Jump to content


Photo

Problems at Meade???

  • Please log in to reply
160 replies to this topic

#101 A. Viegas

A. Viegas

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1094
  • Joined: 05 Mar 2012
  • Loc: New York City/ CT

Posted 23 January 2013 - 06:11 PM

Don & Lorence I think you are both right.

For me it was a lifelong interest in the sciences and Astronomy, but frankly i totally abandoned Amateur Astronomy from 1991 to 2012 because I was just too busy. It was video astronomy and Mallincam in particular that has gotten me back into this hobby, despite my available time still being very little (if i can use my telescope 2x per month it is a lot!). So in a way, you sort of need as many hooks as possible. Greater interest in the sciences and a better curriculumn in public schools nationwide with an Astronomy requirement, would be nice. Lower cost entry equipment that has as much technology as possible and facilitates video/computer imaging, that would be cool. Despite, the romance of freezing your #(%# off and being able to pick out the central star in M57, for me that was never a hook. And i suspect that for many younger people having a technology component is I believe a requirement to be truly successful and far-reaching.

Without some vision and awareness that it takes better product marketing and brand building, no single Astronomy vendor will really ever become much more than a tiny niche business, maybe pulling in $20-40mn in annual revenues with a pittance for product development. To build a $1Bn product company I think it absolutely essential to bring in the technology element at basically a near zero cost and integrate it with all the kid and adult gadgets, iphones, androids, laptops, instagram, Facebook... you name it.

Absent this type of vision, Amateur Astronomy will remain a tiny little sliver of a business and like Classical Music, it will continue to die away as all the old timers and geezers leave the hobby in much greater #s than the newbies come in...

my 2c

Al

#102 Astrojensen

Astrojensen

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5454
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Bornholm, Denmark

Posted 23 January 2013 - 06:11 PM

Astronomy is, essentially, "flying below the radar" of people's perception, and we, and Meade, could use a good publicity push.



Yup. Almost everyone I've met and discussed astronomy with doesn't even know that some of the planets of our own solar system can be seen with the naked eye from the city or that the Moon has craters that it takes minimal optical aid to show. I could go on and on.

Where should we start? Schools? Astronomy on TV? TV commercials that explained some astronomy fact in 30 seconds would probably be a good start. The trouble is, as always, cost. Who's gonna pay?


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#103 dpwoos

dpwoos

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1540
  • Joined: 18 Oct 2006
  • Loc: United States

Posted 23 January 2013 - 06:16 PM

I agree. The name Meade (and Celestron) should mean guaranteed high quality, and 100% functional. No ifs, ands, buts. Otherwise, folks are going to lump them in with the cheapest imports, and they will have to compete mostly based on price. Not good.

#104 Starman1

Starman1

    Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 23417
  • Joined: 23 Jun 2003
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 23 January 2013 - 07:09 PM

It could be that for lack of money if they don't have them in stock, but I count 16 scopes on Meade's website under $1000, with at least a dozen under $500.
How is that "all but abandoned the low end of the market"?
Because they discontinued cameras that were all sold at a loss when they didn't sell at regular price?
Or is it just that the ads concentrate on their newer products, which are higher-end?
I would agree that perhaps they haven't made the entry-level scopes that we more advanced amateurs would rather they have brought in (I'd like to see a 6" dob instead of a plastic 80mm GoTo scope), but they don't seem to have abandoned the beginner at all.
I see all kinds of problems here, but lack of selection isn't one.

#105 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 44750
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 23 January 2013 - 07:44 PM

If the LX850 does everything they say it will do, and people are happy with the results, then why would they pay for an AP900 and then still have to buy a scope on top of that?



I looked at the OPT webpage. As far as I can see, the LX-850's are all currently in "Preorder Status."

I think one would have to be overly optimistic to believe that given Meade's history, that they could produce a mount similar in quality and reliability to an Astro-Physics mount.

Jon

#106 stratocaster

stratocaster

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 426
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2011

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:05 PM

They need to concentrate on a few products and do them right.


I'd like to emphasize "and do them right". Their inability to do this is what lost me as a customer.

#107 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 44750
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:06 PM

It could be that for lack of money if they don't have them in stock, but I count 16 scopes on Meade's website under $1000, with at least a dozen under $500.
How is that "all but abandoned the low end of the market"?



Don:

The problem I have with Meade is that while they do sell quite a number of entry level products, most of them do not represent good values. A 130 mm Short tube Newtonian on a plastic GOTO mount for money that might buy an 8 inch Dob...

Meade Star Navigator 130

In my way of thinking, Meade did abandon the low end entry level observer because rather than trying to provide them with simple, reasonable equipment at each price point, they marketed products that had the right gimmicks and hype but had poor optics and were just not very good telescopes. I look at the Meade DS scopes and compare them to the Celestron SLT series scopes and I see a major difference in quality.

In my mind, I keep comparing Orion to Meade. Orion seems to value the customer who has $200 to spend, giving that customer something solid for his/her money is a solid business model, you build a customer base and you build a solid product line.

In the long run, a company that caters to a hobby, has to have a vision, has to have more in mind than making a profit for the shareholders, somewhere, somehow, it needs to be committed to making sure that each and every product it produces has worth and value to the customer. Meade needs to get there.

Jon

#108 D. Perry

D. Perry

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 171
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2007
  • Loc: Southern California, USA

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:16 PM

Ridicules. You just don't get it. The Losmandy mounts are old junk that did not receive any significant upgrade in decades. The A-P mounts are twice as expensive as the LX850 when you include tripod/pier, counterweights, and other accessories. Oh no, please don't even mention the Mach1 as it is no match to the LX850.


After looking at the math and checking the facts (and using a G8, a G11, a Mach1, an LX200, and an LX200GPS), I think it's clear that I DO get it...

A Losmandy G11 is a tried and true mount that works. While some might perceive it as outdated (I would agree with that to some extent), people know it works, and very few would consider it junk. The complete kit (with Go-To and tripod) with a couple counterweights is US$3,400. You can add an autoguider setup for about $500. You're now at the same place technologically as the LX850 and you've spent $2,000 less.

The A-P Mach1GTO with an A-P portable pier (not the Eagle) and a couple of 9-pound counterweights comes to about $7,400. Add in an Orion Starshoot Autoguider package and you're at about $8,000. Yes, more than the LX850, but with exponentially better performance and support. And, last I checked, $8,000 is not twice as much as $6,000.

Oh, and I didn't even mention the Orion Atlas EQ-G. You can spend about $2,000 (adding the autoguider package) and get the same or better performance as the LX850.

The LX850 has no proven technologies that makes it any more attractive than the other packages mentioned above, especially when some of them are so much cheaper. What Meade's mounts do have is a history of poor tracking performance that require all kinds of tweaking and "supercharging" to get them working decently for astrophotography. What Meade also has is a history of poor customer service and support. There are examples of them going out of their way to make someone happy, but those are anecdotal exceptions to the norm.

But, I didn't really want to get into the whole debate about specifics. My point was that Meade has issues, and I think the LX850 is another example of the culmination of those issues. I certainly don't intend to diminish the importance of their place in amateur astronomy. The LX200 and LX90 products were/are excellent products that helped build the company through the 90s. The ETXs, while a bit junky and overly priced at first, were still great products for their intended market. But a handful of successes can't bail you out of a landslide of failures.

Others have mentioned that they deserve to go under. I sure hope they don't. It would weaken the market for innovation in amateur astronomy and leave little in the way of competition in the entry- and mid-level markets. Anyone in this hobby should want to see them thrive.

Ok, I think I've added my 4 cents now. :-)

Best,

#109 stratocaster

stratocaster

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 426
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2011

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:19 PM

The name Meade (and Celestron) should mean guaranteed high quality, and 100% functional. No ifs, ands, buts. Otherwise, folks are going to lump them in with the cheapest imports, and they will have to compete mostly based on price.


Well said.

When I first got into the hobby and asked for input on what companies to look at I was told Meade and Celestron. As a result of that recommendation I expected high quality. Being a newbie at the time I didn't realize I was paying an excessive amount of money for questionable workmanship and quality. It's only after I got my feet wet did I learn that the value was questionable.

By comparison, upon my re-entry into the hobby I was pretty amazed overall at the quality of my Z10 - very decent focuser, decent mirror, and nice alt-az bearings - at a great price.

I felt like I had received a great value. This is the type of reaction Meade customers need to have when their products are purchased. And I suspect customers would indeed be willing to pay more if the perceived value was there.

The last thing I want to feel like I have to do right after purchasing astronomy equipment is to spend more money to fix or enhance it because it doesn't do what it was supposed to do reasonably well to begin with.

#110 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5719
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:17 PM

Daniel, the whole "2X the price of Meade" referred to the AP900.

Based on Jason Ware's review in the other thread, I do not think a Mach1 is "exponentially" better than an LX850 - did you see his Horsehead at 2485mm focal length?

http://www.cloudynig...5637943/page...

very good results IMHO. I seriously doubt that an Atlas EQ-G can come close to his results. Maybe with a TDM (+ $1800) yes but an Atlas still won't carry 50# plus and neither will a G11. Or a Mach1 for that matter.

I still think the Mach1 can do better (based on my own experience at 2350mm), but it can't carry 50# plus. The LX850 should really be compared to the AP900 or Bisque Paramount MX. While I think the 900 is better, it is (almost) twice the price. Not twice as alph alleges.

And yes AP tech support is great. They even sold me parts for my circa 1996 AP600.

The story changes substantially when you include the OTA. Meade is $10K all in. Whereas with AP that's just the mount. You're getting the Meade mount for $4K. That is a bargain, even if it can't (quite) match the performance of the AP900.

And we should not be comparing the LX850 with a guider that requires a PC. We should be comparing it to a stand-alone guider like the Lacerta MGEN or SBIG SG-4.

My issue is that the anti-AP crowd is always going on and on about how a Mach1 goes from $6.3K to $9K+ when you put in the options. It does not, as you point out. I was quite discouraged with this kind of talk here on CN - from alph in particular! - but I eventually found out that its just FUD. My Mach1 came out under $6K including a (cheap Celestron) tripod and the 'S' chip which I haven't ordered yet. It was used though..

And to the other guy - my cost breakdown showing 10.6k was for a AP900, not a Mach1.

oh if you take a CGE Pro, add a StarSense ($329) and an SBIG SG-4, then you have something that functionally does everything the LX850 mount does.

It would also cost... $6300.

Right now.. for $6000 I would still not go for the Meade. They might belly up tomorrow. Celestron, or Losmandy, or AP are all safer bets. Also the LX850 mount is heavy. 100-pound weakling that I am, the Mach1 is tops for me (a used AP900CP2 can be had for $6000-odd).

#111 tecmage

tecmage

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 2529
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Glenview, IL

Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:41 PM

Hi,
This is not a thread about Meade's LX850, or any one specific piece of Meade equipment.

thanks,
Richard

#112 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5719
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:44 PM

Well...

Your price quote up there a few posts ago is over $10K.

For that price I can get the LX850 and the 14"SCT and I do not have to buy anything else. No extra weights, no guide scopes or guide cameras, no gps units or AC adapters. Everything is included right out of the box. Heck, they may even end up including the motorized focuser. So while you may be correct that it is not twice the price, you still get twice the value. People are going to take a hard look at that when they ready to buy. If the LX850 does everything they say it will do, and people are happy with the results, then why would they pay for an AP900 and then still have to buy a scope on top of that?

I mean if I win the lottery there is little doubt I'd look at the ParamountMX with 14" EdgeHD for my portable rig and the ME with perhaps a Planewave 20" for my future observatory. I can not however afford that. :bawling:

Will the LX850 perform to specs? Will it have good reliability and good support? Will people that get one have a positive experience? Will everyone that buys one end up taking photos like Jason's after 15 minutes of set up? Only time will tell.


Pak,

I understand completely. As I said the $10K was for an AP900, not a Mach1. As Daniel points out, a fully accessorised Mach1 is not $9K, it's $7.4K. Even less with a cheaper tripod like the Losmandy HD.

Or build your own out of wood. I did..

I fully agree with you that the LX850 14" plus mount is a great value. If it meets expectations. If, then everybody will be very happy.

If it does not... then you just blew $4K (you can put the OTA on some other mount).

Seeing as I've gone through a number of mounts before ending up with the Mach1, sometimes the perceived "value" ends up being wasted money when your expectations are not met. If you get a (modern) AP, your expectations will be exceeded. Guaranteed.

And that IMHO is priceless.

EDIT: since the thread is about Meade in general.. I guess the problem is that Meade is not meeting customer expectations :tonofbricks:

#113 Alph

Alph

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1769
  • Joined: 23 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Melmac

Posted 24 January 2013 - 12:39 AM

The LX850 has no proven technologies


That's right! It is a new technology. Nobody has done that before. Meade is very creative unlike A-P or Losmandy.

#114 tecmage

tecmage

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 2529
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Glenview, IL

Posted 24 January 2013 - 01:02 AM

The LX850 has no proven technologies


That's right! It is a new technology. Nobody has done that before. Meade is very creative unlike A-P or Losmandy.


Sorry, but mount arguments don't belong here.

#115 Alph

Alph

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1769
  • Joined: 23 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Melmac

Posted 24 January 2013 - 01:23 AM



#116 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 44750
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 24 January 2013 - 04:32 AM

Based on Jason Ware's review in the other thread, I do not think a Mach1 is "exponentially" better than an LX850 - did you see his Horsehead at 2485mm focal length?



When one is judging quality of a mount, it's not a question of one being exponentially better, it's not an exponential function. Rather it is a function that approaches perfection asymptotically, like the Strehl ratio of telescope. As you approach perfection, be it in an optic or in the gear train and tracking of a mount, each fraction closer one gets, costs.

The real question is, how much closer to mechanical perfection is the Astro-Physics mount than the Meade mount? It's a very similar question to asking how much closer to perfection is an Astro-Physics refractor than a Meade Refractor.

Jon

#117 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5719
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 24 January 2013 - 04:44 AM

I think that guiding accuracy scales with the original untrained periodic error. So the lower the raw PE, the better. But it's also asymptotic.

Jason says 19" raw PE, reduced to 2" with PE (factor of 10 roughly). That's about 4X worse than a typical AP.

Interestingly Celestron quites about 10" native PE for the CGE Pro, reduced to 4" with PPEC. Not a huge reduction.. but these are Celestron figures, not PEMPro figures. Don't know how Jason got his.

#118 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 44750
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 24 January 2013 - 05:57 AM

I think that guiding accuracy scales with the original untrained periodic error. So the lower the raw PE, the better. But it's also asymptotic.

Jason says 19" raw PE, reduced to 2" with PE (factor of 10 roughly). That's about 4X worse than a typical AP.

Interestingly Celestron quites about 10" native PE for the CGE Pro, reduced to 4" with PPEC. Not a huge reduction.. but these are Celestron figures, not PEMPro figures. Don't know how Jason got his.


I think we are clear that Astro-Physics mounts are of higher quality than Meade mounts. While I think the quality issue is relevant to the problems at Meade, the specific case of this particular mount seems to have played itself out and it's probably best just to get back to the original topic...

Jon

#119 RogerRZ

RogerRZ

    Whatta you lookin' at?

  • *****
  • Posts: 3140
  • Joined: 09 Jan 2006
  • Loc: West Collette, NB, Canada

Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:38 AM

A lot of times, when figuring out the value proposition, the adage if "it's not what you pay, it's what you get" holds true.

Outright performance/price relation counts, but reliability, durability, ease of use, customer service, resale value amongst other things also factor in.

I think that when people go for the more expensive options, they consider all the above factors when making their choice.

#120 ThreeD

ThreeD

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1029
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Sacramento suburbs

Posted 24 January 2013 - 01:27 PM

Are we done yet??? Posted Image

#121 Scotty H

Scotty H

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 147
  • Joined: 15 Nov 2010
  • Loc: Surrey,UK

Posted 24 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

Still waiting for this to turn back into the Problems at Meade??? thread :shrug: :shrug:

#122 blueman

blueman

    Photon Catcher

  • *****
  • Posts: 5484
  • Joined: 20 Jul 2007
  • Loc: California

Posted 24 January 2013 - 02:09 PM

When Meade begins to even come close to AP's proven performance, you might compare them.
But with Meade's past performance, they have a long road ahead of them before they can be compared t the AP mounts.
Blueman

#123 Glen A W

Glen A W

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1014
  • Joined: 04 Jul 2008
  • Loc: USA

Posted 24 January 2013 - 02:12 PM

It's a free country. If you are unhappy, why stop complaining at the customer service desk? When you have a problem with a company, take it to the top. Send the letter right to the CEO. I am not kidding - you will likely get results, especially with a smaller company. I have done so in the past and it works.

Realize that the person running a company is surrounded by people with less responsibility than him or her and oftentimes less ability and drive. The goings-on as seen by the customer are not always apparent and a decent letter can be appreciated more than most would realize. The CEO of the company in question is not a fool and in fact came up through the company over the years. Don't you think he wants real input on the quality of the company's products? Just be reasonable and clear in what you are trying to state when you contact such people. They are too busy and their time is too valuable to waste it. GW

#124 herrointment

herrointment

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4927
  • Joined: 12 Mar 2011
  • Loc: East of Poskin

Posted 24 January 2013 - 03:37 PM

I took note of the part of the report mentioning equipment wearing out. I'll take it they aren't talking about a few banders here.

During my employers downward spiral equipment was driven into the ground and operators like myself brought oil from home to keep things moving in a circle. Turned out we were 100 million in debt due to some management overreach involving land purchases. The company was purchased for pennies on the dollar by some private equity firm and my job is as uncertain as the breeze.

If I worked for Meade I'd run to the exits and I wouldn't look back.

#125 cn register 5

cn register 5

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 760
  • Joined: 26 Dec 2012

Posted 24 January 2013 - 03:48 PM

I see two things that contribute to Meade's problems.

One is what I think of as selling dreams. Many - possibly most - of Meade's marketing hasn't told us anything about the product. It has told me about I will feel when using their equipment. Real information has been totally lacking. No information about fundamental things such as the obstruction size or the weight.

Another has been the aggressive characterisation of any criticism as "Meade bashing". At the level of a forum such as this it may have no effect other than make the forum an unpleasant place to visit but I wonder if the denial that this conveys actually pervades the whole organisation. It could have cut off a critical source of feedback about the product quality and given the people who could have done something an unrealistic impression of the quality of Meade products.

I also think that going for the top end may appear to be profitable but you are dealing with the most perfectionist and demanding of customers. People who on being told they will get "A Hubble in your back yard" will immediately ask "With or without spherical aberration?".

Chris






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics