Product Reviews

January 6, 2010

Review: Nike McEnroe Air Trainer 1

IMG00014-20091204-1505.jpgIf you've been reading What's All The Racquet for very long, you've probably noticed I'm in love with Nike Air Trainers - specifically the old ones I (and McEnroe) used to wear but also the new versions (See old posts here and here). Well, I finally bought a pair of the new Nike McEnroe Air Trainer 1's.

What can I say...I love them. I wear them nearly constantly.

Design-wise, they don't have the velcro strap of old, but that's ok. I actually think these are more stylish than the old ones. For the nostalgic among us, you can see below the details paying homage to Johnny Mac - from the inside of both tongues to the ranting McEnroe stick figure on the outside of the heel. Also, Nike throws in two additional pairs of laces - gray and green. That gives you the ability to choose your color and customize the shoes as you'd like. Seems like a small thing, but it adds an aspect of personalization that builds the emotional tie you have with the shoes.

I've both worked out in them and played tennis in them. Despite being VERY light and comfortable, they provide plenty of arch-support, and the mid-top holds in your ankle quite well. You can make cuts and change direction with confidence - a big deal for me as I have very weak ankles. With the larger panel design, the sole will be best on hard courts - I would imagine these being pretty slippery on clay or grass although I've not played on these surfaces.

Bottom line, the Nike McEnroe Air Trainers have exceeded my hopes, strongly recommend them.

Other Nike Air Trainers

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Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 11, 2008

Review: Prince Aerotech Trend Crew

prince-mens-trend-crew.jpgWhen you hear about the new technologically advanced tennis apparel these days, even if you've worn them before, you wonder if its hype or real. This is exactly what I thought when I received my Prince Aerotech Trend Crew. Would the 100% polyester fabric, called "Aero Extreme" provide the comfort and moisture wicking it claims? Would it really provide UV protection? There was only one way to find out in my mind - go play. Duh, right? But when I say "go play" I mean go play on a hard court in Arizona in July, when its 115 degrees outside and so sunny you think you are playing underneath the space shuttle when it takes off.

How did it perform, you ask? Extremely well. I sweat a lot under normal conditions, I sweat a disgusting amount when its 115 degrees outside. When I play in a normal polo or t-shirt, I soak through and the shirt clings to me, forcing me to change multiple times.

I'm not going to say the Prince Aerotech Crew didn't soak through, it did. However, the big difference is that it doesn't cling to you - allowing you to keep moving freely and feel less uncomfortable in general.

The material itself is very light - you barely know its on. And the design is modern but clean. Readers of this blog will know I don't like all the over-designed tennis apparel. This has nice pops of color and design, but not overwhelming and not cheesy.

trend crew catalog.png

Check out the Prince Men's Trend Crew here.

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 8, 2008

Review: Prince Aerotech Trend Shorts

prince-mens-trend-short.jpgThese are hands down the most comfortable shorts I have ever worn. I tested these in Phoenix, AZ in July, so if there were any flaws in comfort, moisture wicking or ventilation, you know I would have found them. They are made from an anti static material which, as the name implies, reduces static cling that provides a smooth surface next to the skin for all day comfort. And there are cooling zones in all the right places (if you know what I mean) that give truly superior ventilation.

Here is the one beef I have with these - my sample did not have pockets. This forced me to tuck my second ball (no pun intended) into the bottom of my briefs, which is a suboptimal playing situation. That is a serious design flaw in my opinion. However, I have seen pics of the shorts (like the one in this post) recently that look very much like they do have pockets. I may have received an earlier version of the shorts, in which case we're all good and these are awesome shorts.

Check out the Prince Men's Trend Short here.

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 6, 2008

Review: Prince Aerotech Comp SS Polo

Comp SS Polo Catalog.png

We've had the opportunity to test-drive several of the Prince Aerotech apparel recently, the first of the series will be the Aerotech Comp SS Polo.

Stylistically, we like this polo very much - it is all one color (a rarity these days) - in this case Blue. There are also two-toned versions as well. The cut is narrow, but not in a constricting way - I found it very easy to move in while playing. And the collar is a hair longer and straighter that some polos - giving it more structure while subtlety hearkening back to the 70s when collars used to me much stiffer and straighter. The result is a clean, comfortable, updated classic.

The "Aero extreme-MulitFunctional," technical fabric provides UV and anti-bacterial protetion as well as moisture management for a comfortable, dry feel. When I first put the shirt on, I was concerned that the mesh vents under the arms and across the back would be uncomfortable - I could feel the seams quite noticeably. However, they are not noticeable once you start playing, and definitely not when you're sweating. The shirt's technology does a great job wicking the moisture (of which there is a lot in my case).

Check out the Prince Men's Comp SS Polo here.

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 6, 2008

Review: Playmate Ace Basic Ball Machine

PlaymateAceBasic.jpgMy tennis game is admittedly a little rusty these days, so I decided what better way to work it out than on a ball machine. So I tried out the Playmate Ace Ball Machine. I won't go into detail about my poor physical conditioning, but suffice its to say its not good. But you want to hear the skinny on the machine, so here you go.

The Playmate Ace is a pretty large machine, it holds 200+ balls depending on how many you want to stuff in there. If you're using this by yourself, which I was, this means about 10-15 minutes of hitting at a steady pace non-stop. I stopped before the hopper ran out.

You can set the spin from flat to topspin to backspin, control the elevation, and you can oscillate the shots. I found the oscillation to be a bit inconsistent, but I suppose if its truly random that's to be expected. I would have personally rather had a more balanced ratio of forehands to backhands, mine seemed to be very heavy on the backhand.

You can also adjust the ball frequency and speed. It took some getting used to to balance the spin, speed and elevation to get it just where I wanted it. Full disclosure: I used this at public courts and the remote control was missing. The remote would have made this much more easily managed. However, overall its quite easy to operate, and its relatively light (a little under 100 lbs).

This is a solid machine for teaching pros and tennis facilities, and it offers nearly all the intervals, directions, elevations, and trajectories you will need. And with a few minor complaints, it worked very well for me.

Playmate Ball Machines
Playmate Ace Ball Machine
Playmate Genie Ball Machine
Playmate Portable Ball Machine
Playmate Serve Lift
Playmate Smash Ball Machine

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 5, 2008

Tennis Magazine's Best Gear for 2007

Tennis Magazine, the big dog of tennis publications, has put out its best of 2007 list. Here you go:

1. Best Game-Day Shoe: Nike Air Max Breathe Cage. Check off all the important stuff for these kicks -namely stability, cushioning, and support without suffocating your feet.

2. Best Racquet Innovation: Prince Speedport Tuning System - specifically the Prince O3 Speedport Blackand the Prince O3 Speedport Tour.- each comes with string-hole grommets that can be placed in the ports before stringing and give the racquet a stiffer string bed, a traditional feel and enhanced stability.

3. Favorite Shades: Maui Jim Breakwaterand Bolle Score- The Bolles have Competivision lenses which mute all colors except the yellow of the ball, and the Maui Jims have a hingeless frame and lightweight shield for style and comfort while playing.

4. Most Fashionable Attire: Nike Sharapova Day and Evening dresses - simply the right combination of fashion and function - and having a great player to wear them doesn't hurt either.

5. Coolest Collectors' Item: Wilson Federer Limited Edition [K] Pro Tour Super 6-Pack Tennis Bag- this is the bag Fed carried with him in 2007 while he made mincemeat out of his opponents. It has the same color scheme as his [K] Factor 6.1 Tour, and bears a print of his signature.

6. Favorite New Player Frames: Head MicroGel Extreme Proand Dunlop Aerogel 500 Tour- These two racquets look alike and were designed with certain players in mind: aggressive hitters who put a lot of pace and spin on their shots. They'll find plenty to like in either of these impressive new sticks.

7. Hottest Trend:
Hybrid strings - one type of string for the mains and another for the crosses. Not new for the pros, but new for the average player, especially in how they have been packaged to be easier to put together - like the Pacific PolyGut ATP Blend Hybrid,Wilson Ultimate Duoand Wilson Champions Choice.

8. Most Innovative Shoes: Prince M Series- The M stands for "maximum" and the three shoes in the M Series all have a special emphasis: C for cushioning, V for ventilation, and S for stability (the last in men's only). With tweaks to the construction, each model offers more help in one of those three categories.

9. Best Sleeper Stick: Dunlop Aerogel 700- the Aerogel 700 has a comfortable feel and offers plenty of power without losing control.

10. Best New Accessory: Tourna Grip II- a classic, but this version is a bit more tacky and resilient than the original.

Read the full reviews at Tennis Magazine

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

September 19, 2007

Ame & Lulu tennis racquet bags make a statement on the court

I used to live in Brookline, MA, so I was surprised to hear about this company only since moving to Arizona.

Ame and Lulu has found a very stable niche in the sporting goods market since its inception in 2003. It began when Amye Kurson, the company visionary, was a golfer on the quest to find a trendy, fun, yet sophisticated set of golf headcovers. After searching through boutiques and pro shops, she was surprised by the lack of such sports accessories. Amye sought to put an end to the void and designed her own prototypes for golf headcovers, shoe bags, tennis bags, and yoga bags. The stylish fabric and dulcet colors have become a match for those seeking to make a fashion statement while playing in the great outdoors.

The tennis racquet bags fit two oversize racquets, have zippered pockets for your keys and a comfortable strap to throw over your shoulder. The tennis tote bags tote havce 5 compartments for all your tennis necessities plus a large Velcro compartment inside to hold your tennis racket. The totes measure 22 inches wide and 16 inches high. Plus all products are made in the USA.

They have 12 racquet bags in their collection. Shown here are two of our favorites, the Cabana Stripe and the Snorkel. They run $100, which is not inexpensive. But I think the question is whether its TOO expensive to have a truly well-made, truly stylish, truly unique racquet bag. If you're a regular club player, we say its a bargain.

In addition to tennis bags, they also have a line for golf and yoga, plus a small line of Ame and Lulu branded apparel.

Check out the full collection at AmeAndLulu.com

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

September 12, 2007

Wilson K-Zen

Last spring, Wilson came out with a pretty funky racket called the K-Zen. It took 3 years of R&D, and it shows. The big highlights:

1) A nanotech-engineered frame to boost strength
2) Small wings on each side of the head to add comfort
3) A new yoke adds stiffness
4) A compact center improves handling

OK...so if you ready don't care if nanotech was involved...here's the bottom line. All of these enhancements give the racket really good control and decent forgiveness - which is good for the player who might not hit it dead center every time...hmmm...who does that?...:). It runs about $190, which somewhere in the middle these days, so I think its a pretty decent deal.

BTW, it weighs 11.1 ounces and has a 103 sq inch head.

Wilson K Zen Team K Factor Tennis Racquet

Check out Wilson Sporting Goods

Thanks to Best Life for some of the details.

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

September 10, 2007

The Adidas Barricade


If you've checked out the kicks of Novak Djokovic, Marat Safin, Tim Henman or Fernando Verdasco, just to name a few, then you've no doubt seen the adidas Barricade.

This line is growing in prestige and popularity with each new line. The Barricade line has been an Editor's Choice from Tennis Magazine multiple times, and for good reason. The shoes have built upon one another, taking the best from one generation and adding new features. The new adidas Barricade IV is lightweight and form-fitting, like the Barricade 2; and is stable and durable like the Barricade 3. It has the adiWEAR 6 outsole, which makes it a good call for any playing surface.


If you want to learn more about the Barricade, there is a terrific slideshow about this great shoe that Tennis Warehouse has put together. It shows early product sketches and walks through the history and evolution of this popular line from adidas. Whether you're someone who is interested in trying the adidas Barricade, or a die-hard adidas Barricadefan, you'll get a lot out of this slideshow. Click here to see it.

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 30, 2007

And the Jack-O-Lantern Award Goes To...

adidas!

I love orange...and I love black...but when you put them together you look like a Halloween decoration. I don't even mind the design of the outfit, its actually quite nice. But the colors have to be rethought.

Maybe its a tie-in to Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween?

If you're interested in this outfit (they come in a bunch of colors, btw), you can get them at Tennis Warehouse.

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 17, 2007

Review of MeshTennis.com

I live in the greater Phoenix, AZ area, have for the last year. Before that I lived in Boston for 6 years, and before that I lived in PA for 25+ years. The one problem I have had once moving out of PA, and a major factor in my not playing as much as I would have liked, is not having someone to play with. Occasionally I would find someone random, usually co-workers, but with them you're not sure whether you're going to be playing a terrible player, or someone who can kick your butt - neither is too appealing. And I don't think I'll get my money's worth from joining a club right now being pretty busy with work and family.

Enter MeshTennis.com. Social networking meets local tennis. Think MySpace meets LinkedIn meets the bulletin board at your club or local courts. A very nice looking site, well-designed and easy to use and navigate. You load up your profile with your playing level, what gear you like, where you're located, etc. You can build groups or just use it to find other players, in your area, who are around your playing level. I just got a message recently, actually, to play. And as soon as the temperature dips below triple digits...I'm there!

Social networking sites like MeshTennis.com are only as strong as the number of people who are involved, and how much they engage with the system. So I encourage you to go there now, sign-up, and start playing and meeting new people!

www.meshtennis.com

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 5, 2007

Review of WorkInTennis.com

A new website has launched, sponsored by TIA (Tennis Industry Assoc.), for tennis job seekers. Its called WorkInTennis.com. Not the most inspired name, but damn clear. I'm not really looking for a job in tennis, I was curious...plus you never know what you may see of interest. The minute I got there I went into website product manager mode, a role I've played many times. The navigation is a little clunky and the UI isn't designed particularly well, its not clear the path they're looking for you to take. Examples:

- The top nav bar has the Home button second from the left. That's just weird. I've seen it to the far left, the far right, and the very top right corner. But why two in?

- On the homepage I clicked the "Make a Profile" link, taking me to another page which (1) wasn't a registration form, (2) didn't tell me what to do, and (3) had the second link to "Get Started" buried at the bottom of the page and didn't do anything to make the link stand out. During the regis. process, I went through three pages of forms...and then it went looney...errors everywhere...told me to contact the website administrator. I got the announcement for this new site from the TennisWire.org newsletter. My advice, having been burned by this many times...especially if you're not a web company...work the bugs our first. I look forward to it being fixed so I can check it out more.

Check it out here

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

May 10, 2005

Review of the Volkl Catapult 8 V-Engine

The Germans do several things very well: they build amazing cars, their beer is ridiculous, and apparently, they build a pretty sweet frame. This must be why Boris Becker is a vested partner and Johnny Mac swears by them.

The Catapult 8 V-Engine is not a racquet for the touring pro who has enough muscle to generate plenty of power. But, for strong women and juniors looking for a head-light racquet...this is it. It feels extremely solid and almost heavy through the shot. This is due to great balance and comfort on impact. This frame has graphite springs at the 9 and 12 head positions that compress when the ball hits. This cushions the blow and trampolines for extra power. It is a great racquet for the long, fast swing. You will be pleasantly surprised at the depth and control on your groundies. Mikey likes!!! But BEWARE!!! If you are not a smooth swing, any hiccup in the stoke will drain the power out of your shot faster than a hole in your beer stein!!

Watch for future reviews on Volkl's new DNX Genetic Power!!!

Whatsalltheracquet.com Ratings: (from 1 to 5 best)

Playability 4.5
Power 4.0
Control 4.5
Touch/Feel 4.0
Spin control 4.0
Overall 4.2

Review by Mike Wallace

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 7, 2005

Review of the PRINCE DIABLO XP Mid Plus / Oversize

For those of you who jumped off the 27+-inch player’s racquet bandwagon several years back, may be looking to jump back on after hitting this 27 ½ inch boomer. When you first pick this racquet, you can feel the extra length, but when you swing into that first groundie, your apprehension melts away. Being a player’s frame, you have to supply the pop, and if you have it, this racquet will enhance it a great deal! Looking at the frame, PRINCE is using a new version of its MORPH frame technology it brought out in the mid 90’s, squared throat to add stiffness and power and kidney shaped head to cup the ball with control. As with any extra long, groundies and serves go from big to bombs, but with more precision than earlier models. Volleys are solid, but you had better have a quiet volley motion because this will let you know when you have missed the sweetspot. Its head lightness gives it much more mobility than its ancestors. Yes, some may feel the need to choke up for a while, but if the adjustment can be made, that is when this racquet will really show its colors. Will you have to move a little more to avoid being jammed? Yes, but when has a little movement hurt a tennis player! Touch… well, not so much. The stiffness in the throat makes the drop volley pop. You had better have VERY soft hands. But this is not what this racquet is going to be known for. This is a hitter’s frame, pure and simple. If you like to punish the ball from all spots on the court, then this is your weapon.

WhatsAllTheRacquet.com Ratings: (1 – 5 best)

Playability 4.0
Power 3.5
Control 4.0
Touch/Feel 2.5
Spin control 3.0
Overall 3.5

The 28in Oversize is a great frame if you are modeling yourself after Capriati or Seles. Huge off of both sides, the Oversize packs a huge wallop, with more feel that the older extra-longs. This serve can make the Henin-Hardenne’s of the world fire like Williams, with the extra inch. This model though will not transfer over to many different styles of play, like a Babalot Pure Drive or Prince Graphite Original. If you are going to hammer from the baseline and visit the net just to shake hands with your opponent, than this is your stick. Emphasis on HAMMER!. This frame will give you enough spin to keep it in. Volleys and touch, are you kidding? If you are at net with frame, you are most likely lost. Not a “feel” frame at all. Any other game style, all-court, serve and volley, etc, you might want to look for another model to give you the help you need.

WhatsAllTheRacquet.com Ratings: (1 – 5 best)

Playability 3.5
Power 3.5
Control 4.0
Touch/Feel 2.0
Spin control 3.0
Overall 3.5

Review Contributed by Mike O'Keefe, Tennis Director, South Carolina Yacht Club

Bob Wallace at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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