The Eppendorf BioPhotometer from Brinkmann significantly simplifies routine molecular biology laboratory work. It allows one to make fast and easy measurements of RNA, DNA and proteins samples as well as measure the density of bacterial cultures. The spectral range for this device is 220 to 750nm. Each measurement is accompanied by a display of the 260/280 or 260/230 nm ratio and a dilution factor. The instrument has pre-programmed options for measuring double- and single-stranded DNA, oligos, RNA and proteins, that significantly cuts down operation time. This machine is also robust enough that it takes just 2 seconds to take a measurement. In addition, it can store up to 100 of the most recent probe measurements. There is also a thermal printer that allows one to get a hard copy of the data. The BioPhotometer comes with a 10 year guarantee for the Xenon lamp, a fact that leaves us with the impression that this is a solid machine.
What I really like about this device is its small footprint size. The BioPhotometer is 20 cm wide, 10 cm high and 32 cm deep, which makes it suitable for any place in the lab. The simplicity of handling and user-friendly software makes it strong competition to more sophisticated devices, which are, by the way, also used for simple probe measurements most of the time. With the BioPhotometer, sterile, disposable, RNase-free plastic cuvettes (UVette from Eppendorf) are also available - these dramatically reduce problems concerning RNA degradation during analysis. I strongly recommend purchasing a thermal printer with the device, since a single measurement print-out contains a broad spectrum of information including date and time. One of the little, but very practical, things that I appreciate about the print-outs from the thermal printer is its small size – it can fit into any laboratory protocol book without the need for additional „scissor-processing“. Another practical feature of the device is its water resistance, which prevents damage to the machine from all-to-frequent wet-lab accidents.
There are, however, a few drawbacks concerning the BioPhotometer. Because this device is used for quick and easy routine lab measurements, in cases where whole-spectrum measurements are required, one has to refer to more sophisticated spectrophotometers. There is also an annoying lack of software for transferring data to PCs in the standard delivery option. The BioPhotometer is a relatively-expensive piece of equipment and to have to pay an extra price for a PC compatibility software package is ridiculous.
Taken together, the BioPhotometer remains, in my opinion, a clear leader in the class of portable spectrophotometers. Despite a relatively high price, the BioPhotometer is worth the initial investment because of its practicality in daily laboratory work.
Michal Janitz, M.D.
Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics