A highly affordable portable telescope that gives sharp, steady views of solar system objects is the dream for many, which is why this 2.75-inch/70 mm refractor might have instant appeal to beginners. Sadly, it just doesn’t deliver.
Mounted on a small, packable tripod, weighing just 6.5 lbs/2.95 kg in total, and shipping with a backpack, the Svbony 501P 70/400 is initially intriguing. Can it really give great views of the night sky? No, it cannot. The bag is poor quality and so are its contents, with its flimsy plastic tripod and alt-azimuth fixings utterly incapable of staying in one place.
Equipped with a 5×24 finderscope, a 45º image diagonal and a 20mm eyepiece offering 20x magnification, the Svbony 501P 70/400 has everything you need. Everything, that is, except stability and optical quality. It comes with a video-style tripod that can swivel the Svbony 501P 70/400 through 360º using a panhandle, with locking knobs at both altitude and azimuth.
Sadly, it has monumental overreach and lacks any kind of hand controls for fine-tuning. I found that I had to aim it – and lock it in place – about three Moon-widths above our satellite to get it to settle in anything close to the correct position. Getting anything in its crosshairs is a very tough task. Don’t even think about using its extendable center column; the extra 10 inches of height just makes it worse.
When it is finally in position, its 15.74-inch/400 mm focal length and f/5.7 focal ratio make it just about good enough to get enjoyable views of the Moon. However, it’s no more impressive than a low-cost pair of binoculars – and it’s the same story for deep-sky objects, which largely appeared dull and lacking depth.
If you’re after a cheap telescope for a child to play with, the Svbony 501P 70/400 might do the trick, but it’s not going to encourage a long-lasting love of astronomy. Even a low-cost pair of binoculars will get you much better views.