We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Computer Microscope?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A computer microscope is a microscope which either interfaces directly with a personal computer, or else is designed with a computer built-in, and some method of transferring images to a computer. The computer microscope is a relatively recent invention, growing out of scientific-grade microscopes that use computer technology. It is a very popular toy, both for adults and children, and can be used for a wide range of basic applications, although currently resolutions are not high enough to be suitable for many more complex purposes.

The first popular computer microscope was developed by Intel as part of its Intel Play line. The chip giant decided it wanted to get involved in the smart toy movement, creating toys that included on-board computers. Rather than building dolls, or another form of toy that had limited real-world applications, Intel opted to launch its line with a useful consumer-scientific product, the QX3™. The QX3™ is a fairly simple computer microscope, which can connect to a computer through the USB port. It can then take still photographs directly to the computer, or can record videos.

Intel eventually discontinued its Intel Play line, selling it to Prime Entertainment, which became the Digital Blue brand. Digital Blue produces the most popular computer microscope currently on the market, the QX5™, the successor to the earlier QX3™. The QX5™ contains a number of upgrades to the earlier QX3™, and because of its fairly low price point, has become very popular both in schools and in homes.

The QX5™ is essentially a webcam, and offers three different magnification levels: 10X, 60X, and 200X. The computer microscope is connected to a computer via a USB cable, and from the computer it can be programmed to do a wide range of tasks. It can take videos and photographs, and can be set to take time-lapse photographs at specific intervals, as well. The sensor used in this computer microscope achieves images of 640x480 pixels, making them fairly crisp, and at less than $100 US Dollars (USD), the price is low enough for most consumer needs.

Other computer microscopes are comparable both in price and resolution to the QX5™ and earlier QX3™, with some as cheap as $30 USD for microscopes with a maximum resolution of 60X. Different microscopes have different form factors, however, with some made to use like a loupe, freestanding and designed to be held, and others designed more like traditional microscopes. This is largely a matter of preference, and some of the freestanding microscopes include stands so that they can be held stationary if needed.

Higher-quality digital microscopes also exist, in the $300 USD to $600 USD price range. These microscopes are much more like traditional microscopes, but often include a digital display. They accept flash memory, which can be loaded with stationary or video slides, and can be connected to the computer via USB. These types of digital microscopes may get as high as 400X magnification, and with an additional 4X digital zoom they can easily view slides at up to 1600X their actual size.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.