Tektronix’s New Oscilloscope On-Trend for Affordable, Education-Focused T&M EquipmentApril 28, 2020 by Kate Smith
Today, Tektronix announces the release of its newest series of digital storage oscilloscopes aimed at pros and students.
The new TBS2000B series of oscilloscopes releases today with a focus on affordability and accessibility, particularly for those in university-level labs.
The most important features of the new device are its sizable display ("50% more signal visibility," according to the device documentation), a lower-noise front end design, a proprietary TekVPI probe interface, and bandwidth that's "field upgradable" between 70 MHz, 100 MHz, and 200 MHz.
The TBS2000B digital storage oscilloscope. Image used courtesy of Tektronix
The new line is an extension of the existing Tektronix series, the TBS2000, released in 2016 as a "basic" scope option (as it was referred to in most of its collateral). Tektronix refers to this new series as a "drop-in replacement" for its predecessor.
Perhaps what's most notable about this scope, however, is that it's in-step with a wave of education-focused initiatives across the industry.
Oscilloscopes as the Premier EE Tool
A notable concept here is that Tektronix has specifically called out the needs of engineers and educators.
In the company's press release, Tektronix highlights some of the features they consider to be important for education environments, including:
- HelpEverywhere, a feature that calls up tips across the interface for navigating menus, etc.
- TekSmart Lab network software, a feature which links multiple devices so an instructor may monitor multiple devices from one PC
- What they describe as a "courseware ecosystem" that allows instructors to preload devices with information for labs
These features focus primarily on allowing instructors to assist in their students' operations in a lab setting.
The TBS2000B. Image from Tektronix
Oscilloscopes, in particular, are crucial tools for electrical engineers. According to 2018 AAC survey data, over 74% of respondents identified scopes as equipment they used in the design process, second only to multimeters.
While 80% of respondents with six or more years of experience identified oscilloscopes as part of their daily lives, only 67% of respondents in school or with fewer than six years of professional experience did the same.
Survey data from EETech Media
Part of this difference between generations may be explained by the participation of respondents who identified as students. After all, who can boast that they left school with total mastery of professional-level T&M equipment? (No, seriously. If you did gain real mastery of T&M equipment in the course of your education, let us know in the comments. We have questions for you.)
The prevalence of oscilloscopes in the shared EE experience may explain why T&M companies are so often involved in developing tools for students and instructors.
T&M Equipment as Education Tools
Tektronix is not the first to tailor equipment toward students and/or makers. In 2019, Keysight announced its InfiniiVision 1000 X-Series that offers similar specs to Tektronix's newer model. In this industry, students are often associated with being the future of engineering, a source of untapped potential that will influence innovation (and sourcing) for years to come.
Such being the case, it isn't uncommon for industry companies, T&M companies in particular, to partner with educational institutions to provide either free equipment, software licenses, or even suggestions for coursework. This trend of partnerships, combined with the influx of affordable test equipment, has been a boon for school labs that sometimes rely on outside donors to populate a lab with devices.
But the utility for students and the basic functionality for professional use doesn't necessarily mean that practicing engineers will always reach for more affordable test equipment as their priority.
When you need basic functionality in an oscilloscope, do you reach for a "basic" device? Or do you prefer a more feature-rich device that touts greater accuracy (and probably greater costs)? Or do you go even further toward basic necessity and go for a device that costs mere hundreds of dollars from perhaps a less well-known brand name?
Share how you weigh the pros and cons in this situation in the comments below.