I just did a quick count in my garage and I currently own 16 SCTs from 4" up to 10", and from about 1977 to 2014, being careful to step over the Halley years (from about 1985 to 1988). (I really gotta stay out of the classifieds!) To be honest, there's not a bad scope in the bunch. Some are optically better than others, and anything built this century has been consistently very good, but I would not rate any of my scope any worse than fair, and that's really only one scope, a spotter version of the Meade 2045. I also have an LX3 version of this same scope and it is outstanding!
Having bought nearly all of my scopes off of the used market I am usually buying someone else's problem, and I have yet to see an SCT whose problem wasn't the same; collimation and acclimation. The most problematic members of my SCT family have been the Meade f/6.3 Wide Field SCTs. These have a reputation for spotty optics and my first (a 10" f/6.3) seemed to confirm this. Before giving up on it I spent and entire evening zeroing-in the collimation using a camera, and it blossomed into a solid performer. I liked it so much that I bought another 10" f/6.3 for visual and an 8" f/6.3 for EAA, both went through the same teething pains and both ended up with the same result. For these 'fast' SCTs, close is not good enough. But once adjusted and the screws snug, they have remained in great shape for several years.
Just for reference; I was an active ATM for 30 years (from about 1968 through 1998), and I built something like 30 scopes from a 4.25" f/8 up to my Green Monster 16.5" f/6.5, so I like to think that I know my way around at least basic optical testing, but I could be wrong about that.
Soooo, I think that if anyone is in the market for an SCT built in the past 20 years by one of the main manufacturers you have a good chance of getting a good performing SCT. Just take the time to let it acclimate and keep an eye on the collimation.
My latest baby...
...a Meade LS 8 ACT with a micro-focuser. I had this out last night DSO-hopping from Scorpius northward up through Cygnus (with a stop-over at Jupiter). Loverly!
And one for the older members of the family...
These kinda book-end my SCT gear.
You have good taste! I had that older C8 in the 70's and now have the LS-8 ACF like yours. I also have the same chair! I got lazy in my older years and don't want to fuss with alignment. I turn on the switch and 10 minutes later I'm observing! What do you think of it's optical performance?