Hi Jon - Yes, I know you're willing. It's me - and, not because I don't agree or find the conversation, on a certain level, stimulating. Rather, it about priorities. I prioritize optical quality over most other things.
For $5k in a refractor, you can get better optics then what is in an NP127. This is an opinion, but one that is backed by practical experience as I have personally seen it.
Really, though, with $5k, I'd purchase a Portaball-8 and a Tom O. tracking platform - but this is THE Refractor Forum so I thought a TSA120 or a used TEC140 would be more appropriate.
My first NP101 (serial #1049) was equally good at low power, wide-field as well as planetary magnifications. It was a mistake to sell; I've never been able to capture it's optical goodness in another NP101 after three tries...
It's definitely a difference in priorities. I come from a experimental research background. Capability is more important than some abstract measure of "quality". Capability is a combination of characteristics, each has its own importance.
In our lab, we had a camera capable of 16 single shot exposures. It could take an exposure every 5 nanoseconds and an exposure every 5 nanoseconds. The image quality was not Hollywood but it could record events that lasted a fraction of a microsecond. With a normal camera, nothing would be seen.
So for me, if I can make the split in my 10 inch Dob but not in a $5000 refractor, I'll take the more capable scope.
As far as definining quality, it's not just a single parameter.. if on-axis resolution is your preference, there's no reason to choose a scope like the the NP-127. On the other hand, if off-axis sharpness/resolution are important parameters, then the 127 has something to offer.
Here's an interesting project based on the NP-101..