The optical tube of StarNavigator NG 114 is an awfully made Bird-Jones.
It is sad to see Meade shipping low-quality optical tubes at this price range. It is definitely an attempt to make higher profits with cheap mirrors.
The primary mirror of StarNavigator 114 NG is spherical instead of parabolic. A beginner might have trouble understanding the difference; I’ll try to explain it shortly.
Welcome to cheap mirror realm.
A parabolic mirror(the good one) has a single focal point. Therefore the image is color-accurate and sharp. A spherical mirror(the one NG 114 has) has multiple focal points. Therefore Meade used a “corrector lens” to fix the optics. The problem is a spherical mirror corrector lens is incredibly hard to manufacture and insanely expensive.
The one StarNavigator NG 114 has is not well-built and is not working properly. That is why the telescope is so cheap.
It doesn’t make sense to talk about the Planetary and Deep Space performance with StarNavigator NG 114. The optics are hard to focus, collimate, and don’t provide the crisp images any astronomer wants.
The mount is the only well-made part of the package. It is a Meade GoTo mount that feels sturdy and smooth. The connections and motors will break if you apply force when they are locked, but that is the case with any GoTo mount.
The major problem with GoTo mounts is that they are hard to use manually. You have to point to an object, lock the optical tube, and start auto-tracking. It doesn’t provide the freedom you get from the usual altazimuth mount.
GoTo and AudioStar
The GoTo computer works surprisingly well. The alignment procedure is incredibly easy. After you enter some information about the location you are at, you are good to go. Thousands of objects are a few seconds away. It might sound like I am advertising, but the GoTo mount works that well.
The GoTo mount works really well.
If a problem has to be found with the mount, it is the noisy motors. They produce an awkward machinery noise.
I find the “Audio” feature ridiculous. At this age of information, you can find any information about any space object in seconds. Ask Siri, Google, whatever. I don’t know why Meade wasted time with this.
The Tripod Problem
This is the most important problem after the flawed optical design. The tripod is made of aluminium, which at this point should have been steel. It is flimsy and nowhere near enough for such a large optical tube and heavy mount.
The accessories are not pleasing. The cheap eyepieces and finder are absolutely OK, but the focuser is mostly plastic, and at this price range this is disappointing. The amici finder makes things even worse.
The 26mm and 9mm eyepieces are Kellner models. They are basically better than the worst model in the market.
The finder is a red dot model. It is perfectly fine for a computerized telescope.
The focuser is almost all plastic. It won’t carry the heaviest eyepieces.
The accessories are cheap choices.
The amici diagonal lower the quality of the image by a lot. A star diagonal is a must for a telescope at this price.
Overall there is not a single accessory that is worth praise. The finder is OK, and the eyepieces always require changing, but the focuser and the diagonal should have been better.
Where should I start?
The optics are a flawed Bird-Jones design. They are hard to collimate, provide a low-quality image, and overall a frustration.
The tripod is flimsy. It is nowhere near enough for this kind of weight.
The accessories are all inadequate, except the finder.
Meade StarNavigator NG 114 telescope is a marketing scam. If it had better optics, it might have been worth recommending. But as long as this optical design is shipped, it is a no-go.
At this price range, a 6″ Dobsonian is the best choice. Although harder to carry around, it would be much more powerful. A tabletop is also worth checking out. They are always well-built and powerful enough for most observing.