You have to ask yourself that question and live within your means. I would like a $1000.00 but then I look at the bank account and reality sets in and I buy the Simmons. It's my money, so I spend it the way I want to.Seems as though I back to square one.
Is it possible to get good enough quality for $100 or less?
I've got a cheap 20-60x Tasco. It's bright and clear enough to do what you want but the eye relief is a bit short. I have to take my glasses off to get my eyeball close enough to see anything through it which is pretty annoying.
I plan on buying a better one in the $400 to $500 price range but the money keeps going elsewhere.
Yep. Quality optics will ruin whatever else you happen to own. Earlier in this thread I posted about a entry level Alpen spotting scope that was marginally adequate for sighting in a scope at 100 yards. Recently I decided I was ready to step it up a few notches to something I could use out to maybe 500 yards. I budgeted $1000. I did my research and decided I wanted a Vortex Razer. I headed off to the local sporting goods stores and gun shops. I found the Razer I wanted at a LGS for $899 and that's the going rate for that spotting scope. I decided to keep on shopping at the last two stores because I could always come back to the Razer.Several years ago I made the expensive mistake of looking thru a Swarovski spotting scope and binoculars. After this experience, my old scope and binoculars went to ebay. This was an expensive lesson. I am ruined for life. The optical sharpness and clarity of the Swarovski scopes is extraordinary. During bright daylight all scopes look OK but at first light, last light or during dark or difficult lighting conditions the Swarovski optics earn their high cost. Used Swarovski scopes are sometimes affordable and their warranty is good for anyone. Just my opinion.