Many years of research in Philips laboratories have enabled the development of a second generation image intensifier, the XX 1610, with characteristics close to an image intensifier of the third generation. In this paper, we will describe the various technical characteristics which determine the excellent performance of the XX 1610, such as photocathode sensitivity, signal to noise ratio, modulation transfer function and mean time to failure. We have made a comparison between image intensifiers of the second and third generation and the XX 1610. It is shown that the XX 1610 nearly matches the performance of a third generation image intensifier in term of equipment performance. When economic factors are also taken into account, the XX 1610 can be considered as a very competitive image intensifier.