|GadgetScope.com > Electronics > Radio Shack Pocket Multimeter|
|Reviewed 12-20-2000 by John Shirrell - Produced by Radio Shack - List price: $39.99|
Are you a gadget freak? Do you like to fix things yourself, even when you know it would take you less time and money to have them repaired by professionals? If so, then gadgets like this should be right up your alley. When splicing cables, testing components, or measuring resistance, devices like this multimeter are important.
Typical multimeters are usually about the size of a brick, and nearly as heavy. The display is usually a big, blurry chart with a tiny needle that is difficult to see and frequently confused with its shadow. Furthermore, the wires dangle around out of control until they fall out and get lost, or break. Their typical odd shape makes them difficult to store or carry, and their readouts are subject to many conditions, such as the reader's eyesight, the viewing angle, and the general lack of precision with the analog layout.
However, this is not your ordinary multimeter by any standards. The biggest attraction is its tiny size; not much larger than a credit card, and about as thick as a billfold. Its digital screen and control dial, however, are large even when compared with some full-size multitesters. It has all the features you would expect from any other multimeter, such as diode checks, audible continuity, resistance, and AC and DC voltage measurements up to 500V. Its leads are never as long as you would like them to be, but they are long enough for typical usage and about the same length as you would expect from larger multimeters. When you finish your measurements, the leads fold up into a small compartment and the whole unit closes into a box and snaps tightly shut with a button release. My main complaint here is that the leads are difficult to fit into the compartment; it takes a little work to get the long handles in at the correct angle. Being stored in that position also means that the cables will always be bent; possibly causing them to develop shorts sooner in their lifetime. The cables aren't removable, which can be a mixed blessing depending on whether you like that feature (I don't particularly like multimeters where the leads constantly fall out of their sockets, a common problem on certain models). The leads are gold-plated and seem to take accurate enough measurements, but they are a bit on the large side so they may not fit all your sockets and connectors. Another thing I noticed is that this multimeter is so sensitive, it goes crazy trying to measure different milli-voltages out of nowhere when you leave it sitting. I would have liked an option to have it start at zero; I find that things that start at zero make me more comfortable (just like scales and gas pumps).
This multimeter easily packs as much power as a full-size multimeter into its tiny hard-shell case. It isn't too expensive (usually about $25 on sale), and you will be the envy of all your handy neighbors when they see how useful this tiny device is.