At first, I was a bit leery when I noticed it arrived in a badly battered outer box. When I opened it I saw that the mount head was packed inside an inner box that didn't seem to be damaged. Upon removing the mount head, I didn't see any damage so I assembled it and took a couple of photos. At the time I didn't realize that a dovetail set screw was bent. I didn't notice it until I went to mount a second scope. So I called up Orion and they quickly shipped me a new screw. Orion customer service is first class.
Here are my feelings on this new mount. There's no question that the tension issue has been resolved. I can easily lock down the mount while changing out an eyepiece and not have to worry about the scope falling which was the case with the previous version.
So how well does it perform? Quite well. I've used it with a number of scopes. It's extremely stable. I see very little vibration. This mount is light-years ahead of the SV MG mont both in build quality and execution. As some already know, the SV mount turned out to be a disaster. The less said the better.
So mounting my long C4-R and then doing some slewing showed me that balance is still critical if I want smooth slewing. That means rebalancing after changing out eyepieces if the weight of those eyepieces varies. But this isn't a real problem since once I plug in a particular eyepiece, I tend to use it for a while. I did notice that just like the older one, some scopes van be perfectly balanced and then as I reach anywhere near zenith, the point of balance shifts and suddenly the diagonal end wants to drop. At that point I can either rebalance or just crank up the tension knob. Doing the latter will tend to make slewing a bit jerky. I believe the reason why the balance point changes with some of my scopes is where the finders are attached. With the 6"SCT I have a large RACI mounted over to the right on the rear cell. The SV102ED has its RACI mounted on the clamshell.
So overall, slewing using this rig is quite effortless. With a smaller, shorter scope such as the TV-85 or the Meade 80mm seen in the accompanying photo, movements are smooth as glass. I do find that it's critical to properly level the mount. Otherwise, if I have the azimuth tension knob disengaged, as I slew from left to right or right to left, suddenly the mount will turn on its own. By the way, anyone know where I can buy a small circular plastic bubble level that I can attach to the flat top surface of one of the tripod legs? My local hardware stores don't carry them. The RV store I tried only carries a large one.
So that's it. Is it the perfect AZ mount? Nope. Does it accomplish most of my demands? Yes, I must say it does. It's extremely well made. And it looks great. At just under 20 lbs it's light enough to carry with one hand.