This is a great scope that I would highly recommend to other beginners like myself. It is at the limit of what I am willing to carry (20-25 pound each for the base and the scope). Putting it together was very easy and I got great views with it on my first night out. The 8 inch mirror provides very nice views. I saw the galaxies M81 and M82 in one field of view, the globular cluster M13 and the planetary nebula M57 on my first night out. This scope is a big step up from my last 60mm scope. I can now split the pole star easily for example.
It is not a small scope, so go see one in person if you can at a starparty or a store if possible, to see if you feel comfortable handling it. (Or look at any 8 inch scope to get an idea.)
The fact that this scope can collapse is very convenient. The mechanism for this is very sturdy and does not seem to affect the stability of the scope. It also makes carrying and storing it pretty easy.
One minor drawback is the fact that it did not come with a collimation tool like some other 8-inch scopes. However, it did come with 2 eyepieces and a good right angle finder scope.
The altitude motion is very smooth and the tension handles work very well (some other brands come with springs and may or may not work as well). The azimuth motion is not as smooth, but with a little practice you get used to that. This is common all 8-inch scopes in this price range from what I understand.
All in all a great scope, with great value for the money.
Pros: easy assembly, 2 eyepieces provided, good right-angle viewfinder, collapsible OTA makes storage and transport easy
Cons: no collimation tool provided, azimuth movement not that smooth
This review was written in the old system and had content requirements that are different than reviews written today.