The concept of a "go nearly anywhere", portable microscope with both its own power supply, built-in LED lighting, capability to display a viewed image on both a built-in LCD and/or a connected computer, and with image capture ability via a 3MP/12MP internal camera, all for less than $100 is like the holy grail of tech gadgets. Unfortunately, until they do a little tweaking of their design and the QC program at their factory, this will remain for me in the same category of the gadgets like "X-ray glasses" that they used to advertise in comic books.
The item ships from Amazon in a "Smiley" box :) with additional standard packing, but internally is also hermetically sealed in an exceptionally rugged manufacturer's clam shell package. Said package could probably be towed underwater accross the Pacific behind a cargo ship, or alternately delivered by circus cannon from the manufacturing plant to its final destination with no further damage or harm in transit. Combined I give 10 stars for concept and packaging. HOWEVER, I don't believe most of these leave the factory in working order.
My first order was received intact in said bombproof packaging. It appeared as advertised, clean, sleek, exceptionally designed to all outward appearances. Additionally, it even had a nylon carry case. Inside the packaging was an instruction booklet that was well written and concise, explaining by words and pictures the features, options and set-up. Per instuctions, I installed the batteries, turned on the scope and quickly checked standard features like lights, focus, action, then selected set-up and made my menu choices. When finished I saved changes and exited set-up to begin my much awaited use of this dream machine. The screen went blank, and that was that. Thinking that maybe this was a reboot or restart with selected options, I turned it back on. The screen blinked, then went blank. I would like to say that that was that, but it wasn't, I tried repeatedly to "reboot" the little gem. I changed batteries, not once but twice. I reread the book until I almost had it memorized, then I gave up, repackaged it, and returned it to Amazon for a replacement, being absolutely convinced that had it worked, I would have had the self-purchased Xmas present of a lifetime.
Before the return package could cross the state border via USPS, the replacement arrived.
Like with the first package, the second scope arrived in what apppeared to be pristine condition, sealed inside its ATOMIC shell. Using a store-bought clam shell opener (same as with package #1) rather than my teeth or an ax, I opened said package, removed the scope, and having memorized the instructions from my "first" scope, set about installing the batteries. I placed them in the battery compartment, and tried to close the lid. It only partially shut(one side only), so I removed the batteries and examined the compartment and lid. It initailly appeared fine, so I reinstalled the batteries and tried again. Again it would not close properly. Taking the batteries back out and more closely examining the closer mechanism reavealed that about 1/2 of the very small catch that the compartment door had to latch and travel on was missing. That the catches and track are extremely small and very "delicate" compared with standard battery compartment latch mechanisms explained why it probably snapped off, but not where. Examination of the interior of the compartment, the table on which the scope was opened (and on which it sat), and the entire interior of the clam shell, led me to believe that it was packaged at the factory in that condition and was probably just a random manufacturing defect. A defect for sure, but totally different from #1. I therefore repackaged it, returned it to Amazon and once again requested a replacement vs. refund. (I never did get to turn it on, so I never discovered whether the scope actually worked or not, but I didn't want to mess with a product that I had to tape the battery door shut on, just to see it work. I'd do the real ops check on the "new" scope that Amazon was rushing to me once again. After all, third time's a charm.
Package #3 arrived, and the operation was worthy of CSI. The package was placed on a table with a white table cloth. The shipping material was removed and taken from the operating area. The clam shell seams were surgically opened and removed on both the top and side. The scope was gently lifted from the package and set on the cloth. The battery compartment was gingerly slid opened and----- I swore - for what I saw was an exact replica of scope #2. The compartment latched perfectly when the compartment was empty (no batteries inside) because there was no tension on the lid and the single functioning catch was sufficient to hold it closed. With batteries installed however, and kept under tension by the battery compartment springs, only one side held - and I suspect that wouldn't have been for long, given the fineness of the latch's molded catches. I returned #3 to Amazon and requested a refund.
What I saw and read of the scope impressed me. If Celestron can tighten up their QC program at the factory, checking their product better before packaging it and get the guy who designed the clam shell to redesign their battery compartment I think they'll have a winner, but I'm not buying one again until I read at least three 5-star reviews on Amazon. Instead, I'm going to see if anyone has come out with a new version of X-ray glasses!