Product Type: Meade telescopes
Newest Review: ... 3.5". With a focal length of 1250mm and a tube length about as long as your forearm it's very easy to transport to darker skies. A rat... more
Member Name: Revier
Advantages: Portable, good beginners scope
Disadvantages: Mounts not great
Since advances in lens/mirror design have made the telescope available to the general populous, Astronomers have continually lusted after bigger and bigger scopes in a phenomenon known as aperture fever, in Astronomy, bigger is usually better. But that doesn't mean we should overlook the smaller offerings out there that sacrifice light gathering power for portability and ease of use.
The ETX-90 from Meade is one such example, a short barrelled Maksutov-Cassegrain with an aperture of 3.5". With a focal length of 1250mm and a tube length about as long as your forearm it's very easy to transport to darker skies. A rather slow focal ratio of F13.8 means it will get most of its use on Solar system objects.
Setup is a doddle to, no heavy tubes to stagger about with, you'll be ready to go in no more than 5 minutes. It must be said that the mount leaves a little to be desired, it's not the sturdiest, luckily it doesn't have to deal with alot of weight (the OTA weighs 9.2lbs).
Perhaps the most notable feature of the ETX is the Autostar, the GOTO system with a database of some 30,000 objects. Using the handheld remote, plugged into the mount, you can automatically slew the telescope to track any one of those objects (although the small aperture plus the slow F ratio means most of the 30,000 will remain elusive except in the darkest, most pristine skies) . It only takes a few minutes to get it running, just align the mount to the North, level the tube and align the scope on two stars near the horizon and you're off.
Now personally, I prefer learning my own way round the night sky, it's more satisfying and means you can afford to get a better scope as you're not paying for the gadgetry. Having said which, the technology is useful for the beginner and if you aren't the most patient person in the world it certainly cuts time between observing objects. There is also something quite cool about it (almost like your controlling a cannon).
The ETX isn't the most amazing scope out there, once you strip away the technology what you're left with is a small scope on a lacklustre mount, but it is very portable and the optics are fair, as such I would recommend it to the beginner or those who travel alot.
Summary: A good scope for the novice or the impatient.