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The personal wave launch monitor category has been officially inflated. In recent years there have been a number of releases that I have tested. Rapsodo recently announced the release of its Mobile Launch Monitor
. For $ 500 it contains an impressive list of features.
I was excited to test the MLM because Rapsodo is also responsible for the hardware of my favorite launch monitor, the SkyTrak. In this review I will emphasize the strengths of the Rapsodo MLM (there are quite a few). The device also has a few drawbacks that you must include in your purchase decision. I will also explain how it fits the competition in the $ 500 and lower personal launch monitor category.
Is the Rapsodo MLM accurate?
With every starting monitor, the most important thing is that I am concerned about the accuracy of the distance. If a company cannot properly perform this fundamental function, the value of the product is compromised.
It doesn't matter if you pay $ 300 or $ 20,000 for a starting monitor – none are perfect. Every product has its strengths and weaknesses. In addition, engineers who make starting monitors must make unavoidable considerations. For example, there are people who told me on the spot that some of the most expensive launch monitors are more accurate with certain distances or circumstances (inside versus outside), but struggle in others.
In general, the $ 500 category of starting monitors is getting better with distance accuracy. Some of the models I tested are within a few percentage points difference from market leaders such as Trackman and Foresight Sports.
In the case of the Rapsodo MLM, the unit uses a combination of radar technology and the camera of your mobile phone to measure the first ball flight to determine the measurements. In general, I am very impressed with the accuracy. You can only use the MLM outdoors, which is an optimal environment for a radar-based start monitor to perform accurate measurements.
I discovered that shots of 150 meters and more were almost perfect compared to the data I saw from SkyTrak, Foresight Sports, Trackman and FlightScope (all considerably more expensive).
On medium to long irons I felt that the Rapsodo MLM somewhat underestimated my wearing distances. However, with my driver, I was impressed by the relative accuracy in ball speed and distance. However, I would say that the distance shown was closer to my total distance versus my wearing distance.
I found that ball speed, club head speed and launch angle were comparable (not perfect) to what I have seen on many commercial models that cost considerably more. In general, the Rapsodo MLM has done an excellent job providing me with comparable statistics that I have seen with more expensive products.
The app is very impressive
In my opinion, the app that Rapsodo has built is the most robust feature of the product. At the moment I would say that this is the best in this category. I will try to summarize my favorite functions, but there are quite a few.
When you first start your session with the MLM, you confirm your exact location on the driving range and the direction in which you hit balls using the GPS of your phone. By going through this exercise, the app can show a visual representation of where all your photos went during your session, which is excellent information to have.
An example of some of the recordings I made during a session
In addition, every recording is recorded on the camera of your telephone. You immediately get a video playback with some cool shot-tracer visuals. Another feature that I liked is that the phone quickly calls up the yardage.
View that sweet tie
When you are done with each reach session, you get access to a library of information that is very useful. The app has a large map function with which you can view your typical distances at every club. You can see how you performed in individual sessions, or as an aggregated measurement. For example, if you are busy adding some distance to your driver, you can see your progress over time.
Perhaps my favorite feature is a deep dive in every session. You can see a visual representation of your shot dispersion at each club along with simulated trajectories.
Visuals of shot results and trajectories
Finally, you can scroll through each shot. Some of the most important measured values are distance, ball speed and club speed. But they go a step further with some extra data that is not available in the competition.
An example of shot data
Each shot is given an indication in terms of direction and trajectory, which is broken down into this image:
For example, most of my shots are registered as right, going to the right or starting to the right of my goal with a draw. In fact, you can view the video of each recording to confirm the shape of the recording using the tracer image of the ball flight. I discovered that the app did an excellent job in identifying my typical firing directions and shapes.
Another important statistic is your launch direction. The Rapsodo MLM
measures whether your shot started left or right of your intended target and how many degrees it went offline.
If you are a golfer who loves data, you will be happy with the available information library. Unfortunately, there are additional costs if you want unlimited playback of your video recordings. They charge a $ 99 subscription for access to everything beyond your last 100 swings.
Defects that may not be dealbreakers for you
So far I have talked about what I liked about the Rapsodo MLM. And there is a lot that I like about this product. But there are a few important drawbacks that I have to discuss.
First, the Rapsodo MLM does not work indoors or in a network. Because of the technology used, it must see the ball move 50-70 feet to perform its calculations. For someone like me who practices a lot at home during the low season, this lack of functionality is a bit of a letdown. I prefer to work with starting monitors in a more controlled environment, but you may feel different than I do when practicing at home is not an option.
My biggest complaint is that the Rapsodo MLM relies on two pieces of hardware to work – the device itself and your phone. My phone is where I encountered various testing problems.
In my first few sessions, I had many problems identifying shots when I tried to change clubs. The MLM would work for my lob wedge and sand wedge, but when I switched to longer clubs, it wouldn't detect shots. The Rapsodo technical team has been working on software updates to address these issues, including identifying photos in different lighting conditions. They told me to close all other apps that were running in the background of my iPhone. After watching my swing video & # 39; s they also found that I had placed the device a little too far back. When I followed both instructions, the start-up monitor seemed to work much better.
Apart from those problems, another challenge I faced was battery usage. I have an iPhone 7, which is currently considered an older model, because Apple likes to update hardware every 6-12 months. For a range session of 30-45 minutes I found that the MLM used somewhere between 50-70% of my battery. Even closing all apps and lowering the brightness to the lowest level did not ease the fast drain. If you have a newer, more efficient model, this might not be that important to you. But it is something you should be aware of. Future software updates can correct (but probably not eliminate) these problems.
As much as I like the accuracy and the app, the phone use and the lack of indoor functionality are two important considerations when you want to buy this product. You should also know that the MLM is currently only available for iPhones, but there is an Android version of the app on the way.
Rapsodo MLM vs.. Swing Caddy SC300
Based on all the tests I have done, I would say that the Rapsodo MLM
has placed itself at the top of this category together with the Swing Caddy SC300. The FlightScope mevo is another popular product that I have also tested, but found it a bit more difficult to use.
If you choose between the MLM and the SC300, I think the main difference is the functionality. Both have very accurate statistics (especially outside). However, the SC300 works indoors. Although I liked the accuracy of the SC300 outdoors, it worked pretty well when it hit a net. So if indoor use is important to you, the SC300 will definitely get a wink.
Simplicity is another factor to consider. The Swing Caddy SC300 works without other hardware. They do have a telephone app that can be integrated with the start monitor (and which now offers spin statistics). However, it is not required to use the app. I would generally say that the Rapsodo MLM has stronger app functions, such as displaying the direction, shape and playback of video & # 39; s. But the SC300 app also has very nice functionality.
Here is a screenshot of the SC300 app interface
In general, the use of a cell phone to measure recordings was a bottleneck for me in evaluating both products. I would say that if you want a simpler, headache-free experience, the Swing Caddy SC300 gets the nod. You do not have to worry about your phone being sufficiently charged or lost too quickly. But if features such as video playback and some improved recording data are more important, then the Rapsodo MLM may be a better choice. They are both great products and offer significant value for their $ 500 price tags.
The Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor is a solid release. The accuracy and design of the app are very impressive. I don't like that it needs a phone to measure recordings, but it is possible that future software updates will solve some of the problems I had. The lack of indoor functionality can also be a deal-breaker for some golfers.
But for $ 500 you don't get everything! A product like SkyTrak offers most recreational golfers all the statistics they can think of, as well as simulation options, but the price tag is $ 2,000. Considering all the positive features of the Rapsodo MLM, I think they have done an excellent job of wrapping a lot of value in a product that can appeal to most golfers.
You can buy the Rapsodo MLM here
If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them.
Here are other articles that I have written on start-up monitors:
Swing Caddy SC300 Review
Flightscope mevo Review
Garmin G80 Review
Starting the monitor manual