Celestron Inspire 80AZ Refractor Telescope Review: Maybe?
Although Inspire 80AZ is overpriced, it is not a bad refractor by any means.
Inspire 80AZ is another, overpriced beginner telescope from Celestron. Don’t get me wrong, it is a decent refractor that would please most beginners, but its price should have been slightly lower.
I criticize Celestron for using their brand name for selling products at higher prices than they are actually worth. Celestron may have exceptional customer service, but most people, including myself, care about the product itself rather than the services you get later from the company.
The price is the main problem.
Zhumell Z130 – Inspire 80AZ
If a tabletop telescope is suitable for you, then I would highly recommend Zhumell Z130. Its optics are much more powerful, and it has sensational build quality. It is currently being sold at the same price as Inspire 80AZ, which is ridiculous.
But still, it is possible that you have managed to find this telescope for cheaper. In that case, it is worth a consideration.
The most common misconception about budget telescopes is with their optical power. This telescope is not a powerhouse by any means. You won’t be able to get clear images of stripes of Jupiter and mountains on Mars. You will, however, be able to see moon’s of Jupiter, Rings of Saturn, and an exceptional amount of detail on the Moon. Deep space objects such as nebulas and galaxies will appear rather ghostly, but bright star clusters look pretty impressive with Inspire 80AZ.
The lenses are coated nicely, and the long optical length is appreciated since it lowers color inaccuracies. It also provides sharper images compared to a shorter refractor.
Overall the optics of this telescope is pretty good for a beginner model. But as I’ve said before, there are more powerful models for the same price.
The mount is mostly plastic. This is to be expected at this price range. At high-magnifications, there will be unavoidable, annoying wobbles.
The handle is appreciated, though. It adds an extra layer of control for the optical tube, and it is able the lock the tube in place.
There are no slow-motion controls on the mount. They would be nice additions, but they are not necessary.
The stainless steel tripod is appreciated.
The tripod is made of stainless steel. It doesn’t bring up any complaints. Wishing for something better at this price range would be senseless.
The eyepieces that come with the Inspire 80AZ are Kellner’s. They are common among budget telescopes, and they are of OK quality. I’m actually thankful for this since most companies send useless eyepieces just to write a high magnification number on the product page.
The eyepieces have 10mm(90x) and 20mm(45x) apertures. The 20mm eyepiece provides pretty good images. The images the 10mm provides are not bad, but you will probably use it less than the 20mm.
The finder is a red dot model, which is quite hard to screw up in manufacturing. It basically projects a red dot on a screen. It is easy to use, cheap and sturdy.
The 90-degree diagonal is included for terrestrial viewing. It lowers the image quality, therefore, is not usable for astronomy.
The Plastic Focuser Problem
Most companies are now including metal focusers with their beginner models in contrast to Inspire 80AZ’s plastic, wobbly focuser. The focuser is one of the most important parts of any telescope. Its sturdiness and smoothness determine the quality of your experience in a major way.
Inspire 80 fails the focuser test. The annoying wobbles at high magnifications are not tolerable.
The focuser problem is not easily solvable.
The Lens Cap and the Red Flashlight
These accessories don’t come with any other telescope line-up. They are smartly made and useful, but they don’t make up for the unusually high price.
The lens cap is useful for two things: a place to put the eyepieces and a beginner astrophotography device. The only problem is that it works with only smaller smartphones. It is usable with the iPhone X, for example, but not with the iPhone Pro Max.
The lens cap is cheap but wildly functional.
Smartphone cameras are of insane quality lately. Pictures of the Moon you can take with your telescope are surprisingly detailed. But you can find a smartphone holder for most other telescopes in the market. And they are not that expensive.
The red flashlight above the eyepiece tray is useful for especially dark nights. It doesn’t create extra light pollution, which is a thoughtful design choice by Celestron.
The price is the major drawback with Inspire 80AZ. It should cost half of its current price.
The plastic focuser could have been better built. Companies like Meade and Orion are able to include metal focusers with their beginner telescopes.
Inspire 80AZ is a well-made, beginner telescope that is being sold at a senseless price. For the same amount of money, you can buy incredible models that will last you a lifetime. Some of those models would be Zhumell Z114, Heritage 130P and maybe a SkyQuest XT4.5; if you manage to find it second-hand.
In summary, this telescope is not worth its price tag. If you find it at a lower price, it is buyable. Other than that, it is not strongly recommended.