The Meade Infinity Series is known across the board as one of the better, entry-level lines for beginners on a budget.
The model up for review is the Infinity 70mm AZ telescope that will have you observing the skies and wildlife with ease. Furthermore, like many other telescopes of this size, it’s designed with maximum portability in mind.
But, does cheap really do it?
Is the Infinity 70AZ any good?
Let’s zoom in and observe the details.
✔️ Best Feature: Value
❌ Worst Feature: Limited astronomical observation
👌 Ideal For: Terrestrial Viewing, Celestial Viewing, Travel, Range Use, Birdwatching
- Optical Design: Refractor
- Aperture: 70mm/2.8”
- Focal Length: 700 mm
- Focal Ratio: f/10
- Eyepieces Included: 26 mm, 9 mm
Our Verdict: The beginner user will be well-pleased with seeing the night sky beyond the capabilities of the naked eye. With correct left-to-right images, the Meade Infinity is easy to use as a spotting scope and nighttime telescope. The price? Can’t be beat.
Who is the Meade Infinity 70 AZ Best Suited to?
Undoubtedly, the Infinity 70 is intended towards beginner telescope users. It’s easy to navigate the skies because it’s a refractor scope with a diagonal. New telescope users can quickly become disorientated with finding markers in the night sky, so it’s important that you’re able to easily find what you’re looking for. Most importantly, the correct orientation also makes it suitable for terrestrial observation. Shooters and archers can see impacts at the range, you can watch wildlife from a safe distance, and birdwatchers can track birds along the landscape or in the skies.
How Does the Meade Infinity 70 AZ Perform?
The Infinity 70 is one of the best telescopes under $100, and as such, there are some compromises to be aware of. But, its quality and performance are much better than comparable scopes in this price range. It has a decent optical tube, good visibility, usable mount system, and better than average accessories.
Weighing in at approximately 7.5 lbs at full assembly, it’s lightweight for an adult to get set-up and observing. It’s not the lightest model among its competition of similar specs, but the added weight actually helps to stabilize it for improved viewing. Clarity is better than expected, and although it’s still a small 70mm scope, it has more power to offer than binoculars but is within budget-friendly limits for a telescope.
Features & Benefits
One of the reasons this scope is highly recommended is because of its value. For its price point and additional accessories, it’s a deal you can’t pass up. One factor that makes it an affordable model is its 70mm aperture. It’s not too small to the point where you may as well buy binoculars, but it’s also not as a large, heavy, and expensive as larger models. For example, to move up to the 80 mm version, you’ll almost have to double the budget. For the price, the Infinity 70AZ can’t be beat.
Lunar & Planetary Observation
While deep space observation outside of our galaxy is not the Infinity 70’s strong point, it does allow excellent viewing for the moon and planets within our solar system. You can see exceptional detail of the Apollo Landing Site on the moon, icecaps on Mars, and Venus and Mercury. Jupiter, the Great Red Spot, its moons and cloud bands are also visible. Saturn, Titan, and the planet’s rings can also be seen with adequate visibility. Furthermore, you can resolve the Orion Nebula, double stars, and asteroids.
2X Included Eyepieces
The Infinity comes with 26 mm and 9 mm 3-element achromat eyepieces. The 26 mm eyepiece provides 27x magnification and the 9 mm provides 78x magnification. Also thrown in is a 2x Barlow lens that allows the user to double the magnification, so essentially the 26 mm eyepiece would provide almost 54x magnification. The 9 mm would theoretically provide 156x magnification, but this is pushing the optical components beyond their functional capacity, so it really doesn’t provide the exceptional clarity or detail that you would initially expect since the maximum useful magnification is only 140x.
Correct Left-to-Right Images
What makes this an easy-to-use telescope for the beginner and ideal for terrestrial viewing is its included diagonal. It has an Amici prism design and is made entirely of plastic. This will create some color fringing that you’ll identify as false coloring, especially around the edges of bright objects or high-contrast objects and backgrounds. However, it’s longer focal ratio of f/10 helps to make the color fringing more tolerable than shorter focal ratios and will obviously help to resolve more details than that of just a blob of light.
The alt-az (Alt-azimuth) mount is expected on a beginner telescope because they’re easy to use and cheap to make. However, they’ve been known to be difficult to track with, so the equatorial mount is usually preferred. But, Meade did something to improve its motion of both axes simultaneously by installing a slow-motion control rod to make tracking planets or even birds easier than ever. Note that it doesn’t have infinite adjustments and it will max out in both directions at some point where you must re-center.
Limited Astronomical Observation
This isn’t necessarily a flaw of the telescope as it is a natural limitation of its objective lens size and specs. With only a 70mm aperture, you’ll be restricted with maximum useful magnification to observe some celestial bodies. For example, you won’t have enough power to resolve details for globular clusters. While you can see Andromeda, you’ll have difficulty locating other deep space galaxies. Of course, you must consider your observation location as light pollution will degrade or prevent maximum viewing anyway.
Most inexpensive telescopes will have mostly plastic parts, and all telescopes will have at least some plastic parts. However, it’s true that this telescope has plenty of plastic to keep the costs and weight down. From the focuser and diagonal to the dew shield and mount, it’s best to take extra precautions to care for your telescope to ensure longevity.
What Accessories does the Meade Instruments Telescope come with?
The Meade Infinity 70AZ telescope comes with a fully-extendable tripod, a red dot viewfinder, Amici-prism 90-degree diagonal, 2x Barlow lens, 1.25” focuser, 26 mm and 9 mm eyepieces, and an AutoStar Suite Astronomer Edition Software DVD.
The telescope has an Alt-azimuth mount with a slow-motion control rod, a rack and pinion focuser, and the eyepieces provide both low (27x) and high (78x) magnification that can be doubled with the Barlow lens.
Is the Infinity Telescope Portable?
The Infinity 70 is 38.6” x 38.6” x 52”. It weighs 7.5 lbs. As a telescope, it’s certainly smaller than larger aperture scopes, but it’s bigger than binoculars and some spotting scopes. Due to its dimensions, it’s highly portable and lightweight for all types of observation. It’s not too light that it’s flimsy, and it’s long enough to provide both decent magnification and a wide field of view.
Does the Meade Telescope have a Zoom Knob?
There is no zoom function on the Infinity telescope. Magnification is determined by the eyepiece and the included eyepieces are fixed. They provide 27x and 78x magnification, but with the included 2x Barlow lens, you can double the power. The knob on the scope is a focuser knob used to focus the image for various distances.
Can You See Planets Clearly with the Infinity 70AZ?
You can clearly see details on the moon and other landmarks on planets from Mercury to Saturn. Neptune and Pluto may be visible as small dots if you take the time to locate them. Resolving the rings on Saturn and cloud bands on Jupiter are discernable. You can also resolve double stars, open star clusters, and of course, the lunar surface.
The Meade Instruments Infinity 70AZ telescope is a great buy for the money. Beginners will learn the basics and enjoy the dual-purpose benefits of using the same scope for both celestial and terrestrial viewing. Lightweight and compact, it can be conveniently taken anywhere.
As one of the better budget scopes in the market, the Infinity is a value buy that stands far above the junk.