Coming in at about the mid-price range is the Orion StarBlast 4.5 EQ Telescope, a product that packs in a lot of things into a small package. Buyers that were looking to get that perfect all in one telescope without spending a ton of money will love this deal, and it is from one of the leading names in the industry. Packing enough materials for beginners and enough power for professionals, this is one of the better deals in the market and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here’s some of the reasons why you should consider this Orion model over the others in the same price range.
Short and stout best describes this model, but don’t let its rotund features throw you off. It is sneaky powerful, and has one of the best green finishes you could put on a telescope without it being distracting. Along with the green finish there is a mixture of black and silver if you include the tripod, which together make a perfect combination. Buttons and knobs are all in appropriate places, although some could stand to be further apart than the rest. And since this is a reflector telescope you can expect supreme image quality even for daytime viewing. With the way the product is built, it won’t take up a lot of space in any situation, even after you set it up. So it is a nice compact solution to have without making any mechanical compromises.
There really is no way to appropriately use this past the intermediate level, even with add-ons and the current power. It is strictly a beginner to intermediate telescope that doesn’t have that extra bump in power needed by experts or professionals. Intermediate users will be fine with the product as is, but may want to purchase additional accessories in order to boost the power to their liking. There is a big jump in features when considering this as a useful telescope for an intermediate user and then going to an expert user that requires a lot more. That said, expect beginners and hobbyists to get the most use out of this telescope for the longest amount of time.
Considering the price, this is a really nicely built product from Orion. They didn’t cut any corners with the tripod build, and the telescope itself won’t get scratched up easily. The tripod isn’t super quality, but it is sturdy, and from that point it does its job admirably. Looking at the telescope portion of the project tells a similar story, with the mechanics being just right for this price range. It won’t blow you away with its durability, but it also won’t fall apart on you. Even the included Barlow lens are of good quality and is built for long-term wear and tear.
With the good power of the telescope they also made it a wide-field model that collects a good amount of light and can get nice details when looking at planets. This means that even though it is only a mid-tier telescope it still has high tier performance on some planets. There are plenty of extras provided with the product, though most of them are for beginners. The product is portable and light, with a quick setup option if you are in a hurry. If you’re used to fiddling around with knobs and buttons during a setup, this will come as a breath of fresh air. It is hassle free and can be ready in under a minute, no matter where you are.
It’s not meant for higher class intermediates or expert users, with an upgrade path that isn’t clear when you consider the series it is in. This means that if users are fond of this telescope and want to move up to the next model, they may end up buying into a completely different series. The extras provided are for beginners, which if you do away with could probably cut down on the price of the telescope overall. And if you’ve ever bought an Orion product chances are you already have these beginner materials, which means you are paying for it twice.
They included a lot, but remember that most of these are for beginners. Even so it is a great value and beginners will not be without important information to get started with using a telescope. It includes the Star Target Planisphere and MoonMap 260. This makes stargazing sessions a lot easier for the beginning astronomer, as they will be able to map out some of their favorite spots in the galaxy without looking around endlessly.
With the Discover the Stars book, they’ll get a literary guide that has some really wonderful tips in it to get the most out of your stargazing sessions. The book is detailed enough to where it may even be useful for intermediate users. For power there is the Shorty 2x Barlow that is able to more than double the magnification of the eyepieces. This will be vital to get the most out of the telescope during its lifetime.
The value is pretty solid, it is a very precise package that covers more than one level of user. For that it is worth the price, and passing it up would be a mistake if you wanted to purchase a solid telescope. Even without having a clear upgrade path it has too many good features to gloss over in favor of future compatibility. There are some really nice additions in the package that will function as a welcome kit for the beginner, and the power is decent enough to where the telescope isn’t offensive to intermediate users. It is a nice all around value that has some faults but more pros.
Expect this to last for about 5-6 years if it goes to a beginning user. For it to last any longer will depend on how fast the user is progressing in their stargazing sessions. If they are pretty fast in their learning, then you could potentially be looking at a shorter amount of time before it is time to upgrade. As for how long it would last in the hands of an intermediate user, most likely 1-3 years max. So there is some wiggle room in there for all levels, but the maximum potential is gained by giving this to a pure beginner.
It’s probably going to come down to the Orion 27193 XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope and Beginner Barlow Kit, which is slightly higher but offers a better overall user experience. With the higher power output it does have some legs in the long run, and the included accessories are better. But where the StarBlast 4.5 EQ wins out is with its better portability. Well that and it is a little bit less in price, but enough for it to be noticeable.
This is a very solid user friendly telescope that is correctly price for what it gives. It won’t wow a lot of people with its feature set, but it does deliver when needed to different levels of astronomers. The longevity may not be the best for intermediate users, but the experience in use is enough to make up for that.