So good of you to discuss this issue. The updates on firmware and motor control are almost always a “fix” for a ”bug” in the original program. I think that we can agree that if Celestron deemed it necessary to create an updated version to fix the bug, it is well worthwhile to upgrade. There is no doubt that Celestron designed their instrument to be able to be upgradeable. So I still feel that my statement “it's always a good idea to use the latest version” is correct.
Regarding cables and ports….again Celestron designed their instrument to be upgradeable. The cost to include both would be but a few dollars and on instruments that cost thousands of dollars, they could add in that cost quite easily. I dare say that most would use them if they were included. I have no idea how many never upgraded their instrument because they didn’t have an included cable or port. However I strongly feel many more would have had they been included.
As to the incompatible cable issue…the first Celestron Hand Controllers (HC) had RJ-11/12 plugs and required a cable to hook them to a RS-232 jack in a PC (#93920). However most PCs don’t have a RS-232 port (in my case my XP machine does…my Win 7 & 10 do not). So one had to obtain an adapter cable to connect the RJ-11/12/RS-232 cable to a computer via USB. That adapter cable had to be programmed to work…this made the “process” complicated and I had read that some adapter cable never worked at all. Of course one could have purchased the Celestron adapter cable (#18775) —but they were fairly expensive, when first offered. Had Celestron researched this and found out that most computers no longer have a RS-232 port, they could have had a cable that could hook up the RJ-11/12 on the HC to USB on a typical computer…with no need for two separate cables. The cost of the two cable on Celestron’s website is now $37.90—add $8.00 for shipping…its’s almost $46.00. (as some have opined about this----are you telling me that I spend a few grand for a telescope/mount that had imperfect programming code which now requires a firmware upgrade—now I have to spend $46 to buy cables to upgrade?) This just doesn’t sit well with me. On Celestrons latest HCs they use the USB to USB mini cable. I went to numerous large box stores and could not find a cable to fit the HC+. Another customer was in the store and looked at the HC+ jack----he said it was an older plug type used in the Garmin GPS devices . As luck would have it, I have a Garmin and the cable (THAT CAME WITH IT) worked! The Garmin GPS cost $100 and came with a cable…just like with Celestron …it was meant to be upgraded.
We disagree as to what degree of support would be considered unethical. I am a consumer. Big corporations make huge profits and I feel when they no longer support their products, that is unethical. Yes, it costs them more, but companies that do support their products enjoy better “goodwill”. You are the first person that I’ve run across that seems to side with the corporations on this. As for me I a m a bit tired of everything for the bottom line; so that the CEO can have a larger compensation “package”.
I appreciate your thoughtful reply, Wally, but still disagree about the need to apply every single firmware update that comes along under all circumstances.
Certainly Celestron and others don't go through the effort to design, implement, and (I hope!) thoroughly test firmware updates just for the fun of doing it; of course they do that only to fix specific problems or add features. I do not agree that that alone makes it worthwhile to update. The question is, does a problem an update addresses affect you, or is some new "feature" something you want enough (or at all), and might actually use, to make it worth going through the bother - and risk - of updating? If not, then why do it? As you and others have noticed, it's a bit of a hassle, and, as I mentioned earlier, there is always some risk when attempting to re-flash hardware you can "brick" the system - the risk is small nowadays but it does still exist. So why go through that if there is no perceivable benefit to you?
If I may give an example, I have written an application that controls Celestron mounts, and it works quite nicely with my CG-5 ASGT and AVX equatorials. After it was stable, I wanted to see if if worked correctly with a friend's Alt-Az CPC 1100. I plugged it in, and the application immediately recognized the mount ID, HC and MC firmware versions, and displayed the coordinates (and object ID) it was pointing to. Cool! GoTo to another star... bingo! GoTo to something else... yes! GoTo to Sirius... it points at the north pole. Whaaat??? GoTo another star... works. GoTo Sirius,,, slews to NCP. GoTo something else south of the equator... slews to NCP. Well, that's odd. Later, I find out this was a known bug in that particular release of the firmware - external GoTo commands to targets south of the equator cause the mount to go to the pole instead. I emailed my friend letting him know what he needs to do to fix this. His reply was something like: "thanks, but no thanks. I don't use that and don't expect to, so I see no reason to update." Years later, he's still using that telescope and mount, and it still does what he wants it to do. Who am I to tell him he "should" update it? If he ever wants to use computer control, he may have to update, but until then, the bug doesn't affect him in the slightest.
With modern computer operating systems, it's a different story; many of the patches that are pushed out, whether you want them or not, are fixes to security flaws that can wreak havoc not only with your own computer, but also affect others if they are exploited on your machine. The necessity for updating the firmware on computerized serial mounts is a different issue, unless it's connected directly to the Internet. The likelihood of someone hijacking your mount's controller connected to your computer by async serial link for nefarious purposes are vanishingly small, if possible at all.
TL;DR: I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree here.
Moving on, I thought we were talking about ASGT mounts, which sold new in the $700 range, not thousands (and, though somewhat of a kludge, IMO worked well and were a terrific bargain at that price considering what they could do).
Of course they could include an RJ-to-DB9 cable, and even a USB-to-serial adapter (even though someone might not need that), for an additional cost that's likely to be less than buying the same from Celestron at retail. But neither is necessary for the basic operation of the equipment, and despite your speculation about how many people would have updated their mount's firmware but didn't because the cable wasn't included, I'm skeptical that it's more than a handful, if even that many. Realistically, how many ordinary users do you think would have misplaced the cable before discovering they had a use for it? I bet your guess is lower than mine!
Personally, I consider a dedicated USB-to-RS-232-to-Celestron cable to be a poor idea. A Celestron to DB-9 adapter and DB-9 serial to USB adapter is much better, even if it costs slightly more. Why? Because the adapter cable can be used with any number of different serial ports as long as they have the common DB-9 male RS232 connector; when Windows 13 comes out, will your specialized adapter still work? Maybe, maybe not; it depends on whether or not the drivers change, and, if they do, the adapter's manufacturer supports the new OS - assuming they're still in business. If you're faced with the same problem using general purpose USB-to-RS232 adapters, even if your current adapter will not work under the new OS, it's just a matter of finding another general-purpose one that does work. The market for those is vastly larger than the market for Celestron accessories so updates will be much quicker to market, and there's no need to look for a specialized one, which may or may not ever become available. In addition to all that, you can use your existing USB-to-RS-232 adapter, which is presumably already installed on your system and working, on other equipment, like, say, a Meade mount, instead of having to install yet another USB driver to use with that equipment.
To answer your parenthetical question about spending less than $50 to buy the capability to update the programming on your mount for the somewhat rare case where you actually need it, as well as giving you the option to operate the mount under computer control, yes. I see nothing wrong with that. You most likely would have been paying a good fraction of that if the cables were included in the original price, anyway, and you can find equivalents elsewhere for significantly less (and probably with free shipping).
You also point out the futility of chasing the latest and greatest interface. I gather from the comment that the USB Mini-B connector is now officially hopelessly passé (despite loads of new equipment currently being sold that uses it). Nonetheless, those cables are still easily available from many vendors. More worrisome, the USB-to-serial conversion that's now done inside the handset must be supported by whoever Celestron buys the chips from. I've heard that it is FTDI, a respected manufacturer of that type of equipment, but a few years ago they intentionally rendered some of their old equipment obsolete with driver updates intended to foil counterfeit products, but also did not work with some of their own previous-generation products. If that happens again, or if computer manufacturers abandon USB2-compatible ports (which they will), you're probably looking at a new handset to retain the functionality you want instead of just a new adapter, or an additional whatever-is-now-it-to-USB2 adapter, if the drivers will work with that.
Throwing in the example of your Garmin coming with a USB-A to Mini-B cable is irrelevant. That cable is necessary for the basic operation of the device, unlike the ASGT mount, where a data cable is not required. The GPS uses the USB cable for power, and also for routine map updates since even a 100% accurate map at the time of its release will go obsolete in almost all cases. Now, if the mount came without a handset, which it would be useless without, you would have a reasonable complaint, especially if that were not disclosed. As I recall, my ASGT mount did come with a power cable (with cigarette-lighter adapter) as standard equipment (which didn't work, and they exchanged).
It would be unethical for a manufacturer to advertise "we will support this product forever", or even "for X years" and then not do that. Absent such a promise or even an implied promise, abandoning support for an old product may be an unwise business decision, but I don't consider it unethical.
With any for-profit business, large or small, it's ultimately about "the bottom line". Going off on a tangent about "the corporations" doesn't really advance the discussion. A mom-and-pop shop also has to be aware of what they can and can't do and still stay in business.
I have no way of knowing who you associate with, but I guarantee that I am not alone in this attitude.
Since we're talking about what might and might not be ethical, and you mentioned Garmin, they prominently advertise "Free Lifetime Maps" for at least some of their products. It turns out that Lifetime in the promotional material turns into "useful lifetime" in the fine-print T&C, where the definition of "useful lifetime" is most assuredly not "forever", or even "as long as your particular item continues to work correctly". Is this unethical? I'd say yes, it is, and there is a class-action lawsuit over this. By the way, I like Garmin and think they make great products. I was also skeptical about the meaning of "lifetime" in their ads, assumed there was a catch, saw there was, but figured I wasn't going to find anything better so it didn't really matter.
At any rate, after all that, I presume we will continue to disagree, but that's OK. You have presented your opinion and rationale clearly, and I hope I have done the same. Carry on, my friend.