Seeking recommendation: USB microscope

I’m looking for an inexpensive but not crappy USB microscope as a gift for my nephew (age 7). (For those unfamiliar, this is basically a USB-connected video camera arranged with lenses that lets it act as a microscope.)

Googling presents an array of such devices. The cheap ones are really cheap ($50) but I’m somewhat skeptical that these will produce acceptable results. OTOH, I don’t want to spend hundreds.

Anyone have any useful experience here?

The blue ones that used to be “Intel” but are now under a different name work fine and are great for curious kids. I’m not sure what you’re thinking “acceptable results” are from a $ 50 microscope.

Ask in this coin-related forum. People use these extensively to photograph coins, and there will be many recommendations.

Some specific threads:


It can be very frustrating to get a cheap 'scope that will not perform well, especiall a digital one. You would have to pay somewhere around $200-300 to get a decent one. The cheapies have only a 0.3 megapixel camera which gives poor pictures, and such a scope probably will not have a mechancal stage or decent optics.

Anywhere, here is a site where there are variety of microscopes for students.

But it’s displaying on the computer screen, isn’t it? VGA is only 0.3 megapixels, and that’s if you use the entire screen.

I use these in my museum exhibits. Not real cheap, but very durable.

I got a pretty cool old-fashioned mechanical microscope when I was seven or eight. I think it went up to 15 or 20x? It was super cool and couldn’t have been more than $75 or $90 in today’s dollars. Have you looked into those at all? Maybe you could get a used one.

Like this one, astro?