Just got my notification from Astro-Physics Co. that I can now order an AP1600 GTO mount. I only have a few days to go or no-go.
My interest is to 1) get Go To capability to speed up target variable star locating, 2) push my visual limiting magnitude down to +14/+15 range to follow stars down to minimum magnitude (currently using an LX200-8" vintage 1986 - no Go To capability generally limited to about +11/+12 visual magnitude on the best of nights her in NC), and 3) prepare for future move to CCD photometry.
The AP1600 will definietly be a great mount to have with or without the absolute encoders. Other mount option considered is a Software Bisque MX -- big difference in load capacity and price ($$). Looking at either a Celestron Edge 14" or a Deep Sky Instruments 14-1/4" with the ceramic mirror option -- again a big price / performance difference. I plan on starting out with visual and then adding CCD capability in the future.
Do I go for the best most expensive option or save many thousands of dollars and go with the lower cost option? Will one option or the other be a better long term (20 + years) performance, reliability choice? Other options I should consider? I amn not interested in Dobsonians.