I was considering treating myself and buying a colour LCD screen digital CRO to replace my 25 year old Tektronix, but the prices have set me back on my heels. Well over $5000 for a 2-channel device. Are people really buying these devices at that price????
Check out the new Agilent 3000 series, they start from US$1000. These are actually (shock horror) a re-badged Rigol unit which is designed and made in China. The DS-5102 100MHz 1GS/s 4KB colour model under the Rigol brand name is around $1700 from Emona, slightly higher price for the Agilent branded unit of course. I played with the Rigol unit the other day and I must say that I was impressed with the value for money, better than the equivalent Tektronix base model unit. The colour screen is large and clear, the operation intuitive, the response was quick, and it had plenty of cool features. Stuff like adjustable digital filtering was very nice. The masking features were impressive, horizontal and vertical adjustment along with 4000 samples allowing full replay capability. USB port for uploading to PC, sadly though it didn't support USB keys for screen capture. Needless to say with Agilent rebadging it, quality looked very good indeed. I was told that Rigol actually roll their own ADC/memory front end which is why they can meet this price point.
With real-time DSOs what you are paying for is mostly the amount of sample memory. The base model units ($1500-$3000) have 2-10KB, the next price bracket (like the Agilent 54600 or 6000 series at $3000-$6000) have 1MB+ sample memory. The next price bracket again gets you the insanely high analog bandwidth as well.
There are definite markets for all 3 price points.
$5000 isn't really that much :) I recall a very very nice TEK (colour) one reviewed in EA/SC a couple of years ago, was around the $20,000 mark :). It even had a B&W CRT, with an LCD filter over the front that changed colour as needed, to give a perfect, high resolution display with no purity/convergance errors etc.
If you have the use for the features of the scope, and it can help you a lot in your work, or improve your technical abilities then its worth spending the money on. I was always told when starting out, that you can never spend too much money on tools of your trade, and I have never found this to be bad advice :). If what you are looking at is a good quality unit - has features you need and will use and will last you for another 25 years (as your old one did) then its worth the money.