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If you want the most comprehensive knowledge of course layouts and distances to different points on each hole, premium GPS watches have become powerful companions. SkyGolf recently released their SkyCaddie LX5
GPS watch and is now one of the top contenders in this category.
Basically they took all the features of their SX500
handheld GPS, my favorite GPS in general, and reduced them to a wrist-sized device. On paper, the SkyCaddie LX5 seems like a no-brainer as the best GPS watch out there. However, based on my testing, there are a few trade-offs you will have to accept that will help you choose between the LX5 and the Garmin Approach S62 (my previous pick as the best overall golf GPS watch).
In this review, I'll explain what I like most about this watch, and make you aware of a few minor setbacks that I noticed.
The Best Visuals
Technology is constantly changing, but I can safely say that the SkyGolf LX5 GPS watch currently has the best images in this category.
The combination of HD graphics, a bright display and in-depth layouts make this watch a job manager's dream come true.
You can expect a crystal clear layout of each hole, with the ability to choose specific targets to see your distances. These features are available on other watches, such as the Garmin Approach S62 and Voice Caddy G1. However, I would give the LX5 an edge.
SkyGolf is the only company that travels every course to verify distances (we'll get to the cost factor later). Other companies have different ways of collecting golf course data, and to be honest I haven't had too many problems with competing GPS providers, but you should know that their methods are the most "robust" are in the industry.
Another feature of the SkyCaddie LX5
that sets it apart is what they call IntelliGreen images. You get a much more detailed view of every green, including contours, false fronts and hills. You can also easily select any point on the green and see the exact distances.
Generally they knocked it out of the park with the statues. As with other watches in this category, you can also keep track of your score and basic stats such as fairways hit, greens by regulation and total putts.
These features are at low cost
I've tested enough products at this point to know that there are always inevitable trade-offs. If you want a bright, powerful screen, this will consume longer battery life.
One feature I didn't like about the LX5 is that the screen automatically goes into so-called dim mode quite quickly (the screen goes completely dark). You can change this in 30 seconds, but I found it a bit annoying. Anytime I wanted to check a meter I had to touch the screen and wait for it to turn on. Sometimes I had to do it multiple times before I could hit a shot.
As someone who is a fast player and often plays with other fast golfers, this was an annoyance to me. Every other watch I've tested always has the screen on, and it was a noticeable difference. Unfortunately, you cannot turn this feature off as it will likely drain the battery too quickly. This may not be a problem for every golfer, but it is something you should be aware of.
I would say you can only take one round, maybe two rounds off hold before having to charge it. This was slightly shorter than its top competitor, the Garmin Approach S62, which can take you nearly three laps with one charge.
Also, the watch got stuck a few times when changing holes and your wrist buzzes to ask if you are done with a hole. This was another feature that felt like a minor annoyance even if you enabled the auto advance setting.
Other Useful Properties
Premium GPS golf watches are beginning to go beyond just functionality on the course. The LX5 also has the following capabilities:
Customizable watch faces: the watch looks pretty sharp and you can easily wear it all day long
Fitness Features: You can track your daily step count and heart rate and use a stopwatch function for workouts
A price reservation
SkyGolf has a different pricing structure than other companies. If you buy most GPS products, you don't have to pay any ongoing costs. However, since SkyGolf has manually mapped their courses, they do charge an annual fee for most of their products.
Fortunately, the LX5 comes with a three-year subscription. But if you plan on holding the watch for the long haul, that should be a consideration.
Where It Fits
When I saw the LX5's feature list, I had high hopes and thought it would be the best premium GPS golf watch out there. That throne has long been in the hands of Garmin with their Approach S60
and now the S62.
In terms of visuals and features, it ranks # 1. But I was a little disappointed with the auto-dim feature, shorter battery life, and hole switching issues. They are not deal breakers, but they should be taken into account when purchasing.
So if you want the best, choose between the LX5 and the Garmin Approach S62. I'd say Garmin wins the battle in terms of overall usability, but the LX5 has a slightly more robust set of features.
If you want to save some money, you should also consider the Voice Caddy G1.
Overall, SkyGolf has done a great job with the LX5 GPS Watch. It has the best display, distance features, and if you're okay with a few minor usability tradeoffs, I think you'll love the watch. You can check the lowest price on Amazon here