I purchased the 102 AZ for a lightweight travel scope that I can leave in my vehicle. I will take it to Florida in three weeks because of my other scopes size and weight. I did an extensive side by side with my ES AR102. The Celestron held its own and for the price has exceptional optics. However, mechanically the AR102 wins hands down. The focuser is a very stiff 2 inch rack and pinion. At some point I will clean out the old grease and replace it with lithium grease. I put a 2 inch diagonal on the scope and took it off pretty quick. You can balance the scope with a longer dovetail and 2 inch accessories but the vibrations are unacceptable even at low power. If you use 1 1/4 inch accessories it's not too bad. For the price, it is a fantastic deal. The OTA is worth the cost. I plan on doing the Messiers with it and should know a lot more by the time I am finished. Also, you can upgrade the scope a lot if you so desire.
Hope that helped.
Do you mind if I can ask you these questions
The XLT is selling for $260 and the basic 102AZ for $160
I believe the only difference is the eyepieces and the coating.
Is the XLT coating that much better? I was told no but take input from all on this.
I think the mount is the same for the two. The tubes look the same so would a 2 inch
diagonal be accommodated on the basic 102?
What do you have to do to put on a two inch diagonal.. I do notice that the draw tube is
very wide.. I have not taken the scope out of the box...
I need Santa to wrap it for me.. LOL
All in all would you recommend the basic 102?
Merry Christmas and happy travels