and eventually settled for a backpack to put everything in.