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On-unit screen or PC…which is better?


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12 replies to this topic

Poll: On-Unit Screen vs. PC (1 member(s) have cast votes)

Which is better for End-Point PCR?

  1. On-Unit Screen (1 votes [100.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 100.00%

  2. PC (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 Ljw6

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:29 PM

What does everyone think about a thermocycler (not real-time) without a screen/keypad on the unit? It’s controlled by a PC instead…what are the pros/cons? Does it matter…do you prefer one or the other?

The PC takes up more bench space, but it would be easier to read the screen. On the other hand, it would be convenient to have the screen on the unit… thoughts?

#2 phage434

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 05:36 PM

All lab instruments should plug into the network, either wireless or with ethernet. They should have browser servers which you can connect to for control and data retrieval. Lab bench PCs and built in controls are both very outdated ideas. PCs are worse, in general, with poor software, large PCs, outdated operating system requirements, and failures such as Microsoft deciding that your OS needs to be updated at 3AM in the middle of a crucial experiment. This has happened to me twice in the last month. Bill Gates, improving your productivity every day.

#3 lab rat

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 09:12 PM

Not to mention, PCs have components that can be stolen. Happened to our lab 2 months ago...the night cleaning person locked the door, but didn't make sure it closed when they left.
42..."An immutable fixed-precision number of unlimited magnitude." <a href="http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)</a>, accessed 25June2009.

#4 HomeBrew

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 04:37 AM

...such as Microsoft deciding that your OS needs to be updated at 3AM in the middle of a crucial experiment. This has happened to me twice in the last month. Bill Gates, improving your productivity every day.



Actually, you decided to allow your OS to be updated at 3 AM. If you properly configure automatic updates (see here), this won't happen.

#5 phage434

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 07:30 AM

I see, it is really my problem. Just like all of the viruses. If only I spent full time baby-sitting my PC, everything would be great.

#6 HomeBrew

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 11:56 AM

I understand what you're saying, but it takes about 15 seconds to properly configure automatic updates, and it only needs to be done once. This, to me, hardly qualifies as "full time baby-sitting"...

#7 Ljw6

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 01:21 PM

Thanks for the replies! So you all think on-unit is the way to go, since it's one less thing to manage.

Some units have touch screens and some have keypads...any experience with the different types to share?

#8 lab rat

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 01:37 PM

I like keypads, but that's a personal preference. I hate oily smudges on any screen or monitor.
42..."An immutable fixed-precision number of unlimited magnitude." <a href="http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)</a>, accessed 25June2009.

#9 Ljw6

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 02:13 PM

I like keypads, but that's a personal preference. I hate oily smudges on any screen or monitor.


Yeah I know what you mean...but with gloves on it probably would be ok. Although, do the touch screen ones work with gloves on or do you have to take gloves off? That would be inconvenient.

#10 lab rat

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 08:00 PM

They work with gloves on. Which brands are you looking at?
42..."An immutable fixed-precision number of unlimited magnitude." <a href="http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)</a>, accessed 25June2009.

#11 Ljw6

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 08:12 AM

They work with gloves on. Which brands are you looking at?


Well, Applied Biosystems Veriti, Finnzymes Piko, BioRad...also looked at the Roche real-time Lightcyclers (not sure about the glass capillary tubes...thoughts?).

What features are important to be considering?

#12 lab rat

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 08:46 AM

It depends on your workflow. Are you doing a high volume of samples (like diagnostics) or research?

For research, my first lab had 2 Thermo Electron Hybaids with gradient blocks that served their purpose and an old MJ that was fantastic. The features included memory to save (100?) programs, password-protection, and a gradient block with a heated lid. (If you can swing for a gradient, I would recommend getting one.) I think I remember hearing that BioRad acquired the MJ line, so you would need to talk to your BioRad rep.

The diagnostic lab that I worked in had several different models/brands. The light Cycler was the section head's preferred thermalcycler, but the volume of samples per week made these less efficient than the Applied Biosystems plate models that I didn't use. I think she still uses them for research purposes, though.

My last lab had an Applied Biosystems touch-screen. It was there when I was hired on, and I didn't use it much. It was cost-efficient, I guess. It had a large footprint, which was a pain in a crowded lab with little bench space, and required a plastic plate or tube holder for running samples. If you didn't have this holder, and placed your tubes directly in the block, they would melt. The reactions didn't leak out, but I also didn't trust the results.

My current lab has an Eppendorf with a tube block (no 96 well plates). I don't care as much for this model because I don't find it intuitive to use, and I have to re-enter the volume of my reaction every time I run the program or the alarm sounds.

I hope this helps.

regards, lab rat
42..."An immutable fixed-precision number of unlimited magnitude." <a href="http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)</a>, accessed 25June2009.

#13 Ljw6

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 09:54 AM

It depends on your workflow. Are you doing a high volume of samples (like diagnostics) or research?

For research, my first lab had 2 Thermo Electron Hybaids with gradient blocks that served their purpose and an old MJ that was fantastic. The features included memory to save (100?) programs, password-protection, and a gradient block with a heated lid. (If you can swing for a gradient, I would recommend getting one.) I think I remember hearing that BioRad acquired the MJ line, so you would need to talk to your BioRad rep.

The diagnostic lab that I worked in had several different models/brands. The light Cycler was the section head's preferred thermalcycler, but the volume of samples per week made these less efficient than the Applied Biosystems plate models that I didn't use. I think she still uses them for research purposes, though.

My last lab had an Applied Biosystems touch-screen. It was there when I was hired on, and I didn't use it much. It was cost-efficient, I guess. It had a large footprint, which was a pain in a crowded lab with little bench space, and required a plastic plate or tube holder for running samples. If you didn't have this holder, and placed your tubes directly in the block, they would melt. The reactions didn't leak out, but I also didn't trust the results.

My current lab has an Eppendorf with a tube block (no 96 well plates). I don't care as much for this model because I don't find it intuitive to use, and I have to re-enter the volume of my reaction every time I run the program or the alarm sounds.

I hope this helps.

regards, lab rat


Thanks for all the information lab rat! This forum is great...




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