Author: Gough Lui
Evaluation Type: Test Equipment
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: False
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: A range of benchtop, handheld, portable and USB oscilloscopes - see Market Survey chapter for more details.
What were the biggest problems encountered?: None in particular.
Tektronix 2-series MSO RoadTest Review
by Gough Lui (July - October 2023)
It was 8th June 2022 when, at the Next Gen Tek event online, I heard about Tektronix’s 2-series MSO. It was heralded as the oscilloscope that will “change everything”, a new product of theirs with “no compromise” that is compact, portable, battery-capable and VESA-mountable. This would be the oscilloscope that would let you take your bench anywhere. Best of all, it would be the baby in Tek’s “series”, with an affordable price. Since that day, I have been interested in getting my hands on one to see whether it was everything they promised it to be and whether it would change the way I worked.
A year later, my thanks to Tektronix and element14 for choosing me as the sole RoadTester for the 2-series MSO and apologies for the slight delay in posting this review due to issues with shipment of the battery option, a number of competing commitments and an unfortunately-timed multiple SSD failure. I hope you find this review informative and look into the detailed blogs for more information. As usual, feel free to like, share or leave a comment. I will try to answer any questions as best as I can.
The oscilloscope market has been seeing many innovations in the last few years, with more features and capabilities arriving at ever-lower price-points.
The Tektronix 2-series MSO is the latest addition to their MSO/MDO family which takes things in a new direction, focusing on portability rather than on increased performance. Being the “baby” of the numbered-series, it slots between the TBS2000B and 3-series MDO. While the oscilloscope itself is smaller, lighter and more compact, it is still very competitive with other “2”-tier oscilloscopes and tries to be a “no compromise” solution.
Because of this, it is a bit of a “jack-of-all-trades”, shipping with a desk stand and having VESA mount holes as standard, it is definitely at home on the bench. With the optional carry bag, kickstand and rubber surround, it is also comfortable being taken around as a portable unit. Finally, with the option for a dual hot-swappable rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, it can even substitute for handhelds as a self-contained solution in field-service scenarios and aspire to displace the venerable laptop and USB-oscilloscope.
As part of my market survey, I compared 29 models across bench-top, handheld, USB and portable market segments. Overall, when compared to bench-top units, the Tektronix 2-series MSO fared well with regards to its bandwidth, number of channels, AWG/pattern generator option, display size/resolution, triggering, weight and software support. There were many areas where the 2-series was neck-and-neck including connectivity, memory depth and protocol decode support. However, the 1-year standard warranty is a notable exception, as is the 8-bit resolution (as others do offer 10-bit or flexible resolution). The fact that many features (such as all protocol decoders) are options will increase the price for a functional configuration and thus the base-price may be somewhat misleading. While the unit is definitely a lot less compromised compared to most handhelds, it is bulkier, heavier and does not offer channel isolation. Additionally, while it does leave most lower-end USB and tablet oscilloscopes in the dust, it is not head-and-shoulders above all of them.
As a result, it’s not quite a sure-win as the demands are different in each market and the specifications are often neck-and-neck. It must be remembered that the portable market is new and full of low-cost Chinese competitors, albeit without the reputation that Tektronix has. The 2-series MSO is definitely an interesting hybrid product that seeks to bring more of the capability of bench-top models into the portable world, while bringing some of the compactness of portability and lightness into the bench-top world. It represents the first foray for a reputable manufacturer into the portable market and I’m sure others are probably watching it closely to see whether it appeals or not. But even if it doesn’t, this seems a worthy upgrade to the TBS2000B and brings the familiar touch-based UI/UX of the bigger MSO/MDO to an even more affordable entry price point.
For more information, see Tek 2-Series MSO In-Depth – Ch1: Market Survey.
For this RoadTest, two well-packaged boxes with excellent internal clearance arrived safely after travelling half-way across the globe from USA to Australia. The boxes had blue Tektronix branding on the outside. The first box contained “2-PC”, short for “protective case” and comprises a custom grey satchel bag designed for use with the 2-series MSO, a protective rubber bumper and a plastic kickstand.
The satchel bag, while very grey on the outside, has a lovely teal green insert. The interior design shows good thought with two zipped pockets large enough to contain the power adapter, power cable and probes. A separate flat pocket is provided on the outside for flat items (e.g. paper). The Tektronix branding features heavily throughout, including on tags attached to the YKK zippers. The strap is sturdy and attaches to the bag using metal clasps.
The rubber bumper is a tight fit, made of TPU and designed such that it will not obstruct any ports while fitted. It has an integrated handle. The kickstand is made of PC/ABS and attaches using screws to two of the VESA mount holes. It opens up to a single fixed angle, intended for use while mobile.
The second box contained the Tektronix 2-series MSO itself. Contrary to expectation, instead of a MSO22 (two-channel) unit with 2-BW-70 (70MHz bandwidth), I received an MSO24 (four-channel) unit with 2-BW-70, 2-DDU (time-limited distributor demo license) and 2-P6139B (500MHz Probe x 4). This was a welcome addition that added more features to the RoadTest review.
The unit definitely surprised, as it is rather cute-looking and a little on the small side. I did not expect it to come with a desk stand made of metal with Tektronix blue on the handle, one which allows for the use of the oscilloscope in up to three angles.
The 10.1” LCD takes up most of the front, with connections for the channels, aux in, probe compensation, pattern generator, AFG/aux out occupying the bottom. Buttons and knobs are on the right of the screen, with all buttons being of a membrane type. The soft power button is on the bottom right.
Connectivity is handled on the right side, with connections for a 16-digital channel probe, USB-device port, gigabit Ethernet port and two USB-host ports.
The left-side handles power input and grounding, while the rear features a VESA standard mount. The power is supplied from a laptop-style medical grade power supply OEMed by Delta Electronics, providing 24V 2.5A DC into a Kycon KPPX-4P style plug that has a captive feature, preventing unintentional disconnection.
Despite its small size, the desk stand actually does an excellent job, using a patch of sticky silicone rubber as a secret weapon to maintain good grip on the desk so as not to slide around while in use. A very clever design indeed. Some paperwork was provided, including packing lists, license audit, safety manual, probe manual and calibration certificate.
By default, the TPP0200 200MHz probes are provided. If ordering 350MHz or 500MHz options, then ordering the P6139B probes are necessary in order to achieve full bandwidth performance. The working end of both probes is virtually identical.
But the BNC end differs, with the P6139B being rather chunky and weighty. Other probe accessories including coloured rings, adjustment tool and spring ground was supplied in a separate bag.
The coax used by the probes is a delight, being relatively thin and super-flexible to the point of wanting to tangle on the bench. Other probes I have used tend to have coax that has shape memory, making them spring back into the coil shape they once were which complicates probe positioning.
Unfortunately despite best efforts by all parties involved, due to shipping difficulties with lithium-ion batteries, the “2-BP” package was not able to be shipped to me for this RoadTest and as a result, I am unable to evaluate the 2-series MSO on battery.
For more information, see Tek 2-Series MSO In-Depth – Ch2: Unboxing & Feature Introduction.
The Tektronix 2-series MSO is supported by excellent documentation which made the getting started process much easier. The process involved a firmware update to V126.96.36.1992, running self-test and signal path compensation (SPC), setting time zone and adjusting probe compensation trimmers. In the process of examining the firmware, I learned that the unit is codenamed “Lexington” and is based around a ZynqMP SoC running PetaLinux with a root user. The unit has a Goodix capacitive touch screen controller and a number of chips including si570, si5324, pca953x, tps65086, ina2xx, tps65086, at24/25, jesd204b, bq32k and max310x. Software-wise, it has Python 2.7 and 3.7, pyvisa and x11vnc. The main application is called “scopeapp”.
As the MSO24 had the 2-DDU option unlocking all features, I was able to access features which would normally require 2-MSO, 2-SOURCE, 2-SERIAL or 2-ULTIMATE to access, but on a time-limited basis. However, as I wasn’t supplied the digital probes, this review does not consider the digital channels.
I found the 10.1” touch-screen to have good resolution and sufficient brightness and contrast for indoor usage. Outdoor usage may prove difficult. The glossy finish of the touch-screen digitiser does cause significant amounts of glare, even when used indoors. The unit’s probe interfaces are plain BNCs without an additional grounding ring which the P6139B could benefit from. This means that the MSO24 isn’t suited for use with TekVPI or FlexChannel probes.
The buttons and knobs on the front panel are well organised and work as expected, although the membrane technology means shorter travel and less tactile definition. It also makes me hesitant about its long-term durability. Although it may be easier to wipe down, it must be remembered that there is no ingress protection rating as there are gaps underneath each knob.
While the unit was reviewed without the battery option, another key point is that the use of a grounding cable is required whenever any voltage higher-than low voltage is being probed and the unit is operating from battery for operator safety. When operating from mains, it is grounded through the power supply.
The software user interface looks neat at first glance but hides a lot of functionality behind its very grey colour scheme. Functions can be accessed through a mixture of toolbar menus, badges, nested-badges, quick menus, flip menus and right-click pop-up menus. Some features require multiple taps to access. This requires some getting used to, as features may not always be easy to find at first glance, although users will learn over time where certain features reside. Touch targets are generally well-sized for ease of operation, although I do find that the smaller font size is advantageous to maximising the use of the limited screen real-estate.
The oscilloscope has all of the functions one would expect from a unit of this class – the ability to save and export waveforms, settings, sessions, reports and screenshots; the ability to perform math functions, FFT, searches, masks, measurements, cursors and X-Y display modes; the ability to run demos, look at license information, retrieve help documentation and perform secure erasure of data. Perhaps the only thing I really miss is segmented memory – a feature normally found in oscilloscopes in the tier above which makes capturing the “occasional” event significantly easier. It was found that the onboard help browser doesn’t operate well with touch interactions.
The unit itself takes about 1 minute and 16 seconds to start-up and 28 seconds to shut down which is not particularly speedy. In use, the knobs are sufficiently responsive, but not quite analog-responsive, as there is some noticeable but not annoying level of delay. The speed of waveform updates and measurements in automatic mode is acceptable as it seems to limit record lengths, but when longer record lengths up to 10Mpts is used, it is possible to slow down the unit to the point that it starts becoming very slow to respond to touch input. Overall, firmware stability was good without any major show-stopping issues.
The unit is relatively quiet. While booting, with the fan at full speed, it sounds like an air conditioner running on high with mostly wind noise and no whine. When the unit has booted, the fan settles down into a slower speed which is like a low-whisper, with only the slightest intermittent coil buzz. It is quieter than most benchtop units.
The unit’s versatility in VESA mounting is demonstrated and allows for a practical way to free up bench space by mounting the unit on a third-party monitor arm. This also improves ergonomics by having the screen at eye-level, although care is needed to avoid “karate-chopping” the cables that enter from the side of the unit. A longer DC-cable would also improve positioning flexibility. I do have some concerns about the durability of the threaded brass inserts in the MSO24’s body, as so much of its kit relies on the VESA mounting holes to function. Pivoting the oscilloscope on the monitor arm will transmit those forces through the oscilloscope’s casing, causing stress. It is also noted that conversion between bench-dwelling and portable mobile modes of operation will necessitate changing VESA mounts which may add further stress.
A practical demonstration of the oscilloscope’s bench capabilities included the construction of a bode plot for a wide-band RF transformer on a PCB of my own design, decoding of serial buses on an embedded systems prototype, capturing of VGA signals using external trigger, testing of the arbitrary function generator and pattern generators, drawing on-screen annotations, collecting Ethernet signals and performing FFT analysis to detect AM/FM radio stations.
For more information, see Tek 2-Series MSO In-Depth – Ch3: On-The-Bench User Experience.
The Tektronix 2-series MSO offers USB-host, USB-device and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity options. The USB-host feature allows for connection of USB mass storage devices for file operations and the use of USB human interface devices such as keyboards and mice to control the user interface. Testing showed the MSO was able to mount FAT, FAT32, NTFS and exFAT formatted drives, but only appears to mount the first partition.
The USB-device port provides a USB-TMC class interface for accessing the programmatic interface through the use of SCPI commands. Where an appropriate VISA layer is installed, the universal IVI driver is installed, allowing the device to be used.
The Ethernet interface provides the ability to access the programmatic interface through the socket server by VXI-11 or by raw socket connection. Unfortunately, it seems the MSO24 doesn’t use mDNS and thus auto-detection of instruments on the network does not occur and it must be manually added to the VISA layer.
The MSO24 also doesn’t have a web interface such as e*Scope found on the higher-end (3-series MDO and above) models. Remote control access to the screen is also available via VNC, which supports setting a password. Unfortunately, this does not include access to the front-panel buttons and knobs, which makes some operations quite difficult to achieve solely through VNC. It does, however, have the very useful ability to mount network shares as if they were local drives and use them to store and retrieve data.
Benchmarking of the performance of the remote interfaces showed that the MSO24 has relatively middling performance compared to other test equipment. The interfaces did perform reliably based on tests which were conducted in a later chapter.
Unfortunately, Wi-Fi is not one of the interface options, which would be handy for using network and internet-connected features while in-the-field and where Ethernet is not readily available. I did try an assortment of USB-Wi-Fi adapters in my possession, however, none elicited any change from the UI.
Provided documentation includes a programmer's manual which is comprehensive and clear. The command-set, however, seems to favour fewer functions which return large "blobs" of text for status information that requires more parsing than I am ordinarily used to. There is also a GitHub account with examples for oscilloscopes, although none are specific for the 2-series MSO at this time. Finally, an TekSeriesScope IVI-COM driver is also provided.
For more information, see Tek 2-Series MSO In-Depth – Ch4: Remote Connectivity.
A key strength of the Tektronix offering is the strength of the software ecosystem that supports their hardware.
This includes TekDrive, a secure, cloud-storage platform designed to work with their instruments. TekDrives can be mounted on oscilloscopes directly for data exchange and can also be accessed through the web browser for viewing and downloading of files.
This platform also provides a space for collaborative sharing and annotation of recorded data. This system worked quite seamlessly for me when a decent Ethernet and internet connection is available, although I note that the online file-browser is lacking the feature to download multiple files at once and the Lines and Waves data analysis tools appear quite limited in features. It was also discovered that .csv files didn’t appear to be visualised either. A 100MB free account is available which is quite handy for smaller files like settings, screenshots and shorter waveforms, with paid upgrades to 50GB “starter”, 600GB “pro” and 2TB “ultimate” tiers available.
TekScope can be considered the flagship oscilloscope remote control and data analysis software. It looks and feels just like the “series” oscilloscope user interface, probably because it is built around similar code, but it runs on your computer instead. Depending on the license, you can analyse as if you were at the oscilloscope with a full suite of serial decoders, jitter/power measurements while supporting remote connection to multiple oscilloscopes. It even promises the possibility of performing analyses which are not natively supported by the oscilloscope natively as it operates on the data downloaded from or recorded from supported oscilloscopes. The basic offering of TekScope is free. Where measurements and decoding are necessary, the starter license is required at $519 perpetual or $207/year. Certain features are broken out into “Pro” licenses, with the professional license costing $1040 perpetual or $415/year offering the choice of one Pro license. The full Ultimate offering costs $1350 perpetual or $519/year. A free 30-day trial is available and was used for this review.
TekScope connects to one-or-more supported oscilloscopes to download data for analysis on a single-shot or continuous basis. If remote control is enabled, changes to the oscilloscope’s settings can be done from the user interface. The process of updating data takes about half-a-second to a second depending on the number of channels. As a result, analysis is not as frequent as it might be for options that run on the oscilloscope natively. It is possible to perform analyses and decoding that is not supported natively by the oscilloscope, however, as lower-end models do not possess the hardware, it will not be able to make use of specialised serial bus triggers for example and is not a replacement for buying a higher-end oscilloscope or on-oscilloscope options. It can also connect to TekDrive and offer a SCPI programmatic interface in the same way an actual hardware oscilloscope can.
I found TekScope to be a very compelling offering, as long as users are aware of the limitations. It is intuitive for users who are already familiar with the Tektronix “series” oscilloscope user interface. Being able to operate on a computer means getting access to larger screens and keyboard/mouse interactivity for better quality analysis, annotations and data export. It also means that the oscilloscope can focus on capturing waveform files for analysis later – analysis that truly matches what is had on the oscilloscope in both looks and function.
Keithley KickStart is a software more familiar to those working with Keithley instruments, but since the acquisition by Tektronix, they have also been including various Tektronix oscilloscopes into the suite. KickStart is a paid software, offering yearly subscriptions to individual apps or the whole suite, or a perpetual license option that includes upgrades for the first year, requiring maintenance licenses to refresh this upgrade window for an extra year. They also offer 60-day trials of its software modules, of which the Scope app supports the MSO24.
The app allows for downloading waveform data, measurement data or screenshot data and relies on the oscilloscope being hand-configured for acquisition first. Collected data can be visualised as a table with statistical summary or as a rescalable graph. In all, this doesn’t seem as much of a compelling option in isolation, however its usefulness may increase where multiple apps and instruments are used together.
Finally, ArbExpress is a program designed to help build arbitrary waveform files. It seems not to have received much in the way of updates from the “Windows XP” era and doesn’t seem to have a proper setting for the MSO24. I have only considered its inclusion because it was named in the MSO24 datasheet, however, its use is not essential as the MSO24 will accept .csv files generated through other means.
For more information, see Tek 2-Series MSO In-Depth – Ch5: TekDrive, TekScope, Kickstart & ArbExpress.
Unlike most other oscilloscopes from the big brands, the 2-series MSO is portable by nature. Assembling the 2-PC option involves putting on a very tight rubber bumper for protection and a carry handle and screwing in a plastic kickstand that shares the top two VESA mount holes.
The rubber bumper does cause some clearance issues with the desk stand, while the kickstand requires the VESA mounting holes to be clear, meaning that any mounting plates for VESA monitor arms must be removed. This does make the process of converting between benchtop and portable less convenient than one may initially envisage. I do wonder how well the TPU rubber handle will handle long-term use.
Then, it is a case of putting the unit and accessories into the bag. I felt the bag was genuinely of excellent quality with smooth zippers and nice lining material. The pockets were very well designed, easily accommodating the power adapter, power cable and full set of four probes. The bag was designed to accommodate the 2-series MSO with the 2-BP/2-BATPK battery option that increases the depth of the unit, so a unit without this option will potentially move about a little in the case. It is unfortunate that there isn’t anything specific to protect the front side LCD screen of the oscilloscope.
Unfortunately, this review does not cover the 2-BP/2-BATPK option due to problems shipping Lithium-Ion batteries internationally. This option would be installed on the rear of the 2-series MSO, using four screws and connecting to a port hidden behind a flap on the rear.
In the review configuration, the main unit with rubber bumper and kickstand weighed 2.215kg. When placed inside the bag with its carry strap, power supply, power cable, four 500MHz probes, the whole configuration weighed 3.90kg. This makes it roughly the same as an ordinary laptop in a carry bag.
The whole configuration withstood my public transportation journey on bus and train, taking one-and-a-half-hours each way, with a considerable walk as well. At times, the bag was swinging and was practically getting knee-d, but the oscilloscope survived and the bag (and strap) proved their durability. Having the unit on the bench, it was possible to do some I2C decoding and monitoring of AC power waveform with no problems except the glare reflections from the glossy surface of the touch screen. This proves this set-up is a practical portable oscilloscope with entry-level benchtop-grade functionality.
For more information, see Tek 2-Series MSO In-Depth – Ch6: Going Portable.
As an oscilloscope is a very sophisticated device, there are only a limited set of tests that someone like myself without a calibration lab can perform. Regardless, I have tried to measure relevant parameters to check the performance of the MSO24 unit I received.
Front end noise was measured after a signal path correction (SPC) with BNC connections open, at the highest sample rate (2.5GSa/s), with the longest record length (10Mpts) and highest channel gain (1mV/div). The noise from all channels show an average peak-to-peak ranging from 3.0624mV to 3.2215mV and an RMS value ranging from 288.53µV to 299.46µV. This appears to be fairly typical performance for an 8-bit oscilloscope.
An attempt was made to measure skew, however, none was visually identified.
Input measurement error was measured with channels driven by a Keithley 2450 SourceMeter from -1V to 1V. Gain error ranged from 1.21% to 2.13% which is consistent with the ±2% guaranteed specification. Voltage offset ranged from 1.9 to 3.9mV.
The optional arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) was tested for AC and DC voltage error by connection to a Keithley 2110 5.5-digit DMM at 10PLC for maximum accuracy. The DC output linearity was within 0.42% with an offset of 7.7mV by curve fitting. The amplitude offsets were much better for positive offsets (up to 4mV) as compared to negative offsets (which had up to 22mV offset) but the values appear to be compliant with the 1.5% + 1mV specification when DMM error is considered.
The AC linearity was better at 0.36% with 0.4mV offset by curve fitting. The voltage error was around 0.4%, reaching a high of about 17.6mV. The error seems to have a few “jumps” in places which do not align with the Keithley 2110’s ranges and are suspected to be actually generated by the MSO24. This is well within the 1.5% + 1mV specification.
By looking at the FFT of just noise input, it seems that the bandwidth of the input extends to 500MHz in a relatively flat way, rolling off afterward, reaching an approximate -3dB point at 560MHz.
Experiments using the FRA feature showed very consistent channel amplitude responses with only small mismatch at higher frequencies (>10MHz) of <1dB. This may be due to the coaxial cable and adapters in use.
Standby power consumption measurements were made using a Tektronix PA1000 Power Analyser and PWRVIEW software. The standby power consumption of the power adapter alone was 0.547W. With the MSO24 connected, it measured 1.195W with a Ures of 0.167W making it a “marginal” result for 1W standby power compliance. Operating power was measured at 31.9W from the mains, estimated to be around 27.6W from DC. This compares slightly higher than the 24.3W estimate based on battery pack capacity and stated operating time.
Thermal images taken with an Xinfrared InfiRay P2 Pro USB-C Thermal Camera show a maximum temperature of around 41°C around the top grille area, representing a temperature rise of approximately 20°C over ambient.
With this, it seems the Tektronix 2-series MSO is performing as expected and the results mostly corroborate datasheet figures where available.
For more information, see Tek 2-Series MSO In-Depth – Ch7: Instrument Performance Tests.
After spending two months with the Tek 2-series MSO, I think that it is an interesting product in many ways. It represents the first foray by a reputable manufacturer into the portable oscilloscope market. It is a product seems to be designed to be a jack-of-all-trades, potentially competing with desktop, handheld, portable and USB oscilloscopes. It also lowers the cost of entry into Tektronix’s “series” MSO/MDO oscilloscope, bringing touch-UI and more advanced functionality into a lower price bracket while having a very “tall” upgrade ceiling with prices reaching into the lower-end of “3” tier products. It offers a competitive, 10.1” colour LCD touch screen with 1280x800 resolution and good connectivity in the form of USB 2.0 and Gigabit Ethernet. It is definitely portable enough to carry around and comes with a smart desk stand that “sticks” quite well to the bench. Its compact size is also an asset with the VESA mount allowing for monitor-arm mounting that improves ergonomics and reduces the footprint on the bench. It is also acoustically quiet in operation compared with other bench-top oscilloscopes.
In terms of performance, it seems to be relatively typical of an 8-bit oscilloscope, although measurements and analysis do bog down if you force it to a full 10Mpts record length. The firmware was stable, the feature-set is reasonable (assuming you have all options unlocked) and the documentation was well written. What is perhaps most valuable is the software support and extended capabilities available in the form of TekScope, TekDrive and to a lesser-extent, Keithley KickStart.
The main downsides are the glossy touch-screen finish which is a glare magnet and the one-year warranty as standard. Also worth noting is the steep price of the 2-series MSO when the appropriate options are considered. The limited options for additional serial protocols, power/jitter analysis features onboard and lack of support for TekVPI and FlexChannel probes is another downside. I’m also not entirely convinced about the longevity of the membrane front-panel buttons and the reliance on the VESA mount holes on the rear.
If I could have a wish, it would be for the unit to have inbuilt Wi-Fi connectivity or support for USB-Wi-Fi adapters as Ethernet may not always be available. Another would be for segmented memory, as that would improve the usefulness of the memory and reduce frustration when attempting to capture sporadic events.
I think Tektronix’s positioning is trying to capture first-time oscilloscope buyers with the opportunity to buy into a known and trusted brand, while providing a license-based unlock pathway towards upgrades which may be afforded in the future. They may also be trying to define the mainstream portable “tablet” oscilloscope market. But the harsh reality is that the mainstream “entry-level” oscilloscope market is flush with options, some at very low costs with higher-resolution ADCs (although often with less bandwidth) and fully-unlocked serial decoding and analysis features which may outnumber that offered by the 2-series even when fully upgraded. While these options don’t have the level of trust, reputation and support that the 2-series MSO has coming from Tektronix, the other options are still likely to draw the eye of many first-time purchasers.
In the end, it seems much of the 2-series MSO’s capabilities are dependent on licensed options. Let’s just say, it’s going to be a tough day for me when the 2-DDU license expires and I’m back to the 2-BW-70 base option – downgrading from 500MHz bandwidth back to 70MHz, losing serial/parallel decoding, AFG/PG output, bode plot analysis and digital channels (although I don’t have the probe). In that sort of configuration, as an embedded engineer, the oscilloscope would be significantly less useful.
Excellent review (as usual)! This was yet another roadtest where you really went broard and deep in your testing and brough some great insights to the process.
As aways, it is a pleasure to read and follow…
Interesting product! I wondered if the main target users were home-workers, i.e. working remotely for a firm, who would mostly find it unacceptable to have large machines at home, since they may have just…
Ohh left-right BNC nubs versus up-down, fancy!
Definitely a beautiful looking o-scope!
Thanks for the comment scottiebabe .
Indeed, I would probably award it "cutest looking serious oscilloscope" or perhaps "smallest big-box oscilloscope". I think the desk stand itself is a work of genius for its simplicity, small footprint and its grip on the desk that makes it absolutely brilliant to use. Just a shame that the VESA mount monitor arm "hover-scope" won me over in the end, so the stand is sitting on a shelf instead ...
As for the BNCs - I was more interested in the fact there is an additional pogo-pin for grounding that usually ensures a good ground connection. In the case of the 2-series MSO, the area around the BNCs is actually plastic, thus the pin never actually connects to a ground. If you look at some of the higher-end oscilloscope's front panels, you'll see a golden ground ring around the BNC so that it will work properly. As a bonus, it might also be used in automatic probe-connection detection, such that when the probe is mated to the BNC, the oscilloscope enables the channel automatically (that happens on the R&S RTM3004 I've previously reviewed).
Tek 3-series MDO - note guard ring and TekVPI probe interface for active probes.
Tek 2-series MSO - no guard ring, just plastic around BNCs. No TekVPI probe support.
Because of this, while I suppose the probe may still work just fine, the pin itself is redundant when used with this particular oscilloscope.
Thanks for the comment shabaz
"I wondered if the main target users were home-workers"
I suspect this probably wasn't the primary market as development may have already commenced before COVID-19 became a big thing, but it certainly would have become a consideration and potential selling point given the COVID-19 lockdown situation. Although, that being said, some places I know were letting some workers take home gear from the lab "on loan" for working from home. A unit like the 2-series MSO would certainly travel easier, and a lot of scoping is for basic things where a high end unit may not be necessary, but depending on the work - the 2-series may not be enough and is no match for an upper-level mainstream oscilloscope. Component shortages were a real issue during and afterward, so I can't be sure about the availability of the units either ...
"it's odd not having the logic probes/protocol decode as default"
I think this is perhaps a reflection of the way Tektronix (and many big-name vendors) market their oscilloscopes - they always leave things to option codes which make the base-price a little more palatable while providing an upgrade path. Of course, if your pockets are deep enough, you may save a bit by buying the "bundled" license upfront (e.g. 2-ULTIMATE in this case).
It should be noted that R&S generally do the same - everything is an option. Keysight seem to bundle some standard serial decoding now, with other analysis features by option. Rigol also seem to have standard sets of serial decoding as part of the base inclusion.
"Maybe the 1-year warranty isn't an issue if it's leased"
Assuming the leasing company prices themselves right to cover it. But perhaps more likely is that customers are likely to pay up for the R3 or R5 option for 3-year or 5-year warranties to protect their investment and not including it as part of the base offering lets this achieve even lower list prices and look more competitive. MSO24-R5's list price is US$208 according to a few online vendors, which makes it an absolutely silly thing not to purchase it (assuming the pricing is correct).
"For a firm supplying it to employees it's super-trustworthy"
I think it definitely would appeal in instances where there are specific quality management requirements and traceable calibration requirements as Tek can offer this and the lower-cost options can't. It's also perhaps a big appeal where you might want to standardise on test equipment and ensure everyone knows how to use the equipment well - as the 2-series MSO shares the UI with all its bigger brothers and the TekScope software, this might reduce your training requirements significantly. As the "baby" with the lower price, you might be willing to let this unit be used by your more junior (and potentially reckless) colleagues first, preserving the premium units for the "special access" lab. Alternatively, it gives the possibility for the lab to go mobile for field service on-site, while collaborating with those "at base" through uploading recordings to TekDrive and analysing them either on-scope elsewhere or via TekScope on a computer.
I think it's an "ecosystem" offering which might appeal to some types of customer - but it comes at a cost and it's not entirely encompassing (e.g. with regards to TekVPI/FlexChannel probes for example).
Another thing worth considering is the durability, quality of design/manufacture, longevity of the unit and availability of service and repair options where you are. In some corporate environments, downtime is unacceptable, so having fast local service and knowing that there will be support will pay itself back the first time something goes down.
Thus, it is important to understand that perhaps hobbyists are willing to try new and accept different compromises compared to corporate customers. Even within the educational space where I work, some are willing to stock their lab with cheap and cheerful products that get broken on the regular, while others pay a bit more and have something bulletproof and arguably nicer to use.
Ohh left-right BNC nubs versus up-down, fancy!
Definitely a beautiful looking o-scope!
Interesting product! I wondered if the main target users were home-workers, i.e. working remotely for a firm, who would mostly find it unacceptable to have large machines at home, since they may have just their one desk for all work. This could be shipped to home workers in much the same way as their laptop and other IT equipment might be.
But, if that's the case, then it's odd not having the logic probes/protocol decode as default, since surely 90% of home workers nowadays would need that more than analog-only. I'm speculating of course.
During the height of the pandemic it was normal to see engineers with their equipment spread out all over the kitchen table.
Maybe the 1-year warranty isn't an issue if it's leased and some other firm swaps them out when they fail.
For a first-time buyer, it's hard to justify as you suggest, due to the cost/competition. For a firm supplying it to employees it's super-trustworthy compared to the Rigols/Siglents of the world I guess!
Excellent review (as usual)! This was yet another roadtest where you really went broard and deep in your testing and brough some great insights to the process.
As aways, it is a pleasure to read and follow along with your readtest.