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Portable Ultrasound Machines

best portable ultrasound

Finding the Best Portable Ultrasound Machine

Portable is not an application but the recognition that multiple applications will often be needed in the same ultrasound machine.

View any of the categories below to see the top 1-4 recommended portable ultrasound machines in that category. All machines in a category will have similar minimum features. The price range in a category will generally but not always be similar. The price fluctuates on the brand recognition of an ultrasound machine (well-known brands carry a higher price) as well as the condition of the system. (Brand new machines have higher prices than refurbished or used portable ultrasound machines.)

Often the best value in a category will be a refurbished ultrasound system from a well-known brand. The feature set is the same as other competing machines in the segment but the price is much lower. If you know what segment you’re looking for choose one below and click to see what portable ultrasound machines are recommended in that feature range.

Categories of Portable Ultrasound Machines

High-end: Most, but not all of the features of a premium console at a lower cost.
Midrange: The most commonly purchased systems with some premium features.
Economy: Basic systems with less advanced technology but at a lower price.
Handheld: Inexpensive and small with limited functionality but held in the hand.
B&W Portable: Extremely inexpensive portables with dated tech. & no Doppler

The Best High-End Portable Ultrasound Machines:

Recommended systems: Philips CX50, GE Vivid q

The high-end portable ultrasound machine segment is small because of the difficulty in packing the computing power necessary to provide high-end image quality and features into a portable, hand-carried size. The Philips CX50 and the GE Vivid-q are the only two portable ultrasound machines thus far able to do so. The Philips CX50 is designed for cardiovascular, general imaging, and shared service applications and offers not only the only advanced single crystal transducers in the portable ultrasound machine market but also the only 4D TEE probe in the portable cardiovascular ultrasound segment. The CX50 offers onboard quantification and analysis through the advanced Qlab package. The CX50 is an incredible value because as a portable ultrasound machine it sells at low high-end prices while offering true premium image quality and performance. The GE Vivid q is the more advanced version of the cardiovascular-focused Vivid i. The “q” stands for quantification, and the Vivid-q provides this quantification and analysis onboard. The Vivid-q offers a broad range of transducers and features including great pediatric and neonatal cardiac support.

What to expect from a high-end portable ultrasound machine:

  • Amazing to excellent 2D & Doppler image quality
  • Lighter units with longer-lasting batteries have the advantage
  • Up-to-date system architecture
  • A larger selection of transducers (single crystal, xMatrix, or 4D are rare)
  • The compact size makes it perfect for the operating room or small exam rooms
  • Image optimization and auto measurement save time & decrease fatigue
  • Automation & simple workflow is important for “punkabilly” in a portable
  • All cardiac modes: tissue Doppler imaging, CW LVO, stress echo & pediatric
  • Auto image optimization, auto color & Doppler save time & decrease fatigue
  • Full measurement and reporting packages for supported applications
GE Vivid q ultrasound machine

The Best Midrange Portable Ultrasound Machines:

Diagnostic ultrasound is quickly expanding to all markets across all countries because of it is so safe and incredibly useful in diagnosis of common problems across a wide variety of applications. In many developing markets the midrange portable ultrasound represents the best option because it allows a single unit to be shared easily by multiple doctors in multiple rooms or locations. Many private practice physicians in more develop nations are acquiring a midrange portable ultrasound machine as a second, backup system able to travel to a second office, or provide scans during peak times when both machines will be utilized at once. A midrange portable ultrasound machine emphasizes image quality and workflow efficiencies to allow quick diagnosis in the majority of common scans. To reduce the price and keep the form factor light, many features are limited or removed, however with the 3 options recommended here there is still a deep, if narrowly specialized feature set. GE is able to keep feature sets deep by narrowing them by application. The GE Voluson i is the most advanced 4D OB/GYN, women’s health portable ultrasound machine available in the world but it’s GI and Cardiovascular abilities are limited or nonexistent. The Voluson-i’s 2D and 4D image quality is excellent. The GE Vivid i is perhaps the most well known cardiovascular portable ultrasound in the midrange segment because it still offers a tremendous amount of cardiac features and transducers in a midrange priced portable package. It’s 2D, Doppler and CW image quality are good to excellent. The Samsung HM70A offers a blended approach with good 4D for OB/GYN and good cardiac imaging but a smaller set of features and transducers for both. The HM70A also offers a lower price though the quality and reliability of this Samsung portable ultrasound are on par with GE’s portables.

What to expect from a midrange portable ultrasound machine:

GE Vivid i ultrasound machine

The Best Economy Portable Ultrasound Machines:

Recommended systems: GE Logiq e, Sonosite M-turbo

Economy portable ultrasound machines are in high demand as secondary units for doctors with multiple facilities, in price sensitive regions or for medical professionals that only occasionally perform ultrasound scans. An economy portable ultrasound will be light, have acceptable image quality with a color flat screen monitor and limited features and hardware power in order to stay price competitive. This segment has become crowded with many new brands that are attempting to grow into developing markets or to take market share with new users of diagnostic ultrasound who have not yet formed a brand preference. The GE Logiq e is the most well-known, and best selling portable ultrasound machine with a low price. There are lower priced options, but none with the smooth GE workflow, proven reliability and breadth of transducer and application options. The Logiq e replaced the older GE Logiqbook. The Logiq e is a safe choice and continues to be developed and supported. The SonoSite M-turbo is a 4th generation Sonosite portable ultrasound that is the smallest in non-handheld segment and has the reputation as the most rugged. Sonosite was developed to be a military grade ultrasound machine carried into the field and that heritage is preserved in the M-turbo. Though only offering acceptable and sometimes poor image quality and more limited probes the Sonosite portables have kept a strong following of loyal users who praise their rugged reliability and extreme portability and are not bothered by the smaller screen or lower image quality levels.

What to expect from an economy portable ultrasound machine:

GE Logiq e ultrasound machine

The Best Handheld Portable Ultrasound Machines:

Recommended systems: GE Venue 40, GE Vscan

The handheld ultrasound machine category did not exist only a few years ago, but GE has successfully begun the category and now several brands have followed suit and created tablet-sized ultrasound machines or smaller. Typically these systems are very limited by their size to provide a “quick look” into a small range of basic scans. Doctors rarely use these handheld ultrasounds as their only source of diagnosis but as a backup or initial form of discovery, or for a very specialized type of scan. The GE Vscan is the size of a flip-style cellphone and has only a single sector style transducer that is good for deep penetration needed for abdominal and cardiac scans using 2D and limited color. Because the screen size is so small and the hardware so limited one needs to be realistic about what can be expected from such a small ultrasound machine. With those realistic expectations, the Vscan can be incredibly helpful and reduce the need to bring in larger more expensive units when a “quick look” is all that is needed to determine further action. A new version of the Vscan known as the Vscan dual greatly expands what the Vscan is capable of by creating a unique dual transducer that has a linear scan head on one side and the original sector scan head on the other side with the probe cable coming out the side. It remains to be seen how durable and ergonomic this option will be but it certainly has broadened the Vscan’s capabilities. The GE Venue 40 is a tablet-sized handheld ultrasound machine with a broader set of 4 probes (no endocavitary) and greater application support.

What to expect from a portable handheld ultrasound machine:

  • 10” or smaller screen size
  • Poor or acceptable image quality
  • Doppler unavailable or very limited
  • Lightweight, able to be carried and used at the same time
  • Very limited hardware because of space constraints
  • Very limited set of available transducers
  • Can be carried in a pocket or the hand
  • Limited connectivity for image export
  • Limited applications
GE Vscan portable handheld ultrasound machine

The Best Black & White Portable Ultrasound Machines

Recommended systems: Sonoscape A6

Originally all ultrasound machines were black and white only. (2D B & M modes) But now most diagnostic ultrasound machines have color and Doppler as standard features. Black and white portable ultrasounds are however gaining market share because of their extremely low price. Most new ultrasound machine manufacturers are using these low-cost B&W portables to break into new markets that could not previously afford diagnostic ultrasound. The drawbacks to these systems are a lack of quality and reliability that have turned many doctors off to ultrasound altogether because of these predictable shortcomings. Technical glitches, buggy software, boot-up failures, and other problems have made a large number of brand new B&W portable ultrasounds useless in a few days or months. A few brands however have done better than others at addressing not only the reliability issues but also poor workflow that makes them extremely hard to use and unintuitive.

What to expect from a black & white portable ultrasound machine:

  • Acceptable B&W image quality
  • Boxier, heavier portable design
  • Smaller than 15” monitor
  • No Doppler or freehand 3D
  • USB ports for image export
  • Many B&W portable ultrasounds have NO battery
Sonoscape A6 black and white ultrasound