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The experimental test of novel ultrasound (US) investigation methods can be made difficult by the lack of flexibility of commercial US machines. In the best options, these only provide beamformed radiofrequency or demodulated echo-signals for acquisition by an external PC. More flexibility is achieved in high-level research platforms, but these are typically characterized by high cost and large size. This paper presents a powerful but portable US system, specifically developed for research purposes. The system design has been based on high-level commercial integrated circuits to obtain the maximum flexibility and wide data access with minimum of electronics. Preliminary applications involving nonstandard imaging transmit/receive strategies and simultaneous B-mode and multigate spectral Doppler mode are discussed.