SPARKvue or Capstone?

Help me choose . . .

PASCO offers two distinct options for data collection and analysis software.

SPARKvue® is our easy-to-use, cross platform solution. SPARKvue is intuitive enough to use in elementary schools, but it has powerful analysis tools that are there when you need them. It’s ideal for new users or situations where probeware is used occasionally and a plug-and-play guided experience is desired.

PASCO Capstone has more powerful & sophisticated analysis tools and customization, which means a slightly higher learning curve but greater functionality for those who need the extra tools it offers. We recommend Capstone for physics and engineering applications and for users who need its specific features. Generally we recommend Capstone for users who are transitioning from DataStudio.


  • Works on all major platforms - Windows & Mac computers, Chromebooks, iPads & iPhones, and Android tablets and phones.
  • An intuitive user interface makes it easy to get started.
  • Touch screen compatible.
  • Includes access to over 80 free, media-rich interactive SPARKlab® activities for Elementary & Middle School Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Physical Science, and Physics.
  • Student assessment is built in, and the journaling feature captures student data, notes, and responses.
  • Features data-sharing, so students in the classroom have the exact same experience as distance learners.

PASCO Capstone

  • Designed for use only with Mac or Windows computers.
  • Built from the ground up to be the premier software for use in physics and engineering applications.
  • Includes a higher degree of user controls, including start/stop conditions, error bars, and the ability to exclude or delete data points.
  • Is completely customizable with a deep feature set, which gives you the flexibility and tools to design your own experiments.
  • Has free downloads for classic physics experiments using PASCO equipment.
  • Allows users to create custom tables, enter user data, copy and paste equations, and generate calculations quickly.
  • Video capture and analysis allow users to capture and sync video to data.
Comparison of Features SPARKvue PASCO Capstone
iOS/iPad®/iPhone® ChromebookTM AndroidTM phone or tablets
Free app available on the App Store, Google Play or Chrome Web Store

Data sharing
Free experiments available for download
Export data
Student journaling
Number of curve fits 8 24
Area under the curve
Prediction tool
Custom configure workspace
Min, max, mean, standard deviation
Oscilloscope display 1
Signal generator controls 1
Video analysis
Error bars
FFT Display 2
Open Datastudio files
1 When paired with the 550 Universal Interface.
2 FFT functionality introduced with SPARKvue version 2.7.0. FFT analysis for SPARKvue supports onboard microphone use with Windows and Android. Otherwise the CI-6506B Sound Sensor can be used with the 550 Universal Interface. Additionally, FFT can be used with the wireless Voltage and Current sensors connected via USB. 
Single user and Site licenses for Mac & Windows
App free on the App Store, Google Play, and the Chrome Web Store.

Minimum system requirements
Windows: 7 or higher. Mac: OS X 10.8.5 or later. Processor: 1 GHz or faster for Windows, An Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 or Xeon Processor for Mac. RAM: 2 GB. Resolution: 1024 x 768 or greater. Disk Space: 200 MB available.

Interface connection: At least one free USB port and/or Bluetooth® compatibility

Note: PASCO Wireless Sensors use Bluetooth® Smart connectivity. Windows devices and older Macs will require a USB Bluetooth Adapter (PS-3500) to use them.

PASCO Capstone
Single User or Site licenses for Mac & Windows

Minimum system requirements
Windows: 7 SP1 or higher; 2 GHz processor (only required for Video Analysis features); 200 MB available disk space; 2 GB RAM; Display size: 1024 x 768. Macintosh: Mac OS X 10.8.5 or higher. Intel CPU. 2 GB RAM. 100 MB available disk space.

Interface connection: At least one free USB port and/or Bluetooth® compatibility

Note: PASCO Wireless Sensors use Bluetooth® Smart connectivity. Windows devices and older Macs will require a USB Bluetooth Adapter (PS-3500) to use them.

By Platform


SPARKvue software runs on:

  • Mac® 
  • Windows®
  • iPad®
  • iPhone®
  • Android™ tablets & phones
  • Chromebook™
  • SPARK Element™

PASCO Capstone

PASCO Capstone software runs on:

  • Mac®
  • Windows®

By Subject

So which software do we recommend for high school physics?

Either SPARKvue or Capstone can be good choices for high school physics. For schools using iPad®, Chromebook™, or Android™ tablets, SPARKvue is the answer. It may also make sense if a single software solution is desired and SPARKvue is being used in other subjects in your school.

For schools upgrading from DataStudio, Capstone is the choice. Or if video analysis is important, then Capstone is the way to go. In general, for physics labs using computers, it is hard to beat the power and flexibility of Capstone.

Apple, Apple logo, iPad, iPhone, and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. in other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android, Chromebook, and Google Play are trademarks of Google Inc. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Bluetooth is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG.