Monday, December 14, 2009

Synergy H4 Hybrid plate reader. What? Why?

I purchased a Dodge Durango a few months ago, and as a family car, I love it. There is plenty of room to carry people and things around, it has all sort of gadgets (the DVD player for the kids being #1 on my list of favorites) and we all feel safe riding high above the street. But I have to say that the 5.7 L V8 Hemi engine is not exactly what I would call a green and economical mechanical system. When we chose this car as our family car, the emphasis for us was on interior space, safety, and kid’s friendly gimmicks (and being from Europe, also a touch of “I want a big American car at least once in my lifetime”!). Now, I wish the car had a button that would turn it into a Prius whenever I just need to drive to the grocery store, but no such car exist. Don’t you hate compromise? And more importantly, what does all this have to do with plate readers?

Synergy H4Cars are what I often have in mind when we, at BioTek, work on developing new multi-mode plate readers. Like cars, multi-mode plate readers come with all sorts of options and accessories, and are available in a broad price range. Like cars, they have become an object without which many activities would become impossible, or extremely cumbersome. And like cars, they are available from a variety of vendors that fight for the customer’s attention. And so when we develop a new plate reader at BioTek, I often have in mind my own purchasing experience with cars: how did a specific model or vendor get my attention? How did the test drive feel? And how do I feel today, after a few years of driving?

I believe BioTek’s new Synergy H4 is a great example of how we try answering such questions, as a scientific instrumentation company. Synergy H4 is a Hybrid multi-mode microplate reader, “Hybrid” because you can choose to use filters or monochromators for wavelength selection. As I said above, there is no car that you can turn from a gas-guzzling SUV to a small fuel-efficient hybrid with the push of a button. But there is now a plate reader that will switch from deep blocking interference filters to quad monochromators with a click of your mouse. Why is this meaningful? Because microplates are just vessels. What scientists put in these vessels is only limited by their imagination (and budget!). Ask our technical assistance staff what some of our customers try to do with their plate readers! If plate readers were alive, I can guarantee there would be a plate reader rights movement! The range of applications is just mind-boggling. This is where our hybrid design comes to play: when we (BioTek) create instruments that push the limits of flexibility, we open new horizons to researchers. The tool becomes less visible, gets out of the way of the research process and leaves room for more creativity and productivity. The “Hybrid” concept can catch people’s attention because of its uniqueness, but beyond that, it delivers a combination of flexibility and performance which feels like driving a race car AND a Jeep at the same time.

When launch time came closer, we needed a name for our filter/monochromator combination. In the end, after much brainstorming, we went with "Hybrid TechnologyTM". And even though the “TM” might stand for “Totally Marketing” (WE WANT YOUR ATTENTION, remember?), the actual hardware and software are just incredible. Don’t just take my word for it. Try one. We have demo instruments, friendly and knowledgeable sales and support staff around the globe. And once you have one in your lab, you will be among the growing numbers of scientists that just wonder: why did I wait so long before getting a hybrid plate reader?

By, BioTek Instruments

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