The Improved Digital Blue Microscope, the QX5

The latest Digital Blue microscope, the QX5, merges the microscopic and digital worlds into one complete unit. The QX5 lets users view and manipulate images with their computer, offering hours of fascinating fun for both kids and adults.

Perhaps you've heard of the popular Intel Play QX3 microscope? It was discontinued some years ago, but was picked up and updated by Prima Creations.

**The Digital Blue QX5 microscope is no longer available new, but can be found at reseller marketplaces.

The Digital Blue QX5 microscope was the result. It boasts better lighting, a higher resolution, and speedier video playback over the old QX3.

(Editor's note: since the release of this article, Digital Blue has come out with a more recent model, the QX7 microscope camera. We'll be doing a review of that one at some point here too!)

The Digital Blue Microscope QX5 Review

This unit has some nice features for a beginner digital microscope:

digital blue microscope
  • Magnification of 10x, 60x and 200x
  • Both stationary and handheld modes

  • Video playback

  • CD-ROM software

  • USB cable

  • Tools to get started (specimen jars, tweezers, etc)

  • LED light source

  • Resolution VGA 640 x 480

To begin, this Digital Blue microscope comes with specimen jars, slide tweezers, an eyedropper, slide clips, and even its own stand. It can be used on the stand or removed for some hand-held exploration.

The QX5 also comes with everything the user needs to connect the unit to their computer. The USB cable links the computer and microscope together, and the software loads easily in order to let the user manipulate the images they capture.

There's no eyepiece with this baby, as it's a USB microscope that displays specimen images on the computer screen. This works great for classroom environments where multiple viewers can see the image at the same time. It can also capture digital stills and videos of specimens.

In terms of magnification, the Digital Blue QX5 microscope enhances specimens with levels of 10x, 60x and 200x. This can help the user get a closer look at the subject of interest. The pixel and resolution ratios have been balanced in order to provide as clear an image as possible, no matter what the magnification power is.

In addition to being a hit with kids, consumer reports state that this is a fun toy to have around for adults as well. However some adult users find the software annoying, as it produces a lot of zips, bleeps, and other noises that kids enjoy but adults may not have as much patience for.

The software also controls the light source automatically, resulting in the automatic color balance sometimes bleaching images out by making them too light. Users report that the problem seems more pronounced with yellow colors, although it does not occur with the video-imaging feature.

We were pleased to find that the installation of the software was easy, although we were a little disappointed to learn that it doesn't run on a Mac. Some users have also found that the software crashes with Windows Vista.

Additionally, the focusing knob is made of cheap plastic and does not function as well as some would like. The 200x power is difficult to use when the microscope is on the stand. It works better in the hand-held mode.

Pros and Cons (Based on Our Experiences and Consumer Reviews)


  • Easy to use and set up

  • Good optics for the price

  • Allows you to take pictures and record video

  • Extremely versatile for use inside, outside, by children, or by adults

  • Comes with some nice accessories for your own experiments


  • The software doesn't work on a Mac, and some have reported problems with Vista

  • The focusing knob does not always work so well

  • Reports of colors sometimes appearing bleached out

  • No included prepared slides


The Digital Blue QX5 microscope brings the microscopic world alive on the computer. Users can capture specimen images and manipulate them in a variety of ways, making using a microscope both educational and interactive. This product feeds both the scientific mind as well as the creative side.

Although there are some complaints, overall this is a nice toy for the price. Users looking for something a little more solid that's not USB-driven may want to check out the top recommendations on our kids microscopes page.


Recommended for: This Digital Blue microscope was designed to be a learning toy, but its digital features make it accessible to many. Appropriate for all ages, from young children (5-8) to older kids in a classroom setting. Also extremely entertaining for curious adults!

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