Electrical test and measurement equipment reviews.

  Digital Multimeter, Clamp on meter, Oscilloscope, Electronic component testing tools, all measuring equipment for demanding applications of our times:  Switching or Uninterruptible power supply, PV Inverters, VFD motor controllers, industrial electronics repair & HVAC.

Written by Kiriakos A. Triantafillou, Industrial maintenance electrician, Hellas.

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Intro

Part - 1 Unboxing & First impressions

Part – 2  Evaluating the additional features

Part – 3  Exploring the basic features

Part – 4  Combining the power of basic & advanced features

Part – 5  Just another one multimeter with Industrial profile?

OLED in action!!

Part – 6 Battery Life  

Part -7  How it feels in common tasks?  Easy to use?


Part - 8  Final thoughts


Conclusion

Agilent U1273A review – By the eye of the Industrial electrician.

By Kiriakos Triantafillou ©2012   Greece   July 31, 2012




Intro:

Agilent released in the beginning of 2012 the U1273A multimeter, which haves one sweet looking OLED display on it.

This multimeter it is another addition in the very modern U1270 series, which have started to gain a major success.  


I have to admit that my personal excitement about the latest OLED version was not at the peak when the first press release came out.  

My satisfaction level with the U1272A it have jumped that high, that made me less eager to discover similar product versions.

I was not even interested to read the base specifications, due the fact that the first public impressions were that is another successful U1272A with the addition of the OLED display.


The above impression it’s true but there is even more details which worth exploring in order to find out of where the U1273A will make the difference, so to become a dominant selection over the U1272A.  


Agilent send me the U1273A so to further impress me with the OLED display, and also as proof of their improvement’s over the LPF (Low Pass filter) performance.

Personally I was expecting another U1272A, but I discovered the truth when I opened the large package which came directly from the Malaysian factory to me at April 27 2012.

Actually I would have it even sooner, but the customs clearance raised expenses which the Agilent headquarters kindly absorbed.    


By starting the ITTSB on May 2012, the workload forced me to set new priorities and to adjust my to-do list.

Even so in the followed three months I did manage to become a good friend with the U1273A too.

Part-1 Unboxing & First impressions

Oh my God!! The carton box looks tiny!


The U1273A comes with the half size of carton box in comparison with what you get with one U1272A.

About the standard accessories which come with it, as missing one it could be considered the second set of test probes with the fully exposed 2mm tips.

My opinion and suggestion will be both sets of probes to be offered as standard.

Even if the additional expense about getting similar 2mm probes from the free market is around eight Euros with shipping, the trouble that you are getting in, looks like an extra stress factor and it should be avoided.


What is in the box:

Test leads cable set 1000V 15A CAT-III

The newly fully covered probes 1000V CAT-III / 600V CAT-IV 15A, which are following the new directives of 2012.

K-Type thermocouple

Adapter K-Type to banana.

Printed Quick Start guide.

Certificate of calibration.

Four AAA alkaline batteries.


The specific sample came with calibration date 02-Nov 2011.


I will write up front my personal nags about the accessories, so to not repeat my self over and over.

The missing 2mm probe set is the first, and the second is the K-type adapter.


By having the U1272A for a year in action (up to date), I have use the K-type probe to perform over 100 measurements’, the naked banana ends of this adapter is the weak spot of this design, and a new one with shrouded bananas it must replace the current one as soon as possible.

The total length of the adapter & K-Type thermocouple works as pressure lever which in a case of an accident, it could stress or damage those female bananas on the instrument.

Naturally you must be very careless to cause damage to the meter, but the mind of one repair man is full of thousands of thoughts, and so I find this improvement as necessary.   


First impressions

The U1273A is a professional multimeter at 30,000 counts.

True-RMS

CAT III 1000V / CAT IV 600V

Comes with IP54 (splash proof / dust proof)

HRC Fuses

Casing with ergonomic design

OLED display which is a fresh innovation

Self Data logger

And also comes with great specifications about accuracy and speed

Part – 2  Evaluating the additional features


The U1273A haves a user’s Guide in PDF format of 160 pages, and it is designed so to serve in a wide range of measurements.

But in this review I will focus on the ones who work best for electricians.  


At the page 83 (User’s Guide) they are the additional features.

Making Relative Measurements (Null)  

Making Scale Transfers (Scale)

Capturing Maximum and Minimum Values (MaxMin)

Capturing Peak Values (Peak)

Freezing the Display (Trig Hold and Auto Hold)

Recording Measurement Data (Data Logging)

Performing manual logs (HAnd)

Performing interval logs (AUto)

Performing event logs (triG)  

Reviewing Previously Recorded Data (View)


The interesting part is that when I got the U1272A (April 27 2011) which haves identical functionality, I did found a key point the Scale transfer that helps my work when I use my (AC/DC) Hall type clamp probe.


But today my list of favourite functions have grown by allot.

For example:


I use the Min/Max very often so to monitor the stability in the output of AC Mains, even in a 24 hours cycle.

This summer is very hot and the air-condition units they do stress the 220V Mains.

The results from a recent 24H measurement: Max=225 Average=219V Min=196V.

If for any reason I need to explore further the period when the AC mains voltage gets the minimum value and becomes dangerous for sensitive appliances, then I switch to data logging so to find the problematic periods in a day or in 24 hours base.

By having all those data at hand I can now plan my next steps of action.


About the data logging I use by 80% the “Auto” data logging as it works better for my needs.


The Trigger Hold and Auto Hold are also in my list of the often used functions.


I have to admit that all those additional functions they did change my way about dealing with new problems, now days I use a completely different approach as troubleshooting method.

Part – 3  Exploring the basic features


Z-Low: low impedance modes to eliminate stray voltages.


By reading the Agilent Data sheet about this feature, commonly known as detect ghost voltages.

My mind traveled back to the elder experienced electrician’s who was teaching us small useful secrets of how to detect ghost voltages and many more tricks, with the use of simple practical methods.


The Z-Low on the U1273A it is a much modernized approach and is combined with the voltage measurement too.

What actually does is to add an electrical load on the pair of wires under test.


For example, at the Mains 220V AC it causes a current flow of 3.7mA, which is enough so to stress the line.

The second step for the meter is to measure the volts under load and finally what you see is what it is really there, simple as that.


The Ghost voltages are mostly caused by induction, for example due the long length of cables, and more specifically it can be caused by another stronger near-by source of electrical interference, either way the Z-Low measurement is the only reliable method about detecting false or true voltages.   


Smart Ohm:  

Smart Ω (offset compensation) function to measure resistors affected by DC offset or leakage current.


The offset compensation is about removing from the measurement the bourbon caused by the test leads, and naturally this is helpful if you need the highest precision in the measurement of a singe resistor.


About smart Ohm and leakage current, I never needed to perform such a measurement so far.  



Continuity test mode:

The U1273A comes with a same buzzer found on the U1272A that is laud enough and with selectable tone pitch.

My choice is the 3840Hz preset, as best.

In the advanced menu settings, you can adjust the beeper frequency under your personal desire.   


The U1273A hides few surprises about the ones who need the ultimate response when they are crossing the test probes.


At the default mode with the auto range on, the U1273A gives the false impression that it jumps high but not high enough.

By setting manually the range at the 300K Ohm the response of the continuity mode changes to the point to blow away any competition about latched buzzers.


I did try this setting at the U1272A with out success, the special circuitry that activates buzzer and back light on it, it does behave differently.

If there was a hypothetical race between them, the U1273A is the champion athlete, and the U1272A is one good fast runner.


Continuity test mode Part 2:  

Did you ever have to verify the condition of one limit switch?

Those little limit switch they can be wired to trigger the control circuitry with open or close contacts, with the U1272A there is no worries, by pressing the Dual/Exit button, the multimeter adjusts it self according to your needs about getting audible warning for open or close contacts.

Part – 4  Combining the power of basic & advanced features


By combining The Ohm mode + Auto Hold + Trigger log

You can transform the U1273A in to a counter which can measure how many times one limit switch got activated. (Open or close contacts)


The U1273A stores the logs with an accenting order, and what I managed to do was to trigger with the Ohm mode the trigger log.

By this trick I managed to succeed one combination of triggering and instant logging.


Every new logged entry gets the next available number in an accenting order, by inspecting the last recorded one we know the sum of the events.  

Example E00106 = 106 times got triggered.


The Triggering interval time it can be no less than one second per event, but there is no limit about larger intervals.


Who would ever expect that the U1272A and U1273A that they can act as industrial counter?   

That’s amazing.


Naturally the created log contains and the measured resistance values in those trigger events, and you can possibly use this so to perform calibration logs in your decade resistors box as example, so to detect the stability of the inline resistors over time, or over different room temperatures.

Just an idea!

Part – 5  Just another one multimeter with Industrial profile?

OLED in action!!


About single phase and three phase motors troubleshooting the U1273A is a great performer like the U1272A.


The OLED display offers a significant assistance in the dark engine rooms, and the adjustable laud buzzer is another strong point.


Tasks like: Shortcut detection, measurement of coils - voltage – current – temperature - capacitor testing, everything is possible with the U1273A.


Another new and interesting function is “high voltage Alert”, by setting up the trigger voltage limit, you can be alerted about over voltage or spikes.

This function is also useful when you test for example one battery charger, and you need to be alerted if the charging voltage goes higher than what you need to be as limit.  



Low Pass Filter (LPF): In the December 2011 I managed to get in my hands one PHILIPS PM 5134 function generator, and with it I did manage to simulate the conditions which the Low pass filter shows it value.  


Actually I did a direct comparison between the U1272A and the FLUKE 28II and the BRYMEN BM869.

The specific U1272A (manufactured at the beginning of 2010) it did not shown remarkable performance in my test, and I did notify Agilent about it, the company was aware about that, and they was had improve the design all ready.

As proof they did send me their identical U1273A OLED for review, which haves identical LPF performance with the FLUKE 28II.

   

Originally I was expecting one improved U1272A as replacement, and I gave my word to return back the first sample, but instead I got the U1273A.



Please take a look of the BRYMEN BM869 review, for details about my testing method and my primary results back at 2011.


In this review originally I was planning to add the new chart about the LPF performance of the U1273A, but due the fact that the numbers are identical with the Fluke 28II I will skip that part so to focus on the OLED display that is a significant subject.


LPF & AC current: The U1273A haves as default the LPF disabled for AC current measurements.

And the user must activate it manually, from the menu if he ever needs it.


I did faced one situation which I needed to measure the total AC current of three small switching power supplies 120-240V/ 12V 1A, that was powering my three NiMH battery chargers that use pulses as charging method.


Those chargers at their start up, they run diagnostics on the batteries for about two minutes, and they use short fast pulses all the time.

The operation of those chargers caused a high amount of noise or better said pollution at my 220V Mains frequency.

The noise level got that high that the U1272A was unable to display the Mains frequency of 50Hz (it was jumping around from 20-40Hz).


The FLUKE 28II was capable to measure current and frequency and this event, made me to contact Agilent and report my findings.


The lessons of my small adventure are:

1) The 28II haves always enabled the LPF for AC current measurements.

2) The U1272A & U1273A needs the user’s interaction about enabling the LPF for AC current measurements, and then it does the job.

3) If you own a dirt cheap multimeter with out LPF, do not blame your bad luck, if you are working with switching power supplies of 120-240V, and your measurements about current or frequency does not make sense.



Frequency / Duty cycle / ms


About Frequency and Duty cycle, everything works as expected, even so the testing with my analogue function generator, shown that the U1273A haves a tiny delay about displaying rapid changes of the Duty cycle.


Generally when the U1273A works in the dual display mode, it is gets a bit slower in comparison with the single display modes.


Practically my finding about the tiny delay, it could be considered as non important one, the modern Duty cycle controllers they have keypad and not a simple potentiometer like my function generator haves.

Either way in direct comparison with the U1272A the U1273A is a just bit faster at measuring the Duty cycle but the margin is just noticeable.    


ms = measuring pulse width.

It measures the active cycle of a wave form in microseconds.

By measuring 220V mains, I found the pulse width to be 9.50mS at 50Hz.


Pulses are mostly children’s of electronics, and eventually this function is not that important for a maintenance electrician.


In theory by having as known the frequency + voltage + pulse width, I am thinking that I am could draw the wave form in a paper, and possibly will look identical with the screen of one oscilloscope.   



AC/DC Mixed mode:

Yes impressive, the least that I can say about it.

I would think that this is useful more for electronic engineers, and complex designs.

If I detect mixed DC in one AC mains socket, the first that I would think would be that I am hunted by evil spirits, or that a troublesome DC/AC inverter is very near to me.

AC/DC Mixed mode + AC/DC True RMS = I like it !


From the other hand, if what you do involves troubleshooting on DC circuits, this mode it would possibly assist you, so to detect ripple noise.   


AC voltages or signals which are transferred by a single cable that caries also DC, it is something new even to me.


  

mV DC  mode:

My favorite one!


By connecting my (Hall Effect) AC/DC clamp probe (PAC 12 Chauvin Arnoux) on the U1273A, the multimeter becomes a true Swiss army knife.


The fast measuring rate and those 30.000 counts of resolution, expands the total resolution of my clamp probe in to a further level, the added gain helps the most when measuring low current, and especially at 3A or below the 300mA.


Those AC/DC (Hall Effect) current probes they are pricey gadgets , but you can measure even the charging current of batteries, and it is more than handy to be able to measure AC/DC amperes, especially in our days which in the name of Green-Energy, the Inverters and the batteries had become such close friends.    



Data logging:


Agilent offers for free the software which is called as Data logging GUI (Graphic / User’s / Interface) as download, but not the special USB cable for PC connectivity, that serves for data logging and firmware updates if ever needed, my suggestion is to add one in the same bill when you are getting this meter ( it is cheap to get).


The software is stable and gives many options about using the received data in rows or graphs.

The only special thing that happens with the U1273A when it gets connected is that at the lower bar of the software, which used as battery status indicator, it is now active.

This addition gives the advantage to be focused in what you are doing, and eliminates the need to watch the screen of the meter it self.

That’s nice but why the U1272A is excluded from this small but useful advantage?


Well, there is some small complains in the atmosphere about the specific software, for some reasons and far from my understanding the software team of Agilent does not act fast enough when small bug fixes are needed, or about improving the software so to become even more easy to use..


Personally I am using the version 1.5.0.0 and I have stopped the watch about looking for updates, due the fact that the later one it does have few issues.


The latest rumors are talking about a fresh release which will come out at August 2012 which translates to 30 days of extra Patience from today, that I am writing those lines.

I do hope and wish to see a newer fresh look and feel in this software, so to become friendlier, the idea about that the User to be able to save his own presets about the advanced setting of those AXIS in the graphs mode, is more than welcome.   


OLED in action!!

The OLED technology is many steps ahead from the well-known common LED.

The first generation of LED displays are actually LED digits in line, and it is known that they are usable mostly for in door use, or better said exclusively for in door use.  

For outdoor use and direct sunlight, the LED never was a usable option, the domination of the liquid crystals when it goes about working in daylight are not in danger even from the latest OLED's.



The OLED screens is a different concept, all those thousands of pixels are now capable to display digits and graphics.

In those single color screens, the yellow ones are called as “Super yellow” OLED, and according to their manufactures the yellow ones is the most robust up to date, by offering the highest life cycle of 100 thousands hours of operation, that is about 11,4 years of non stop operation.


The OLED haves superior brightness in comparison with the common LED, and this makes them more usable under natural light by excluding the direct sunlight.


With the OLED screens the digits are now graphics, and the products designer’s have even more freedom so to select the font’s type and size for any displayed content.

  

The U1273A comes with a remarkably well designed display that is second to none.

It is so pleasant and extremely easy to read even from the distance of five meters away or more, additionally you will never need to activate any back light as you did when using liquid crystal displays.

The U1273A in some measurements’ haves dual display modes, with the use of the OLED screen both lines of digits are now tremendously easy to read.


The OLED screen changed even the look of the settings menu in comparison with the U1272A, the settings menu become easier to read and to navigate due the fact that now, you are looking at pages of settings.

Those differences reminded me the times that we have abandoned the DOS operating system in favour of Windows 95.


For people who have the problem of short sight, just take my word that you will never need your glasses with the U1273A, especially when you are in a room with poor in door lighting.


The U1273A comes actually with three OLED brightness settings.

My testing shown that the lowest one is probably and the best,  the medium setting makes everything brighter and looks useful for (non-direct) day light operation, the high brightness setting is gives just 15% more brightness than the medium, and so it is useful only if  your duty is calling you to work under strong spot lights or similar situations.

As I said and before I prefer the lowest brightness setting, and I am going for more brightness only when needed, other than the savings in battery life the OLED screen gets and a softer Burn-in especially in data logging.

For more info about OLED's and burn-in, check my mini articles section.   


The U1273A does no have any back light flashing functionality like the U1272A, and here we came to the second key point about the selection of the one model over the other.

Part – 6 Battery Life  


Agilent managed to pleasantly surprise me when I discovered in the settings menu, two different settings about displaying the battery charge level.


With out reading the User’s guide first I did speculated that those settings as BATTERY > PRI/SEC was some sort of alternative battery source selector, and started searching so to locate where it is the second battery?!


As soon I did the dive in the User’s guide I did discovered what Agilent haves in mind!      

PRI = Alkaline

SEC= NiMH


Oh my, the realization that I am touching the first ever multimeter which comes designed to work with NiMH, it did left me speechless for minutes… Unbelievable!


By using the U1272A for over a year, I have never entered an alkaline to it.

From the day one, I am using those Ansmann NiMH 1100mA AAA which was stable performers in the first 12 months, when I started the U1273A testing I just discovered that those batteries started to shown the first signs of loosing capacity, that is an unacceptable event.

My newly made choice about NiMH batteries are the latest Sanyo Eneloop series 1500, which haves amazing self discharge characteristics and also capable for 1500 recharge cycles.

I did buy those fresh Eneloop in the quantity of eight AAA plus another eight AA, so to test those AAA with the U1273A, as they do look as the best option for this multimeter as “set it and forget it” solution.   



The purpose of this battery-life test is to find the maximum time that those batteries can keep the meter alive.

The OLED screen was set at the lowest brightness setting and the meter was set at Min/Max/Average mode by constantly measuring the 220V AC Mains.  

The specific setup represents the same conditions when the meter works also as self data logger.


For the newcomers in such reviews I will have to remind them few facts.

a) The True-RMS multimeter's use more aggressively the batteries at the AC voltage ranges, than when they operate in DC volts ranges or Ohms, the inner True-RMS converter needs some energy for him too.

b) The self data logging function actually adds one very small load in the total battery consumption.

c) The use of the optical port for a direct connection with your computer also causes very small additional power consumption, that in real life it can be translated as minus 5% from total time that the meter stays on when it works as self data logger.        

   


Battery specifications:

Ansmann 1100mA / capacity: nominal 1100mA / Min 930mA   

Sanyo Eneloop 800mA/ capacity: nominal 800mA / Min 750mA  


Battery tests

1) Eneloop  /charged and stored for 5 days before use

2) Eneloop  /fresh charged

3) Ansmann /fresh charged  


Results:

1) 39 Hours

2) 41 Hours 35 Minutes

3) 41 Hours 50 Minutes  


Battery test evaluation:

1) The new Eneloop just murdered with their performance the impression that the NiMH with more aggressive internal chemistry and higher mA are a better solution when they are used is the specific task, in which the high currents under discharge is not important,  as they are for example for the digital cameras & external flash units.


2) About the Ansmann batteries I will say that the specific cells are not damaged yet, my specialized battery tester detected the small change and I just mention it, so to be sincere to you.

And this light capacity-loss symptom is in all four cells which really makes me mad as fact,  I do not accept to pay the price premium for getting cells with such behaviour in just 12 months of light use, as I have recharge them about six to seven  times in a year ( I do allot of data logging).  


3) Today with those Eneloop at hand, my expectations about using them in those meters VS charge cycles per year are:

U1272A 1-2 charge cycles per year (single measurements’, no Data logging)

U1273A 2-3 charge cycles per year (single measurements’, no Data logging)


4) The U1273A haves one ingenious battery indicator (NiMH), that looks as one single bar which is actually divided in ten segments (with out lines as dividers).

Its one segment (or line) represents 10% of charge and this translates to four remaining hours of use per line.

In real life the discharge curve drops down faster as the batteries are getting close to 1 Volt that is their discharge limit.  


What also is important and must be mentioned is the fact that looks impossible the meter to run out of battery with out having warning you first “over and over and over” by the flashing indicator.  


5) As professional technician I do hate such surprises and thankfully the U1270 series looks very wisely designed about how they use their batteries charge.          

The U1273A is a bit better designed, as it haves one cut off circuitry, if the sum of volts in those NiMH reach the 4V limit under operation, at that point it will shut off  by making a single beep sound , as to was saying: Bye for now unfair world!

The concept behind this idea serves two purposes.

a) Your measurement will be always accurate due the sufficient battery charge.

b) Those NiMH are protected from deep discharge which in some cases it can cause the reverse-polarity effect or battery damage.  


6) My suggestion to Agilent HH will be this audible battery warning to change if possible in to four audible beeps as soon the meter detects 10% of charge (just in the beginning), and also in all the lower segments (just in the beginning) of ( 0%) & [x] that is the battery depleted sign.       

This additional functionality I believe that it is needed as one alternative warning in the scenario that the user haves disable (intentionally or unintentionally) the power saving mode.

Part -7  How it feels in common tasks?  Easy to use?


In my review about the U1272A as small annoyance I found the additional settings menu, which requires one small training curve before you jump in with confidence and speed, so to adjust those settings.

The U1273A comes with the improved setting menu which makes it even more “easy to use” and this is possible due the existence of the OLED screen.


Yes, the realization of how many factors or parameters are getting influenced due the marriage of OLED screens with the design of multimeter's, it does surprise me pleasantly as thought.


Suddenly one new product category of instruments has been born, that is between the LCD and the TFT screens, and the most important part is that OLEDs are much cheaper to manufacture than the TFT.

I believe that in the future we will see even more offerings with OLED screens in multimeter's, they do offer more flexibility about the displayed content with out to be required a high manufacturing cost, which eventually it will lead in to a new generation of smart and affordable multimeter's.    


Personally I am starting to feel 50% as Christopher Colombo and by another 50% as Archimedes, and I am almost ready to scream:  Eureka … the land of colored OLED's!  




Range switch and feel

The U1273A comes with one identical range switch mechanism with the U1272A, by using the U1272A for over a year, I am happy to report that it works great like the first day of use (stiff and robust).


Even so I like to have a rant over the comments about “slamming” the range switch to OFF position.

Technically or better said by design, the range switch when is in OFF position, it is locked in place by seating in a special stiffer position that when it turns from range to range.

And yes, you can turn OFF the meter with out the range switch to get accidentally in the Low-Z position.

From the OFF position in order to get in the Low-Z position (mode), you need to use a significant amount force in order to get in there.


My answer to all those who have made those totally unjustified nags about the lost ability of slamming the range switch will be:

People if you are incapable to handle properly one such professional multimeter, then buy a cheaper junk at 30 Euros and be happy!


 

Portability & Accessories

By my humble opinion the U1273A is another successful meter by speaking about the design of it, even so this display like every other clear plastic display, needs some protection against scratches or accidental impacts.

The soft case is a must have when you are moving around with a hard case full of tools.

And my second suggestion will be one clear screen protector like the one that you use on your smart phone.

I have managed to find Anti-Glare ones, and as soon I will finish the Photo shooting of this review, I will install those in all my multimeter's.   


Accessories

Agilent did the smart move about the test lead cables and haves banana ends at both ends, which gives the advantage to use at the same cables all sort of crock clips even the ones with high-voltage isolation, or to add extensions, or use the 2mm test probes instead.

The specific (modular) design gives you the freedom to personalize your meter under your needs.  


Personally I own even this small special flash light for the test leads, a handy little thing which does not cost that much.

Any way, the additional accessories is a personal matter, get what ever you need.

Part - 8  Final thoughts


At the beginning of 2011 the U1270 Series of Agilent, looked as to be a fallen meteorite in the calm waters of the lake which called as “industrial market of multimeter's”.

The specific arrival caused lots of buzz in technical web communities of end users and enthusiasts, and naturally in the camps of the competitors.

The public reactions back then were mixed, joy and admiration for the rich offered features in a competitive pricing from the one end, and from the other end disbelief about the reliability and robustness, which is the flag of their basic competitor.


The Agilent program which offered the chance to me as European and few others world wide, so to actually get to know with the specific product, it did become a great personal opportunity so to test both products from the view point of the end user, plus to examine even the smallest details on them.


In the question: which one is best? There is no clear answer.


But let’s put together all the pieces of this puzzle so to have the final picture about the U1273A.


The OLED screen offers a tremendously improved readability in sort or long distances and also at any viewable angle.

Added plus the ability to display graphics as characters and so there is no need to read chopped down words which you have to guess the meaning as to was playing a cross puzzle.

The menu system by the use of pages made the setup of it friendlier, something that helps allot the new owners to become familiar with their multimeter is a very short time.  

OLED “Super yellow” life cycle 100.000 Hours = 11.4 Years 24/24 /365

(OLED in other colors they have less life cycle.)


Externally the body of the multimeter (holster) is common in all the U1270 Series, and it is a truly successful design, robust with great behaviour when be exposed at temperatures of 40-44C.

 

Another positive which I found is the ability of the multimeter to stay with the tilt bail open in very narrow spaces, in other words great stability by using a minimal footprint.

The lock point or anchor which keeps the tilt bail locked at the back of the multimeter works beatify even one year later, even if I was suspicious in the beginning it prove it self as trouble free design, and I am using here as example the U1272A.


The base specifications of 30.000 counts / high accuracy / super fast in single display modes which the 80% of it functions works that way, it makes the U1273A to become a choice even for the most demanding audience.


About the battery life, my quick answer will be that I am totally satisfied with the battery consumption of this model.

My own battery tests came very close to what Agilent mention as battery consumption in the User’s guide.

And actually I have use NiMH instead of Alkaline which translates that my numbers would be sorter by using NiMH.


Battery life:

• Based on new Alkaline batteries for DC voltage measurement:

• 30 hours typical at high brightness

• 45 hours typical at medium brightness

• 60 hours typical at low brightness

• Low battery indicator will flash when the battery voltage drops below

• For non-rechargeable batteries: 4.4 V (approximately)

• For rechargeable batteries: 4.5 V (approximately)

POWER CONSUMPTION

180 mVA maximum (with maximum brightness)



The above battery life approximations have been calculated by having in mind typical use and Alkaline, in my battery tests I did the opposite, my need was to find out how it stands as self data logger which is a strong feature of this multimeter.

And yes I am happy with the results that I got.

When some one does not have in mind to use the U1273A mostly as data logger, by my approximation that in a measurement I use the meter for 1-2 minutes at most, those 60 hours at the low brightness represents a massive amount of measurements.

The fact that I found the low brightness setting as very satisfactory makes me feel even more optimistic.


Also I do pray to God those new Eneloop to deliver what they are promising as slow discharge time.  

About those NiMH and their robustness, in a year from now I will run the same tests with the help of the U1273A so to verify their performance again.

Conclusion

I believe that the sum of all those information’s that I have bring to your attention, are more than enough so to form a picture of what to expect by getting one U1273A.


Personally even by testing the U1273A my feelings about the U1272A did not changed.

The flashing back light is something that I do appreciate on it, plus the liquid crystal display, makes the meter usable under any natural light conditions.


It is confusing to select the one over the other, if you have not balance your own needs first.   


The U1273A it can easily become the favourite choice for industrial electricians, if your field work is under a roof, the OLED display it will be a pleasure to watch, plus the easy settings menu is something that the people who dislikes User’s guides will just love with the first sight.


The advantages of the OLED screen over the LCD are many, the super yellow screen it is tremendously easy to read, and any electrician above 40s he will just love it.


About the battery life in the specific model, I do find it as very good and acceptable.

Agilent did something smart with U1273A, they did give allot of attention when this meter was at the designers board, so to not become power hungry.

And they did succeed it!  By doing so the old saying that “OLED screens are battery killers” it looks today as out of base.


My final word will be that both are gems and successful designs, and every one haves its own character or special advantage to offer.




I like to thanks for once more Agilent HH in USA, about their secretly made decision, so to send the U1273A instead of the replacement that I was originally expecting.

Also for their help over the customs clearance “mini adventure”, and also for standing behind their products with so much passion, by been always open to comments and suggestions, plus the fact that they do appreciate the genuine feedback.


Personally I hope to see and other brand names to follow the example of Agilent or BRYMEN or DER EE about been open minded about product reviews and incoming feedback.


The ITTSB is one fresh idea ready to serve as showroom of innovative tools, what I do includes love and passion for technology.

My new business title is Reviewer / “early adopter”.


KIRIAKOS TRIANTAFILLOU

GREECE


Pictures gallery.

2012 Arrival.

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