Meade ETX 90 Review: Plastic and More Plastic

Meade ETX 90 has a great optical tube attached to a poorly executed, plastic motor mount.

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Review

Meade ETX 90 could have been a phenomenal computerized telescope, but Meade’s inability to create well-made GoTo mounts continues. Although the Meade StarNavigator Series slightly compensates the plastic mount with low price tags, the ETX Series is too expensive to be made with plastic.

The price tag of 500$ for ETX 90 is ridiculous. At the same exact price, you can get a Zhumell Z8, which is the prime of what a starter telescope can be. The images it will provide are not even comparable to the ETX 90, and its design is much more reliable. 

ETX 90 is expensive plastic.

Optics

The coatings are an absolute treat.

The optical design of Meade ETX 90 is the only part of the package that is well-built with expensive materials. The primary lens has high-transmission, UHTC coatings, which is expensive and provides sharper and brighter images. 

The optical tube has a Maksutov-Cassegrain design with a 90mm aperture and a 1250mm focal length. The design strongly leans towards planetary viewings, such as Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Venus. You will easily gather major details such as Galilean moons of Jupiter, Rings of Saturn, surface detail on Mars, and phases of Venus.

ETX 90 is a planetary performer.

Deep space performance is rather dull. The 90mm aperture doesn’t gather enough light for dimmer objects, and the images are so narrow you can barely fit large deep space objects in the view. 

The optics overall are quite pleasing in terms of Planetary viewing. But as soon as you get out of the Solar System, the image quality quickly drops.

Is Meade ETX 90 suitable for astrophotography? 

ETX 90 has a built-in flip mirror, which allows you to attach a DSLR camera whenever you want to the optical tube. The problem is, the mount is not an “Equatorial” version, which means you can forget about long-exposure imaging. Deep space astrophotography is impossible with this telescope.

Planetary imaging abilities are better than nothing, and Terrestrial imaging is definitely better than anything that is not attached to a telescope. 

Overall, the mount is not designed for astrophotography; therefore, you are limited to short-exposure, 30-40 second images. 

Mount

The mount feels like it has been designed in the ’90s and is still being shipped. 

The motors are all plastic.

The motors inside are straight-up plastic, and therefore produce a disturbing, loud noise. It will ruin a quiet, beautiful night. 

The locks feel sturdy and are the best part of the mount. But if you force the optical tube to move when it is “locked”, it will break-down. The mount may also break down for no reason at all. You have to be sure there is a Meade customer service near you if you are going to get this telescope. 

The mount is prone to breaking down.

Manual movement is a pain with computerized telescopes, and ETX 90 is no different. You have to unlock the optical tube, point, and then lock again. And the tube won’t balance when it is in manual. 

The batteries don’t last a night.

Cheap, computerized telescopes also come with cheap batteries. The surprising thing is Meade doesn’t even send a built-in battery, and you have to attach your batteries yourself. What makes it even worse is the fact that batteries won’t last a long night. In short, you have to use the mount attached to a power supply. 

Tripod

The tripod is surprisingly sturdy. It is steel instead of thin aluminum, and it opens wider than the usual aluminum tripod. 

The GoTo features of the mount surprisingly well. They are not accurate 100% of the time, but if aligned well, they work well. The alignment procedure is also incredibly easy, so you can start over when you mess it up.

GoTo works well.

The audio feature is useless.

The “Audio” feature of the mount is completely useless. It has a disturbing, machine voice, and it provides straightforward info that anyone can ask Siri or Google Assistant. I don’t understand why Meade wasted time with this thing.

Accessories

Meade sends two Plössl eyepieces with these telescopes(Thankfully.) that have 9.7mm and 26mm apertures. They are mostly plastic, but anything better costs a lot. They are usable for the beginning. 

There is also a carrying case, and tripod bag included. Funny enough, they are built better than the plastic mount. 

The focuser works pretty well without any problems. This is an important issue Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes and Meade did well in this area.

The red dot finder is cheap and plastic. But you will only use it while aligning the telescope, so it is not that important.

Drawbacks

The plasticcomputerized mount is noisy, prone to breaking down, and is not accurate 100% of the time. It is simply poorly built. It is a waste of hard-earned money.

You would expect Meade to send a built-in battery at this point. Nope. You are paying for your own batteries, and they won’t last a long night as well. 

Deep space performance is not good at all.

Conclusion

If Meade ETX 90 were priced lower, it would be buyable. The telescope as a whole works well, and the planetary images would mesmerize most beginners. The amateur photography ability is a nice feature as well.

But for 500$, there are vastly better options. If you are a beginner, I suggest you go with manual telescopes at this price range, where most of the cost goes to optics and not poorly-built computerized mounts. Dobsonians are great starting points.

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