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Meopta Meostar 8x32

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Old Sunday 25th January 2009, 20:36   #1
FrankD
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Meopta Meostar 8x32

With a great deal of excitement I finally have had the opportunity to get my hands around the new Meopta Meostar 8x32 mm binocular. I have owned almost all of the larger models (7x42, 8x42, 10x42 (Euro) and 10x50) at one time or another. My favorites have been the 8x42 and the 10x50. Now I get to add a new favorite, the 8x32.

Let me offer a bit of an explanation of my preferences before going into a full-blown review. After several years of trying dozens of bins currently on the market in a variety of different configurations I have come to the conclusion that I really prefer full size 7x42 and 8x42 bins to just about anything else out there. These two sizes provide me with what I consider the perfect blend of physical size and weight with a level of optical performance sure to please anyone for just about every application.

I have tried most, if not all, of the mostly highly regarded 32 mm glasses on the market and though they are superb optical instruments I just cannot get the same comfort level with them that I can with a 42 mm glass. My guess is that this is because of two reasons. One, the size of the exit pupil generated by the larger glasses and, two, the fact that the physical size of the larger glasses not only fits my hands better but also provides a more stable viewing platform because of the increased weight. I am making these comments in reference to a “full-time” glass not necessarily something to be used as a “backup” or to be used in situations where size and weight are paramount. If either of the latter issues is a concern then the 32 mm models most certainly win out as they do offer almost identical optical performance in a lighter, more compact package.

So, I guess you would then ask why I would be looking at the smaller 32 mm Meopta. Well, I have a fairly large selection of full-sized 42 mm glass right now. Enough that I don't really have the desire to delve further into that section of the market. So, what is the logical next step to consider? A 50 mm model? A 10x model? Either would be something I would like to eventually explore but for the time being I believe a 32 mm, and an 8x32 mm at that, is a niche that needs to be filled. I did have the wonderful little Zeiss 8x32 FL that could, realistically, serve most of the roles that I would put it into. But it, and some of its brethren in the price stratosphere, leave me with a bit of mixed feelings. They are all beautiful glass that provide views unequaled by any but their larger counterparts. The ergonomics of the 8x32 EL, the color representation in the Ultravid, the total lack of color fringing in the FL…all provide experiences that truly have to be …. well … experienced to be appreciated. Even the highly regarded 8x32 SE provides such a superbly realistic representation in its view that they, as a collective group, are difficult to ignore. So, you may ask why anyone would consider getting rid of such wonderful little instruments?

Well, my decision to sell these little gems was not easy. However, with two kids, a mortgage and a lot of other bills to pay I just could not justify owning them. Their performance was superb but their value was not. So, what of the little SE you might ask? It does provide a view that few, if any, bins equal and the price nowadays is well within most folks’ budget. All true but what it doesn’t have is the truly modern physical design that it deserves. The simple addition of waterproofing, in the form of an O-ring seal or true internal focusing, and the addition of modern eyecups would make this a binocular to be feared but without either it does not entirely meet my personal needs. And so, the search continues for that rare 32 mm binocular that provides superb optical performance and retails within a less cost prohibitive price range.

It should come as no surprise then that I was very excited to hear of the introduction of the 32 mm series from Meopta. I have always been a Meopta fan. Their binoculars are true competitors to the “Alpha” glass but at a price that is now less than half of their competition. There have been many times when I held the 42 mm Meostar up next to both the Swarovski SLC and the Leica Trinovid and wondered what justified the price difference. Granted, each has its own set of optical “uniqueness” but, in my opinion, the optical performance of the Meopta was certainly in the same league as these two other “classics”. So, after a great deal of patient waiting I finally have my hands wrapped around the wonderful 8x32 Meopta Meostar.

…and on to the review….

Physical size and ergonomics

The Meostar is a fairly diminuitive binocular roughly about 2/3rds the physical size of its larger 42 mm counterpart. It is also about 2/3rds the weight (21 oz and 30 oz respectively). The rubber armor that covers the binocular is practically identical to that of its larger brethren with the exception of a slightly more pleasing tactile sensation. I dare not call it “slick” in texture in fear of alienating someone that will instantly find objection with it. But it is “slicker” than that of the 42 mm model. This seems to be the result of both the texture of the material and also the amount of cushion it provides.

The binoculars’ ergonomics are excellent in my opinion. There are two small thumb indents on the underside of the barrels. They seem to be placed in just the right spot for my thumbs to slide smoothly into them. The physical length of the binocular also suits my hands quite well. Many 32 mm models are just too short for me to get a decent grip on them resulting in more image shake and a less overall appealing experience. At 4.9 inches the 32 mm Meostar does not suffer from this issue.

The focusing knob is practically identical to that of the 42 mm model in terms of both size and overall design. The issue of focusing tension and speed is a very individual one but I, personally, find the Meopta’s to be as close to perfect as I have yet to find. Only the original Nikon Venturer might be more precise and responsive. It takes just a bit over one and a half turns to go from close focus (of about 6 feet) to infinity. The diopter mechanism of the Meostar series is integrated into the focus knob. Individual click stop adjustments make aligning it fairly simple.

The 32 mm also shares the eyecup adjustment design of the 42 mm model though there appears to be one small intermediate setting between fully collapsed and fully extended. Both configurations utilize a tripod-mounting hole at the end of the central hinge for more stable viewing.

Optical performance

Many times it is difficult for me to put my optical impressions into words. The 32 Meostar presents just such a challenge. With that thought in mind I will start with the basics.

The first thing that jumps out at me when I look through these binoculars is the strikingly wide field of view (both apparent [64 degrees] and true [420 feet]). The second thing is how flat the image is. From technical drawings presented on the Meopta website I am aware of the use of a field flattener element in the 42 mm design. In practical use it is equally apparent that the 32 mm model uses the same design. In addition, there is also very little noticeable distortion around the outer edge of the image. In other words the size of the sweet spot of image in focus with the center of the field of view is huge. It is easily the equivalent of the 42 mm and certainly competitive with the likes of the Swarovski EL and possibly even the Nikon LXL. I did not do any scientific tests to verify my next comment but general impressions would put the sweet spot at well over 90% of the field of view. In addition, the transition is so gradual that you barely notice that there is any distortion in the image at all. Further examination revealed that this distortion is most likely field curvature as I am able to refocus the outer edge of the image with just a very slight tap on the focus wheel.

Both apparent brightness and apparent sharpness are also excellent. Comparing the 32 mm to the 42 mm reveals the expected slightly dimmer image but in regular daytime use I do not notice much, if any, of a difference. The contrast level is first rate and easily equal to anything else I have had the privelege to own. It most certainly equals the 42 mm and might actually be better because of something I am about to comment on.

The 42 mm suffers from two optical “weaknesses” in my opinion. One is its level of chromatic aberration (color fringing) in the distorted part of the image. Even more towards the center of the field of view it displays slightly more than one might find in the likes of either the equivalent Swarovski or Leica models. The other issue is its color representation. The 42 mm model displays a slightly warm color bias. The effect is very subtle but when viewing a brightly lit image, such as that of an object against a great deal of snow, then the color bias is more apparent. I have seen some binoculars display a great deal of color bias and it can be distracting. This does not appear to be the case with the 42 mm model as I tend to find the slightly warm bias as comforting under some challenging conditions.

So, you may then ask how the 32 mm model fairs in both of these areas. Well, for starters it offers a much more neutral color representation. My guess would be that they changed the composition of the optical coatings. I do not feel it is quite as neutral as the Nikon SE or Zeiss FL but it is noticeably more neutral than that of the 42 mm model. A quick glance from one to the other at the snow bank in my backyard verifies it.

The level of color fringing in the 32 mm model also seems to be reasonably well controlled. It is slightly better than that of the 42 mm model. What I have often found is that, all else being equal, a smaller aperture configuration can often lead to less color fringing. This appears to be the case with the Meostar line. Either that or they tweaked the optical design slightly to help correct this issue.

Conclusion:

Hmm, how can I easily sum up this binocular? I like it. I really do. What it provides, for me, is the same optical performance of that of the Swarovski EL 8x32 in that the image is flat, with a large sweet spot, excellent contrast and excellent color representation. It is also similar in that it displays wonderful ergonomics. However, it is priced at less than half the going rate of the 8x32 EL.

There is something else to the image that I cannot put my finger on. The combination of the flat field with the large sweet spot makes the image seem very natural. It almost seems as if you took a scissors and cut out a portion of my normal field of view and magnified it. The lack of edge distortion and the wide field of view make the image extremely natural. Eye placement is also not very critical so it is a pleasure to put up to your eyes.

All in all I think Meopta took a big step forward with the 32 mm Meostar. They took everything that was optically and physically attractive about the 42 mm model and put it into the 32 mm while also rectifying several of the issues that faced the larger model.

Two thumbs up in my book.
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Old Sunday 25th January 2009, 22:40   #2
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Oh for cute, the picture.

I have a sort of split feel for 8x32s. I try to improve and this one looks ideal. But on the other hand, they seem to be something I grab and use and do not really care about the optics, I am just happy to have the binoculars along, the bird is then more important. So I have two pairs, both cost under 300. I have traveled with one pair a lot and never once worried about losing them. And I enjoy the optical quality as it is close to the 8x42s and a wider view. The smaller ones take a little more adjustment, once you bring them up.
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Old Sunday 25th January 2009, 23:51   #3
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Oh I think you would like them Tero. The biggest difference between the two in the picture is the weight. There is a HUGE difference in weight between the two but otherwise they feel and perform very much alike.
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Old Sunday 25th January 2009, 23:55   #4
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I have been thinking about that 32mm Meopta since I looked at it a couple of months ago. At the $800 or so it costs, it comes a lot closer, for me anyway, to being worth the asking price than the other top ends like the EL. I do however, prefer the ergonomics of the EL. But there is also nothing about the Meopta that I can't like from the ergonomic standpoint.

The lack of color bias on the 32 compared to the 42 Meopta was the fist thing I noticed. The next thing was how flat the image was on the 32. I also concur about the non critical nature of the eye placement.

I figure that with a good 32mm (I'd like a 7x, but will probably have to settle for 8x) and either a 7-8x 42 full size with maybe a 10-12 50ish, your binocular needs would be pretty well covered. I'm thinking I'd use the compact most of all.
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 00:08   #5
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I don't know Steve. For me I always tend to gravitate towards the "mid-sized" bin in that selection you listed. In truth there was also a time when I was totin' around the 10x50 Meopta and was actually pretty satisfied with it. Still, that little 32 mm is quite addictive. There have been certain 8x32s that I could have been happy with as a full time glass....add the little Meopta to the list.
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 00:10   #6
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Yes, there definitely is a pressing need for more 8 x 32's. By my last (admittedly inaccurate) count, there are only 113.5 out there now. (includes monoculars which can be doubled up on!) Optical science continues onward and upward! And, as Frank says, I too can be happy with a full glass.



Of course I might have been seeing double when I made my count through the bottom of a Guinness glass! Er---make that "jar," not "glass."
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Last edited by ceasar : Monday 26th January 2009 at 00:23. Reason: correctly identify drinking utensil--term "glass" refers to binoculars!
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 00:28   #7
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Sounds like you are having a good night Bob.



If I did not have to work tomorrow I would probably join you.

As for the need for more 8x32s....all I can say is that in regard to the Meostar line it was long overdue.
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 17:28   #8
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Frank,

Actually, I wonder about 10x40-ish at all. It seems more and more that I really have to be in a position where I can really steady them to get their maximum potential. I've been thinking for some time that I might try a larger 12x or more on a tripod. If I do that, then the 50mm seems to make some more sense as I would be looking towards the outer ranges of the reach of the binocular. I have no wish to pack around a 50mm glass.

That's where I'd really like to see a compact 7x. I think the smaller size of the binocular fits the 7x magnification better than 8x does. 7x seems to me to get the better of overall image brightness and quality, less shake, and bigger exit pupils make eye placement much less critical.

So, lacking a 7x36 in the ZEN ED style Chinese ED (or any other optical equivalent option), I really do like the Meopta. Without a large 50mm glass, the little Meopta (or an as yet non existent 7x36) along with a really good 7-8x42-43 would pretty much cover most uses, aside from pocket size carry needs.

So, I am now kind of in a quandary about the two ZEN ED's I have. I like the 10x and it makes more sense in one way to upgrade the 10x Viper with it, but the 10x still is really not that much better at distance than the 8x.
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 17:34   #9
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Oh what the heck, go buy one of those zoom binoculars, porros, that go from 7x to 15x. Then you can zoom back and forth all the time. I had a pair once, 25mm, it was really cheap. I definitely demostrated to myself that 7x is bright and 15x is dim.

Kidding aside, I think you can get a lot of detail our of 7x or 8x, but many of us have not given up on 10x. At medium distance I am pretty steady. For distant eagles they are no help. Sparrows yes.
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 17:50   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tero View Post
Oh what the heck, go buy one of those zoom binoculars, porros, that go from 7x to 15x. Then you can zoom back and forth all the time. I had a pair once, 25mm, it was really cheap. I definitely demonstrated to myself that 7x is bright and 15x is dim.

Kidding aside, I think you can get a lot of detail our of 7x or 8x, but many of us have not given up on 10x. At medium distance I am pretty steady. For distant eagles they are no help. Sparrows yes.
Tero,

Been there done that, and I agree with the conclusion. I actually did that twice. I kept one just for an educational tool. One got used up as long range target practice. The one I still have (somewhere) is a Bushnell 7-15x35. It was a Tasco that got converted into a target.

I'm just suggesting that I'm considering maybe giving up on 10x. You are certainly correct in that a lot of people get a lot of good use from them. I am still steady enough to hand hold 10x pretty well.
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 19:42   #11
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Gosh! Where is the technology taking us?

It seems to me that the next big giant step should be in image stabilization, keeping the weight parameters at 25 oz or less.
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Old Monday 26th January 2009, 23:53   #12
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Gosh! Where is the technology taking us?

It seems to me that the next big giant step should be in image stabilization, keeping the weight parameters at 25 oz or less.
and waterproof too!

I didn't buy canon stabilzation binoculars is the warranty is too short.
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Old Tuesday 27th January 2009, 00:48   #13
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Steve,

I have not entirely given up on 10x though it has been quite some time since I owned one. If memory serves me the last one I did own was either the 10x50 Meostar or the 10x42 Euro. In either case they were two 10x's that I thoroughly enjoyed owning. I actually toted the 10x50 around as a full time glass for quite some time. Just having that size binocular in your hands make you "feel" as if you are seeing more.

I would not mind owning either again but would probably lean towards the 10x50 because I enjoy the larger exit pupil.....size and weight be da....ed!

:-)
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Old Tuesday 27th January 2009, 05:18   #14
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and waterproof too!

I didn't buy canon stabilzation binoculars is the warranty is too short.
The most recent (and a bit cheaper-than-before bins) following on from the IS 10x40 are the 15x50 IS and the 18x50 IS. All are waterproofed.

It's possible this might be a breakthough point with IS bins thought making them lighter might be nicer.

I also suspect Canon has a patent on a fair bit of this technology that might list a while so you aren't going to see the Chinese ODMs in this area right now. In fact it would be interesting to know if the Chinese armed forces have IS bins in use (like say the US Army does ... they have M25 14x handheld and vehicle mounted stabilized bins).

But it seems that the "teens" magnification range is ideal for this sort of usage (essentially a binocular handheld spotting scope).

Interesting point: I was watching the recent BBC Natural World on the Gharial Indian freshwater crocodile and it was interesting to see Romulus Whitaker using Canon IS bins (12x36? or perhaps the waterproof 10x40 ... he was out in the monsoon though undercover) when surveying the crocs. One of the few times I've seen them on TV.

http://www.iconfilms.co.uk/gharial/blues

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Old Wednesday 28th January 2009, 00:21   #15
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Interesting. I have yet to see any of the IS bins in any of the outdoor shows I watch....nature, hunting or birding. I had really thought they were just a small part of the market with little attention paid to them. I have tried a few of the inexpensive Canon models and thought they were good for what they were but after reading some of the issues they exhibit I have just decided to wait a bit to see if someone takes the technology a step further.
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Old Saturday 18th April 2009, 01:42   #16
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Just and FYI, Meopta's new website seems to be up and running.

www.meoptasportsoptics.com
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Old Sunday 19th April 2009, 20:15   #17
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Nice write up from 24hourcampfire.com by Sako75 describing Birdwatching magazine's review of the Meopta 8x32

http://24hourcampfire.com/ubbthreads...88#Post2973488

Quote:
Bird Watching Magazine (UK) Reviews The New Meopta Meostar B1 8x32

in the December edition of Bird Watching magazine (UK) David Chandler puts the new MeoStar 8x32 through its paces.

Overall verdict...

"A very nicely put together binocular which delivers a very good view via some lovely ergonomics. Try them alongside the acknowledged ‘top-gun’ 8x32s. Then compare the prices. This Meostar could be a neo-star"

This is a small, lightweight binocular that felt very good in my hands. The aluminium alloy body is covered in green rubber armour, with some stippling to improve grip and with thumb indents underneath. The thumb indents were well-positioned.

Build quality feels and looks impressive, and given Meopta’s history of manufacturing for the military, I suspect this binocular can take some abuse. It’s stuffed full of nitrogen, is waterproof and fogproof and will work from -45°C to +55°C – adequate for most bird watching!

The moving bits are good too. Dioptre adjustment is via a click-stopped, uncalibrated wheel on the focuser. It offers three dioptres of adjustment in either direction, works well and couldn’t be moved inadvertently once set.

The rubber-covered eyecups have a good action, twisting up and down to three positions.

Focusing is smooth and precise, with moderate resistance. The 1.5-finger-wide-ridged focusing wheel provides good grip, even with gloves on, though it sometimes stuck at closest focus. It takes about 1.5 clockwise turns from up close to infinity, but for most birdwatching you won’t need to move it more than 60-70°.

The package includes a strap like no other, and that’s not a criticism. It’s wide, and neoprene, with lumps on the neck side, added to increase airflow and reduce the sweatiness of your neck! Strap attachment is simple, the lugs don’t get in the way and the binoculars hang well. However, it’s reasonably hefty, and may be more than you really need for these.

So are the innards as good as the outers? Meopta use cold coating on their lenses, rather than vacuum coating, which means you can put more, thinner layers on. Silver is used for the mirrored prism surface – this isn’t ‘di-electric state of the art’, but does a very good job.

The view is impressive and bears comparison with the acknowledged top names. It is wide, very sharp and bright, with just a hint of a yellow cast, but nothing to be concerned about.

Contrast is good, and, hand held with a resolution chart, the Meoptas resolved similarly to an 8x32 from one of the ‘big four’. I tried hard to find some colour fringing, but found very little, certainly nothing that put me off. They did well in low light and have very good close-focus – I could get them down to just under 1.7m. Eye-relief is quoted as 15.4mm.

I did find some edge softness, but don’t go looking for it – the normal way to use binoculars is to put the bird in the middle!

The accessories are well made, but the rainguard locks on to the eyepieces and can be a real pain to get off – I’d change it.

The case is too big – I’d find an alternative.

The tethered objective covers hang by a thread, literally, so the covers don’t flap up over the lenses. It works, but they can be removed and that’s what I would do.

Design and ease of use (out of 10) 9
Optical rating 9
Value for money 9.5
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Old Sunday 19th April 2009, 23:48   #18
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Yep, saw that one on the Meopta website I linked above. They have some nice reviews on there. They continue to expand so I look forward to what they do with it (the website and the bins) next.
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Old Monday 20th April 2009, 03:22   #19
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Yep, saw that one on the Meopta website I linked above. They have some nice reviews on there. They continue to expand so I look forward to what they do with it (the website and the bins) next.
Yes, I followed the Meopta link but gave up when I discovered it was all Flash. Then I gave up!

Bad idea (doesn't google well). Whatever happened to HTML (damn graphic artists).
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Old Monday 20th April 2009, 23:25   #20
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Hmm, interesting point. I did not try to acess the site here on my home computer because it is a slower, older model plus I still use dial-up. At work I had no problem.
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Old Tuesday 21st April 2009, 00:25   #21
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Oh, I have a fast network connection at home and decent machines too. I just dislike Flash sites (a lot!). They appeal to graphic deigners who want control of the precise look (and so they can do silly "interactive" things). But they mostly hide infomation away from Google and general make looking for a particular piece of info more of a challenge (flash always loads more slowly then puts a nice steady load on the CPU ... I filter it out in my browser and only a few sites use it).

And to prove my point ... a google site specific search returns a handful of hits: one at the root of the site ("Needs Flash Player") and 4 PDFs. Not even a site map to work around the Flash site.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q...om&btnG=Search

Finally they chose a dumb, dumb domain name.

They do already own Meopta.com (and should focus their presence there, IMHO).

www.meoptasportsoptics.com

Most of the time, in English the term is "sport optics". It doesn't actually make a huge amount of sense does it with sport in the singular being the "bigger" noun but it's the one used by pretty much all of the bin makers. But Meopta decided to use "sports optics" (the plural) so if one types the obvious URL one doesn't find the server. They also failed to buy the other obvious typo URL to point to their site.

So if you want to see the products and don't want to use Flash download the PDF catalog (which I'm fine with!).

http://www.meoptasportsoptics.com/Me...ureCatalog.pdf

Rant over. But it doesn't help Meopta's US (net) presence especially if you are trying to find out info about their bins. They all seem like newbie mistakes too.

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Old Tuesday 21st April 2009, 23:45   #22
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Good points Kevin. Hopefully one of the Meopta guys takes note of some of your comments.
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Old Wednesday 22nd April 2009, 00:32   #23
Kevin Purcell
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Good points Kevin. Hopefully one of the Meopta guys takes note of some of your comments.
One day on ... no reply to my email. Not a good sign.
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Old Wednesday 22nd April 2009, 03:27   #24
ceasar
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Did you try writing them in Czech?

Then again, you might get their attention quicker if you just wrote a check!

Bob
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Old Wednesday 22nd April 2009, 04:28   #25
Kevin Purcell
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Does this helpski?

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Oh, mám rychlé připojení k síti doma a slušné stroje příliš. Já jen nerad Flash stránky (hodně!). Jejich odvolání do grafického deigners kteří chtějí kontrolu přesného vzhledu (a tak si může dělat hloupé "interaktivní" věci). Ale oni většinou skryj informace od Google a obecná, aby hledali konkrétní kousek více info na výzvu (flash vždy načítá pomaleji pak klade příjemný konstantní zátěž na CPU ... I filtrem ji ve svém prohlížeči a pouze několika místech používat).

A dokázat, moje místo ... Google vyhledávání konkrétní stránky vrací hrst hity: jeden u kořene webu ( "Vyžaduje Flash Player") a 4 soubory ve formátu PDF. Ani mapa do práce kolem Flash stránkách.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q...om&btnG=Search

Nakonec se rozhodli hloupé, hloupý název domény.

Jsou to již vlastní Meopta.com (a měli zaměřit svou přítomnost v sále, IMHO).

www.meoptasportsoptics.com

Většinu času, v angličtině se termín "sportovní optika". Neznamená to však skutečně provést velké množství smysl to se sportem v jednotném čísle je "větší" jmen, ale je to ten používají skoro všechny bin tvůrci. Meopta ale rozhodl použít "sportovní optiky" (množné číslo), takže pokud jeden typy zjevnost URL jeden nenajde server. Rovněž se nepodařilo koupit jiné zjevné typo URL bodu na jejich stránkách.

Takže pokud chcete vidět produkty a nechcete použít Flash stáhnout PDF katalog (což jsem pokuty se!).

http://www.meoptasportsoptics.com/Me...ureCatalog.pdf

Chvástavost konec. Ale nepomáhá to Meopta USA (čistý) přítomnost zvláště když se snaží zjistit informace o jejich koše. Ti všichni se jeví jako nováček příliš chyb.

Last edited by Kevin Purcell : Wednesday 22nd April 2009 at 04:30.
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