Both mounts are identical in almost every way except the AZ GTi has a built-in memory and means you can manually move the telescope during the night and it will remember where it was.
The AZ GTe has no such memory, so if you move the telescope manually after alignment you will need to go through the alignment process again
Detailed answer for the difference between an AZ GTi and AZ GTe
If you’ve stumbled across this page you probably already know what the AZ GTi and AZ GTe devices are. These are telescope mounts. Not just any telescope mount though, these are one of the first budget (and good) WiFi enabled Goto telescope mounts to enter the market in recent years.
Both AZ GTi and AZ GTe are manufactured by Sky Watcher which is already a trusted and popular brand in the telescope industry.
These mounts are perfect for beginner and intermediate stargazers who want the benefits of small Goto mount that uses WiFi and mobile apps for navigation and control which really help simplify the setup – and all at a budget price.
On my own Lonely Spaceman tests, I can have the mount, telescope, tripod ready to go fully aligned and automatically searching for my first night sky object in just 15mins!
The set up for both the AZ GTi and the AZ GTe is exactly the same, and they look exactly the same. They function pretty much the same too.
The main distinction that sets them apart is the built-in memory. This is confusingly referred to on the product description as ‘Dual Encoders’.
Let me try and explain what this means. Let’s say you’ve set up your telescope in record time (beating my 15mins! ? ), you have gone through the alignment process, so your telescope knows where it is, and you’ve already started navigating the night sky.
Now let’s say you’ve spotted an object you want to point your telescope too. You could use the buttons on the controller to steer your telescope, or you could simply unlock the clutches and manually move the telescope to point at whatever object has caught your interest.
If you did this with the AZ GTi it will remember where it last was. So once you have finished manually moving your telescope, you can continue with your Goto navigation of the stars.
If though you did with the AZ GTe version, it doesn’t remember where it was and has lost it’s memory. To continue with Goto navigation at this point you will need to go back and re-do the alignment setup process again.
Is it worth getting an AZ GTi for Dual Encoders over the AZ GTe
This is the $100,000 question and I must have seen this question asked a thousand times on forums and social media comments.
Do you really need to pay extra for the AZ GTi when one of the AZ GTe bundles could be more enticing and potentially cheaper?
In my opinion, probably not. Let me explain.
For starters I have the AZ GTi and I don’t think I have made use of the dual encoders once. I haven’t had a need so far to loosen the clutches holding the telescope in place, to swing the telescope around at another object.
It’s also worth noting that the up, down, left, right buttons can move your mount and telescope (both AZ GTi and AZ GTe) and keep its memory in-tact. You can increase the speed of the telescope to fast enough speed that it would take mere seconds to go from pointing North to pointing South.
Last – and this is really worth noting here – if you did purchase the AZ GTe, and did on the odd occasions feel the need to move the telescope manually and lose its memory – the alignment procedure can be carried out in less than 5mins.
So even if your memory is lost because the AZ GTe has no dual encoders, it will only take you 5mins to set up the Goto again and you’re off and running.
If you are faced with a dilemma of the AZ GTi or the AZ GTe and it works out at exactly the same cost, then go for the AZ GTi – all day long!
If you are thinking of paying extra for the AZ GTi over the AZ GTe, or notice the telescope bundle you are looking for is only available with the AZ GTe, then I would generally recommend the AZ GTe option …… unless the memory with the dual encoders is very important to you.