Top positive review
332 people found this helpful
Exceptional value for the money
on February 15, 2010
I'll start out by pointing out that this is a $35 microscope. It has its limitations, and I doubt if this model is in use at the CDC. But for the money, it's an excellent buy.
We got this one for our five-year-old son, who enjoys it very much, and is able to use it. He started out with quite a bit of adult guidance, but he is now able to use it by himself.
As far as I can tell, the optics are quite good. There do appear to be a couple of minor flaws, so that if the microscope is out of focus, some phantom images come into view. But as it is focused, they disappear, and you get a clear image.
From some of the other reviews, it appears that the lamp sometimes fails to work. Ours works much better than expected, but I wouldn't consider the electric light to be critical. The microscope is actually easier to use with the mirror, and you generally get a better image. The trick is to place a bright light in front of the microscope, shining on the mirror. A desk lamp works well. Then, before attemting to focus the microscope, move the mirror around until the light through the eyepiece is brightest. Only then should you begin to focus. Start with the lowest magnification, carefully focus the image, and then carefully move the slide around to center the image. After you have focused it with the lowest magnification, then increase the magnification (without moving anything else), and then repeat the process of focusing. In most cases, it's best to stay with the lowest magnification. But you should always start with the lowest magnification.
If the bulb burns out, it should be possible to replace it at any almost any hardware store. Simply show them the bulb, and they will find one the same shape and size. The only other piece of information you need to give is the voltage, which would be three volts. But again, if the bulb burns out or fails to work for some reason, better results can be obtained with the mirror. In any event, a burnt out lightbulb shouldn't induce the levels of trauma suggested by some other reviewers. You certainly shouldn't just stop using the microscope and simply wait for the manufacturer to send you a new bulb.
Louis Pasteur probably didn't have an electric light on his microscope, and you child doesn't need one either!
If you understand the limitations and take care when adjusting the focus knob, you will get excellent results from this microscope. It comes with enough prepared slides so that you can begin looking at things right away. I would recommend starting with the prepared slides. Once you've figured out how the microscope works, you will be able to move on to other items.
Other reviewers have pointed out that many of the accessories are of very poor quality. The slides are actually quite good, and since they're plastic, you don't need to worry about breakage. Another reviewer correctly pointed out that the warning about sharp objects is absolutely unnecessary, since the "scalpel" is made out of plastic, and is incapable of cutting, intentionally or otherwise. We originally intended to remove the scalpel before giving the microscope to our son, but that was not necessary. The various other petri dishes, eye droppers, etc., are perfectly functional.
This is not a toy microscope. It is a completely functional microscope that happens to be cheap enough that it can be given to kids as a very educational toy. It's an exceptional value for the money.