Another group of endoscopes are the ultraportable systems. These endoscopes are compact, lightweight (weighing under a pound), and battery capable, enhancing portability. We have found these systems very useful in two applications, including when a quick look is needed and when the research setting is extremely remote. As a quick look system, we have used the ultraportable system to move quickly between a large group of mummies, looking for comparisons or for collecting specific data points such as the internal structures of various skulls. The size of these quick look systems, the ease of operation, and their "low-tech" application make them ideal for use in extremely remote settings where instrumentation size and dependability are critical.
Typically, these quick look systems include an insertion tube of varied lengths. One system includes various-length insertion tubes that interface with a common command unit, increasing their flexibility of application (Figure 4.17). Most of the quick look systems come with a lens that has a 3 to 6 in. (7.62 to 15.25 cm) focal length and is a forward view format. A right-angle mirror adaptor is usually provided for 90° viewing. The light source of these quick look systems is typically a set of LEDs at the distal end that is battery powered. The light does not travel through optical fibers. With many of the quick look endoscopes, the direction of the distal end cannot be changed and is a major drawback of these systems. The command unit receives the image from the distal lens and is processed.
Because the image travels back to the command unit from the lens at the distal end of the scope, some resolution is lost. The battery-powered command unit may also have an onboard color monitor, a/v output ports, digital zoom capabilities, and video or still shot capture to a compact flash or SD card.
Balancing the limitations of the quick look systems against their advantages, we find that they do have a place in bioarchaeological research when used in appropriate settings. Another great advantage is that these quick look systems are a fraction of the cost of the more sophisticated VE systems, making them obtainable with even the most modest research budgets.
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