PROS / Lots of aperture will bring in some nice views, and assembly is fast and easy.
CONS / Attaching a large, relatively heavy optical tube to a small mount is a recipe for wobble, which can impact views.
VERDICT / This telescope offers a large aperture at a reasonable price, but the dimensions are a little strange. If you can get it to hold still you will get some nice celestial views.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced with another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
The good news is that the iOptron SmartStar N114 has 114mm aperture, which is huge for a telescope at this price point. The bad news is that its large, bottom-heavy optical tube is attached to the side of a comparatively small mount and flimsy tripod. The potential for wobble on this beginner telescope is great. However, there is also the potential for stunning stellar views at that level of aperture, and the price is so nice that it might be worth a try for your first telescope purchase.
This is a price point that makes a lot of sense for children – if they get rowdy with this one, it is not quite as traumatic (to you, the purchaser) as it would be with a pricier scope. The fact that it comes in a snazzy color won't hurt either for getting the young ones fired up about astronomy.
That does not make this a toy scope – far from. This is a serious instrument with optics that are designed to offer you impressive views of the planets and the surface of the moon.
This unit is seriously easy to assemble. It just took us only a few minutes. The hard part came after the initial assembly. For one thing, this scope really wants to tip over, even on the slightest incline. The optical tube just seems too big for the included tripod. Plus, the mass of the optics hangs haphazardly off the side of the mount. Most long-tube Newtonians use a counterweight to balance the assembly.
Although this system use GPS, it’s hard to know exactly what information to enter into the system and in what format. Admittedly, that is also the case with many go-to mounts. For a true beginner, it will take time to get it all sorted out. If you’re impatient and want to spend less time, plan to spend more money.
iOptron is not among the pantheon of well-established telescope brands, and its customer support leaves quite a bit to be desired. The website is almost completely devoid of information about this or any other telescopes, and the phone support also is hit and miss. We managed to get an answering machine at one point on the customer service line, during normal operating hours. That was pretty frustrating. We did receive good responses to our emailed inquiries though.
This scope's physical dimensions make it prone to tipping and the telescope’s initial alignment and set up is hard to figure out. However, there are other things to like about the iOptron SmartStar N114. It offers a large aperture, and the price point is very affordable.