||Hello Everyone! I'm the sales manager and one of the technicians for Focus Scientific.
My first night with an ETX-LS was pretty special. Not only did I get to test the most advanced consumer computerized telescope, my 3yr old son saw Saturn for his first time.
The primary purpose of the evening was to verify the operation, and familiarize myself with the ETX-LS.
The firmware version I tested was v1.4a. I was not able to locate a change log at the time I wrote this review, but the only version available for download was v1.3 - so I was testing the absolute latest.
To watch the telescope perform its automatic alignment is pretty cool.
It starts off locating home position, North, calculating tube level and tripod tilt, and fetches the GPS coordinates.
It then slews to a suitable candidate alignment star, and the truly revolutionary part of the technology takes over.
The ETX-LS makes a series of alignment adjustments based on 3 second exposures from its built-in CCD camera. Eac adjustment brought the alignment star closer to, or bang-on the calibrated alignment point on the Eclips CCD camera.
It then slews to a second alignment star, and repeats the process.
On a properly "finder calibrated" ETX-LS, this automatic alignment places the alignment stars smack-dab in the middle of the eyepiece.
The finder calibration routine is very straight-forward - you center a bright star in the eyepiece, and the Eclips CCD takes a 5 second exposure and registers the true position of the
star on the chip. This produces an offset map between what the scope sees, and what the CCD sees.
The unit I tested was perfectly finder calibrated from the factory.
The optics were fantastic. Saturn revealed its equatorial belt, and the ring was clearly visible as it passed in front of the planet (at ~5% tilt towards us), and the Maria on Mars was just visible (under light polluted skies). M13 took on the classic snowball appearance.
The ETX-LS series of scopes are fun, easy to use, and they self-align.
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]