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With less research funding on hand and more assay technologies to choose from on the other hand, researchers need to do their homework carefully in order to select the right measurement approach for their application! Here are some key points to consider:
1. Cost: While cost is always a major factor in the purchasing equation, it is also the least obvious and straightforward consideration, as cost alone does not directly relate to quality, top features, capabilities, and not to mention the hidden costs of operating the device over time, such as training, consumables, accessories, service agreements, and/or support agreements.
2. Applications: As always, "the devil is in the details"; always ask very specific questions based on your intended use. For example, when considering an SPR device, consider what type of analyte will you be studying, what are your expected molecule sizes, and which type of information are you after (i.e. affinity, binding strength or on/off rates, structural changes...)? Will your samples contain high levels of glycerol and DMSO? Will you use cell-based and/or biochemical assays?
3. Device Flexibility: Will your application change over time? Will you need a modular and open system, that gives you full access to the instrument's sensing technology, so that you may customize it to suit your experimental needs? Will you need to study both gas and fluids?
4. Throughput: While the ability to process several samples at the same time greatly reduces the price/data point, it also tremendously limits the capabilities of your setup. In other words, there will be a trade-off between throughput and flexibility...
Finally, always ask for a demonstration! If it is difficult to arrange a real conditions demo in your lab, ask if it would be possible to watch the instrument in operation at a nearby lab, "Seeing is believing".
And always remember as someone once said, "QUALITY PAYS, IT DOESN'T COST!"