The RA and DEC setting circles are really nice, very readable, not as finely graduated as I'd like, but they are going to do the trick. They rotate independently of the axes and can be locked in place with either or both of two small knurled screws, 180* opposite each other, so one will always be in easy reach. These setting circles are very easy to read, and can be read from one convenient location at the top back of the mount from either side. These may not be finely graduated, but they are going to be easy to see in the dark with a led flashlight, or one conveniently mounted led light here out of harms way on the back top of the mount. The setting cirles seem well made, and feel really nice in operation.
If you've seen the hand controller of a CG5 or GP mount, this looks the same, but for the 16x slewing speed. The phone type cord that connects the hand box to the mount is coiled, and seems heavy duty. However, the RJ type connector fits loosely into its receptacle on the mount, and the red light indicating power to the mount goes on and off depending on how the cord is moved or stressed. I used a small piece of tape over the base of the clip to tighten it up.
One of the annoying things about many of these hand controls with separate battery pack is that the battery pack power cord fits into a receptacle on the hand control. With these you have to watch the position of the battery cord when moving about with the handbox. On the HDT mount, the power cord connects directly to the side of the motor box on the mount, so the hand box is not tethered to the battery box - a big usability improvement. However, the tip of the power cord does not properly fit the connector in the side of the mount - it's loose, and can be very easily and inadvertantly pulled out of the mount. On the other hand, if you've been used to a CG5 mount, the 16x slewing speed is really nice -
The tripod is very nice - pretty much as heavy but more nicely built than my Meade adjustable SCT type field tripod. Very sturdy even when the legs are extended, though I've read other reviews that have mentioned some periodic vibration with the legs fully extended. However, they only have one locking lever per shaft. I would have preferred the security of two locking bolts per shaft as on the Meade SCT type adjustabe field tripod.
The external finish of this mount is much better than that of any EQ4 /CG5 or EQ5 mount I've seen. And in my opinion it seems very well made, considering that the base and housings are all castings. The black powder coat finish is very nicely done. There are just a few things that detract from what would be a good impression - the latitude scale is sloppily glues into a recess in the side of the mount with glue overruns (The EQ6 medallion is nicely done though!), the pointer for the altitude scale looks fragile, the removable panel on the side of the motor housing is not particulary well fitted. The really important stuff is all there. It will be interesting to see if future examples of the mount fix a few of these minor detractions.
Oh, an interesting note - I have a handful of vixen GP type mounting plates - NONE of these will fit the HDT head. It is more than 1/16" too narrow for them. A C8 dovetail bar fits fine, as do generic CG5 dovetial bars. The mount comes with one dovetail bar, extruded aluminum, about 8" long. I found one CG5 mounting plate - it does not fit either. On the other hand, the dual bolts that hold a dovetail bar on the HDT mount head should be very secure.
If you've been used to slo motion controls, you wont find them here, which is typical of the heavy mounts. You won't miss them with this mount. Just set the friction on the locking levers so that you can move the scope around with a little effort. The mount continues to track properly and you can quickly make fine corrections, even through a finder scope, with the 16x slewing speed.
So far I have not used this mount with any OTAs heavy enough to begin to challenge it. I will tell you that it handles a C11 as though it weighed nothing at all. Tracking seems to be excellent. I centered Jupiter in a 26mm crosshair eyepiece and 2x barlow combination for about 211x in a C11 and left it to track for 45 minutes. Jupiter had moved about a planet's width in DEC due to inexact polar alignment, but was still exactly on in RA. Some have reported some jittering noted at exceptionally high powers - I saw none with this mount at 392x with a 7mm nagler on Saturn and Jupiter.
I plan to test this mounts tracking with various optical tubes, and also to test for periodic error. Reviews I have read suggest that the periodic error of these mounts is quite low.
NOTE: If you plan to mount a C11 or C14 on this mount (either of which it will easily handle) you will need to mate a CG5/EQ6 dovetial bar to the Losmandy DC11 or Celestron CI700 dovetail plate supplied with the optical tube. It is best, in my opinion, to work it out so that when the smaller dovetial is attached to the EQ6 head, the larger is riding snugly against the top of the RA axis head, even if the smaller dovetail bar does not fully rest on the bottom of the recess in the mount head. This makes a huge positive difference in vibration characteristics.