Zepp 2 Tennis Sensor – Any Improvement on the First Zepp? Part 1
The Zepp 2 Tennis Sensor hit retail shelves a couple of months back.We were hesitant to test it based on our review of Zepp’s first foray into tennis racket sensors. More than that, in our article last month we revealed the new Head sensor, which is powered by Zepp. Whether they’re the same or similar will be revealed shortly, but we felt there was enough in the Zepp 2 (app and sensor) to give it a test run.
In Part 2 of our review, we’ll be looking at the new functionality of the Zepp 2 Tennis app. “Smart Video Capturing” and “Scorekeeper” are both new to the App, for example. For our first test run, we’ll be looking at everything else.
Device Usability 6/10
The Zepp 2 is a different shape to its predecessor. Gone is the square original and in comes its circular, more modern looking counterpart.
The Flex Mount was a fiddle with Zepp 1, and that hasn’t changed with Zepp 2. It’s the same rubber sleeve that’s difficult to get on your racket and feels awful when hitting a ball. Apart from the feel, you’ll be adding over 1/2oz (15g) to your handle weight. The sensor itself weighs 0.22oz (6.2g) so you’re adding some serious weight to your racket all up. Granted, it’s in the handle, but still.
The Pro Mount isn’t a fantastic solution but it’s better than the Flex Mount. Trouble here is the permanence of the stick-on mount. The Pro Mount adds a more palatable 0.08oz (2.2g) to the handle, so it’s usable, but somewhat permanent.
In Zepp’s marketing they’ve added the Insert Mount for Wilson, Prince and Srixon rackets. It also fits Yonex rackets with the removable cap but it seems Zepp is not allowed to say so. The Insert Mount takes away the permanence of the Pro Mount and the weight of the Flex Mount so it’s a big improvement.
Beyond the mounting systems, the magnetic charger is an excellent innovation (also used for the Head sensor). It charges to 100% quickly and easily through a USB cable. Like Zepp 1, the Zepp 2 has internal memory so there’s no need to run the app at the same time as when you’re hitting.
All in all, Zepp 2 is far more useable than Zepp 1.
Data accuracy is excellent, so why only display averages that aren’t particularly helpful?
Let’s be clear. The accuracy of data is what we’re looking at here, not the way it’s presented. Our problem with the Qlipp Sensor, for example, is that it’s wildly inaccurate, rendering the displayed data useless.
The Zepp 2 (like Zepp 1) doesn’t pretend to go deep into the shot by shot analytics. That’s still left to the accuracy of the Sony Smart Sensor. But in our court tests it got the swing statistics absolutely right.
The addition of volleys and smashes is great, and we found it was accurate in measuring a huge number of shots correctly by stroke type, including the difficulty of serves versus smashes.
The “Flat” or “Drive” reading as a type of spin is still causing debate, and there’s been no change to this as part of the Zepp 2 data. We found that Zepp was very good at differentiating slice from anything else. Topspin forehands were also well read. Topspin backhands seem to be read as flat more than anything.
The RPMs and the ball speed measures are nice additions, but when you’re only looking at the maximum and the average across a match, it’s hard to see how it’s anything other than a Social Media tool for millenials to engage in a little wireless banter.
Another improvement is the Heat Map. The original Zepp always showed readings at the bottom of the string bed. Zepp 2 isn’t as sophisticated as Sony’s was, but it’s a big improvement.
Firstly, the new app bears no resemblance to what Zepp is now calling “Classic”.Also keep in mind that Zepp 2 does not connect to the Zepp Classic app.
Further, despite advertising to the contrary on Zepp’s website, you won’t find 3D serve man in the new app. Not that we thought it was a game changer, but it’s simply not there. (Side note: at the moment 3D Serving Man is part of the Head Sensor App).
Connecting the sensor to the app is easy enough. Then there’s the usual profile loading bla bla bla. When you finally get to the “Start Singles” or “Start Doubles” you realize that playing a match is the only way to record data. You can engage in a hit session but you will still have to load some sort of score at the end of it for your data to be displayed. We’re puzzled as to why.
There’s another option to record a match just by recording the score, or at least a third party recording it for you. You can even do “Advanced Scorekeeping”. This is where a third party can record basic statistics of a match and, therefore, the score, while you’re playing. We found the Apple version worked fine but somehow the Android version could only record the set winner getting to 5.
Loading a dummy score is easy enough but it seems a little silly. You’re going to wind up with a string of play data with dummy scores in your history. It’s more evidence that Zepp 2 is for the socially minded, not the game changers.
In the history section of the app, you can view all your “matches” (some of which could be just hit sessions). The basic summary is a score rather than any further detail on shots etc. The detail comes after tapping one of the matches.
Once in the data of a “match”, you’ll get a breakdown of the shots you’ve played and the number by spin type. What’s difficult to understand is why this information has to be displayed as averages only and not as a shot by shot analysis. Oh, wait…..that’s the social angle again.
The best way to describe the app is clunky. Nothing feels particularly easy to navigate. It becomes very clear, very quickly that this app is more about chest bumping your tennis playing friends and a Zepp “community” than actually improving your game.
One thing we’ve noticed is the difficulty in using the Zepp 2 on an iPad. Despite using the latest version of iOS, the option to start a match renders below the confines of the iPad screen such that a user is unable to start a match. Zepp have confirmed that the app has been developed for iPhone ONLY with no ETA on iPad functionality at this stage.
The data accuracy is excellent, although that can only be proved with shot type and, to a large extent, spin type. Even smashes seem to be on the money. The addition of the Insert Mount and the change of device shape make the on-court experience a lot more user-friendly as well.
The app feels clunky and the focus is quite obviously on social sharing rather than any major in-depth analysis of a player’s game. The lack of shot by shot analysis is confusing given the accuracy of the device. Averages over time requires some serious court time to apply anything meaningful.
Final Word on the Zepp 2 Tennis Sensor
If you’re looking for a way to tell your friends about how many forehands you hit today and how hard you hit them, the Zepp 2 might just fit your needs. Equally, the app makes it easy to become part of a tennis playing community, as it were.
Whether that community actually gets off the ground with the Zepp 2 device and app will be another thing. With no serious analytics to help improve a player’s game, it’s $99US for a bit of fun with other like-minded tennis players.
Note on the Head Tennis Sensor
The Head Sensor (powered by Zepp) is due for release early in 2018. In our early tests, we’ve found the Head app to be different to Zepp 2 in many ways. There are some similarities like some of the displays, but enough differences to warrant a good look at it as a separate, stand-alone product, not just a Zepp 2 by another name. The seamless way it attaches to Head rackets is a major highlight.
Stand by for reviews of Zepp 2’s video functionality.