What is the top flow cytometer? The easy answer is the flow cytometer that matches your needs and fits within your budget. However, before running off to spend cash, consider the following.
What are the current needs of the users? Evaluating the users needs will help define the parameters needed for the flow cytometer. This will include what excitation sources should be available, how many detectors are needed, including specialized detectors (small particle detectors), as the need for automatic sampling. All these factors will in weigh in on the
What are the projected future needs of the users? This is where the crystal ball comes out. Predicting what the future needs of the userbase is a difficult task. The best thing is to evaluate if the cytometer of interest is future proof? That is can it be expanded in capacity and capabilities as the research needs change.
Will the instrument be needed for clinical samples? This is a specific, separate requirement because this will limit the choices of instrument based on governmental approval.
Evaluate the instrument. As the choices are narrowed down, it is essential that the instrument is given a test drive. Make sure to plan to spend a week or so evaluating the instrument. Throw all manners of samples at the system. Learn about the the limitations of the system, as well as the strengths by talking to others.
Understand the service side of things. Downtime is a fact. All instruments will need repair from time to time. Knowing who the service engineer is and the response time is important before you make your final commitment.
At the end of the day, all the instrument vendors make excellent instruments. The onus is not to believe the slick marketing material that is handed out. Getting hands on the machine and spending time with real samples in the real world setting is infinitely more valuable.
My other passions include grilling, wine tasting, and real food. To be honest, my biggest passion is flow cytometry, which is something that Carol and I share. My personal mission is to make flow cytometry education accessible, relevant, and fun. I’ve had a long history in the field starting all the way back in graduate school.
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