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Equipment Discussions >> Equipment

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The Ardent
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 10/24/08

Loc: Virginia
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5637878 - 01/22/13 10:20 PM

Meade Starfinder EQ (Criterion/ Cave Newtonians)
Meade Starfinder Dob (Coulter Dob)
Meade SCT (Celestron SCT)
Meade ETX 90 (Questar 90)
Meade 7" LX200 (Questar 7)
Meade 102/127 ED Refractors 1992 (Televue Genesis, AP Traveler, AP Star 120, 130 ED)
Meade 152/ 178 Refractors 1992 (AP Starfire 152 / 178)
Meade 4000 Super Plossl (Televue Plossl/ Celestron Ultima / Orion Ultrascopic)
Meade 4000 SuperWide (Televue Wide Field)
Meade 4000 UltraWide (Televue Nagler)
Meade Richey Chretien (Optical Guidance Systems RC)

Which one came first?


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mich_al
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 05/10/09

Loc: Rural central lower Michigan ...
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Ed Kessler]
      #5637931 - 01/22/13 10:48 PM

Quote:


(1) The people who run the business move forward way to easily and quickly on the ideas their product and marketing managers put forth. This leads to poorly conceived products for which the market is questionable. (2) They make mechanically sloppy devices thinking they can software engineer them back to "observatory-like" performance. It just don't work that way




Two key points that ought to be drilled into the heads of anyone trying to run a tech company! More often than not marketing has no clue what engineering it really takes to make anything happen---but they make great presentations. And we can always tweak the software to get it right... right?


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Alph
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Melmac
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: D. Perry]
      #5638141 - 01/23/13 01:06 AM

Quote:

Their extremely clumsy-looking LX850 mount is $6,000?! Anyone in the market for a $6,000 mount will probably turn to Losmandy or Astro-Physics before they ever consider Meade's contraption.



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.


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5638217 - 01/23/13 03:57 AM

Another reason for Meade's lack of success recently is, I believe, the tendency for some Meade supporters to aggressively characterise all criticism as bashing.

This has tended to suppress feedback so problems have not got back to Meade and so have not been fixed.

An example I have personal knowledge of is with the DSI. There's a bug in the object save code that mean that the DSI software crashes if the object name is not a valid file name. This is a schoolboy programming error, not checking that the input data is valid, and is trivial to fix.

I reported this on the DSI Yahoo group for the first version and it's still there, largely because the people with the Meade contacts had the criticism is bashing mindset.

Chris


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Astrojensen
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Bornholm, Denmark
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5638231 - 01/23/13 04:18 AM

Quote:

In terms of what could be done, why is it that Orion is the only one who has something like Intelliscope, certainly it was within Meade's capabilities, they could have been there first. I think it is a lack of vision within the company.




I still firmly believe that the Lightbridge dobsonians is one of Meade's greatest products ever. It is not perfect in every sense, but they work well right out of the box, are solid and reliable, generally have good optics and just plain work. Why they didn't come out with a GOTO option for them is baffling, to say the least. Instead, they let JMI take that market. And Orion with their Intelliscopes. Huge mistake.

Dobs are all the rage with the visual observers these days (along with apochromats). Why Meade didn't take this market more seriously is a mystery. Perhaps they didn't see it as advanced enough, but that is precisely where they could have made a difference.

They should have developed GOTO dobs. And a Mallincam equivalent for the video astronomy crowd in light polluted areas. These products might eventually have been developed, but what I mean is that they should have been first, or at least early adopters.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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orlyandico
Postmaster
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Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5638233 - 01/23/13 04:24 AM

An AP900 is not twice the price of an LX850 with the counterweights and doodads.

900GTO - 8750
900RPA - 325
Robin Casady 31012226-AP3-22lb-S x2 - 466
Robin Casady Dove12 - 179
Rob Miller Tri36M - 900

= 10620.


given Jason's updates on the LX850 in the other thread, I would say you are half-right Alph. The LX850 seems to be everything that the 800 was not. But is it good enough to overcome the massive and inherent distrust of Meade?

Personally, not for me. My first scope was a Meade ETX60, and I drooled over the ETX90 and LX90 for many years. But today, with $6000... I just can't risk buying an LX850. And I didn't. My wife would kill me if I got something that wasn't "perfect." I have no desire to carry 70lb of payload and I don't like gambling. So it's the Mach1 for me.


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5638239 - 01/23/13 04:52 AM

Quote:

Quote:

In terms of what could be done, why is it that Orion is the only one who has something like Intelliscope, certainly it was within Meade's capabilities, they could have been there first. I think it is a lack of vision within the company.




I still firmly believe that the Lightbridge dobsonians is one of Meade's greatest products ever. It is not perfect in every sense, but they work well right out of the box, are solid and reliable, generally have good optics and just plain work. Why they didn't come out with a GOTO option for them is baffling, to say the least. Instead, they let JMI take that market. And Orion with their Intelliscopes. Huge mistake.

Dobs are all the rage with the visual observers these days (along with apochromats). Why Meade didn't take this market more seriously is a mystery. Perhaps they didn't see it as advanced enough, but that is precisely where they could have made a difference.

They should have developed GOTO dobs. And a Mallincam equivalent for the video astronomy crowd in light polluted areas. These products might eventually have been developed, but what I mean is that they should have been first, or at least early adopters.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark




Thomas:

Consider the history of the Lightbridge:

About the year 2000, Orion introduced the XT-6 and XT-8. Both were manufactured by GSO. Within a couple of years, Orion added the XT-10. Then Orion switched suppliers, Synta started manufacturing the XT series Dobs and GSO was marketed by a number of smaller vendors, OPT, Hands on Optical, Hardin... (Now its Astro-Tech, Apertura, Zhumell is the US) In time, GSO developed the 12 inch and eventually the 16 inch.

Meade probably had some input into the final design of the Lightbridge but basically they just hooked up with GSO, the manufacturer who had initiated and perfected the Asian metal tube Dob. The irony here is that GSO had been instrumental in taking the commercial Dobsonian to the next level, upstaging Meade's offerings which eventually led to Meade's dropping the Starfinder line. They never did upgrade it... Essentially, with the Lightbridge series, Meade just piggybacked itself on to a vision Orion had had several years before.

Jon


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Astrojensen
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Bornholm, Denmark
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5638247 - 01/23/13 05:12 AM

Hi Jon

I am not sure I entirely agree with the idea that Meade just piggybacked on a vision Orion had had a few years earlier. Meade was the first to offer a very good truss tube dob for the masses, IE not a premium priced one. Theż also look radically different than the other offers from GSO, though they do use many GSO parts, such as mirror cells, spider assembly, mirrors, etc.

I still think they missed out big time by not offering a GOTO option for them.

But now that I think about it, I think that if Meade folds, we will see the Lightbrigdes sold unchanged under the GSO brand.

What really irks me that with a few, minor tweaks, they could have a world-class truss dob for the masses.

- make the lower tube a bit shorter and the trusses longer
- make the altitude trunnions larger, in a semicircle design and make them removable
- use teflon bearings in altitude
- use a Mauro da Lio baffle
- rotate the mirror cell so that the mirror rests on two points when the scope is pointed horisontally, instead of only one.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5638305 - 01/23/13 06:50 AM

Quote:

I am not sure I entirely agree with the idea that Meade just piggybacked on a vision Orion had had a few years earlier. Meade was the first to offer a very good truss tube dob for the masses, IE not a premium priced one. Theż also look radically different than the other offers from GSO, though they do use many GSO parts, such as mirror cells, spider assembly, mirrors, etc.




I am quite sure that the Lightbridges are entirely manufactured by GSO and GSO also manufactured 16 inch strut Dobs that were and may still be sold by others including Astro-Tech.

I am not quite sure how "radically different" applies, they are essentially a tube dob that has had the center section replaced with short trusses. I suspect that Meade may have had some input on the design of the trusses and some styling issues but to my eye it was just a natural evolution of the original Orion XT Series Dobs.

Jon


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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
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Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5638613 - 01/23/13 10:35 AM

If I recall the history, the "LightBridge" truss scopes from GSO were sold by Andrews in Australia for a year or two prior to their slight re-working and sale in the US by Meade.
And, IIRC, each new size was sold in Australia first, followed by its introduction into the US.
However, I believe the Andrews scopes are and were the GSO strut design with straight poles. I think Carol has one of those in the 16" size.
So there are some upgraded things about the Meade LB scopes, and they've been upgraded several times: 1 speed to 2 speed focusers, white tube rings and poles changed to black, metal washers under the secondary collimation bolts, etc.
There probably wasn't much need for the 8" size that was dropped a long time ago, at least in a truss design, but the sizes they had were big sellers for Meade. Just not as profitable as they could have been.


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Alph
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Melmac
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5638959 - 01/23/13 01:39 PM

Quote:

An AP900 is not twice the price of an LX850 with the counterweights and doodads.



You forgot to factor in the 5% discount and free shipping that you can get from many dealers.


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orlyandico
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Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5639015 - 01/23/13 02:31 PM

shipping is also free from AP.. even with 5% it is still not twice. and by going with a cheaper tripod like a Losmandy HD the price of the AP setup can be reduced even further. i don't think anyone would compare a stock tripod from Meade or Celestron with a Rob Miller favorably..

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ahopp
sage


Reged: 05/24/12

Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5639057 - 01/23/13 03:02 PM

I can tell you that the tripod that came with my LX-800/850 is very substantial. No question it will handle the load of the mount and the 14".

Tony


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orlyandico
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Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: ahopp]
      #5639080 - 01/23/13 03:16 PM

Tony, i didn't mean the stock meade tripod is no good. I'm sure its substantial. I'm also sure it doesn't weigh 14lb like the Tri36M does. My point to Alph was, the 900 is not 2X the price even with a premium tripod like the Rob Miller, and downgrading the tripod would lower the cost some more.

it is still very spendy compared to an LX850, no doubt about that. but not double.

this whole urban legend of AP accessories being so expensive that they turn a 6.3k Mach1 into a 9k mount has got to be addressed because it discourages many potential buyers, myself included, until i did the math.


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Alph
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Melmac
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5639114 - 01/23/13 03:37 PM

Quote:

i don't think anyone would compare a stock tripod from Meade or Celestron with a Rob Miller favorably..



Neither would I. I couldn't care less about Rob Miller's. The mount head can be easily rotated 360 degrees on the LX850 tripod without using a tool. Compare it to those silly setscrews on the Rob Miller's.


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Pak
super member
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Reged: 09/15/12

Loc: The Great Arc
Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5639121 - 01/23/13 03:43 PM

Quote:

Tony, i didn't mean the stock meade tripod is no good. I'm sure its substantial. I'm also sure it doesn't weigh 14lb like the Tri36M does. My point to Alph was, the 900 is not 2X the price even with a premium tripod like the Rob Miller, and downgrading the tripod would lower the cost some more.

it is still very spendy compared to an LX850, no doubt about that. but not double.

this whole urban legend of AP accessories being so expensive that they turn a 6.3k Mach1 into a 9k mount has got to be addressed because it discourages many potential buyers, myself included, until i did the math.




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.

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.


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Lorence
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/15/08

Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5639125 - 01/23/13 03:46 PM

Quote:

Interesting picture. Compared to the visual view,
--the image is overexposed in the center
--the outer envelope of the nebula is missing.
--the star images are bloated.
So, not the equal of a visual image.

BUT, that image could have been taken in LA, while the visual image of the nebula in the same locale will not be any better and probably require an expensive filter.

Video astronomy has its place, but the equipment to do it is beyond the budget of beginners. By the time someone is willing to invest in the equipment to make it a reality, they are already outside the realm of the beginners. It isn't going to happen for $300 total outlay, for example, and even $300 is stretching it for most beginners.

Except on the Moon, where a $75 HD video camera could be attached to any telescope that tracks (and I've seen some at <$200 that do) for some great Moon images.

But even that is going to be highly disappointing to a beginner who has been led to believe his $75 60mm refractor will give him full-color, Hubble-like, images visually.

Face it. Meade's woes are those of the astronomy world in general in addition to poor management choices:
--a shrinking demographic. The astronomers I meet at star parties are all getting older and young entries into the hobby are few and far between.
--a poor economy. Discretionary expenditures are still not at pre-2008 levels.
--light pollution. This continues to get worse every year, and 97% of Americans live in heavily light-polluted areas.
--Unrealistic expectations. Most non-informed consumers think that all you have to do is plug any telescope into a computer and you'll get Hubble-quality photographs. They think that computerized scopes are ones that give images when plugged into a laptop. They don't understand about mounts and cameras and tracking and all the issues related to getting such an image. Learning the truth about how an image is produced is an interest-crushing letdown for most of those people.




There is a lot of spending money out there. Look at the number of SUV's on the road. People have money and some are spending it on astronomy, as you indirectly pointed out, imaging isn't cheap.

Visual astronomy can be inexpensive but there's a potential to spend a lot trying to get the most out of viewing. It would not be difficult to spend more on a few eyepieces than a good astro video camera would cost.

Traditionally, visual and astrophotography were the two choices for the majority of amateur astronomers. Video and near live viewing now offer a third alternative. There are a lot of pros and cons to all of those alternatives. Far more than enough to discuss in this thread.

One thing all three alternatives have in common is that there are people interested and willing to spend money pursuing one or all of them. This is also the one thing Meade needs more than anything. People willing to spend money on their products. Do you think Meade cares how one chooses to use their telescopes?

This brings me back to the point I was trying to make. The third alternative is good for the astronomy business. It's why I spent many thousands of dollars on equipment. Can anyone deny it can attract new people to the hobby or reawaken the interest of others.

My point was those interested in the first two alternatives seem to point out every negative aspect and ignore the positive aspects of the third alternative. Which is basically what you did.

Rather than pointing out the potential of interesting newcomers to astronomy you chose to point out everything that would discourage someone from exploring the third alternative. You are not the only one, you are part of the majority.

What the industry need more than anything is new people and new ideas. The traditionalists are more than willing to welcome the new people but not the new ideas.

"This is the way it has always been done and this is the way it shall always been done." Perhaps there would be more youngsters at your star parties if they and their new fangled ideas were welcomed instead of shown where the exit is.


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Starman1
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Lorence]
      #5639186 - 01/23/13 04:18 PM

I didn't point out the negatives other than cost.
If a person is willing to spend the money to do any form of imaging, whether real-time or long exposure, the possibilities are nearly endless.
We have to differentiate between the beginner without money (90+% of all new telescope buyers if my years in retail count for anything) and those that have money.
And for those that have money, video imaging is a distinct possibility. The larger the scope, the more dramatic the images. There is at least one large-size telescope maker who customarily makes his scopes for video imaging use.
But the potential of video imaging to attract a larger crowd to astronomy is not particularly impressive. You still have to do it at night, in the cold, and that will discourage a lot of people (including my wife).

It's my experience that, on small scopes, the visual image is as good as the video one. There is a sort of "Rubicon", above which the video images start reaching a lot deeper. Of course the environment has a lot to do with the success of any form of astronomy. Where I live, a 1 second exposure is pure white because of the twilight-level sky brightness. In a dark site, video imaging can be quite impressive.

As for discouraging young people, nothing could be farther from the truth. Where I observe, any visitors leave long before their welcome is worn out, and the near-ubiquitous use of cell phone apps (like Google Sky) and tablet apps (Sky Safari comes to mind) and laptops, etc. makes the site very friendly to astro-imagers. That more people aren't doing video imaging is largely because there is very little selection in cameras for one, and very little press given the interest for another. And once you have the computer and power source in the field to capture images, people tend to go for recorded images rather than the live view.

You look at video imaging as something new and different and exciting enough to attract a lot of new hobbyists. That's cool. But I see it as merely another form of astro-imaging, and likely to attract primarily the people attracted to astronomy from their interests in photography. Which is fine, too, but I don't see it all of a sudden causing the crowds to purchase astro equipment.

Yet, anything that attracts any person to start in the hobby is a good thing, and is welcomed. It's my impression that most people will not be attracted to the hobby unless the skies get a lot darker in the cities and/or people are taught to be realistic about what a telescope can do. It's why I have a tracking telescope on the patio when I have parties, looking at the moon or Saturn so people who sit down to look will be impressed and be reminded that looking at the sky can be a lot of fun. I showed about 40 people at a party the comet Holmes when it was around. That pair of binoculars got passed around a lot, and I even saw some of those people later on at my dark sky observing site. Alas, none of them was young.

Face it, astronomy is a science, and we, as a society, are a lot less interested in science than we were a generation ago. And the slow, patient, nerdy, hobby of astronomy doesn't compete well with video games, Facebook, Twitter, texting, sports, etc. You had to be a bit eccentric to enter the hobby of astronomy when I was young and manned space missions were being launched often, and new satellites, and the first planet fly-bys were taking place. Today, you have to be equally as eccentric or even more so to want to do visual astronomy as a hobby.

That's why the hobby needs a lot more outreach to encourage people to join in. Astronomy is, essentially, "flying below the radar" of people's perception, and we, and Meade, could use a good publicity push.


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jgraham
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5639232 - 01/23/13 04:56 PM

This is one topic that I've bucked heads with so many people I try to avoid the conversation anymore. I was blessed to have a father who was an ATM back in the 50's and one of the best engineers I've ever known. All that with nothing more than a GED from the U.S. Army Air Corps. He instilled in us the firm belief that there is always a way; it may not be purdy, and it may not be the best, but there is a way to get from here to there. Over and over again I hear about how expensive this hobby is. My reply is that it can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Up until 10 or 15 years ago I never bought anything other than eyepieces and diagonals, I built everything else. Even my 16.5" f/6.5 only cost about $350 to build. As my kids grew up and I finally found myself with more resources than I was used to and I started buying equipment a little here and a little there and I caught the CCD imaging bug. I dearly loved all the neat stuff I could pick up from Meade for under $1,000, and most of it for far less than that. My LPI was $99, my DSI was $299, my LXD75 N6 was $469 (and THAT was a major purchase for me). After that I picked up a lot of stuff from Meade's outlet store or used. Only in the past year did I finally break down and buy anything costing over $1,000 when I bought an Atlas EQ-G for imaging and a Lightbridge 16 for visual. My goodness I love that Lightbridge! And this is what bothers me the most about what I see going on with Meade. They've all but abandoned the lower end of the market. Hopefully if they get bought out the new owners will enable them to once again offer a broad product line, but as a small stand-alone company I can’t see that happening in this economy.

I wish them only the best.


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rmollise
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Re: Problems at Meade??? [Re: jgraham]
      #5639338 - 01/23/13 06:09 PM

I wouldn't say Meade has abandoned the low end at all. Not when you can get a 10-inch truss tube from them for 699. They also have a very reasonably priced SCT in the LX90. If anything, IMHO, their problem is TOO MUCH. They need to concentrate on a few products and do them right.

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