Why Choose the Alt-Az Free-Turn X over a GEM?
For visual observing, the alt-azimuth Free-Turn X is not a lesser mount design than a GEM. It is a different mount design with its own unique set of advantages and tradeoffs for visual astronomy. And the sophisticated FTX has features that competing alt-az mounts can not match.
The FTX is VERY lightweight -- lighter than the typical GEM counterweight for a 100 mm refractor by itself!
The Free-Turn X was specifically created for mobility. It packs into the nooks and crannies left by other activities. Whether headed to the backyard or a distant mountain, the FTX provides the freedom to observe without being burdened. Its easy portability means the chance to engage in observing when any other equipment would be left at home or left inside.
The Free-Turn X was created for simple operation. It assembles quickly; uses no counterweights; requires no latitude adjustment or polar alignment, no big batteries, no clutch adjustments; and works without fuss or failure. Moreover, there is no cumbersome meridian reversal needed, and the FTX can easily be manipulated by hand (often the fastest and most intuitive method of all). It does not become unusable when a battery goes dead.
An encoder/DSC equipped Free-Turn X will locate objects just as easily and quickly as a GoTo GEM -- probably even faster than a GEM. The difference in operation is that you "push" the scope to the selected object rather than motors turning the scope for you. In a practical sense, the Push-To FTX does not require the large batteries to power a motorized GoTo system; makes no noise; does not require adjustments or maintenance; will not break down; and is lighter and more compact.
The FTX was created for versatility. The FTX (unlike equatorial mounts) is compatible with large binoculars, bino-viewers, and other instruments which require the viewing orientation not become tilted sideways. The FTX generally provides more comfortable and constant viewing positions than a GEM. And not even most other alt-az mounts can match the overall versatility of the FTX.
The FTX provides maximum capacity for the least size and weight. It uses no counterweights -- even for large scopes. And it damps vibration faster than equatorial mounts weighing considerably more.
The FTX does not require polar alignment and is ready to use immediately. The alt-az FTX is especially friendly to those observers with restricted views of the sky.
The FTX costs considerably less than all CNC machined equatorial mounts of comparable quality and capacity. There are some cheaply-made GEMs on the market, for sure. But true quality is obvious when one is using a mount -- as is poor quality. The more one uses the FTX, the greater it becomes appreciated. It is not a one-night stand!
The FTX also easily outclasses consumer-grade GoTo alt-azimuth mounts -- which rely on cheap electronics, plastic or low-grade stamped metal parts, cheap bearings, poor cast-metal structures, and sloppy fits to compete in the bell-and-whistle, mass-market wars. Instead of flash and dazzle, the innovative FTX delivers solid, enduring performance.