iOptron Smartstar-E-R80
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When I was about 13, my parents got me my first telescope - a 6" Criterion Dynascope. I had fun with it, but I was always frustrated by the amount of trouble I had in finding objects in the sky to observe. I found I was using it less and less often because of the trouble I had finding objects. Eventually, the telescope got packed away.

Fast forward 30 years to the present. My interest in astronomy was rekindled by the fellow I sit next to at work - he just happens to be one of the chairmen of the
Raleigh Astronomy Club. After a few sessions of talking about stars and 'scopes with him, I was inspired to unpacked my trusty old Dynascope and point it skyward once again.

It wasn't long before some of the old feelings of frustration started to return. Sure, I could find the moon and a planet or two, but I just didn't have a feel for how to locate any of "the good stuff" like nebulae and such. It was then that my office neighbor showed me an ad for a GOTO mount called "The Cube" offered by a company called iOptron. The price was right, and it sounded like it might make observing the heavens a little less work and a lot more fun  - so I bought one; which leads me to the rest of the story...

I decided to buy
"The Cube" with an 80mm Refractor telescope. I wanted to get going quickly, and I was concerned that I might have trouble mounting my Dynascope OTA to the new mount. After using the new setup a handful of times, I thought I'd share my observations and experiences about the overall experience.
Double Boxed
Ordering and Shipping

Ordering the product was very straight-forward. iOptron's website uses all the standard elements you'd expect to encounter when buying a product over the Internet - shopping cart, secure server credit card processing, etc. A week later, a nicely packed, double-boxed package arrived at my home.

The GOTO mount, telescope and tripod were securely packaged within the glossy, multi-color inner box. Appropriate use of styrofoam was made so that there was no problem at all with any elements in the package being damaged in shipment.

As I'd expected from reading other reviews of this product, the AC adapter was missing, as was the instruction manual. I sent an email to the company which was responded to in less than 24 hours. I was informed that the AC adapter had been shipped separately, and that I should expect to receive it within 24-48 hours of receiving the telescope and mount. Sure enough, I received the AC adapter in the mail on the very day I received the email response! I downloaded the manual from iOptron's website.
Internal Packaging
Scope and Mount
Package Contents

The package contained the GOTO mount with wired hand control, an 80mm refractor telescope with finder scope and 45 degree eyepiece holder, 2 eyepieces (25mm and 12.5mm Plossl), a 3x Barlow (quite lightweight and not terrific quality), and a tripod with leg spreader that doubles as a small parts tray.
Package Contents
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All content copyright 2007. This page was last updated on Nov 17, 2007.