calastro New Member
- Skill Level
- Time with Product
Mar 4, 2008
- User Notes:
Good Planetary Scope in a Small PackagePros:
Excellent Optics! Mostly metal and very rugged! All metal gears!Cons:
The "original" controller had many problems!Comments:
The Tasco Starguide 4 is a very difficult review to do. Without knowing the history behind this little scope, it's very hard to understand its place in telescope history.
Celestron has always been known for a certain high level of quality in its products and for its customer service. Tasco is traditionally known as a producer of low-end, entry level telescopes that are quite often marketed through department stores and retail chains (Though Tasco did produce some really excellent small refractors many years ago in Japan.)
Not too many years ago, Celestron found itself under the ownership of Tasco International. Celestron was producing a small 4" Mak-Cass with a "go-to" controller and an alt-az mount. This was the original Celestron NexStar 4. The marketing at Tasco also decided to release this same exact telescope (different paint and labeling), as the Tasco StarGuide 4 (usually sold at a price well below that of Celestron).
Then Tasco began having real financial difficulties and eventually filed for bankruptcy. During this time, Celestron was able to "buy itself" out from Tasco and again became an independent company. When this occurred, production of the Tasco StarGuide 4 stopped. Here is where the real problem with this telescope showed itself...Lack Of Support! It was at this time that I purchased my StarGuide 4 for an unbelievable $229 brand new!
Of course, the new Tasco (rising from the bankruptcy) wanted nothing to do with support issues. A portion of Tasco was purchased by Bushnell, but they were not going to produce the StarGuide 4 and would not support it. And Celestron, who was now independent, wanted to be as far from Tasco and Tasco telescope owners as possible!
The original NexStar 4 and StarGuide 4 was a very fine little telescope optically (very few problems), but the original "go-to" controller had many problems. Many of the controller's functions didn't work, or performance was only marginal. The scope had a tendency to slew past an object (runaway slew), or would acquire an object, start tracking (never really great), and after a short period would start slewing away from the object! If you would like a complete list of all the problems with the original controller, go to the NexStar Observer Site at www.nexstarsite.com. They document the complete history of the NexStar controllers.
Well, Celestron began fixing and upgrading the controller and offered them as a replacement to the NexStar 4 owners. But they would not replace any of the Tasco controllers at that time. It was several years, and a number of controller revisions later, before Celestron finally made good replacement controllers available for the little Tasco scopes. So until that happened, I had an absolutely excellent telescope, but I had to make do with the original controller and all of its problems!
The StarGuide 4 (and the NexStar 4) is a Mak-Cass telescope of 102mm aperture at f/13.2. A really great feature of this scope is an internal "flip mirror" and a rear port that accepts Celestron C90 and Meade ETX accessories. The mount is very rugged being mostly metal construction and makes use of "all metal gears". Many have tried to compare this scope to the Meade ETX-102, and there is really no comparison. At least not in the original models. The Meade was much lighter and made much use of plastic. Once I replaced the original controller, I've never regretted the original purchase. I now use the little scope, mounted on an 8" diameter pier to routinely capture planetary images with a Watec-902 video camera and a frame grabber.
Optically the Starguide has always given excellent results. It is great as a lunar and planetary scope, but also does a good job on many deep sky objects. In fact, I would say that my best views of the "Double Cluster" in Perseus is with this scope. Using a 60 year old 32mm 2" Erfle eyepiece adapted down to 1 1/4", both clusters fit neatly into the field. The background is a velvety black and the stars are easily resolved and look like tiny pin-points of light! On this one object, the little StarGuide outperforms my 100mm f/6 refractor!
Rating this scope is a problem. Even though the optics are excellent, as it was sold with the original controller, I would have to say that overall it's rating was "Average" or below. However, once the controller was replaced, it easilly falls somewhere between "Above Average" to "Excellent!Sort by