Just idly thinking here and it may well go no further, but I'm curious if I'm overlooking anything.
I have a Sky-Watcher Pro ED 100 currently paired with a Meade LXD75. I'm familiar with GEMs in that I've used them off and on over a thirty year span, but they're at best a pain for visual observing. Combine that, the -- IMO -- hassle of getting the LXD75 to deliver repeatably good goto (it can and has, but not every time), the 'chainsaw-meets-stump-grinder' motor noise and the end result is the scope stays in the case most of the time. Which is a shame... (e.g., it's not been out in over year)
From what I've seen, newer goto mounts are, not surprisingly, easier to align and deliver more consistent performance - Just generally much better. A goto alt-az might be nice. But for the 12 pound OTA, that means probably an iOptron AZ Pro, Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 or more $.
Are there other viable options in that price range (or lower )?
I know I'm dreaming, but given how relatively little I'm able to observe -- regardless of scope -- it's difficult to justify $1k+ for an upgrade, much less anything more expensive. Considering how little I could probably get for the LXD75, I might be better served keeping the tripod (which is decent enough) assuming a replacement mount could be made to work on it. Actually I wonder if the primary resale value of the LXD mount might be to existing owners looking for spare parts, anyway...?
Just wondering on a cloudy December afternoon...