Last night, I put the new controller on to the CGE just to try it out, and here are my impressions.
First, the good. I like the button profiles. The scrolling buttons have angles on them to make it easy to rock back and forth, and the direction buttons have small ridges on the outside edge fo the keys which is also helpful for making sure you have your fingers on the keys.
The text on the screen is smaller, and at firs I did not care for this change, but there is a "Bold" setting in the keypad utilities that greatly improves the readability. There is also an 8 step brightness controll and the keypad is now like my Alienware computer... It has two "Zones" so that the brighness for the keys and the display can be controlled individually.
Now for the bad.... And there is plenty of bad to be sure.
First, Celestron could have made the cable longer. This has long been a complaint of many people that I know. The stiff coil-wound cable will barely reach around the mount when using a C14, and the tighness of it causes it to drag and snag on the power jack and other cord connections. IT also attaches to the PC board inside of the handset, so rather than have a design where we could use aftermarket cables in place of the factory cable, we have to use extensions.
Next, Celestron did away with the Catalog sortcuts on the keyboard for NGC, Messier, Star (not useful anyway) and Caldwell objects. Now you are forced to go to the "Deep Sky" button and scroll through menu items to get to the different catalogs.
News Flash.. For many observers, the NGC and Messier catalogs constitute 80% to 90% of their targets. This used to be a big differentiator between the Celestron and Meade produces, but now Celestron has taken a step back.
Next and maybe more important. The numbers and text on the keypads are Tiny! On the old keypads, even though I wear glasses for reading, the numbers werer BIG, and BOLD. It was easy to see them even without glasses. The new numbers by comparison are almost impossible to see and you have to rely simply on their position! Miserable as compared to the old keypad.
My guess is that this was a handset that was designed by someone that is not an active observer, and perhaps not given to some "Beta" testers to see how it worked in the field.
The new handset steps back in terms of catalog access and plunges off a cliff in terms of readability of the buttons.
What were they thinking? Why don't they have amateurs test these things to see how they work in the field?
The readability of the buttons is particularly bothersome. It is the worst readability of any handset I have ever used.
Perhaps people will think I am being to harsh over what many might consider "Minor" issues.
I was one of the most vocal people regarding the tool setup of the CGE. When I reviewed the CGE many years ago, I blasted Celestron for requiring so many little tools for setup, and especially the requirement for one size Hex wrench for the mount assembly vs another size for the adjustment. And perhaps because of reviews like mine, Celestron stepped up and provided tool-less setup in newer mounts.
And maybe if more of us present our negative views in more public forums, they will listen to our combined voices, though maybe I will be speaking on this alone.
I dislike new handset, and at the worse case, maybe Celestron will re-introduce the old handset and keep it available for a few years so people that need replacements and want to be able to read the buttons will have an alternative to the new hard to read, more button pushing handsets.
Sorry for the rant, but as you can tell, I truely belive that the new Handset is a step back. It offers a couple of new features, but fails to address the cord length issue, deletes the short-cut buttons to the most used catalogs, and makes it mandatory to wear your glasses to read the buttons even if you didn't need them for the old handset.
This handset is a big miss and Celestron needs to address the key-pad readability issues.
Maybe they will give us the option to re-program some of the keys one day to act as shortcut keys, but to me, the smaller font on the keypad is something that need attention immediatly. They need to quickly re-screen the printing so that they can address what should have been a glaring fault to recognize as compared to the old handset, which is far more legible in the dark.
Attached is a picture.. Can you tell the new controller from the old one based on my review??