Rigol is a company selling Chinese-made digital scopes for very affordable prices. Their DS1000E/D series is especially interesting, with entry level (50MHz/2channel) units going for as little as $500USD.
I ran across these scopes on David L. Jones’s EE Video Blog, which is pretty entertaining. He has a brief review of the scope series and has good things to say about build quality but he doesn’t delve too deeply into functionality. He also says that Rigol actually OEM’d Agilent scopes, so that’s at least promising news.
They also offer affordable MSOs (Mixed Signal Oscilloscopes), which combine oscilloscope and logic analyzer functions. Unfortunately, based on my review of the user manual, the logic analyzers do not seem to offer the protocol analysis features that I have grown to love on the very affordable DigiView series of USB analyzers. It’s very handy to have your analyzer decode SPI, I2C and async serial transactions for you, and once you’ve tasted this power it’s really hard to give it up. Tek’s line of affordable scopes (which are a whole lot less affordable than these Rigol units) do offer protocol analysis.
That being said, you can pick up a $500 Rigol scope and a $500 DigiView logic analyzer and have a very powerful set of tools at your disposal for small money. Sure, you won’t be able to debug the latest and fastest stuff in the world, but for many needs like small embedded designs, you’d have plenty of horsepower.
Sometimes it’s cool to live in the future.