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Review: Ubersense SwingReader Video App

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It is often said that feel and reality don’t always agree.  People also say pictures are worth a thousand words. By that logic, video, especially as it relates to something as complicated as a golf swing, must be worth its weight in gold. Many of us GolfWRX members already use video apps in our everyday practice and improvement plans. Some of us use them on our own and some with our instructors. I’m currently working to improve my game without direct instruction and video has proven to be a vital piece of equipment. There are many good video apps out there, such V1 Golf, which I’ve used for a couple years.  However, with additional funding raised late last year, Ubersense has stepped up its game and the latest version of SwingReader has emerged as my go-to video app.

The speedy video processing and easy-to-use interface are the features that give SwingReader an edge over other video apps. If you’ve used the app in the past and haven’t recently, I’d recommend giving it a try again. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can download the free universal app from the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running 6.0 and higher.  And if you already use it everyday, that’s great, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

Pros

Fast video processing.
Simple and intuitive user interface.
Ability to record a video review.
Lots of support on its website.
It’s free — for now.

Cons

It’s only available for iOS at this time (but Android is in the works).
The lineup of pro golfers isn’t very robust at this time.
Yeah, that is pretty much it.

Video Recording and Ease of Use

I believe the best apps are created by people who are trying to solve a problem in their own life. They have a passion that comes out in the products they build. SwingReader was developed by golfers for golfers and it shows in every aspect of this app, starting with video recording. A big red button is waiting for you on the main screen, tap it and you’re almost instantly ready to record. You have easy access to recording options such as a countdown timer, trim options, the ability to switch cameras and import videos from your camera roll. As I said above, the real power is in the video processing. Once you tap the record button to stop recording video, it’s processed, saved and ready to go. Even importing videos is lighting fast. Unlike other apps that seem to take a long time to process the video, SwingReader does it in an instant. When I’m on the range and working on something, I want the instant feedback video provides, but I don’t want to get out of a rhythm. Speed is one of the main reasons I’ve switched to SwingReader.

But speed isn’t the only reason SwingReader is a great app. The entire interface is well thought out starting with the timeline view. Borrowing from other popular social apps, the latest update of SwingReader categorizes your swings by club and golfer, but once you dig into a specific club, your swings are laid out in a simple timeline view. This relatively simple concept is a huge time saver allowing you to instantly see your progress as you scan through your timeline in reverse chronological order.

Drawing Tools and Side-By-Side Comparison

SwingReader Drawing ToolsAnalyzing our swings (or your student’s swings if you’re an instructor) is one of the main reasons we download video apps and SwingReader has all our favorite tools laid out and ready for us. When it designed the tools, SwingReader paid close attention to things like the “fat finger rule” which means it made the buttons large enough to actually accommodate fingers. This is great when you’re on the range with a club in one hand and a phone in the other. You can scan through the video quickly and easily by swiping the right side of the screen or play the video at full speed or slowed all the way down to one-eighth speed.

When it comes to annotating and analyzing your swing, the drawing tools are easily accessible and organized at the top of the screen. All your favorite tools are included allowing you to draw free form, straight lines, circles and even angles. You can clear all the annotations with the click of a button or delete them individually. The lines even come in three different colors.

At first, all side-by-side comparison features appear the same as in other apps. But once you start using this feature, you’ll quickly see it’s very different than some of the other popular apps. This feature works best on the larger screen of the iPad but is still handy on the iPhone. As you expect, you can select other videos of yourself or someone else and they stack side-by-side. You can still use the drawing tools and overlay the videos, but the big difference with SwingReader is you can hit play and both videos will play simultaneously. This is helpful for a number of reasons and works really well when you overlay the videos.

Video Reviews

We’ve all seen the slow-motion analysis of professional swings on TV. Unlike some of the other apps that require you to pay a premium for this feature, SwingReader includes the ability to record your own slow-motion video analysis of any swing. Once you hit the microphone icon at the top of the video screen, you can record your interactions with the video. You can play the swing, back it up, add and remove annotations and at the same time, have anything you say picked up by the microphone and added to the review. If you are using SwingReader on your own, you can use the video review feature to keep notes about your swing, what you are working on, where you need to improve, and include key details about the swing such as ball flight and contact.

As an instructor, you know how important video analysis is to helping your students improve and are probably using a variety of apps already. Without requiring a large monthly or yearly fee, SwingReader gives you the ability for your students to hear and see your instruction, tips and advice for their swings all within the same video. This turns static comments into dynamic content that will help your students learn and improve faster.

Sharing Swings

SwingReader OpenAs with other features, it is relatively simple to share your swings with yourself, your instructor or anyone else. You can share via Facebook, YouTube, email, SMS and online at swingreader.com. You can also place your swings on Dropbox or Google Drive and save them to your camera roll. In another smart feature, you can easily open any acceptable video format directly into SwingReader from messages. No more saving videos to your Camera Roll first and then going into the app to import the swing, it’s automatic.

Tips and Drills

SwingReader is lacking in this area right now – within the app. It does provide tips and drills on its blog (see below). I expect they will likely continue to build out their library of professional swings in addition to tips and drills. Given that every golfer’s swing is different, I mostly rely on an instructor’s recommendation for tips and drills or my own research specific to what I’m working on, so this weakness isn’t a big factor for me personally.

Blog and Support

You can find a lot of great content on the Ubersense blog. The site contains everything from drills and analysis of professional swings, to instructional blog posts describing how to use key features of SwingReader. One thing I look for from companies is whether or not they keep their blog content fresh and SwingReader is doing a good job here. The team posted an analysis of Brandt Snedeker’s swing the day after his win at Pebble (check out his WITB here).

Bottom Line

I’ve used and recommended other video apps in the past, but I’ve almost exclusively switched to SwingReader. All the major video applications have side-by-side comparisons, tips & drills and swings of professional golfers. What truly sets SwingReader apart, is the the fast video processing and smooth user experience that gives you the freedom to spend more time making and reviewing swings and less time waiting around. If you haven’t already, I would recommend downloading and giving it a try while it’s still free.

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When he is not obsessing about his golf game, Kane heads up an innovation lab responsible for driving innovative digital product development for Fortune 500 companies. He is also the co-founder of RoundShout and creator of Ranger GPS, the free iOS GPS app for the driving range. On a quest to become a scratch golfer, Kane writes about his progress (for better or worse) at kanecochran.com and contributes golf technology-focused articles on GolfWRX.com.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Robbo

    Mar 7, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I have been using swing reader. Today it has cleared all my saved swings and does not work. Cant find it on itune apps. Uber works on ios 7 not ios 6.1.
    End of an enjoyable experience, unless i fork out for a new iphone.

  2. Pingback: Use the Golf Slot Machine while doing a ‘selfie’ video!

  3. winnaing

    Dec 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Thank you

  4. john lee

    Feb 26, 2013 at 9:47 am

    i use swing reader….it sense ur swing all you do is hit record and as soon as you start swinging it records and stop by itself. it even put the line for you….u dont have to press the stop button just keep on swinging

  5. Jeremy

    Feb 19, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    So there is SwingReader Pro and Ubersense Golf SwingReader

    • Kane Cochran

      Feb 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Hey Jeremy – It is a bit confusing. But this review covers the Ubersense Golf SwingReader app.

  6. pablo

    Feb 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    sounds great, can’t wait for the android version!

  7. Troy Vayanos

    Feb 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    You’re right Kane ,the Swing Reader is a useful application. I’ve used the older version quite a bit and learnt a lot about my golf swing with it.

    With upgrade to the newer version soon.

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Accessory Reviews

Review: The QOD Electric Caddy

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If you want an electric golf caddy that doesn’t require that you wear a sensor or carry a remote — one that will be reliable and allow you to focus on your game, and not your cart — then the Australian-manufactured QOD is worth checking out.

The QOD (an acronym for Quality of Design and a nod to its four wheels) is powered by a 14.4-volt lithium battery, good for 36 holes or more on a single charge. It has nine different speeds (with the fastest settings moving closer to jogging velocity) so the QOD can handle your ideal pace, whether that be a casual stroll or a more rapid clip around the course.

The QOD is also built to last. Its injection-molded, aircraft-grade aluminum frame has no welded joints. Steel bolts and locking teeth take care of the hinging points. The battery and frame are both guaranteed for three full years. If you need a new battery after the three-year window, the folks at QOD will replace it at cost.

Its front-wheel suspension gives the QOD a smooth ride down the fairway, and the trolley is easy to navigate with a gentle nudge here and there. The QOD is always in free-wheel mode, so it is smooth and easy to maneuver manually in tight spaces and around the green.

The caddy also features three timed interval modes for situations where you might wish to send it up ahead on its own: when helping a friend find a lost ball or when you will be exiting on the far side of the green after putting, for example. The clip below includes a look at the caddy in timed mode.

When folded, the QOD measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall.

Another area where the QOD excels is in its small size and portability. When folded, it measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall, making it the smallest electric caddy on the market.

Folks Down Under have been enjoying the QOD for some time, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when Malachi McGlone was looking for a way to continue walking the course without putting undue strain on an injured wrist that the QOD found U.S. fairways. After first becoming a satisfied customer, McGlone convinced CEO Collin Hiss, who developed the product and oversees its production in Australia, to allow him to distribute and service the QOD here in the states.

The QOD has no self-balancing gyroscope, bluetooth sensor or remote control. Bells and whistles just aren’t its thing — though it does have a USB port for cell phone charging that can come in handy. However, if you are looking for a no-fuss workhorse to move your bag down the fairway, the QOD should be on your radar.

The 2018 model has begun shipping and will be on sale at $1,299 for a limited time. It normally retails at $1,499.

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Accessory Reviews

Review: FlightScope Mevo

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In 100 Words

The Mevo is a useful practice tool for amateur golfers and represents a step forward from previous offerings on the market. It allows golfers to practice indoors or outdoors and provides club speed, ball speed, smash factor, launch angle, spin rate, carry distance and flight time.

It also has a video capture mode that will overlay swing videos with the swing data of a specific swing. It is limited in its capabilities and its accuracy, though, which golfers should expect at this price point. All in all, it’s well worth the $499 price tag if you understand what you’re getting.

The Full Review

The FlightScope Mevo is a launch monitor powered by 3D Doppler radar. With a retail price of $499, it is obviously aimed to reach the end consumer as opposed to PGA professionals and club fitters.

The Mevo device itself is tiny. Like, really tiny. It measures 3.5-inches wide, 2.8-inches tall and 1.2-inches deep. In terms of everyday products, it’s roughly the size of an Altoids tin. It’s very easy to find room for it in your golf bag, and the vast majority of people at the range you may be practicing at won’t even notice it’s there. Apart from the Mevo itself, in the box you get a quick start guide, a charging cable, a carrying pouch, and some metallic stickers… more on those later. It has a rechargeable internal battery that reaches a full charge in about two hours and lasts for about four hours when fully charged.

As far as software goes, the Mevo pairs with the Mevo Golf app on your iOS or Android device. The app is free to download and does not require any subscription fees (unless you want to store and view videos of your swing online as opposed to using the memory on your device). The app is very easy to use even for those who aren’t tech savvy. Make sure you’re using the most current version of the firmware for the best results, though (I did experience some glitches at first until I did so). The settings menu does have an option to manually force firmware writing, but updates should happen automatically when you start using the device.

Moving through the menus, beginning sessions, editing shots (good for adding notes on things like strike location or wind) are all very easy. Video mode did give me fits the first time I used it, though, as it was impossible to maintain my connection between my phone and the Mevo while having the phone in the right location to capture video properly. The only way I could achieve this was by setting the Mevo as far back from strike location as the device would allow. Just something to keep in mind if you find you’re having troubles with video mode.

Screenshot of video capture mode with the FlightScope Mevo

Using the Mevo

When setting up the Mevo, it needs to be placed between 4-7 feet behind the golf ball, level with the playing surface and pointed down the target line. The distance you place the Mevo behind the ball does need to be entered into the settings menu before starting your session. While we’re on that subject, before hitting balls, you do need to select between indoor, outdoor, and pitching (ball flight less than 20 yards) modes, input your altitude and select video or data mode depending on if you want to pair your data with videos of each swing or just see the data by itself. You can also edit the available clubs to be monitored, as you will have to tell the Mevo which club you’re using at any point in time to get the best results. Once you get that far, you’re pretty much off to the races.

Testing the Mevo

I tested the FlightScope Mevo with Brad Bachand at Man O’ War Golf Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Brad is a member of the PGA and has received numerous awards for golf instruction and club fitting. I wanted to put the Mevo against the best device FlightScope has to offer and, luckily, Brad does use his $15,000 FlightScope X3 daily. We had both the FlightScope Mevo and Brad’s FlightScope X3 set up simultaneously, so the numbers gathered from the two devices were generated from the exact same strikes. Brad also set up the two devices and did all of the ball striking just to maximize our chances for success.

The day of our outdoor session was roughly 22 degrees Fahrenheit. There was some wind on that day (mostly right to left), but it wasn’t a major factor. Our setup is pictured below.

Outdoor testing setup with FlightScope X3 (foreground) and Mevo

The results of our outdoor testing are shown below. The testing was conducted with range balls, and we did use the metallic stickers. The range balls used across all the testing were all consistently the same brand. Man O’ War buys all new range balls once a year and these had been used all throughout 2017.  The 2018 batch had not yet been purchased at the time that testing was conducted.

Raw outdoor data captured with range balls including metallic stickers. Mevo data (blue) and X3 data (orange) were both generated from the same exact shots.

You’ll notice some peculiar data in the sand wedge spin category. To be honest, I don’t fully know what contributed to the X3 measuring such low values. While the Mevo’s sand wedge spin numbers seem more believable, you could visibly see that the X3 was much more accurate on carry distance. Below is a quick summary of the percent differences between each of the parameters as presented by the Mevo and the X3 in our outdoor session when separated out for each club. As previously mentioned, though, take sand wedge spin with a grain of salt.

Table showing the percent difference of each parameter between Mevo and X3 grouped by club (outdoor testing).

The first thing we noticed was that the Mevo displays its numbers while the golf ball is still in midair, so it was clear that it wasn’t watching the golf ball the entire time like the X3. According to the Mevo website, carry distance, height and flight time are all calculated while club speed, ball speed, launch angle and spin rate are measured. As for the accuracy of the measured parameters, the Mevo’s strength is ball speed. The accuracy of the other measured ball parameters (launch angle and spin rate) is questionable depending on certain factors (quality of strike, moisture on the clubface and ball, quality of ball, etc). I would say it ranges between “good” or “very good” and “disappointing” with most strikes being categorized as “just okay.”

As for the calculated parameters of carry distance, height and time, those vary a decent amount. Obviously, when the measurements of the three inputs become less accurate, the three outputs will become less accurate as a result. Furthermore, according to FlightScope, the Mevo’s calculations are not accounting for things like temperature, humidity, and wind. The company has also stated, though, that future updates will likely adjust for these parameters by using location services through the app.

Now, let’s talk about those metallic stickers. According to the quick start guide, the Mevo needs a sticker on every golf ball you hit, and before you hit each ball, the ball needs to be placed such that the sticker is facing the target. It goes without saying that it doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to spend time putting those stickers on every ball, let alone balls that will never come back to you if you’re at a public driving range. Obviously, people are going to want to avoid using the stickers if they can, so do they really matter? Below is a table of data showing the percent difference between the Mevo’s data and the X3’s data of what we collected outdoors with a driver and range balls with and without the use of the stickers.

Table showing how the percent difference of each parameter changes between Mevo and X3 when you use the metallic stickers and when you don’t

The FlightScope website says that the metallic stickers “are needed in order for the Mevo to accurately measure ball spin.” We observed pretty much the same as shown in the table above. The website also states they are working on alternative solutions to stickers (possibly a metallic sharpie), which I think is wise.

Another thing we thought would be worth testing is the impact of different golf balls. Below is a table of data showing the percent difference between the Mevo’s data and the X3’s data of what we collected outdoors with a driver and range balls as compared to Pro V1’s. All of this data was collected using the metallic stickers.

Table showing how the percent difference of each parameter changes between Mevo and X3 when you switch from range balls to Pro V1’s

As shown above, the data gets much closer virtually across the board when you use better quality golf balls. Just something else to keep in mind when using the Mevo.

Indoor testing requires 8 feet of ball flight (impact zone to hitting net), which was no problem for us. Our setup is pictured below. All of the indoor testing was conducted with Titleist Pro V1 golf balls using the metallic stickers.

Indoor testing setup with FlightScope X3 (foreground) and Mevo

The results of our indoor session are shown below.

Raw indoor data captured with Pro V1’s including metallic stickers. Mevo data (blue) and X3 data (orange) were both generated from the same exact shots.

Below is a quick summary of the percent differences between each of the parameters as presented by the Mevo and the X3 in our indoor session when separated out for each club.

Table showing the percent difference of each parameter between Mevo and X3 grouped by club (indoor testing)

On the whole, the data got much closer together between the two devices in our indoor session. I would think a lot of that can be attributed to the use of quality golf balls and to removing outdoor factors like wind and temperature (tying into my previous comment above).

As far as overall observations between all sessions, the most striking thing was that the Mevo consistently gets more accurate when you hit really good, straight shots. When you hit bad shots, or if you hit a fade or a draw, it gets less and less accurate.

The last parameter to address is club speed, which came in around 5 percent different on average between the Mevo and X3 based on all of the shots recorded. The Mevo was most accurate with the driver at 2.1 percent different from the X3 over all strikes and it was the least accurate with sand wedge by far. Obviously, smash factor accuracy will follow club speed for the most part since ball speed is quite accurate. Over every shot we observed, the percent difference on ball speed was 1.2 percent on average between the Mevo and the X3. Again, the Mevo was least accurate with sand wedges. If I remove all sand wedge shots from the data, the average percent difference changes from 1.2 percent to 0.7 percent, which is very, very respectable.

When it comes to the different clubs used, the Mevo was by far most accurate with mid irons. I confirmed this with on-course testing on a relatively flat 170-yard par-3 as well. Carry distances in that case were within 1-2 yards on most shots (mostly related to quality of strike). With the driver, the Mevo was reasonably close, but I would also describe it as generous. It almost always missed by telling me that launch angle was higher, spin rate was lower and carry distance was farther than the X3. Generally speaking, the Mevo overestimated our driver carries by about 5 percent. Lastly, the Mevo really did not like sand wedges at all. Especially considering those shots were short enough that you could visibly see how far off the Mevo was with its carry distance. Being 10 yards off on a 90 yard shot was disappointing.

Conclusion

The Mevo is a really good product if you understand what you’re getting when you buy it. Although the data isn’t good enough for a PGA professional, it’s still a useful tool that gives amateurs reasonable feedback while practicing. It’s also a fair amount more accurate than similar products in its price range, and I think it could become even better with firmware updates as Flightscope improves upon its product.

This is a much welcomed and very promising step forward in consumer launch monitors, and the Mevo is definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for one.

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Accessory Reviews

Choose Your Tartan: Enter now to win a Sunfish Tartan headcover

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Sunfish, well known for its stylish headcover designs, is offering up free Tartan-style headcovers to five GolfWRX Members. All you have to do to apply is become a GolfWRX member, if you’re not already, and then reply in the forum thread with your favorite the Tartan pattern.

TartanPatternsSunfish

The five winners will receive a free headcover in the pattern that they select. Winners will be selected on Friday, so don’t wait.

Click here to enter into the giveaway and pick your favorite style.

Reminder: Commenting on this post WILL NOT enter you into the giveaway.

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