Real-time sampling oscilloscopes let you see the details of a waveform because they capture details, especially when your waveform isn't repetitive. Equivalent-time sampling oscilloscopes generally provide higher bandwidth for the money, but they sample slowly and are thus limited to repetitive waveforms. The PicoScope 9404-05 sampler-extended real-time oscilloscope (SXRTO) from Pico Technology gives you both by switching between real-time and equivalent-time sampling.

This four-channel oscilloscope delivers 5 GHz analog bandwidth with 12-bit resolution and 50-Ω input impedance. In real-time mode, it samples at up to 500 Msamples/s. Acquisition memory is 250 ksamples. The SXRTO lets you capture pulse and step transitions to 70 ps, impulses to 140 ps, and clocks and data eyes to 3 Gbits/s. 

PicoTech_9400

In equivalent-time sample mode, the SXRTO uses random equivalent-time sampling (as opposed to sequential equivalent-time sampling), which provides an effective sample rate of 1 Tsample/s. In addition, you can take advantage of triggering to capture data prior to the trigger event, much like a real-time oscilloscope does.

The SXRTO uses PicoSample 4 software, which provides some 60 math functions as well as eye-diagram measurements with mask tests for serial buses such as USB, SerialATA, PCIExpress, and Ethernet. Connectivity is available through rear-panel USB and LAN ports. You can embed the software into your applications through an ActiveX control. Programming examples are provided in VB.NET, MATLAB, LabVIEW, and Delphi. If none of those are your choice, you can use any programming language or standard that supports the Microsoft COM interface. LabVIEW drivers are also available.

Price: $14,995; €11,995; £10,995.

Pico Technology, sampler-extended real-time oscilloscope product page