Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 PLUS Dobsonian Reflector Telescope Review

Dobsonian telescopes are the popular portable styles that are still taking the market by storm. This high priced model is an upgrade of the XT8 Classic Dobsonian. Buyers can expect several components to work better and look better in this version.

Adjustments are easier to manage in this tool-less design and there are several accessories bundled with the product that really drive it as a bargain. Even if you take out the Shorty 2x Barlow pieces you’re still getting a pretty good deal overall. Buyers that want a portable but useful telescope will love the brand and the new feel of this upgraded model.

Orion 8974 skyquest xt8 plus dobsonian reflector telescope

Style

Boasting a metallic blue optical tube, this is one of the most attractive little scopes on the market. It will definitely turn heads, and the finish is nice enough to where it won’t just erode from bad weather. Using a Dobsonian style, the tube is attached to a very high quality base with a size that is perfect for both home and away use.

The built in eyepiece rack on the base was a nice touch, and holds everything you need to get started for years using the nice telescope.

Recommended Level

Being a Dobsonian usually means it is automatically a great deal for beginners and kids, but this also functions quite nicely for intermediate users. Experts will more than likely have this as a backup or a secondary telescope. New users will have no trouble learning all of the ins and outs of the product, even concerning its advanced features.

Everything is cleanly laid out so that you don’t have to keep referencing the instruction manual to figure simple things out. And if you are serious about astronomy there is a clear upgrade path with the accessories that would be a nightmare if using any other type of scope.

This usability really helps out to those that want to go into the hobby the easy way.

Durability

Since the tube is mounted to the base automatically, it is instantly more durable than many of its competitors. Dobsonian style telescopes never suffer from the same issues as other telescopes, and are true warriors over the years that require little to no upkeep.

Now as a reflector telescope it still has its quirks with being moved around too much, but the controls are so tight that it is less of a pain. Usually reflecting telescopes hate to be moved, but they seemed to have made that less of a problem with this recently upgraded model.

Pros

There are a ton of accessories included with this model, which is something that these style of telescopes are not known for. There are also tons of extras that can be added to extend the life of the product, which is a big money saver if you’re into astronomy.

Even without including all of these things there is the build itself which is typical of Orion’s quality control. The metallic blue that was mentioned earlier looks very classy and not horrible like some other models that use it. They did a professional job of applying it to the tube and it looks really good with easy to miss accents.

The 2 inch dual-speed Crayford focuser with 11:1 fine focus is built in for convenience, and since this telescope isn’t known for blowing away the stat sheet with power you can expect adjustments to be buttery smooth. It really functions as one of the most accurate telescopes on the market, even outside of its current price range.

Cons

Users that have become enamored with powerful scopes will find this vastly underpowered for their needs. As it is a telescope built on precision and accuracy rather than power, there are certain limits that can’t be overcome even with the optional upgrades.

The 2x Shorty Barlow should have been 3x to really get a worthwhile effect. Price doesn’t seem to be going down, even though it is competitively priced. But this also means that the optional accessories will continue to stay at their current price without the chance of it going down.

Metallic blue is the only color, which may not work well with some people.

Included Accessories

There is a 2 inch 28mm DeepView eyepiece that works well for accuracy, but in no way represents a big power boost. The same can be said of the included Shorty 2x Barlow which helps with getting a further look out, but not by much.

Also in the package is a 10mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece and a collimation cap. For daytime viewing they surprised all users and packed in a Safety Film Solar Filter, which works quite well. Lastly, buyers can look forward to the EZ Finder II reflex sight to guide them in the right direction.

Value

It’s easy to dismiss this as an overpriced Dobsonian telescope, but you shouldn’t gloss over the fact that it is an upgraded version of one of their best-selling units. They touched on every important aspect that made the original great and made it better.

And with all of the included accessories, you’re looking at a lot of things to play with over the next couple of months. Power users may end up ditching it sooner rather than later, but for accuracy you can’t beat a scope of this size with this many included gadgets. It’s not the deal of the century but it is one of the best on the market at the current time.

Lasting Appeal

Despite being more for beginners, it still has a home in the heart of many experts. This is because of the upgrade path that they lay out with the optional accessories. The already tremendous accuracy can be boosted, and in some ways functions better size by side with your main scope.

This isn’t just about being nostalgic-this is a really useful piece of equipment. It would be perfection if it had a little more power, but beggars can’t be choosers!

Best Comparison

Strangely enough the best comparison is another product from the same company, the Orion XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope & Beginner Barlow Kit. It is the more refined version of this model, and can be considered an ‘upgrade of the upgrade’.

What sets the two apart is the reading material and extra power materials that come with the XT10. The marketing clearly targeted beginners and new people with the XT10 while the XT8 Plus is considered to be for all users at one point or another.

So even with the extra power of the upgraded model, the XT8 Plus edges it out in usefulness with better included accessories. Most of the materials included with the more expensive XT10 are for beginners and amateurs only, and would have been better served by replacing it with more universal accessories.

Summary

The Orion XT8 Plus is a worthy upgrade to the classic that does not try too hard to be anything other than a reliable and accurate telescope, and one that can view objects in great detail.

Lack of power may hamper some of its more experienced target audience, but with an easy way to upgrade it over the years, many may find it more appealing than a larger telescope.

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