Beckman Coulter's Microfuge 18
Today's laboratory instruments seem to be following the same path as computers and cellular phones--smaller, faster, and harder to figure out. It seems that in their quest to miniaturize and accelerate the tools we use, technologists sometimes forget that one tenet of progress is simplicity. Beckman Coulter steers clear of technological one-upmanship and emphasizes convenience and utility in the development of its instruments. The new Microfuge 18 is a good example of how user feedback and common-sense engineering can combine to create a product that is practical, user-friendly, and easy to live with.

To start with, the physical dimensions of the Microfuge 18 are not intrusive. Measuring about the size of a hatbox, the unit is small enough to stay out of harm's way. And weighing in at just under 30 pounds, while not a featherweight, the microfuge is manageable. Visually, the microfuge looks like a...

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