In two words: Not much. But it was not always so. There was a time not long ago when significant differences existed between these two basic system types. Consider the following typical data logger features versus its data acquisition cousin:
- Data loggers were battery powered.
- Data loggers were higher resolution devices.
- Data loggers recorded to their own memory.
- Data loggers operated at very slow sample rates.
These distinctions have blurred over the last twenty years or so due mainly to technology advancements. For example, there used to be a huge cost difference between high speed and low speed, as well as high and low resolution analog to digital converters. Today, those differences have nearly been erased. A manufacturer can choose a high speed, high resolution and low power solution and deploy it as either a data logger or data acquisition solution at its discretion. Furthermore, much greater levels of integrated circuit density and functionality have allowed previously complex designs to be reduced to only a handful of ICs. From a firmware perspective, open source stacks that offer turnkey support for SD memory cards, Ethernet, WiFi, etc. may be implemented on nearly a whim by the manufacturer because of minimal development time and expense.
So while we continue to internally distinguish between “data acquisition” and “data logger”, we’re careful to not assume that those distinctions are held by current and potential customers. Just tell us what you need, and we’ll recommend the best product solution, however it’s classified.