Comparing manual and automated cell counters - Part II
Updated: Mar 10
Counting cells with automated cell counter is no surprise today. If you consider an automated cell counter is a better option for you, read on!
This post includes:
-General procedure of automated cell counter
-Manual and automated cell counter comparison
Automated cell counter: the next generation of cell counting
Before automated cell counters were invented, cell counting was only done manually using a hemocytometer, which requires extreme labor and time.
Today, automated cell counters are used which are more advanced devices compared to manual counters in terms of accuracy and time-efficiency. The possible counting range of cell samples has broadened such that not just white or red blood cells but also cells in body fluids can now be counted. Additionally, automated cell counter provides data like viability and apoptosis all automatically within minutes or even seconds.
Due to simplicity and especially considering accuracy, user’s demand for automated cell counter is now increasing. Not just that, it also eliminates human errors and possible factors that may negatively affect results.
The procedure to count cells is different depending on which device you use, so we will briefly introduce you the general procedure most of the automated cell counters share in common using a disposable counting slide.
Automated counting procedure:
1. Pipette your cell sample into a test tube.
2. Add appropriate staining solution into the same tube and mix gently by pipetting up and down. Make sure to mix GENTLY as centrifuge can easily break cells.
3. Obtain required amount of mixed sample for the device you are using and load it to the counting slide channel.
4. Then insert the slide into a cell counter.
5. Operate any other necessary steps to get your results.
Manual versus automated cell counter
Automated cell counters became the solution to inaccuracy, time consumption and labor intensity you can encounter while manually counting your cells. The invention of automated cell counter then created a smoother path for not only hematologists but also in the field of life science enabling the count of other cells. 
While manual counting is still used today, the following factors may be inevitable:
When counting cells with a microscope, some cells are ambiguous and are sometimes difficult to distinguish live ones from the dead because of those that are in the phase of dying. Often enough, it is hard to see the difference between cells and small debris.
Inconsistency in results is one of the factors affecting the accuracy and precision of measurement due to user variation.
Although it is possible for humans to count every single cell in every grid of counting slide, it may take hours. For that reason, cell counting process is mostly replaced by automated cell counters nowadays for practical matters.
Having a person to count micro-sized cells with naked eyes can be extremely tiring. With the help of advanced technology, cell counting has now become rather simple work. For automated counter, all you need is to prepare sample, load to counting channel of a slide and insert into an instrument.
What to consider when choosing a cell counter
First and foremost is the performance.
Accuracy is the prior factor you might want to consider.
Measurement range is another major consideration since you have to choose the applicable cell counter depending on the cell sizes you are mostly working with.
Time-efficiency is a plus in cell counters.
- Standardized cell counting method
- High accuracy
- Minimum human error
- Time saving
- Time consuming
- Safety issue
- Extra materials required
- Maintenance may be required
- Accessories may be needed
Are you searching for the perfect automated cell counter? See what NanoEntek can provide you!
An automated cell counter
< 20 seconds / test
Cell line (clumped cell, single cell)
From 1x10E4 to 1x10E7 cell/mL
The world's fastest automated cell counter
< 1 second (manual focus) ; 10 seconds (auto focus)
Cell line (clumped cell, single cell)
1x10E4 - 2X10E7 cell/mL
A high-throughput automated cell counter
3 minutes per 48 tests
Cell size range
Detectable: 1 - 85 um
Optimal: 5 - 80 um
Detectable: 1x10E4 - 2x10E7 cells/mL
Optimal: 1x10E5 - 1x10E7 cells/mL
Also read: Comparing manual and automated cell counters - Part I
1.Green, Ralph, and Sebastian Wachsmann-Hogiu. “Development, History, and Future of Automated Cell Counters.” Clinics in Laboratory Medicine, vol. 35, no. 1, Mar. 2015, pp. 1–10, 10.1016/j.cll.2014.11.003. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.