...Tracking seems the major advantage of GOTO, but would a platform fulfill that need as well?
Yes, they both will provide tracking, but GOTO is built into the scope so it is one less thing to transport and set up. A large dob, say 20" or larger you will likely need a ramp to roll the scope onto the platform, so more to transport.
I've used both, and I like GOTO better for the above reasons. It's integrated into the scope so it's just there automatically. I can also generally find things more quickly than I could star hopping. I generally use a WO16mm 82 deg eyepiece on a 2358 mm f.l. scope (includes P2) which gives 0.56 deg true fov and a bit less than 150x to do initial scope alignment and find objects. An object is usually in that fov or very close to it (near the edge of the inner circle in the Rigel finder) after a GOTO, and adjusting the scope to put the target inside the circle puts it in the main scope field of view.
I think a platform would be more convenient for a scope of smaller size, say 16" or less, since you can lift the scope and set it on the platform, no need for a ramp. The platform also doesn't need to be as large and heavy as it does for a 20" or larger scope. For me its a lot about convenience, because I will use it more if the barrier to use is not as high.
I think DSC's work about as well as GOTO, depending on the product (as does GOTO), but as you say, no tracking. I really like tracking because I don't have to worry about loosing the object once it is targeted. I can converse with someone, read about the object in Sky Safari, get distracted doing other things, and go back to the eyepiece and it is still there.
But opinions are all over on this, with some preferring star hopping and no DSC or tracking, some DSC only, some GOTO...You will of course have to consider the various opinions, weigh the factors and decide which suits you.
Edited by tommm, 13 August 2020 - 11:02 AM.