Astro Engineering BinoMates Binoviewers

Astro Engineering BinoMates Binoviewers

The BinoMate - Very nice fit and finish. BinoMate Kit, including case, aluminum caps, and eyecups.

Binoviewers.  These are definitely the hot ticket item in astronomical viewing right now.  They are popular for a reason.  No one can dispute the incredible views and comfort of viewing that binoviewers can provide for the amateur astronomer.  However, it doesn't take long for the amateur astronomer to find the dark side of binoviewing.  The cost of a binoviewer can be prohibitively expensive, not to mention the fact you now must have two of each of your favorite eyepieces.

Enter the Astro Engineering BinoMate.  Astro Engineering is producing a binoviewer that has brought binoviewing into the price range of the average amateur astronomer.  However, how well does it perform, and how does it stack up against other binoviewers available in the market?

I received my Astro Engineering BinoMate for review, and upon opening the really nice plastic case that the unit arrived in, I was immediately struck by how well the unit looked.  The finish of this unit is flawless, and that's the only way I can think of describing it.  As I removed it from the case, I noticed what would become the most defining positive aspect of this binoviewer. The Astro Engineering BinoMate is incredibly light. It only weighs 18 ounces! Only 18 ounces! Incredible. And the insert caps are milled aluminum. How cool is that? The Binoviewer looks well machined, and has rubber grips bound on both sides of the binoviewer.  The tolerances of the machined parts are very tight and give the entire unit a very well fit feel.  I don't think I can properly express in words how absolutely wonderful this binoviewer looks and feels.  It is simply an outstanding piece of workmanship.

Now, to the meat and potatoes of the world of binoviewers.  How well does this binoviewer work?

To test this binoviewer, I asked a friend of mine to bring his binoviewer for a head-to-head test.  His binoviewer is generally accepted as one of the best on the market.  It received its reputation for good reason.  It is an excellent binoviewer and has a loyal following.  It is also twice as expensive as the BinoMate. It is also quite a bit heavier then the BinoMate. Mark this is advantage No. 1 to the BinoMate.

To start this test, we took 2 Meade 26MM Plossl eyepieces and placed them in the competitors binoviewer.  I then placed the competitors binoviewer onto my 10" Meade LX200 Classic.  The first thing I noticed was the incredible amount of weight that I was placing on the back of the scope. It was a hefty load to place on the 90 degree diagonal. I looked through the scope and, once focused, I received the pleasure that binoviewers are known for producing. A bright, almost 3 dimensional image that cannot be rivaled by a monocular viewer. We then mounted the same setup on my friends Celestron 11 inch SCT. Once again, a great view. Then, we removed the eyepieces from the competitors binoviewer and loaded the same eyepieces onto the BinoMate. We were amazed by what we saw. There was almost no difference between the two binoviewers, other than the weight. The BinoMate had a clear, crisp view. It might be a quarter-stop dimmer than the competitor, but not much. It was so amazing to both of us that we checked both binoviewers several times on different deep-sky objects to confirm what our eyes were seeing. The competitor is a hair brighter, so advantage is to the competitor, but it is so close that I wouldn't argue a call for a tie.

Next we checked both units with a pair of 19mm Panoptics. These eyepieces showed more crisp views, with the same near-equal views. We noticed no vignietting of the outer edges of the views. The competitor does have a larger optical path that might be an advantage for wide-field eyepieces, but most people do not have multiples of these expensive eyepieces, so I feel that it is not much of an advantage. We kept checking and swapping eyepieces, and were constantly amazed by the great views that the BinoMate provided for us. Since I first started using the BinoMate, I have used it on my refractors as well as several reflectors. Using various Barlows and extenders to achieve focus, the BinoMates have constantly pleased everyone that has looked through this BinoMate.

The BinoMate mounted on a Meade LX200 SCT The BinoMate looks comfortable, and is comfortable your scope, given its light weight and great fit and finish.

So, what do I think of the BinoMate Binoviewers by Astro Engineering? Well, to be honest with you, I cannot find any reason to buy any other binoviewer for use with 1.25" eyepieces. The BinoMates are lighter, as bright, well built, comfortable to use, and far more economical that any other binoviewer I have ever used, or viewed through. The BinoMates are, by far and away, the most enjoyable review that I have ever done. I absolutely love using the BinoMate and I show them to everyone that will listen to my bubbling enthusiasm. The BinoMate is outstanding, and in the price range of almost every astronomer. Taking all things into consideration, the BinoMates have no equal in quality for value in the current market. If you want to spout the name of the big, heavy, competitors binoviewer to try to impress your friends with the depth of your pockets, by all means, buy the competitor. If you have multiple high-dollar wide angle eyepieces, well heck, buy the expensive binoviewer. Money isn't a consideration to you anyways. However, if you want great views with good quality eyepieces, and want to save a bunch of money to buy more eyepieces and impress your friends with your ability to know and purchase a great deal, then the BinoMate is for you.

I do enjoy using my Astro Engineering BinoMate.

Mike Overacker

Product is available from Astro Engineering