August 30 2010
I readily admit to having a Maplin habit. Now, nobody could mistake a Maplin for the technology equivalent of an Armani store – which I suppose would be an Apple Store. No, Maplin is down, dirty, British and thick, smeared-spectacles nerdy. It’s full of useful leads, plugs, sockets and widgets you can barely believe anyone would stock, of amazing (sometimes tacky) techie toys, electronic kits and projects to solder together… Heaven.
And it has things such as this digital USB microscope, too, which is archetypal Maplin: not a scientific tool, but not a toy, either; not a precision device, but not pure tack. Just fun. Something to amuse you for an hour, then give to the kids to stimulate enthusiasm for science, and then probably break – but it’s not a tragedy because it’s a Maplin special, not a Zeiss.
The USB microscope is well designed, cheap and works fine – really well, actually – with magnification up to 400x and a built-in ring of LED lights. You can take still snaps of your subject, too. It works for PC only, but I forgive it.