A review of SonoScape’s advanced, shared service portable ultrasound machine

It’s always nice to test an ultrasound that brings something new to the table. It’s refreshing and helps us all rethink how we use ultrasound systems. The SonoScape S9 is one of these systems. Most notably, it’s the touchscreen interface that offers a difference.

Revamping the console with a context-oriented touchscreen

While touchscreen interfaces are nothing new on portable ultrasounds, we’ve only seen them on tablet-style, limited-function portables. The SonoScape S9, however, is a full shared-service ultrasound machine that uses a touchscreen in place of the standard keyboard and imaging controls.

And it works.

Quite well, actually. In fact, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more like this in years to come on traditional portable ultrasounds. This 13.4″ touchscreen is fast, easy-to-use, and uncluttered. Going from the S9 to other traditional portable ultrasounds has a slight feel like you’re going back in time. (It still has a few hard keys, such as gain controls, trackball, and freeze keys.)

One of the key features of a touchscreen is its uncluttered feel. The nature of the touchscreen, which changes depending on what modality you’re using, makes the ultrasound much easier to use because all the clutter of unnecessary hardkeys and confusing softkeys are gone. No more hunting-and-pecking nor digging through deep submenus to find a relatively simple imaging control.

Image Quality on the S9

Quickly stated: the image quality is great. It’s arguably the best value as a portable ultrasound in its price range and it’s definitely SonoScape‘s best portable ultrasound at this time. The image quality on the S9 rivals some of the premium, more expensive new or used portable ultrasound machines.

The SonoScape S9 is fully shared service with everything from cardiac stress echo to 4D obstetrics. And it does all of these modalities well. SonoScape improved dramatically on its cardiac imaging, and it has excellent resolution and penetration in all modalities.

Price and Performance

By price, it falls in the mid-range market, but image quality rivals some of the more advanced portable ultrasounds available today. That puts this in one of my favorite categories as something that offers a great bang for your buck.

I think most will find the touchscreen to be friendlier than most interfaces. It will change based on your modality, which keeps the control interface from being cluttered and confusing. You can also customize its look, brightness, and font. It’s easy on the eyes, and users will spend less time searching for controls.

Another note on the touchscreen: many consoles that use a touchscreen are very slow between pressing buttons. This is not the case with the S9, it’s very responsive and much faster than most console touchscreens I’ve seen.

S9 Imaging Features

The S9 includes all of SonoScape’s advanced imaging features, such as Speckle Reduction and Compound Imaging technologies, as well as stress echo, 4D OB/GYN, elastography, panoramic, and high density transducers.

As with other SonoScape portable ultrasound machines, it features 2 active probe ports. Additionally it has a 15″ monitor that tilts to about 45-degrees, 2 USB ports, S-Video and VGA output, Ethernet, and available footswitch.

SonoScape S9 vs the competition

I put this machine side-by-side with some of its competitors above and below the price point of the S9. And that’s where the S9 truly shined. The image quality matches only more expensive ultrasound machines costing an additional $10,000 or more. It had good penetration for cardiac and abdominal, and excellent resolution for superficial imaging as well as deeper tissue with the convex and linear transducers. Frame rates were also very good. Color Doppler was comparable to most other machines.

Final Thoughts on the S9

Using the S9 was easy, fast, and efficient. Image quality is outstanding and it falls into a price range that provides a higher-end portable ultrasound in a mid-range price. When compared side-by-side with other portable ultrasound machines (as well as two console ultrasound machines), I found it would be hard to recommend any of the others over the S9.