Comparing two entry-level ultrasound machines

Both the Logiqbook XP and SonoSite Titan are solid portable ultrasound machines, but what you’ll do with it will decide which is best for you.

I’ve put together the following in-depth comparison on the major differences between these two portables.

First, here’s where they’re similar on paper:

So there’s your product-brochure summary. Now let’s get down to the important stuff:

The feel… the touch… 

The Titan is lighter, smaller, and has a smaller LCD display. The Titan weighs about 8lbs and has  8.4-inch LCD. The Logiqbook XP weighs 10.5 lbs and has a 10.5-inch LCD. Both have a carrying handle.

But the rubber meets the road when you actually have to do something. The differences:

The larger keyboard and general user interface on the Logiqbook XP will typically be more popular with sonographers doing more in-depth diagnostic work. The LogiqBook XP ultrasound system is more feature-laden, including Auto Tissue Optimization, better Doppler controls, more measurement controls, better TGC control, and customizable controls and buttons. This user-interface can be its boon or source of frustration. This is especially the case in a dark room with an inexperienced user.

The opposite is true for the SonoSite Titan. Its utilitarian interface and backlit configuration are a relief for people who couldn’t care less about the infinite ways of optimizing and customizing their system.

I gotta give Kudos to SonoSite here. For a user interface, they really nailed it for their key customers. They knew their audience and took a risk that’s paid off well. Its simple design is actually quite brilliant.

For GE, it seems they started utilitarian, then kept adding buttons because they thought it was useful. It ended up with a user interface designed for the lowest-common-denominator with the hopes of capturing the largest audience possible. Surprisingly, that approach worked quite well in this case.

Boot Time

There’s another large gap in similarities here. In my tests, here’s how long each system took to boot:

That can be a big deal if you’re in an emergency department or just trying to do a simple vascular access procedure.

Why the difference?

It’s the operating system, which is the source of 90% of the remaining differences between these two ultrasound machines. The Logiqbook XP runs on Windows XP, which gives it a lot more versatility over the Titan: wireless-ready, USB compatible, better image management and storage. The SonoSite runs its own operating system designed specifically for its “point of care” applications (ER, needle guidance, etc). Again, SonoSite focused hard on its target market and stuck with something lean and fast. GE’s approach was to make a miniature console system with similar features and functionality. Different strokes…

Image quality on both machines is quite impressive considering the cost and size of these units. Both have Tissue Harmonics imaging capabilities… In our tests, the SonoSite’s Harmonic imaging performed well in deep tissue (which is the main goal) and Logiqbook’s harmonics seem to be better for more superficial imaging. In penetrating deep tissue, we had to turn harmonics off.

Speaking of which, we may be one of the few who actually know how to turn Harmonics on or off on the Logiqbook. It’s the strangest thing… there’s no button or softmenu control. In fact, there’s no way of knowing this feature unless you read page 131 of the user manual (everyone reads the user manual, right?). Here’s what it says:

Turn on Tissue Harmonics by pressing CTRL-H on the keyboard. Huh? Well, there’s your free tip-of-the-day.

OK, back to the image quality:

In our in-office tests, we found the penetration to be better on the SonoSite Titan. We were able to scan the carotid of a 300lb man and get good 2D and decent color out of it. It edged out the LogiqBook XP here. In abdominal studies, I was really quite surprised to see how the penetration lacks when you turn on Harmonics with the Logiqbook XP … maybe that’s the reason the feature is buried.

Frame rates in Color Doppler were also surprisingly good with the SonoSite. It responded well with little aliasing in a normal carotid or abdominal study. I’d expected the LogiqBook XP to win here, but it was too close to call.

Measurements and Analysis

If you do a lot of calcs and measurements, you want the LogiqBook XP. Move on, nothing to see here.

But seriously, the SonoSite’s M&A package is limited and the touchpad can be a little frustrating. We definitely prefer the trackball on the LogiqBook XP for a more pleasant experience.

Durability

SonoSite wins. Hands down. Everything on this feels tough. The probes are tough, the system is tough and it can get down-and-dirty, literally (hello veterinarians). The Logiqbook XP ultrasound  feels more like a laptop computer, and you don’t want to drop it. The XP’s interface is more prone to cracking if it’s handled roughly. The probe connectors will give you this same impression: The Titan feels indestructible, while the LogiqBook XP feels like, well, an ultrasound machine. The only time this really matters, though, is if the machine has no cart and is used by many different people in many different places.

Image Storage

Both provide  solutions for connectivity and DICOM, but the Logiqbook XP wins here. The Titan gives you the choice of networking or  using Compact Flash… however, if you’re not using DICOM, transferring images gets complicated. On the Titan, you need a mini-dock and USB cable to connect to a PC, then use SonoSite’s SiteLink software to import the images to a computer (you can’t simply remove the compact flash card and stick it in a card reader). The XP allows you to use a USB device, wireless or CD-R Export. No MiniDock and no direct connection to a PC required, (a special wireless card is needed).

Conclusion

They’re both great and have their strengths and weaknesses. In reading this, you may have found some dealbreakers somewhere, and that’s what should help you make your decision.

The SonoSite is great for things like Emergency Department, central line placement, Point-of-Care, bedside ultrasound, and in situations where the physician may be using the ultrasound for a quick diagnosis. You can pull the ultrasound off the shelf, boot it and be scanning almost immediately.

The GE is great for the other situations. Typically sonographers will be happier with the LogiqBook XP’s measurement package, customizability and image optimization. The trackball is easier and the keyboard is better.

Both are very easy to use and learn. For physicians just getting into ultrasound, adapting to either machine isn’t terribly rough, but will probably lean towards the SonoSite. They’re both very nice. The viewing area didn’t seem to have a significant impact on the image quality or evaluating images. Both provide solutions for the doctors to review on their own computer or send to a radiologist.

Which would I choose? The answer is the same. I’d be perfectly happy with either of these in the correct environment. Don’t put me in an OB office with a Titan and expect me to be happy. Then again, I can’t say I’d be elated in using the LogiqBook XP in the Emergency Room if there was a SonoSite Titan nearby.

Overall, you can’t really go wrong with either system. Define your needs carefully and the answer should present itself. Whichever way you’re leaning, you can contact us to figure out how to build it out with the right probes and accessories. If you’re still not sure, contact us, and our ultrasound experts can guide you in the right direction and give you a free price quote.

Other questions or comments? Drop me a note in the comments section and we’ll help you out.