April is Oscilloscope Month: In Which We Discover Agilent Offers Us a Happy Deal and a Sad Name

Jason SachsApril 19, 2014

Last month I wrote that March is Oscilloscope Month, because Agilent had a deal on the MSOX2000 and MSOX3000 series scopes offering higher bandwidth at lower prices. I got an MSOX3034 oscilloscope and saved my company $3500! (Or rather, I didn't save them anything, but I got a 350MHz scope at a 200MHz price.)

The scope included a free 30-day trial for each of the application software modules. I used my 30-day trial for the serial decode + triggering module, to help debug some UART communications problems I was having. The free trial expired a little while ago, so the next time I need the UART decode + triggering feature, we'll have to buy it. The modules aren't cheap: it's $500 for the MSOX2000 series UART module and $800 for the MSOX3000 series UART module, but they're valuable features.

Then I got an email from the Agilent sales rep. There's a promotion on now. I had noticed this before: if you buy 2 modules you get 20% off, if you buy 3 modules you get 30% off, and if you buy 4 or more modules you get 40% off. That wasn't the promotion he was talking about though:

Happy Deal

Upgrade to your Ultimate Scope

Starting April 1, 2014, you can turn on all software applications on an Agilent InfiniiVision X-Series oscilloscope for the price of a single option! Just purchase a single promotional product license, and have all software applications enabled instantly. This is available to both existing Agilent InfiniiVision X-Series oscilloscope customers as well as new scope purchasers.

Hurray! April is Oscilloscope Month also! Because there's an offer going on from April 1 - Sep 30 for 2000, 3000, and 4000 series scopes. For the same price ($500 for the MSOX2000 series, $800 for the MSOX3000 series, and $1500 for the MSOX4000 series scopes) you can get all the software applications in one bundle. For my MSOX3034, the important ones are:

  • UART decode + trigger (DSOX3COMP)
  • I2C/SPI decode + trigger (DSOX3EMBD)
  • CAN/LIN decode + trigger (DSOX3AUTO)
  • waveform memory upgrade (DSOX3MEMUP) — from 2Msamples → 4Msamples for the MSOX3000 series. The MSOX2000 memory upgrade is a bigger deal: it goes from 100Ksamples → 1Msamples.
  • segmented memory (DSOX3SGM) — this allows you to split the scope's data memory into segments so you can store multiple waveforms from separate trigger instants. Useful if you are trying to capture rare events and you want to save more than one.
  • signal + arbitrary waveform generator (DSOX3WAVEGEN) — Agilent started including an onboard waveform generator on their oscilloscopes.
  • integrated voltmeter (DSOXDVM) — ditto for a DVM. This isn't as useful as a standalone battery-powered DMM, but if you already have a DMM this would let you use it to measure power supply current and use the scope to measure a power supply voltage at the same time.

I need the UART/I2C/SPI features; the waveform generator will be very useful; and the others will be helpful on rare occasions.

I think if Agilent really wanted to maximize total profit, they'd be better off just cutting the prices of their modules to something in the $200 - $250 range, which is low enough that engineers like me would just go ahead and order what we need, rather than have to hem and haw and haggle with our supervisors to get a purchase order signed. They'd sell a lot more licenses. After all, it's just software: no physical product gets manufactured and shipped, just a license key in an email. Pure profit from Agilent's standpoint. But a package deal for $800 is still pretty sweet.

Sad Name

Those of you of a certain age will remember when oscilloscopes used cathode-ray tubes, and the two big names were Tektronix and Hewlett-Packard. In 1999, HP split into two entities. The company that made computers and data storage and printers retained the Hewlett-Packard name. The other company, with test equipment and optoelectronics and other things, got the name Agilent Technologies. There was a lot of talk at the time about what a dumb name that was. I mean, c'mon — Agilent? That's not even a word. Hewlett-Packard started back in 1939 as a test equipment company first and foremost, and now the test equipment company was being kicked away. In 2005 Agilent split again, getting rid of its optoelectronics division as Avago Technologies, an even more meaningless name.

Well, now they're at it again. Later this year Agilent will be spinning off the test & measurement company into Keysight Technologies. Keysight?!?? WTF? "I just bought this new Keysight scope and I love it!" Doesn't work. Neither does the red Loch Ness Monster logo, in my opinion, or their choice of the Univers typeface:

From the press release:

The name Keysight conveys the ability to see what others cannot, offering the critical or key insights to understand and unlock the changing technology landscape. The new company's tagline, "unlocking measurement insights for 75 years," commemorates the 1939 birth of the original Hewlett-Packard Company, from which Keysight originated.

"Keysight reflects our rich heritage-a direct line from both Hewlett-Packard's standards of integrity and innovation and Agilent's premier measurement business," said Ron Nersesian, president and CEO of Keysight.

"This name captures the spirit of our organization-innovative, insightful and forward-looking," said Nersesian, who added, "While Keysight is built on 'firsts' dating back to the birth of Silicon Valley, as a new company we are committed to bringing our customers a new generation of firsts-unlocking insights for them so they can in turn bring a new generation of technologies into the world."

Agilent will retain the other divisions, including life sciences and diagnostics. Yippee skip.

Let's see here:

  • Hewlett-Packard (4 syllables)
  • Agilent (3 syllables)
  • Keysight (2 syllables)

You've got one more chance, guys. One shot left. I'll save you some grief in choosing a name: The last test & measurement company descended from Hewlett-Packard will be named Frob Technologies.

Well, I was going to dig into a longer diatribe against stupid corporate names, but I really can't beat what Dave Jones has already done on EEVBlog.

So I guess I'll just grin & bear it. And I'm glad I got my oscilloscope, before they started using the Keysight brand.

© 2014 Jason M. Sachs, all rights reserved.

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