Customer Reviews: Carson® 5x MiniBrite LED Lighted Slide-Out Aspheric Magnifier with Protective Sleeve (PO-55)
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on October 4, 2011
UPDATE: Since at least 25 "Marketplacers" have commented on my original review (exactly one year ago), I decided to update the review with a full year of hands-on experience. This magnifier should be renamed or nicknamed the "Masterpiece". The built-in LED light is genius and just waiting to be paired with some rechargeable AAA's to give you months of service. The slide cover feature guarantees that normal usage will be rewarded with years of protection. The size (exactly same size and weight as Sony mp3 Walkman) makes this magnifier convenient and portable. Switching batteries is a breeze. Two-tone black and charcoal color combined with rounded shape and highest quality plastic assures you will impress when you give as gift, when you offer it to the boss during a meeting of your peers, or when you've squinted as tightly as possible and still can't read the small print. Probably one of my top five uses has turned out to be reading product descriptions, label contents, ads describing the deal terms, "boilerplate". One big cheer for Marketplace's Magnificent Masterpiece Magnifier!!!

We've always managed to find some type of magnifier around our home when the need arose. Oftimes it may have been a Cracker Jack prize variety, but for years we survived. A few years ago my wife upgraded to a dollar store magnifier. More recently I have seen my need and frequency for magnification increase considerably. As is customary in our house, the hunt for a purchase like this begins at Amazon.

After a few weeks of research and armed with substantial new relevant learning, I settled on Carson's 5X power LED lighted PO-55 model pocket magnifier. It arrived yesterday and our family couldn't be more pleased with the purchase. Very durable feel, rubber pads in right places make the unit comfortable to hold and a snap to manipulate. The LED light completes the difference between a great product and a REALLY GREAT product! Three AAA battery (not included) installation was simple enough...we were using the magnifier's total package of features within a minute of unpacking. Do yourself and loved ones a huge favor! Buy a handful of these magnifiers and spread them to the best locations in your space and among your pals who will APPRECIATE YOUR KINDNESS AND SMARTS! My seller was Amazon, delivery was by USPS (one day earlier than committed), packaging was excellent (both the unit itself and within the box with other items. Nothing cheap, flimsy or poorly designed about this magnifier...only first class, QUALITY BUILD and I expect years of good service.
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on November 14, 2011
I've been recommending the older model Carson PO-25 in my books for several years now. This newer model is much better, and costs only a few dollars more. This new PO-55 model sports a 5X magnifier instead of the 3X magnifier in original PO-25. If you want the least expensive and most versatile sensor magnifier for cleaning your digital SLR, buy this PO-55 model instead. Make sure you receive the actual PO-55, with a gray case, and which uses three AAA batteries. Some vendors have been substituting an inferior black-case model with a distorted lens. The genuine article comes in red-and-white packaging with the Carson MiniBrite trade name and PO-55 model number prominently displayed. Accept no substitute -- I love these!
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on May 31, 2013
Last Friday on the same order I bought both this Carson 5x MiniBrite LED Lighted Slide-Out Aspheric Magnifier with Protective Sleeve (PO-55) for $9.11 and the Carson MagniBrite 5x LED Lighted Slide-Out Aspheric Magnifier with Protective Sleeve (OD-95) for $7.85) with free Prime 2 day shipping. They arrived this week and the only difference between them is the PO-55 is black and the OD-95 is dark green. So you can save $1.91 (prices today) unless you want to pay a little more for the same item in black instead of dark green. Also, although the colors and graphics of their display packaging is different, both were labeled as MiniBrite - neither package had MagniBrite anywhere on it. As a final note, I found 5x magnification a bit more then I need and with the small lens area it really allows you to see only a few words at a times. I just noticed they have the same item with 3x magnification instead of 5x for $6.37 (Carson PO-25) so I'm going to order one and see how it compares. Hope this helps someone save a little.
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on March 6, 2013
Small magnifiers with real glass optics are inexpensive. Many reviewers recommend buying several and placing them in various sites, such as glovebox, tool shelf, or desk drawer. With this in mind, I bought three different brands. The Carson 5X minibrite with LED is my favorite for around the house and car. I perceive that it has slightly more width of field than the Bausch & Lomb 5X Aspheric, meaning that I see the magnification extending in a larger ring around the target item without distortion. There also appears to be less distortion in the depth of field, meaning that you can move the magnifier in slightly larger increments toward and away from the target item without encountering blur. The case is nicely designed and the LED is a useful on-off feature for many situations, but the 3 AAA batteries add weight. I will use the Bausch & Lomb 5X Aspheric for back packing. It is smaller, light weight, and easily balanced for reading topographical maps. The case is a less rugged plastic than the Carson case, but I have had it rattling around in an exterior pack pocket with no sand entry or breakage. The third glass magnifier I have tested is the General Tools 532, with 2.5X magnification. It is a more slender and comfortable pocket carry than both the B & L and Carson. The lens is stored in a fold of soft leatherette that is open to dirt. When the lens is rotated out, the leatherette is easy to hold between thumb and forefinger for inspecting. The General Tools 532 is the lightest of the three and I carry it for wildflower hikes. To me, the optics have adequate but not powerful magnification, good width of field and it is easy to read left to right without distortion.
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on February 1, 2012
I own both this Carson and the similar but lower magnification Lightwedge Lightwedge Lighted Pocket Magnifier, Black. The Carson, with it's 5x magnification and slightly brighter light, is better for detail inspection of small items such as coins and stamps, while the Lightwedge with it's 2x magnification and wider field of view is more suitable for general use. Both have inexpensive plastic lenses (expected in this price range) that can give a wavey effect if moved but are clear and sharp and perfectly suitable for viewing a stationary object -- the Lightwedge has less of this distortion which also makes it more suitable for reading small text such as an ingredient list on a product in a store or entries in a phone book, where the magnifier may be moved while reading.

Note that both these magnifiers are designed for portability in pocket or purse and neither has a field of view large enough to easily read book length lines of text -- if that is what you are trying to do search for "page magnifier" -- there are many to choose from including ones from Carson.

Actual product dimensions are about 4.3" long by 2" wide by 0.6" thick -- lens is about 1.5" by 1.3".

Four stars for an inexpensive easily pocketable lighted coin and stamp magnifier that could use a slightly better lens design.
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on July 13, 2013
When my older brother who's visiting from out of the country bought me a credit card size magnifying glass (plastic), I thanked him politely but in my head I said, "You kidding me? I can still thread a needle in my room under natural sun light." But I must admit that recently I need to pull out my 4-year old prescription reading glasses to be my Visual Assistant (1) a little more than I like!

I actually did use my brother's gift in a restaurant when reading their menu's fine print for their fine food. All good, right? Well, only when it's well lit. My Visual Assistant (2) couldn't help much at all. The waiter had to perform the "Let There Be Light" trick by using the flash light of his cell phone so my eyes could be "opened" to choose what I wanted.

With that experience, I deliberately went to amazon in search for my Visual Assistant (3). After having read the "recommendation letters" of
Carson® 5x MiniBrite LED Lighted Slide-Out Aspheric Magnifier with Protective Sleeve (PO-55), I "hired" it on the spot. I even "hired" one of its siblings for my husband.

I've uploaded a photo showing the difference of before my Visual Assistant (3) and after. Given I just hired this assistant, I don't know how it will perform in the long term. Will update its Star Ratings if the performance is sub-par at the end of the probation period.

At present, I recommend it's siblings if you have a need.
review image
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on October 29, 2013
The 5X lens is double the power of common handheld magnifiers -- perfect for reading "fine print" on the label of a small bottle or security code on the back of a credit card, and for accurately identifying small items like pills or hardware.

The LED lamp is essential for viewing anything that cannot be easily brought into full light (say, the serial number plate on the back of an appliance) and can even serve as a small flashlight (enough for locating a keyhole or walking stairs in total darkness). The LED is activated by sliding the protective lens cover to the open position, then past a detent, preventing the LED from being turned on when not needed. I have yet to replace the 3 AAA batteries after months of use.

Both the body and sliding cover have pairs of ribbed rubber pads for secure grip and easy one-hand operation. The cover has detents for two positions: fully closed, and fully open with LED on.

When I first got the magnifier, sometimes I would open it with the LED facing me instead of the subject -- then noticed that the battery compartment cover (which is on the LED side) has a ribbed grip molded into it, which makes it easy to identify "right side up" by feel alone.

Some earlier reviewers reported concerns about the unit not being as rugged as they would like, but Carson may have improved the product since then. Although I would not advise stomping on the unit or throwing it against a brick wall, mine has been dropped from waist height onto tile floors and in the garage without damage to the device.

Furthermore: This gem fits perfectly in the watch pocket of a pair of jeans!
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on August 30, 2014
At first I did not like this product at all when using it as illustrated in the video. Could only see 3 or 4 words in focus at a time on the back of a can label, and because of an unsteady hand, the words would jiggle too much making an uncomfortable read. Because of that I would have normally given it one star, but I discovered a much better way to use it in reverse, which is to hold it up close to your eye like a jewellers loupe and move the reading object in closer as it becomes focused. Now, instead of a few words on the back of that label, you can almost read the entire label top to bottom with no jiggly words like you were using a much larger magnifying glass ... except with much more magnifying power and with a light yet. It might look a little odd to others in a store reading a can of soup that way though, but sure is easy to read.
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on October 20, 2012
I bought two of these and neither works. The battery cover is very difficul to remove, and on opening the sliding cover the light doesn't turn on. The switch that turns the light on has a design fault and I cannot get either one of these to stay lit. I cannot recommend this magnifier, and I am going to return it. It shouldn't be in the Amazon catalog.
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on January 19, 2016
I write this review in hopes of bringing some balance to the reviews. I bought this based on a multitude of glowing reviews and on the nice product video. Either I got a defective product or my expectations were higher than everyone else's. I understand that designing an inexpensive 5X lens is tricky, but folks need to know what this thing can and cannot do.. This magnifier has significant funhouse mirror distortion except for a tiny sweet spot in the middle of the lens, which renders it almost unusable for reading anything other than a few letters at a time. After working with it at various positions, I found that if the magnifier is carefully kept at about an inch from the subject, it is less distorted -- but at this height the field of view is about one inch wide on the paper, and the device itself casts a shadow. To use this I find myself constantly moving the magnifier up and down and right and left and tilting it around to bring things into focus. Although it will magnify more than other 2X or 3X devices, I find it too annoying to use for anything other than checking the date on an old coin, which it does well. Not worth paying for the shipping to return.
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