A common thread, even with the S&T article's author, is that my first scope was not good (I'm being kind here) and I either loved it or hated it, but it got my foot in the door and I moved on. That's the value of these scope, prit' near any of these scope, is that they offer an affordable entry point.
I have been teaching (among other things) astrophotography for nearly 40 years and I see the same thing over and over again. One of the most common questions is what should I buy? People see these wonderful pictures and amazing equipment and they think that the right question is what do I buy so that I can do this? The right question is not what do I buy, but where do I start? Be it a telescope or a camera, you can spend all the money in the world and be worse off that where you started because you have no idea what you're getting yourself into. The right thing to do is to start at the beginning, get smart, learn the basics, learn what works for you, what doesn't, and what your are really interested in. After that, you follow your nose. Your path is your own, you will find your own way and do things the way you do them. But you gotta start somewhere. On the astrophotography side I always suggest starting with what you have; don't but anything unless you absolutely have to. The #1 thing you need is experience, and no amount of money can buy that.
Telescopes are the same way; you gotta start somewhere. Sure, if someone is starting out from scratch and we can make suggestions, but only the individual can deice for themselves what looks attractive for them in terms of their perception, interests, and budget. Once they take that first step they get smart real quick in terms of what works, what doesn't and where they want to got. I have never, ever, ever encountered someone who made a decision whether to pursue something based on their first experience. They started with an interest, and if the interest runs deep they keep trying until they find their path. I simply do not believe in any sort of 'hobby killer' and I really don't care what the hobby is. There is only those first few tentative steps where I have moved from thinking that I am interested in something to acting on those interests. One of my greatest joys in this hobby is interacting (I hate to use the word helping, whether or not I'm helpful is not for me to say) with people taking those first few steps. I particularly enjoy showing someone who is struggling with their first purchase how to get their bearings, start at the beginning, and to grow from there.
...falling off soap box... it was too wibbly wobbly anyway.