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I’ve had enough of ZWO


Geordie mc
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I have decided to boycott ZWO. Their poor quality control and appalling customer service over the last few years mean I have had enough.

First there was my Asi120mm. This stopped working when I upgraded my laptop from Windows 7 to Windows 10. I’m not alone. ZWO said it was an old camera and no longer supported. It was 3 years old when this happened! The reason it did not work is that ZWO did not stick to the USB2.0 standards in order to get faster frame rates. It doesn’t even work with their own ASIAir! Then they said there was a firmware update to try. It didn’t work. Then they said they had come up with a solution and that it would be done by the end of the year. The “solution” was to offer an $80 voucher if I spent more than $249 with them and could produce my proof of purchase. I’ve already replaced the asi120mm. How does this help?

Next there’s my asi1600mm-cool. This still works but I’ve had to replace the cooling fan which failed.

ASIAir pro. Terrible WiFi range of about 3m so I had to buy a WiFi extender. Most users I know did the same or had an external aerial fitted. The new Plus model has the aerial but I know 3 people who’ve had units arrive DOA and a further couple who’ve had the power board fail within a few weeks. Then they wait for replacements which currently takes a few months. Poor quality control or poor components? Either way it’s not good.

Their first generation filters had reflection issues. Version 2 addressed this but that does not help those who bought the originals.

It seems to me that ZWO has a strategy of rushing cheap products to market and letting their customers act as beta testers. Their customer support, in my experience, is polite but doesn’t actually help you. They fob you off with excuses and delays hoping, I believe, that you’ll give up and go away. I believe they are launching a mount. How many issues will that have. I’d avoid early adoption if I were you.

I realise that this will not be true for most people. If you have ZWO products that serve you well,great. I hope it continues. My EAF is working fine, but for me this has been the exception not the rule.

ZWO have one plus point - they are cheaper than the competition. But this is changing with others such as Altair Astro, QHY and Atik catching up. There are great mini PCs that rival the ASIAir plus. Yes they are more tricky to set up but they run NINA and PHD2, SharpCap etc and offer far more flexibility and better performance. You can pick one up cheaper than the ASIAir plus and add a Pegasus pocket power box for a much more powerful setup.

Am I a grumpy old git? Yes! I probably am but I think I have good cause. Will my boycott have any impact on ZWO? No it won’t but it’ll make me feel better and hopefully it may make a few other people think twice before jumping on the ZWO gravy train. There are other options. Please consider them. Support your own country’s manufacturing if you can or at least a company with UK/European/North American customer support that listens. Starlight Express have always been brilliant for me in this regard.

If just a few people do this and get better products or service as a result it will have made my post worthwhile. Clear skies everyone and if you’ve read this right to the end - thank you.

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2 hours ago, Geordie mc said:

Support your own country’s manufacturing if you can or at least a company with UK/European/North American customer support that listens.

I’ve had issues with my 120MM too! But I have had poor customer service from two Germany companies and a US company in the past year, and I spent 50x more than the 120 

 

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3 hours ago, Geordie mc said:

Am I a grumpy old git? Yes!

Your post is a good example of how difficult forum moderation can be.

Is your post a product review. If yes then we have a board for that. If you post there then we ask that you write individual reviews of products you own.

Is it a dealer / supplier review. We have a board for that too but, so far, you haven't mentioned a dealer / supplier. Perhaps ZWO is your supplier.

Are you dealer / supplier bashing. Your post appears to have been typed elsewhere then cut / pasted into SGL. Are you posting the same at multiple forums. We don't allow dealer / supplier bashing. 

Are you trolling. You have been a member for some time so will be aware there are a lot of happy owners of ZWO products at SGL. They are probably wondering if or how to respond. Fortunately I see you have not previously been reported for trolling so I think it unlikely.

Or is it simply a late night rant from someone annoyed at ZWO's rapid product development. 

Quite a conundrum... ! 

Whatever it is, can I remind everyone it is Christmas so not a time to be argumentative or grumpy 🙂 

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@Geordie mc I agree with a lot of what your saying here. I've only been doing AP for about a year now & the main thing that appealed to me with ZWO products was price, ease of use (This was a big selling point for me as a newbie) and also their popularity, which I assumed meant they were good.
I currently have the ASI 120MM-S, I decided to leave guiding until I'd got the basics working well & still have yet to start. I really need to stop procrastinating now as its way past the time when I should have started as the images I'm taking are not bad (in my opinion that is) and would now benefit from longer, guided subs. So far I've taken a test shot of the Moon with the 120, the camera worked & the image was fine, that's all I can say really.
The ASI 533MC-Pro, which IMO is a very good camera for a beginner whose never used a dedicated AP camera before & at a very good price so no issues there but a good friend who bought the 1600MM at the same time has twice needed to strip his camera down (rather him than me) rather than send it away for who knows how long & clean the sensor due to melted silicone (or is it glue?) somehow leaking from somewhere.
Lastly I own The ASIAIR Pro & with this I've noted the following: An SD card which is very prone to corruption, this issue is so widespread that in every review I've read the first thing advised is to make a copy of the SD card (I would have thought that with this problem having gone on so long it would have been rectified or just addressed at the very least, the same goes for the very poor quality USB ports. This wont happen with either now due to the release of the Plus so it looks like we'll have to just live with it ). The aforementioned WiFi issues. very poor quality USB ports which on mine I cant see lasting too far into next year as they are that wobbly they seem like they could just fall out if that were possible if the wind changed direction 😬.  Very unreliable focusing, as in the HFD numbers/  results are all over the place 100% of the time, I use a Bahtinov Mask now. And questionable Firmware updates (The latest, now by default stores all images on the 'dodgy' SD card unless you switch it over manually each time you switch it on) that you have no choice but to accept as the app on your tablet/ phone etc. is automatically updated as soon as you connect & open it using a WiFi network, luckily I get round this by only using in my garden where it cant connect due to the poor WiFi signal 🤣 So the app connects to the AAP's hotspot & not a network.

Overall I'm happy with how my journey into AP is going & although  ZWO products are to use to thank for that due to how user friendly they are, especially the AAP (Yes, I see the irony here) I think I've let this ease overshadow the fact that the quality of these products isn't the best & with the AAP its shocking.
I will keep on using these until I outgrow the AAP which wont be too long, as @Geordie mc mentions there isn't a great deal of versatility with it but for me it has served its purpose whilst learning the ropes in this very complicated, time consuming but very satisfying hobby 

Astronomy equipment tends to have a good resale value if its well looked after & It usually is as us amateur astronomers tend to be a little OCD (I say this not meaning to belittle anyone who does truly suffer from it) when it comes to neatness & good order etc. My worry is that after only a year or so of what will probably be minimal use (Thanks mainly due to uk weather) the APP mainly, will not be fit for re sale as I'm not the sort of person who tries to pass off shoddy goods as 'in good working order'. So in the end I'll no doubt lose money.

Anyway, that's my two penneth. I hope this hasn't come across as supplier (or rather manufacturer) bashing as that isn't what I set out to do. Its a truthful & honest opinion of my experience with ZWO equipment over the last year.

Merry Xmas & all that to all at SGL

Steve


 

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18 hours ago, Steve said:

Your post is a good example of how difficult forum moderation can be.

Is your post a product review. If yes then we have a board for that. If you post there then we ask that you write individual reviews of products you own.

Is it a dealer / supplier review. We have a board for that too but, so far, you haven't mentioned a dealer / supplier. Perhaps ZWO is your supplier.

Are you dealer / supplier bashing. Your post appears to have been typed elsewhere then cut / pasted into SGL. Are you posting the same at multiple forums. We don't allow dealer / supplier bashing. 

Are you trolling. You have been a member for some time so will be aware there are a lot of happy owners of ZWO products at SGL. They are probably wondering if or how to respond. Fortunately I see you have not previously been reported for trolling so I think it unlikely.

Or is it simply a late night rant from someone annoyed at ZWO's rapid product development. 

Quite a conundrum... ! 

Whatever it is, can I remind everyone it is Christmas so not a time to be argumentative or grumpy 🙂 

Hi Steve. Thanks for your considered reply (and fixing the text- I typed it in Pages and thought it could be copied easily. I was wrong!) It’s certainly not meant to start arguments or bash a dealer. I’m simply recounting my poor experiences withZWO. If I thought it was just me, I would have let it go, but the issue with the Asi120mm affected everyone who bought the camera. Isuspect  that is quite a large number. I thought it was something I was doing wrong and it was only in looking for a solution that I discovered the fault lay with the way ZWO had implemented the USB port on the camera. 
They have simply left hundreds if not thousands of customers with expensive paperweights! I would have thought that the least they could have done was ask for cameras to be returned and then the issue fixed. I would have paid a small fee for this service and informed them of this but they were extremely unhelpful. They see their ridiculous voucher offer as the solution. It’s not a late night rant. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought for a week and finally thought I’d post my experience so that others can read and make up their own mind whether or not to use ZWO. I have been a forum member for over 10 years and enjoy the discussions and help on here very much. I certainly don’t want to cause trouble or upset people. Thank you for allowing my post. Can I take this opportunity to thank you and other forum moderators for your work and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2022.

Ckear Skies

John

Edited by Geordie mc
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Just to add a little balance to this discussion (not to start an argument), I have got a number of ZWO products and they have not been a problem at all. I probably have more problems with scopes and mounts than the camera's. Scopes need upgrading / altering from new - this is pretty standard unless you buy premium products. Similarly, every 6 months my mounts need fettling to keep them working properly. To me this is just part of the 'game', particularly with AP. The ZWO kit I have just works.

Edited by Clarkey
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Personally I've found the ZWO products to be good.. I've a couple of cameras , ASi294mc Pro and ASi290 mini Guider which are very good. The ASiair Pro has a terrible wifi range which can be overcome with a wifi extender however I wasn't happy when I got the product and then had to purchase an extender to fix a problem that was down  to very  poor design !!

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Not a defender of ZWO products but to balance the view on the Asiair Pro it should be noted that the main component inside the pretty Red metal box is a Raspberry Pi. It's that that is the cause of the poor wi-fi signal and the card corruptions (similar issues with Astroberry, Stellarmate and other Linux distros not used for Astronomy).

Yes, ZWO should have checked the wi-fi signal being blocked by the case but I guess the pretty case supports the price better than if had been kept plastic.  And I expect the addition of a hack to the Raspberry Pi to add an external wifi aerial would have resulted in more issues than a simple drop in Raspberry Pi board.

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2 minutes ago, StevieDvd said:

  And I expect the addition of a hack to the Raspberry Pi to add an external wifi aerial would have resulted in more issues than a simple drop in Raspberry Pi board.

I'm not certain, but if they had tried to attach an antenna to the Raspberry Pi board, then they might have had to go through all the certifications and approvals  again (e.g. CE, FCC, CTIA, SRRC), whereas if they don't mod the board then the existing ones still apply. And if an end-user fixes the problem with another approved device.

I have owned a few ZWO cameras, and not had any issues. I have an extensive background in Linux and IT prior to Astronomy so wouldn't go the ASIAIR route myself, as I like to roll my own systems.

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8 minutes ago, StevieDvd said:

Not a defender of ZWO products but to balance the view on the Asiair Pro it should be noted that the main component inside the pretty Red metal box is a Raspberry Pi. It's that that is the cause of the poor wi-fi signal and the card corruptions (similar issues with Astroberry, Stellarmate and other Linux distros not used for Astronomy).

Yes, ZWO should have checked the wi-fi signal being blocked by the case but I guess the pretty case supports the price better than if had been kept plastic.  And I expect the addition of a hack to the Raspberry Pi to add an external wifi aerial would have resulted in more issues than a simple drop in Raspberry Pi board.

But what you say could be turned around.

ZWO choose to cut corners and use an existing computer (RPi) and use it without modification, but charge a premium nevertheless.

Using an external wifi on the RPi doesnt require a hack - its common practice. The corrupting SD cards is a card issue not a RPi issue.

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Just now, AstroKeith said:

But what you say could be turned around.

ZWO choose to cut corners and use an existing computer (RPi) and use it without modification, but charge a premium nevertheless.

Using an external wifi on the RPi doesnt require a hack - its common practice. The corrupting SD cards is a card issue not a RPi issue.

I'm talking about attaching a separate external antenna to the existing on-board antenna on the Pi, using external Wifi adapter is entirely different.

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I always find these kinds of thread (here, or anywhere on the internet) interesting, because it's always easy to find a group of people who have bad experiences, but no way of knowing how large the population is, or how many people are happy.

To add my experience - I've had no issue with a few ZWO cameras, outside of the USB2 120MM not working on linux without the firmware upgrade. Their focus motor is also solid, and probably the best value/most compact of the focusing options available. 

My filter wheel is QHY - I had an issue with that, but they helpfully resolved it via a firmware update.

I don't use the ASIAIR but I do use a Pi + astroberry and it's clear the poor WiFi signal is inherent to the Pi. I have had moderate success using either a separate USB WiFi adapter at the Pi end, or a WiFi range extender in the window pointing towards my garden. I do think ZWO ought to have been clear about the limitations - using WiFi in the garden is fraught with issues - there are no walls for signals to reflect off, your're attaching it to a big lump of metal, and the modem/router is often a long way away.

Edited by rnobleeddy
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To avoid getting off topic too much I think we can agree that ZWO has its supporters, seems to be a lot of new to computer astronomy using the ASIAIR, which is on the whole been good. Issues with power requirements and wifi solutions cropping up in forums and FB all the time - but mostly solvable or just a lack of reading the manual.

If ZWO had a support team/office in Europe yes it would be better for us but I've seen a lot of reported issues solved by ZWO so had not considered them poor in support other than due to the geography/time situation.

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I was going to add balance by reporting positive experiences with my ZWO stuff, but it seems like there's more people coming to report good experiences than bad, so I'll need to add balance back the other way!

Most of the things l have from them are good: 2 cameras, filter wheel and eaf (huge backlash notwithstanding). But, their rgb filters were poor - huge reflection halos, particularly in the blue channel, plus other edge artifacts (these do calibrate out with flats though). I didn't expect greatness, because they were only a cheapo set originally bought for planetary imaging, but still the halos are quite severe; to the extent where they prevent me from extracting a synthetic luminance to add to the real luminance channel, which is slightly annoying.

16 hours ago, Geordie mc said:

Support your own country’s manufacturing if you can

This is probably one of the best reasons to not buy ZWO (unless you are Chinese, of course!) but I feel the two main issues with this are:

1) Astronomy equipment is quite pricey anyway - building an AP setup runs into the thousands even if you stick to the 'cheaper' manufacturers like ZWO. There's just no way many people, myself included, could afford to do this without buying from them. More people in the hobby can't be a bad thing!

2) From what I can tell, companies like SX haven't really done any new product development in recent years, and I think they've been a bit left behind by the recent developments in CMOS sensors (uh oh, have I just started a CMOS vs CCD debate?! 😈)

 

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I think this is a general issue these days. Goods are made to fail within a certain time period. This all started with Osram in Germany. The company realised that their products were lasting too long and that their sales could be increased if their bulbs failed sooner. Couple that with modern manufacturing techniques, cheap unskilled labour (sometimes child labour) and unrealistic production targets and it's not surprising that the end user has bad experiences occasionally. 

Everyone is trying to maximise profits these days rather than provide a good service/product at a reasonable price. When you realise that materials are produced as cheaply as possible, which are used to make components as cheaply as possible, which then go into product made as cheaply as possible,  it's a wonder that anything works!

Cuiv, The Lazy Geek has a very interesting video on YouTube about Baader narrowband filters which really surprised me.

BTW, I have a ZWO ASI385MC and although I haven't had much chance to use it in the couple of years that I've had it,  it has worked a lot better than my QHY 5LII camera. But that's another story! 

Merry Christmas to one and all and may all the toys Santa brings you tonight work perfectly straight out of the box and for many years to come. 😁🎅

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2 hours ago, Geordie mc said:

Hi Steve. Thanks for your considered reply (and fixing the text- I typed it in Pages and thought it could be copied easily. I was wrong!) It’s certainly not meant to start arguments or bash a dealer. I’m simply recounting my poor experiences withZWO. If I thought it was just me, I would have let it go, but the issue with the Asi120mm affected everyone who bought the camera. Isuspect  that is quite a large number. I thought it was something I was doing wrong and it was only in looking for a solution that I discovered the fault lay with the way ZWO had implemented the USB port on the camera. 
They have simply left hundreds if not thousands of customers with expensive paperweights! I would have thought that the least they could have done was ask for cameras to be returned and then the issue fixed. I would have paid a small fee for this service and informed them of this but they were extremely unhelpful. They see their ridiculous voucher offer as the solution. It’s not a late night rant. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought for a week and finally thought I’d post my experience so that others can read and make up their own mind whether or not to use ZWO. I have been a forum member for over 10 years and enjoy the discussions and help on here very much. I certainly don’t want to cause trouble or upset people. Thank you for allowing my post. Can I take this opportunity to thank you and other forum moderators for your work and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2922.

Ckear Skies

John

Best wishes for 2922, you say, hmmmm, I don’t think so….😂😂😂😂😂

Edited by Stuart1971
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15 minutes ago, Stargazer33 said:

Cuiv, The Lazy Geek has a very interesting video on YouTube about Baader narrowband filters which really surprised me.

I watched that the other the day too - it was very surprising, and I'm now a bit paranoid about my own filters! Although they're not high speed ones, so won't have been bandpass shifted, I'm hoping that means they're fine...

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17 hours ago, Geordie mc said:

No it won’t but it’ll make me feel better and hopefully it may make a few other people think twice before jumping on the ZWO gravy train. There are other options. Please consider them. Support your own country’s manufacturing if you can or at least a company with UK/European/North American customer support that listens. Starlight Express have always been brilliant for me in this regard.

Out of curiosity, are there any more local options that produce comparable modern CMOS cameras, within say 130% of the price of ZWO? 

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1 minute ago, rnobleeddy said:

Out of curiosity, are there any more local options that produce comparable modern CMOS cameras, within say 130% of the price of ZWO? 

Even if cameras are assembled elsewhere, Japan and Korea have pretty much the biggest lions-share of the CMOS sensor market, so even if you assemble a camera, controller, sensor, cooling, the bulk of the manufacturing cost is to the benefit of the sensor manufacturer, which will still be in the far east, certainly not in the UK.

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