Head Tennis Sensor – Game Changing Mount. How About the Analytics?

The new Head Tennis Sensor arrived on retail shelves a few days ago, amid very little fanfare it Head Tennis Sensormust be said. The sensor is “powered by Zepp”, which rings a few alarm bells based on our testing.

We’ve been testing the Head Tennis Sensor for the last couple of months. The companion app was clunky and difficult in beta form. The release of the retail version has many improvements, and Head is insisting there will be many more throughout this year.

Device Usability 9/10

The Head Tennis Sensor shines on this metric. The sensor is the same weight as a normal Head cap. Removing the cap from the racket and replacing it with the sensor version is seamless.

The best part by far is that you won’t know it’s there. There’s no protrusion from the cap a la Zepp and Sony Smart Tennis Sensor. It’s the first of the removable sensors to add zero weight difference and zero feel difference to your racket. The Babolat Play rackets made no difference to the weight and feel either, but the permanence of it meant you couldn’t switch it from racket to racket.

The battery charges via a magnetic charger per the Zepp. Just attach the charger to the Head Tennis Sensor Chargersensor, wait for the light to turn green and you’re ready for action. Connecting via Bluetooth is also easy. Tap the racket at the top of the screen to find your sensor and you’re ready for play.

One issue we found was the lack of an On/Off button or switch. To switch the device on, you only need to place your racket in an upright position ie cap to the sky. While the racket was resting in a horizontal state, it would remain off. That’s great in theory until you realize how often your racket is stored upright in your bag. Bye bye battery quite quickly.

Head have changed the firmware such that the racket needs to be shaken to switch the device on. We still had issues but will continue to test for improvements.

Data 6/10

Again we emphasize we’re looking at the raw data and its accuracy here, Screenshot_20180123-143907 not how it’s presented in the app.

We were pleased to find there was no issue with groundstroke identification. No issues with the Head Tennis Sensor reading the difference between a forehand and a backhand. Spin measurements off the ground were good as well. We’re not fans of the “Drive” measurement, but overall the sensor picked the difference between topspin and slice well.

In early testing, we were able to fool the sensor with some heavy kick serves. The extra pronation made it think a kick serve was a forehand. That’s been fixed in the latest algorithm to the extent that all serves were correctly displayed.

Where the data accuracy falls down is at the net. Smashes were almost always displayed as serves. Perhaps more alarming was the device’s inability to consistently detect volleys correctly. Many “text-book” backhand volleys were read as slice backhands. The problem was there on the forehand side as well, although less so than the backhand.

Much like the Zepp 2, the Head Tennis Sensor provides measurements for Ball Spin (RPM) and Ball Speed (in mph or kph). There’s also a Sweet Spot measurement and  a Ball Heaviness measurement. All of these are difficult for us to test from an accuracy point of view (in fact we’re not overly sure what “Ball Heaviness” is). We’ll be attempting some more testing on this soon.

6/10 might seem harsh for a sensor that’s getting groundstrokes and serves right almost all the time. Again, we stress that once so many incorrect readings are given – in this case for volleys and smashes – the entire session is rendered inaccurate because you have a whole heap of volleys in with your groundstrokes, plus smashes mixed in with serves. Moreover, there’s no shot-by-shot shown in the app, and therefore no way to identify certain shots as anomalies.

If you never, ever, ever go to the net, then this device is well worth considering.

App 6.5/10

Head Tennis Sensor Opening Screen The companion app to the Head Tennis Sensor shines a little brighter than the Zepp 2. The look is a little more professional and it feels less like a Social Media tool and more like a serious game analyzer.

The difference starts with the home screen which gives the user options to “Play”, “Train”, “Compete” or “Practice Serve”. That’s a marked difference from the Zepp 2 home screen which shows you your location and asks you to start a singles match.

“Play” is basically your practice button. If you’re having a hit session that you want to record, that’s the place, and it’s not functionality that’s even offered with Zepp 2. “Train” appears to be a learning centre with “recommended courses”. “Compete” takes you to the same screen as “Start Singles” in Zepp 2. This is where you’ll go if you’re playing a match and want your shots recorded.

“Practice Serve” is Zepp 1’s 3-D Man reincarnated. The Zepp 1 had a serve swing analyzer that allowed a player to view their service motion from all angles. It’s the closest Zepp 1 came to competing with Sony’s video functionality. While not in Zepp 2, 3-D Man, in all his buffed glory (you have to see it), is in the Head Tennis Sensor’s app.

It’s useful for ball impact zone and possibly a little acceleration vs deceleration training, but it’s hardly a game changer. It is the one place in the app where you can view all the recorded serves in a shot by shot format rather than as averages.

One thing that gave us hope with the app was the ability to view each individual shot and the Screenshot_20180123-144011stats of each shot by scrolling through the session. Alas, this is only available while you’re actually IN the session ie on court. There’s no way to view shot by shot in the history of the app. Massive let down!

It’s so disappointing that, once again, a sensor is ONLY displaying statistics as session averages rather than giving a player a shot by shot analysis that would actually help with game improvement. A bunch of averages really doesn’t help anything other than your chest pumping social media profile.

There was enough in the app for us to rate it higher than the Zepp 2 app, but it’s still lacking a whole lot of substance.

A note on Android vs iOS and devices. For some as yet unexplained reason, we couldn’t get the “Practice Serve” functionality to work on an iPhone. Android was fine, as was all other functionality on a phone. The problem came when trying to use the app on a tablet. Zepp have admitted that the Zepp 2 app DOES NOT render properly on a tablet. It would appear the same is true for the Head Tennis Sensor.

Video

We’re yet to fully test the video functionality of the Head Tennis Sensor. We do, however, have a fair idea what I final view will be. The only video functionality we can find is in the “Compete” section of the app. It’s called “Smart Point Capture” (SPC).

It’s highly likely that SPC will be similar to Zepp 2’s “Smart Rally Capture”. Given the app is developed by Zepp, we’re thinking they’re the same thing. We’ll reserve judgement until we fully test it in coming days. For our review of the Zepp 2 video functionality, see here.

We know for sure that there’s no video functionality allowing a player to video an entire hit session for analysis at a later date, and certainly nothing that allows a player to view said video shot by shot. It’s for this reason that the “Overall” score of the Head Tennis Sensor is lower than all other scores above.

Overall 5.5/10

Upsides

The physical hardware of the Head Tennis Sensor is game changing. It’s the first time a removable 285807_HEAD_Tennis_Sensor_Packaging_001 sensor has made zero difference to the weight or feel of a racket. It’s a huge improvement on everything that’s come before it. It will be a tough act to follow for Babolat when the Pulse is released later in the year.

Downsides

Our play tests showed a distinct problem with the volleying and smash algorithms, to an extent that only made the data worth investigating if all you’re doing is practicing groundstrokes and serves. The app is an improvement on the Zepp 2 but still lacks substance because there’s no ability to view a shot by shot analysis, either on a Dashboard feature or via video after the fact.

Final Word on the Head Tennis Sensor

This is Head’s first foray into the world of racket sensors. They are to be congratulated on the physical design and on-court usability of the device. The data and the app let the whole thing down, however. It feels as though this version of the app should be the beta, not the version that’s released to the public as the first run for the device.

We’ll hope future updates improve the issues. The device represents much better value than Zepp 2 at around 100USD. If you have a later model Head racket and you’re desperate for a sensor to go with it, make sure it’s this one rather than Zepp 2. That said, you’ll be hoping the firmware and algorithm updates improve the output.

20 Replies to "Head Tennis Sensor - Game Changing Mount. How About the Analytics?"

  • NiMo
    February 25, 2018 (12:43 pm)
    Reply

    Hi
    Thanks for the review.
    I have the same feedbacks on this device. The hardware is great. With the new HEAD racquets, you have not different in the racquet’s specs which is fundamental in my point of view. On the other side, the software / app is lacking in functionality and is a bit frustrating. You know that lot of data is available but they decide to show us only the average and maximum stats. WHY !!! Do we not deserve to see each shots ?! or at least let us correct a data entry; e.g. most of my serves are listed as smashs (yes, I’m using a pin point stance, that could explain it but should I be blame for that…).
    Being of man full of hope, I believe the app/algorithmes will be improve in the following months (hopefully weeks). Otherwise, we will forget to charge the sensor one day and forget it completely the next day…).
    Cheers

    • Nick
      Nick
      February 25, 2018 (8:24 pm)
      Reply

      Hi,
      Thanks for the comment. I don’t think a pin point stance on serve would have an adverse impact on the device’s ability to read the difference between serves and smashes. Just they haven’t got the algorithm right. Hopefully many improvements to come. Fingers crossed.

      • NiMo
        February 26, 2018 (7:06 pm)
        Reply

        It was not an issue before the update of the App; therefore linked to the algorithm. We will see with the next updates.

        • Nick
          Nick
          February 26, 2018 (11:34 pm)
          Reply

          The problem is these sorts of things should be fixed with initial release, not with updates. That said, we’ll do more testing next month to see where it’s at.

  • ana
    February 26, 2018 (5:34 pm)
    Reply

    Hi!
    Are you going to update the review when they update the app?
    I´m looking foward to buy a sensor, but I still have many doubts about wich one, since I´m using a head radical racket and don´t want to add any extra weight on it.

    • Nick
      Nick
      February 26, 2018 (11:32 pm)
      Reply

      We’ll be updating early May

  • Rodolpho
    March 12, 2018 (7:00 pm)
    Reply

    I have a head sensor and in a overall I like the product. But I found a think if need to be improved, you can set only one racquet by model, but I have a set with three racquets and I one of them I use a different string tension and I can’t make any difference between my racquets.
    You can’t delete any information in a compete mode and I lost data of two of my games for syncing error after 2 hours playing.
    Other problem it’s a FAQ or more detailed information about the measurements like “heaviness” or how it works each app functionality.

    • Nick
      Nick
      March 13, 2018 (1:21 am)
      Reply

      Hi Rodolpho,

      Can’t disagree with any of your observations. We’re about to get into testing the new version of the app to see what’s changed. It would appear as though this should be the beta version of the product rather than the release to market version. Seems releasing too early is the norm in the new-ish industry of tennis technology.

    • akwaba
      April 1, 2018 (2:00 pm)
      Reply

      i’m totally agree with you, therefore with the last version, you can delete compete information.BUT :
      > cannot add an oponent for compete if you have only one sensor (so can’t have your match memorize)
      > cannot have any guide or FAQ on compete mode, even detail other mode…
      > lost data when sync until i discover that it’s Bluetooth BLE, so it’s better to have a recent phone (my old htc one M8 was just firt to have BLE, but not works well, with xperia XA1, no sync problems)… again no details because no FAQ…
      > cannot add somes notes for each sessions
      > cannot compares sessions
      > i can continue for a long time, as this software seems unconsistent.

      It’s sad because the hardware on the contrary is well integrated, easy charge. The gesture detection isn’t bad, just a probleme with smash / serves and som low volley … (but it can be again a software interpretation ?!!!

      • Nick
        Nick
        April 2, 2018 (7:47 am)
        Reply

        Hi,

        Thanks for your comments. We’ll be updating our initial review in May but we’re not seeing too many major changes.

        Thanks again,
        Nick

  • Wayne
    April 13, 2018 (3:28 pm)
    Reply

    I am waiting to hear about an update before i buy as well. I have tried so many sensors and all seemed to have glaring issues somewhere. It sounds like the hardware is fantastic but the app leaves too much to be desired for me to plunk down a dime until they get these items resolved.

    • Nick
      Nick
      April 16, 2018 (3:50 am)
      Reply

      We’ll update our review by the first week of May. Heads up there’s not really a lot of improvement.

  • Jon
    May 10, 2018 (10:05 pm)
    Reply

    Are there limitations for using a Head butt cap on other brands to make them work with the head sensor?

    • Nick
      Nick
      May 11, 2018 (1:48 am)
      Reply

      Hey Jon,

      It’s not something that we’ve done so please feel free to take this with the proverbial grain of salt.

      The first thing to accept is that Head racquets generally have rather more oval shaped grips than other brands, so attaching a Head cap to another brand may not be as simple as it sounds (haven’t tried by the way). Remember that Sony had two different connectors for its sensor: one for Head racquets and one for every other brand.

      We have done what you’re suggesting in the past with racquets that aren’t compatible with the Sony Smart Sensor. For example, using the Sony with a Babolat racquet that has a Yonex or Wilson cap. The issue is the loading of the racquet that you’re using. Obviously the Babolat racquet isn’t in the software, so you have to pick the Yonex/Wilson that closely matches the Bab that now has the other cap.

      Fraught with danger.

      Apart from the difficulty of actually attaching a Head cap to other brands, I wouldn’t say it’s adviseable because you really don’t know how sophisticated the sensor or app’s algorithm is, and therefore whether it’s making a subtle or huge difference to the readings. If the algorithm just takes into account racquet weight, no problem. If swing weight, stiffness etc etc are part of the algorithm then you might run into trouble.

      Not something we’ve investigated with the Head Sensor, but we did tinker at the margins with Sony, and with some success.

      Hope that helps.

      Nick

  • Jack
    June 4, 2018 (3:31 pm)
    Reply

    Which one is better,this one or the sony one?

    • Nick
      Nick
      June 4, 2018 (11:37 pm)
      Reply

      Hi Jack,

      Without doubt, the Sony. Problem is, if you’re in the market for one now you might be disappointed as Sony doesn’t appear to be selling new sensors, let alone supporting old ones. See our article here for more details.

      Nick

  • Carter Gregg
    June 8, 2018 (1:17 pm)
    Reply

    I’m thinking about buying this product solely for the information it gives for pace of shots. Hearing reviews however I am sceptical. The sony seems to be the best but the issue is its availability. Would you have any idea how to obtain a sony sensor for a half decent price (i.e. below £100). Or should I just go with the Head?

    • Nick
      Nick
      June 8, 2018 (1:22 pm)
      Reply

      Hi,

      Sorry, can’t help with obtaining a Sony Smart Tennis Sensor any more. If you go with the Head you just need to know it’s limitations going in. Hopefully, they’ll improve the data output (not that we’ve measured the accuracy of the speed output specifically – remember it’s not a shot by shot function).

      Good luck,
      Nick

  • Tana
    June 12, 2018 (2:30 pm)
    Reply

    Hello,
    I’m thinking about buying this sensor because I play with a Head Speed MP Graphene Touch and well, this seems a perfect fit with the head cap.
    I want to use it when I’m practicing but especially when I play a tournament : this would give me a good feedback on my win / my loss after a match (more backhand or more forehand, speed and spin, etc.). Of course, I would have to compare the stats between different matches I played to have something useful.
    So, the lack of shot by shot analysis and video is not a big issue for me (I have no one with me when I’m playing to take a video / no one to enter my stats in GT Stats 🙁 ) but I’m curious about your feedback about the data. Do you know if they fixed the problem with the volley or not ? It would be a big disappointment if I couldn’t know at the end of the match how many volley I had…
    You said you would update the review in May but maybe you didn’t had the time to do it or it wasn’t necessary (few improvements ?). So any feedback would be much appreciated ! Thanks (and sorry for my English, I’m French… 😉 )

    • Nick
      Nick
      June 13, 2018 (3:33 am)
      Reply

      Hi, first of all, no need to apologize for your English. It’s fine! Apologies from our end we haven’t updated our review of the Head Sensor. We have completed testing and the write-up is coming in the next week.


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