If you are looking for a high quality telescope, pair of binoculars, or basically anything to do with optics, you have likely come across Meade products. Meade is the largest telescope manufacturer in the world. They have many options, so reading Meade telescope reviews is vital.
Among the many telescope companies, Meade is also one with quite a bit of history under their belt. Founded in 1972, the company has had lots of time to perfect their optical instruments. There are many totally valid reasons they have remained on the top of the heap of companies.
Since the options are far reaching for Meade products, buyers need to be willing to shop around a bit and do their research. After determining what you are looking for, make sure to read the follow list of Meade telescope reviews thoroughly to ensure you end up with the perfect item.
How to choose the best Meade telescope:
The first thing to consider when choosing the best Meade telescope are your particular needs. For instance, those looking to stargaze primarily will need different specifications than those looking primarily to birdwatch. Know what you are planning on doing with the telescope before buying.
Secondly, make sure you have decided on a budget for your telescope. Meade telescopes are not all expensive, but their price range is quite wide. Their many different models come with a variety of bells and whistles. Knowing your price range certainly helps to narrow your options.
The third thing to consider when choosing the best Meade telescope is the frequency of use you expect. If you plan on only using the telescope occasionally, purchasing a less high quality one will likely be fine. If you are an avid telescope user, though, you will want a higher quality one.
What to look for in a good Meade telescope:
The things you should look for in a good Meade telescope are largely the same as those you would look for in any telescope. First, the image quality should be near the top of your list. No matter the other features a telescope has, it is largely useless without a good quality image.
Secondly, look for a durably constructed Meade telescope. While less expensive telescopes tend to be a little less durable, you can still find a great, long-lasting option. Make sure to read the following reviews carefully. Having a telescope that lasts for years is worth a little extra cost.
Finally, look for a Meade telescope that is easy to assemble and use. While tons of features and specifications can seem alluring at first, it can lead to extended fiddling which eats up your time for actually using the telescope. Make sure your choice will not frustrate you when you use it.
If you are looking for a good, solid, mid-price range option, the Meade Instruments 216005 Polaris 127 EQ Reflector Telescope is an excellent choice. While it is not the least expensive Meade telescope on this list, it is certainly affordable for most beginning telescope users.
One nice thing about this telescope is that it comes with a variety of eye pieces to attach and change the magnification power. The telescope comes with a low, medium, and high magnification eye piece as well as two Barlow lenses which increase the power even further.
The construction of this telescope is also quite good, especially given its affordability. The whole telescope is constructed from heavy duty materials that can take a good amount of use over time. Also, the tripod mimics the good build of the scope while staying fairly lightweight and portable.
Unfortunately, the Meade Instruments 216005 Polaris 127 EQ Reflector Telescope is not perfect. One area where it could use some improvement is in the additional lenses. Though they are a nice addition, the build quality is not up to the standard of the telescope as a whole unfortunately.
Another issue is that the viewfinder tends to shift slightly after you set it all up. This means the item you were trying to focus on may not stay in the center of your field of visions for very long. While this is not the end of the world, it can be annoying to lose your target with any frequency.
The Meade Instruments LightBridge Mini 130 Telescope is a great choice for those wanting a telescope but lacking the space they often require. At just over two feet in length, it can be placed wherever you have an open space. Also, it is a tabletop scope, eliminating the need for a stand.
One especially nice feature of this telescope is that it can be rotated three hundred and sixty degrees. This gives it more versatility than other tabletop models which need to be moved and setup in different locations to change angles. It does also have a locking feature for set directions.
This telescope is really made to be easy and fast to use, too. Once you have it set up on a good surface, it should take less than a minute to find and focus on planets in the night sky. The additional lenses included are also extremely easy to affix and use, even for the newest beginner.
One area where the Meade Instruments LightBridge Mini 130 Telescope could use some improvement is in certain areas of the construction. While the telescope itself is durably made and well-constructed, the screws holding it all together strip quickly and need to be replaced.
The included lenses also do leave a bit to be desired, too. While they are simple and fast to affix to the telescope, the quality is fairly low on all of them. The main telescope itself, however, is well made with good image quality, so purchasing a different set of lenses will work just fine.
If you are looking for something even more affordable than the previous two options, the Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope is a solid choice. This telescope also incorporates a slow motion control rod which lets you track objects across the sky with ease.
Another nice addition to this telescope is that it comes with software and an instructional DVD to teach you about astronomy and how to use the telescope. Written directions can be confusing, so this helps. Also, beginners will learn more about the stars than they would by just looking.
While many less expensive stargazing telescopes invert and reverse the image produced (you likely would not notice by looking at the sky), this one does not. This means the telescope can be used easily during the day as well. Plus, watching meteor showers will be less disorienting too.
Though it has many things to recommend it, the Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope does have some drawbacks. One such issue comes from its lightweight status. Since it is so light, wind or bumps make the image wobbly and unstable. This leads to unclear images.
Like the previous option, the included lenses also pose a problem for this telescope. Some versions of this telescope come with lenses that are the incorrect size or threading for the scope itself. This means that they cannot be affixed to the telescope and it renders them mostly useless.
If you are looking for an excellent choice available in the UK, the Meade ETX80 Goto Telescope Tabletop System is the way to go. It is definitely more on the pricey side of the spectrum, but it is well worth the price. It is battery operated too so no need for cord and outlets.
The main concern with battery operated telescopes is the battery lifetime. It would be very disappointing to get a telescope that was only useable for a couple hours before needing a charge. Luckily, this telescope’s battery last for about twenty hours of consistent use.
The “go to” function of this telescope is also quite a nice feature. This feature allows you to input the target location and the telescope automatically finds it in the night sky for you. Additionally, the included lenses and Barlow lens are all good quality, a rare fact amount the options available.
Though it has many great features, the Meade ETX80 Goto Telescope Tabletop System is not without its issues. For one thing, the aperture (meaning, how much light gets through) is relatively low at 80mm. This makes nighttime stargazing a bit more difficult and darker overall.
A second issue comes from the setup of the “go to” feature itself. While it works pretty well when it is set up properly, setting it up can be difficult and a bit confusing. Also, in low temperatures, the battery power is decreased significantly, making the scope function poorly.
Meade Instruments ETX80 Observer Achromatic Refractor Telescope with Adjustable Field Tripod, Eyepieces and Deluxe Backpack (205002):
If you are willing to pay for a more expensive telescope, the Meade Instruments ETX80 Observer Achromatic Refractor Telescope is another excellent choice. The benefit of an achromatic telescope is that it corrects for any chromatic aberrations on the produced image.
This telescope is also fairly portable as far as high strength telescopes go. At under ten pounds in weight, it is relatively easy to transport the telescope from point A to point B with you. Also, the tripod and telescope compress down to a small size and fit into an included backpack for travel.
The included additional lenses, like the previous option, are also quite good. It seems that as the price for the scope goes up, so does the quality of the included pieces. Another nice feature of the lenses is that they are standard sized and threaded, meaning you can add more as you buy them.
Though the compressible tripod can be nice for travel, unfortunately, it leaves a lot to be desired for the Meade Instruments ETX80 Observer Achromatic Refractor Telescope. The telescope itself is too heavy for the lightweight tripod, leading to significant instability and lots of wobbles.
Also, switching between the flip Barlow lenses can be a major hassle with this telescope. In order to see clearly, you have to spend a lot of time refocusing every time you flip magnifications. This can be frustrating and time consuming when you really want to stargaze.
Meade Instruments LightBridge 16-Inch Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescope, Open Truss - Black (1645-05-03):
The Meade Instruments LightBridge 16-Inch Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescope is one of the most expensive Meade telescopes for sale. Though the price tag is certainly steep, the quality is quite outstanding. With a 16-inch aperture, it produces bright, high quality images at all times.
The design of the telescope itself also definitely sets it apart from the competition and other options on this list. This telescope has an open truss design with anti-reflection coatings on the trusses and castings. This means more light can get to the lenses, allowing for crisp images.
Despite its innovative and unusual design, this telescope is actually fairly simple to set up and operate even for beginners. It comes with very detailed setup and use instructions, so getting this telescope up and running is extremely straightforward. You can use it right when you receive it.
Though it is top of the line in many regards, the Meade Instruments LightBridge 16-Inch Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescope does have some drawbacks. For one thing, it is very heavy. Coming in at about ninety pounds in weight, it is truly meant to live in a single place or be on wheels.
Another setback for this telescope is the friction knob for the roller bearing. This is the piece that keeps the telescope in place one you have adjusted it. The friction knob does not provide quite enough stability. This means the telescope tends to sink by about three or four inches after setup.
Though not nearly as pricey as the previous option, the Meade Instruments Personal Solar Telescope is another high-end option Meade telescope for sale. The price tag may seem daunting at the beginning, but it takes special lenses to look at solar events without damaging your sight.
The weight of this telescope is also a very nice feature that adds to its function well. It is a hand held telescope, so it is important to keep the item on the lighter side. While weighing four pounds will certainly get tiring, it is about as lightweight as can be for its intended purpose.
Although it is designed to be hand held and it does not come with a tripod, one nice bonus feature is that this telescope is compatible with a standard camera tripod. This means you do not need to make an extra purchase specifically for the telescope should you want to use a tripod.
Though it has many great features to recommend it, the Meade Instruments Personal Solar Telescope does have some shortcomings. For one thing, the “sweet spot,” meaning the spot through which the sun is visible, is very small. It takes some time to line it all up properly.
Those looking to do solar photography using this scope may also encounter some difficulties. Because the “sweet spot” is so small and the telescope itself is pretty narrow, it is extremely difficult to get a photo lined up correctly. It can be done, but it takes a long time to figure it out.
Meade Instruments ETX90 Observer Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope with Tripod, Eyepieces, and Hand Carry Case (205004):
The Meade Instruments ETX90 Observed Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope is another great option in the same general price range as the previous telescope. It includes multi-coated optics, as well. This leads to brighter colors and less reflection for a much better image quality overall.
This telescope is also quite heavy duty and durable, even compared to the most expensive options on this list. Weighing in at about thirty four pounds, the telescope is quite heavy and sturdy. Also, the tripod is well made and constructed from heavier, more durable materials.
This telescope also has an automatic finder scope. This means you can pinpoint a target easily and without much work and effort. For beginners, this is an especially nice feature. It takes a fair amount of the guesswork out of the process of locating your targeted focal point in the sky.
Despite its many great qualities, however, the Meade Instruments ETX90 Observer Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope does have some disadvantages. One such issue is that it is battery powered. Because of its many bells and whistles, batteries need replacing before the twenty hour mark.
Another issue comes from the manual adjustments needed to properly focus and utilize all the features to their fullest advantage. Even for a seasoned telescope user, the adjustments for this telescope can be confusing. It takes some significant time to familiarize yourself with its details.
The Meade 12-Inch LX200-ACF Advanced Coma-Free Telescope is the highest end and highest price tagged telescope for sale on this list. The price tag, however, means it comes with a litany of wonderful and helpful feature not available it less expensive models on the market right now.
Like a previous option on this list, this telescope also comes with the “go to” feature, but it incorporates some other features with it. For instance, it uses Meade’s AutoStarll menus which offer a range of destinations pre-programmed in. Just select one and let the scope find it easily.
This telescope also has a very large aperture, which allows lots of light to reach the optics. What this does for the image quality is quite noticeable. Regardless of whether you are viewing subjects during the day or stargazing, the images are bright, crisp, and clear consistently.
Even the top quality telescopes such as the Meade 12-Inch LX200-ACF Advanced Coma-Free Telescope do have some setbacks, however. One such downside of this telescope is the weight. At over seventy five pounds, this is likely not a portable option by any stretch of the imagination.
Another issue comes from the computer adaptability. While the telescope should be able to connect with a regular computer via the Seral to USB adaptor, it takes a long time to get the software set up. Also, it is difficult to work through the functionality of the computer software.
If you are comparing the highest end Meade telescopes for sale, the Meade Instruments 12-Inch LX90-ACF Advanced Coma-Free Telescope is another great option in the running. The coma-free optics improves the optics exponentially by eliminating the chromatic aberrations totally.
The optics also have an ultra-high transmission coating on them. This means that, combined with the coma-free feature, the image quality is high quality and colored correctly. No matter the light levels in your viewing environment, the image quality will be clear, crisp, and brightly colored.
This telescope also combines the Meade “go to” feature with the Audiostar controller to make the usability even more beginner friendly. The Audiostar controller stores audio files and an internal feature filled with educational information and even guided tours of the night sky.
Like the other high end telescopes on this list, the Meade Instruments 12-Inch LX90-ACF Advanced Coma-Free Telescope, despite its many pluses, does have some issues. For instance, like other options, it is about seventy five pounds in weight, making moving it quite difficult.
The included tripod also presents some quality control issues for this telescope. For an expensive telescope, a less than ideal tripod is rather disappointing. The tripod is a bit shaking and not the most stable tripod available. You need a strong tripod for a heavy duty, heavy weight telescope.
Conclusion and verdict:
At the end of the day, there are a large number of excellent Meade telescopes for sale at a variety of price points and feature levels. Finding the best Meade telescope largely depends on what you are looking for and what features you will need for your desired use and experience level.
While the number of options on the market can be daunting and a bit intimidating, there is truly a Meade telescope available for everyone. Make sure to determine your needs and price range before shopping, however. Telescopes can get pricey quickly. Make sure you have a budget.
Really, the first step in finding the best Meade telescope for you is reading Meade telescope reviews. Reading through the list above is a great way to find out what is available on the market and what features appeal to you in your price range. You will end up with something you love.