Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Badminton Racket Review- Apacs Nano 755 Power

Next up for review is the Apacs nanopower 755 badminton racket. This falls into the budget range, but is not yet available to buy in the UK at the moment. The technical specifications are as follows:-

Weight- 85g
Balance- slightly head heavy
Grip- G2
Flex- 8.0-9.0 (stiff)
String- Apacs spider Ti 66 (0.66mm gauge)
Tension- 24-25lbs- pre strung

This racket has nano technology and is made from high modulus graphite. First impression is that it felt heavier than the other rackets i tested, even though it had the same weight spec, ie 4U. It felt very solid in contact with the shuttle, the head stayed in line with my shots, and there was little distortion, which is always a good thing in a badminton racket.

I was able to clear from back to back very easily, and the fact that it had a heavier feel and more head heavy balance certainly helped with this. There was not as much feedback as with the more expensive Apacs edgesaber's, but it is still a very useable racket indeed. Smashing wise i had no problems generating any power, and the shuttle came off the string bed very well, the lower tension also helped to get a bit more power, it was a combination of control and power at 24lbs, a kind of middle ground.

The nano 755 power did not feel quite as stiff as the nanopower 8000, or the edgesaber's, and so it was more forgiving on the shoulder and arm after a couple of hours, but this was only a slight benefit. Being a budget racket i was still surprised with how it played and felt, it did offer very good value, which is the main point, you still want to be able to play well no matter what you use, and the nano 755 power did not let me down.

I would rate this badminton racket as an 8/10 for power and control, and the same for the overall rating. The value for money would be a 9/10 because i don't think it will go on sale for much more than £30, which would give a real bang for the buck. A few of the other members in my club tried it out and they all said it was a decent racket, so it passed the test for them as well. All in all, we were pleasantly surprised with the nano 755 power. If you are on a budget then you can't go wrong with it.

Of course, when testing these rackets you need a shuttlecock, and i tested the Apacs Aero Flight 700. These have been IBF approved, so it gives you a clue as to their quality. I can tell you that these were a revelation. There is always a bit of uncertainty when you try a brand new shuttle, you just don't know what they will be like until you buy them. Now i am a bit of a shuttle snob, in that i hate playing with crap shuttles, they spoil everything in my eyes. This is why i usualy play with RSL tourney no1's, which i get from an ebay seller in hong kong. If you browse through some of my earlier posts you will know what i am going on about here.

I can say hand on heart that these apacs 700's are better than the RSL's. The speed is very consistent, they all land in the same place when you test them. The speed i tested was 78 by the way, which is perfect for the UK at this time of year. The biggest difference between these and the RSL was the durability. The 700's lasted about twice as long as the RSL, and that is a huge benefit as i am sure you would agree.

The feathers felt more robust than the RSL's i had from hong kong. I have a theory that the hong kong rsl's have different feathers in them than the one's sold in the UK, the hong kong one's are not as durable, but they are a hell of a lot cheaper. The Apacs feathers feel much stronger and more well made dare i say. We were slicing the ass of these apacs all day long and not once did any of the feathers break, they just frayed a bit, which is good news because it meant they lasted a lot longer. Even after a good hammering the flight was still consistent, and the speed did not alter much as well.

I have been e-mailing Apacs to get some more free samples, so hopefully i will get some!! When they stop dishing out free samples i will then buy them with my own money because i have fallen in love with them, hopefully i can get a discount!

You will not find the likes of Apacs in the high street just yet, or in the argos catalogue, or any other catalogue for that matter. They won't appear in major retail chains either, they are specialists, so you have to find them online, they only deal online. As they become more popular you will start to find them in other online outlets, this has happened with fleet and yehlex, and it helps to bring awareness to the brand. Of course, those of us in the know don't really care, because it is just as easy to buy direct, you always get better deals that way.

After testing the Apacs rackets and shuttles i would say they offer real good value for money. I was interested in using apacs stuff because of the reputation they had, and i glad i got the opportunity to do this. The badminton rackets are all quality products and will not let you down, and the prices are the added bonus. Hopefully in the future i will have more apacs rackets to test, as the catalogue has many more rackets in there. As they come to the UK i will test them and give my honest opinion to you. I am also on the lookout for more badminton manufacturers to let me test their products, so keep an eye out for some more reviews, as i will sending out some more e-mails.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Badminton Racket Review- Apacs Nanopower 8000

The next badminton racket on review is the Apacs Nanopwer 8000, which is new to the UK and as yet is not on sale at the Apacs website, so this is a little bit of a secret test so to speak. I am guessing it is based on the nanospeed 8000 from Yonex. First of all there is no spec for it, so i am going to give you my best estimate as to what i think the spec is.

The weight is around a 4U, it really does feel light indeed, and the balance is even, but when you add the overgrip, which almost everyone does, it becomes head light, much like the nanospeed series are. The grip is certainly G2, ie very small diameter. Of course this will increase when the overgrip is added as well.

Maximum stringing tension is 30lbs, just like the Edgesaber rackets are, which is good news because the frame must be able to take this tension, so it will be strong. The string in here is an Apacs 0.66mm.

First impression is that this is very easy to swing with due to it's light weight. You do get a very solid feel when you hit the shuttlecock, it feels different to the edgesabers in that there is not as much feedback, but this is replaced with a solid contact feel. Both are equally as good to me, they just take a bit of getting used to. The shaft is very slim, which is designed to help you swing this racket faster through the air and increase the swing speed. Well, it felt about the same as both of the edgesaber's did to me, and the 4U weight made it travel through the air quicker as well.

The trade off with this is that you don't get the same power as you would with a heavier model, it's the laws of physics coming into play, and so if you are a touch player or a defensive player then this racket will be more suited to you, simply because it is light and has a more even balance.

You can get power out of the nanopower because it does give a solid feel when you hit the shuttle, but as always it is down to your technique. The nanopower does have a stiff flex, and so there is added control to shots. I had no problem controlling the shuttlecock, and the racquet head is very stable through contact, even more so than the edgesaber's.

The string tension in the nanopower 8000 i tested was around 25lbs, which is a fairly average tension for most players, and the frame coped with this no problem at all. This tension is a combination between power and control, it's not too tight to wreck your arm after two hours, which is one of my main concerns, but you just will not have maximum control, like you will with high tension. So there is a trade off, and it all depends on how you like it, or if you can adjust your game to get used to it.

I would have it strung a little tighter, but not much, so it didn't take long to get used to it. I would say that the nanopwer is a very capable badminton racket, you would not be dissapointed if you like the feel of a top end modern racket with the stiff flex and head light balance.

My rating for power would be an 8/10, it is very easy to swing through the air and increase your swing speed with the nanopower 8000. If it had a bit more weight it would have got an 8.5/10.

Control is also very good, i would rate it as an 8.5/10 because it has such a solid feel when you hit it just right. You get the rewards when you use it right.

Value for money? Err... there is no price yet for this racket, i guess we will have to wait and see. I would expect it to be around the same price as the edgesabers, there is nano technology and high modulus graphite in it, and it doesn't usually come cheap.

Overall rating is an 8/10, certainly a very well made, quality racket, i enjoyed testing it, more suited to all round play/ defensive, but aimed at more experienced players due to the stiff shaft. Put it this way, this badminton racket will probably be half the price of the Yonex nanospeed 8000, and after testing it, there is not much difference between the two.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Badminton Racket Review- Apacs Edgesaber 7

Next up for review is the Apacs Edgesaber 7 badminton racket, which is based on the Yonex equivalent. I have played with it for around 10 days, just like i did with the edgesaber 10, so it has had a good old testing. Here is the technical stuff-

Construction: Hi-Modulus Graphite/ GS Carbon Nanotech
Weight: 4U
Grip: G2
Balance Point: 285 +/- 3mm
Max tension: 30lbs
Flex: Stiff - Extra stiff


GS Carbon Nanotech
Air resistant frame
Control support cap
Built in T joint

The racket i tested was strung with Apacs Ti Spider 66, which has a gauge thickness of 0.66mm and the tension was 25lbs. The replacement grip was an Apacs PU super grip, similar to the Karakal grip.

First impression is that it has a more even balance than the edgesaber 10, and is slightly less stiff, but only very slightly. The weight felt the same, and with both being in 4U form, this badminton racket is very light indeed. The edgesaber 7 gives a lot of shuttle feedback, just like the 10 does, you can feel each shot come through the frame, it's kind of like a "pinging" noise when you hit the shuttle. There is not as much feedback as there is with the edgesaber 10 though.

The edgesaber 7 is stiffer than the arcsaber 7. Even so, i found it very easy to play clears to the back of the court. This racket is more forgiving than the 10, mainly because it is not quite as stiff, and the string tension at 25lbs also helps out a little bit. The power is just as good as the edgesaber 10 though, if not a little bit better, which surprised me a bit. Fast reaction shots are easy because of the lightness of this racket.

Just like i did with the 10, i re-strung the 7 upto 27lbs tension, and the difference was very noticeable. I found this racket became even more responsive, as the shuttle flew off the string bed. It is designed for higher tensions, and this is when you get the full benefit of what the frame has to offer. The Spider strings felt very similar to the Tour strings i used in the edgesaber 10, both are very capable indeed, and i had no breakages even when i upped the tension.

There is that consistent feel that i look for in any badminton racket, and this aids control and allows you to hit your shots consistently to all corners of the court. The edgesaber 7 allows me to this, and so it does it's job. Hit the shuttle in the middle of the racket and you get the rewards, don't do this and you will not be rewarded, this what happens with the edgesaber 7 and the 10 for that matter. The combination of the stiff frame and the light weight mean that this is the scenario you are faced with, it is the same for all of these type of rackets. You need a solid technique to play with this badminton racket. But the reality is that when you get it right, boy does it feel good. It's like your technique is unlocking the real potential of the racket, and higher string tension is the icing on the cake for me.

The edgesaber 7 is a quality product, i liked it even more than the edgesaber 10, it seemed to suit my game better.

The power is there from this badminton racket, you just have to be able to generate it with your technique. I found no problem at all hitting the shuttle hard. For a little bit more power i would suggest a bit more weight, but the edgesaber 7 had a tiny bit more bang than the 10 did, so i would rate the power as an 8.5/10

I was able to do what i wanted with the shuttle using this racket, so as far as control goes i would give it a 9/10.

Value for money
This is where it gets a bit silly, because the edgesaber 7 is now on sale at apacs UK for just £39.99, and if you add the code BLOG10 in the coupon field you get another 10% off until christmas eve. This represents real value for money, you will get this racket for around £36, and you also get your own string tension as standard, which is a big advantage. How many times have you bought a new badminton racket and then immediately had to re-string it because the tension was crap? My rating for value for money is 10/10.

Overall Rating
I would give the edgesaber 7 a 9/10. In fact i like this badminton racket so much that i am now using it all the time.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Apacs Edgesaber 10 badminton racket review

Well i have had the Apacs badminton rackets for around 10 days now, and given them a good testing. First up is the Edgesaber 10, and here is the technical specifications-

Weight- 4U (80-84g)
Grip - G2
Balance point- 285 +/- 3mm
Flex- 8.5-9.0 (stiff)
Max stringing tension- 30lbs


GS Carbon Nanotech
High Modulus Graphite
Ultra PEF
Control Support Cap
Built in T-joint

The Edgesaber 10 i tested was strung at 25lbs with Apacs Titanium 65 Tour (0.66mm).
The replacement grip was also an Apacs grip (white)with a "soft feel".

First impression was that the edgesaber 10 felt very light, with a slightly head heavy balance, but not as head heavy as the Yonex Arcsaber 10. This badminton racket feels fairly stiff, but not super stiff. As a result i found it very easy to hit the shuttle from baseline to baseline. There is very good feel from the shuttle to the racket, this is a very responsive racket indeed. Power is also there, and the shuttle comes off the string bed very well. This feel comes into it's own when you play fast reaction rallies. One word of warning though. I would say this racket is not for beginners because it is fairly unforgiving, if you do not hit the shuttle in the middle of the string bed, then it will not travel like you want it to. On the other hand, when you do hit it just right you are rewarded with a clean, crisp, solid feel, and this is what the edgesaber 10 is all about. You need to be good enough to get the rewards from these type of badminton rackets.

The Titanium 65 Tour string is as good as any other string out there. At 25lbs the racket does give you a bit of forgiveness, as the sweet spot is bigger, so any shots slightly off- centre will still travel. However, i did re-string the edgesaber 10 to 27lbs and there is a marked difference. This racket becomes a different beast at higher tensions. You get even more reward in the way of power and response. I would say that this racket is better at higher tensions because it is designed for it, that is why you see the max string tension at 30lbs. This is why the strings are really the key for me.

Control is also good, at the net and from all round the court. I am not one for being obsessed with what technology is in a racket and what it does for me. I just want to know how the racket feels for me and what it offers my game. To be honest with you, i could not tell you how the high modulus graphite and the CS carbon Nanotech technology make this racket what it is. I just get the bat out and play with it. I can tell after about two or three shots if it is going to be any good or not, and whether i will like it. The edgesaber 10 is a quality product, there is no doubt about it, but the main point i will make about it, is that it is a good racket in it's own right.

I have been playing with this badminton racket and all my shots are still the same, i can play net shots that are close to the net, and do all the things i want to with the shuttle, and this is what matters. You must feel comfortable with your racket, otherwise, what is the point in using it?

Most modern badminton rackets follow the same formula, and there is only a small difference between them in playability. The manufacturers will try to make you think differently, so you choose them above another, but the reality is that they aren't that much different, we are just fooled by the marketing machine, and the prices.

My overall rating for the edgesaber 10-

I would say that if you have the technique then you have the abiliy to get the power from this racket. It will reward you for this. More weight will help with power, and so for a bit more power use a heavier racket. This edgaseaber was a 4U, so it was very light, therefore, the amount of power i could generate would not be as much as if i used a 3U or even 2U. Personally, if i was to go out and buy one myself i would have at least a 3U, but this is my own personal preference. Because of this, i would rate the edgesaber i tested for power as an 8/10.

Control is very much dependant on the player and technique. The edgesaber has a stable hitting base if you hit the shuttle in the centre of the string bed, and from this you get the shuttle control. I was able to hit all my shots where i wanted to, so i had control. The racket head stays stable through the strokes and this is what you want, a consistent feel. I got more control with a higher string tension, but this is down to the strings. As long as the racket performs consistently that is what i look for, and in this respect, the edgesaber delivers. So for control i would rate it as an 8.5/10.

Value for money
The retail price for this badminton racket is £59.99. However, Apacs are selling this edgesaber 10 for £44.99. Also, as a special discount to any readers of this blog, there is also a 10% discount if you add BLOG10 in the coupon field when you go to buy. This would make this edgesaber 10 around about £40, and that is value for money folks. By the way, i am not affiliated in any way to Apacs, they have just decided to offer this discount to my readers, which i think you will agree, is a great way for you to save some money. At this price i would rate the value for money at 10/10.

Overall Rating
I would give the Apacs Edgesaber 10 badminton racket an overall rating of 8.5/10.

Next up will be the Edgesaber 7. Just one more thing, you can still get free shuttlecocks from apacs if you e-mail them, there is a back log as you can imagine, but e-mail them anyway and just be patient. One more thing, i tested these rackets with the apacs shuttlecocks and i can tell you that they are a bit of a revelation. I am a bit of a shuttle snob, i only play with good quality shuttles, crap shuttles spoil you game, but the apacs shuttles are among the best i have used. I will write my own review of them in a future post, but they really are first class, and they are free if you e-mail them!! Once you try them you will see what i mean. Stay tuned for the next badminton racket post!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Apacs Badminton UK Have Delivered

Well here are the goodies from Apacs UK as promised. I will take some more photos of them as i go along. What they have sent me is...
1. Edgesaber 10
2. Edgesaber 7
3. Nanopower 8000
4. Nano 755 Power
5. Dri fit top
6. Apacs racket bag
7. 2 replacement grips
8. 2 sets of Apacs Ti Spider 66 strings
9. One tube of Apacs Aero Flight 700 goose feather shuttles
10. One tube of Apacs Aero-Space 600 plastic shuttles

I will let you know all the different specs and stuff when i write up the reviews and give them a good testing on court. Also, these 4 badminton rackets are samples of what is available in the Uk at present. There are other models on the way, and i will also be able to get my hands on them and test them when they arrive, courtesy of Apacs UK.

The Edgesaber 7 and 10 are brand new out of the packet, and the Nanopower 8000 and the Nano 755 Power are demo models but are in as new condition. I have a badminton match tommorrow and i will use the Edgesaber 10 first, nothing like getting stuck in straight away. Stay tuned folks.