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Digital Blue Microscope:
The QX5 and the QX3 from Intel

Designed to introduce children to the world of microscopy, the Digital Blue Microscope melds learning with fun.

The company has two microscopes, the QX3 which is now discontinued, followed by the QX5; both affordable models are computerized with a diverse number of functions.

Founded in 2001 in Atlanta, Georgia, Digital Blue has received accolades for its innovative products.

It currently operates four global offices and has licensing agreements with popular youth entertainment corporations such as Warner Brothers, Disney, LEGO and WWE.

Digital Blue has a reputation of creating products that capture the imaginations of children and teens, introducing them to fun and exciting worlds like microscopy.

Digital Blue has and continues to ear the respect and approval of parents, with an educational affordable product line.

QX3 Digital Blue Microscope


The Digital Blue Microscope model QX3 was initially acquired from Intel. The QX3 was a decent, entry-level computerized microscope for children that had many software issues Intel could not overcome.

A novel innovation, the QX3 received much praise in the children’s market, outperforming all competitors. In addition, members of the private sector found ways to modify the QX3 into a stronger device.

The QX3 microscope has a magnification range from 10x to 200x. Users can create digital images and time-lapsed films at these magnifications with a built in video and digital camera.

The QX3 comes with the following:

  • Windows based software

  • 2 containment dishes and sample jars

  • 3 slides and 1 slide clip

  • Tweezers and an eye dropper
The minimum PC system requirements are:

  • USB port

  • 200MHz (or faster) processor

  • 32MB RAM; 150MB hard drive space

  • CD-ROM drive

  • 800x600, 16-bit color display monitor

  • Microsoft Windows XP/2000/ME/98SE/98
In addition, MAC users can download a free software package from recommended websites.

Although some weaknesses can be found in the design of the stand, the Digital Blue QX3 is a durable design, although a few recommended adjustments would increase stability and, more importantly, the amount of light.

The QX3 utilizes a CMOS digital sensor considered advanced for the general purpose of this microscope.

The kid/user friendly photo manipulation software that comes with the device allows users to create, modify and print images from the microscope, create time-lapsed films and experiment adding audio and other special effects.

The image functions cannot operate independent of the computer, as it is powered through the USB port.

QX3 Pros

One advantage of the QX3 is the ability to detach the magnification part of the microscope from the slide-view cradle.

In handheld mode, kids can magnify anything within the reach of the USB cord, which must remain plugged into the computer.

Other pros include the TWAIN driver, used to acquire images and in image editing, the computer/microscope interchange and its affordability.

QX3 Cons

Negatives of this model include:

  • A noisy CMOS operation

  • The illumination system limits the images you can see

  • The computer sets the resolution and is limited to VGA and XGA

  • As with most computer applications for children, there are limits to customizing software.
The QX3 is an introductory model. So don’t purchase it with the expectations that it has the capabilities of a regular laboratory microscope.

That said, as a model developed for the children and teen market, this microscope has some powerful and surprising features.

QX5 Digital Blue Microscope


The QX5 computerized microscope was created to replace the QX3.

This model has taken the innovations of its predecessor to a new level, while maintaining affordability.

This model has magnifications of 10x, 60x and 200x and comes with the following accessories:

  • USB Cables

  • Microscope stand

  • QX5Software

  • Instruction manual and CD

  • Specimen jars

  • Tweezers and eye dropper

  • Samples slide

  • Slide clip
The minimum PC requirements include:

  • Microsoft Windows OS: Vista, XP, 2000, 98, 98SE or ME

  • USB port

  • 200Mhz processor (or faster)

  • 32MB RAM; 150MB hard drive space

  • 4x CD-ROM driver (or faster)

  • SVGA resolution video support, min, 16-bit

  • Windows compatible sound device

  • Direct-X (can be installed from enclosed software)
Mac users can download free software to use this product.

The QX5 has significant improvements compared to the previous Digital Blue microscope. The QX5 functions at 640x480, a higher resolution that makes for more detailed image and videos.

As with the QX3, the QX5 can take digital images; these can be still shots, time-lapse video and movies.

The photo manipulation software expands on previous version, without losing any of the well-liked functions.

The user can take measurements of the sample, add sound and special effects, alter images with drawing and painting tools and fine-tune the images.

QX5 Pros

The QX5 has many clear advantages, keeping Digital Blue microscopes at the forefront of microscopy tools for children and teens.

The QX5 is not only an excellent observation tool for the home, but is advanced enough for elementary schools as well.

The images are detected by the computerized camera and can be projected onto a wall in a classroom setting, allowing all students to see and discuss the image simultaneously.

The QX5 is most effective in seeing the details of larger objects, such as insects, plants/leaves, pieces of rocks or even studying the lines and cracks on your hands. Most of these items fall into the realm of what an elementary student would explore at home or school.

In addition, the image software is designed to be user/kid friendly and is easily installed and operated.

QX5 Cons

The downside to the QX5 is that is it not a powerful microscope.

Although you will be able to see cells in some objects, you will not be able perform image contrasting –processes, such as phase contrast, fluorescence and dark field, that enable scientists to see fine details on an object or slide specimen.

The camera and lights still need a USB connection to operate. This can be a pro or con, depending on whether to want to use your microscope away from your computer.

You can still remove the unit from the slide-cradle, but still have to maintain the USB connection in handheld mode.

More Digital Blue QX5 info

The QX5 made advancements to the bright field only illumination system, employing twin “superbrite” LEDs, placing them above and below the viewing area.

Like the QX3, modifications can be made to the microscope to improve its capabilities. For instance, external lights and filters can allow for some dark field and polarized microscopy; modifying the condenser system can also enhance images.

This product line continues under the Digital Blue name, well know for their innovation.

Overall, the QX5 is a well-justified investment for your children and teenagers. The wide-range of capabilities and reasonable price make this microscope prefect for learning, exploration and fun.


The Digital Blue Microscope is an impressive computerized device with multiple functions.

Not only will children be able to explore the world of microscopy, they will be able to capture and manipulate images and video.

The microscope is durable, designed well and easy to operate; the software is easy to install, user-friendly and appropriate for children.

Visit the Digital Blue QX7 Microscope Here - New Model Review

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