Equipment Reviews

Below you will find the opinions of club members  on the equipment that we have tried out recently. We think these reviews may be helpful as they give some insight into how the equipment works for the typical club player, rather than for some world star with almost flawless technique. If we can find a good deal for the reviewed item we will post a link or an add below it for you.

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Blades

Manufacturer: Stiga                   Model: Carbonado 145, straight handle

Reviewer: Ron Vincent

Well, what can I say? With their new carbon technology, Stiga has produced a couple *very* exciting blades, this one, the 145, with a wide “sweet spot” area. This review centers on the 145 model, although I did try the 190 (during a Salem, OR, Bengtsson camp), which I will review separately. Weighing in at a reasonable 88g or so, I can say without question, it is the fastest blade I have ever played with, considering the rubber that I have tried on it to this point. It is a beast. Most recently using Tibhar MX-S (2.1), the ball simply explodes off the racket, even using the new 40+ poly balls such as 3-star Nittaku or Chinese Palio. I would almost be afraid to try the 40 celluloid 3-star Nittaku. The main issue is control and ball dwell time. Serve and return of serve is problematic unless you are VERY careful or using a softer sponge rubber. Pushes tend to be higher and longer. The pace of a simple drive is just amazing with this blade, although the ball seems to throw a bit high with an occasional “shooter.” The ball is upon your opponent now, whereas a different blade with identical rubber would not yield such a response with a similar stroke. Very efficient energy transfer, it seems. I am currently trying various rubbers such as Cornilleau Target-series H47, X51, S39, and M43 and the Stiga Airoc. With the sponge-hardness variance in the Target-series, it will be interesting to see the results after trying. Equally intriguing would be trying the other “poly ball enhanced” rubbers coming out on the market. I will report back … stay tuned and check back. This is good stuff!

Speed: 9.8/10                 Control: 4.5/10

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Manufacture:Stiga           Model: Carbonado 190, straight handle

Reviewer: Ron Vincent

From my perspective, some things regarding the Stiga 190 Carbonado blade are shared with its counterpart, the 145 Carbonado. But there appear to be differences as well. From my experience, the sweet spot seems more evident outside the center of the blade, centered more toward the outer perimeter inside by a few inches. General control and ball dwell time seems much better, with serve and return of serve more in line with other carbon blades I’ve used. It’s easier to keep pushes lower, shorter and closer to the net. Loops seem to produce more top-spin, and can be slowed-down or reigned-in more, also with good sidespin variation. With drives and flat smashes, the ball also does not seem to blast off the racket like the 145, in my test case using the Cornilleau Target Pro H47 on both sides. The rubber could very well be part of the behavior, and honestly I have not tried other sponge on the 190. The ball throw seems perhaps a bit lower, although quite comparable to the 145. Also, you must hit mid-distance shots with a bit more effort than the 145 to get a comparable result, especially with the poly ball. Overall, a blade showing more control with the popular offensive rubbers. Trying to find the perfect rubber match for each of the 145 and 190 blades to suit your desired speed and control, combined with the new poly balls, all make for fun experiments!

Speed: 8.5/10 Control: 6/10

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Manufacturer: Butterfly      Model: Photino Light

Reviewer: Chris Ellis

I’ve been playing with this blade for 6 months, and am very pleased with it. Its a very light responsive blade. Very fast with a lot of feedback. Quite a lot of feel. Its very good for close to the table play, the weight makes flicks and short close-to-the-table counter loops easy. It does not have quite as much power as some (as for example the new Super ZLC blades) and it is not as good as some heavier blades for away-from-the-table play, but it is still quite good. Quick flat hitting with it is easy because of the weight, and the brief contact with he ball this allows negates the effects of a lot of my opponents spin. I find blocking and pushing with this blade requires good touch, I like the way the blade allows me to be aggressive blocking fast loops. My sense is that this is an excellent close-to-the-table attackers blade, and a good choice for an all around attacker. It might be a bit too “twitchy” for someone looking for maximal control or who plays a variety of attack and defense.

Speed: 8/10  Control: 7/10

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Manufacturer: Butterfly     Model: Gergely Carbon

Reviewer: Ron Vincent

Weighing in at a hefty 93g, the Butterly Gergely Carbon (I have the flared handle), is perhaps one of the fastest blades that Butterfly produces. If you have a close-to-the-table offensive game, this is the blade for you. However,  you need to be in good shape to use it as when you add some thick tensioned sponge it may approach 195 – 200g total weight! I’ve used it with Donic BlueFire JP-01 and M1 Turbo (both Max), and it was super fast for close blocks and flat hits or flicks on the backhand, with decent control, but you need to be careful, because it is not too forgiving. On the forehand, I tried Tibhar MX-P Evolution (Max), and it gave me some very fast close-to-table forehand drives and decent mid-distance spin and loops, but in the over-the-table spin game it was just too fast, with too short a dwell time for me to control.   At a bit below $100, it is a great choice if you don’t want to go the ZLF/ZLC route…. Or to the “Holy Grail” of Butterly blades, the Zhang Jike Super ZLC.

Speed: 9+/10 Control: 6/10

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Rubbers

Manufacturer: Butterfly    Model:  Tenergy 80

Reviewer: Chris Ellis

I’m an over-the-table attacker, and over the last year I have experimented with various products by Donic, Tibhar, Yasaka and Butterfly. Tenergy 80 is my current pick as a forehand rubber. I find it faster than Tenergy 05 with similar spin and control.  Its not the fastest or spiniest nor does it have the best control, but it has a very nice combination of all three. It definitely allows me to play a variety of attacking shots. Like 05 it’s a loopers rubber but its quite nice for flat hitting too. When I’m aggressive it seems to give me a lot of control and shot making options. However,  if I am not the aggressor in a game it seems quite receptive to my opponents spin.

Speed: 9/10   Spin: 8.5/10   Control: 6.5/10   Gears: 9/10

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Manufacturer: Tibhar   Model: MX-P Evolution (Max)

Reviewer: Ron Vincent

One of the nicest “tensioned” rubbers out there, the Tibhar MX-P Evolution (Max) has a decently hard sponge and a good, grippy topsheet. On the right blade (I have it on both the Butterfly Gergely and Primorac carbon models), it does well attacking close-in, with normal drives on BH and FH, or mid-distance, say, back to 15 feet when flat hitting or looping. Overall it seems to have a higher throw when spinning from mid-distance. Close-to-the-table, I found that it provides quite good control for BH blocking and flicking, and decent spin. It is a heavy sponge, so be careful which blade you match it to with respect to your game style. Although an attacking rubber, some better control is possible with chopping or lobbing. One downside to the rubber is that, if it is not maintained,  the topsheet seems to degrade faster than others in its class, such as the Tenergy series.

Speed: 9/10   Spin: 8/10   Control: 7/10   Gears: 7.5/10

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Manufacturer: Cornilleau    Model:  Target Pro GT-H47

Reviewer: Chris Ellis

I’m not sure quite how to describe this rubber. It’s just a little different from everything else. It has a lot of catapult effect. It plays a little like Evolution MX-P but with more speed, and it seems to have more gears. Driving and looping with it is easy. My loops tend to be faster and lower than with, say, Tenergy 80 or 05. You can hear when your loops are really spinning hard as the rubber produces a definite clicking sound when the rubber makes the correct contact with the ball. Brush loops seem a little harder to produce and require better timing than with some of the more common rubbers. However, just occasionally, the ball seems to unexpectedly fly really long. I think this must be when the big catapult effect kicks in and my technique is a little off. Interestingly blocking and pushing with Target Pro is a dream, it seems less responsive to incoming spin than many rubbers this fast and spiny. I have hit both celluloid and poly balls (Nittaku two-stars made in Japan) with the Target Pro, and I’m guessing that this rubber will help with the transition. It seemed that the poly balls reacted to it much like the celluloid ones but with one big difference, I couldn’t generate the same spin on my loops. This rubber just replaced Tenergy 80 as my favorite forehand rubber, but it just has too much kick for my backhand.

Speed: 9/10   Spin: 8.5/10   Control: 7.5/10   Gears: 8/10

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Manufacturer: Cornilleau  Model:  Target Pro GT-S39

Reviewer: Ron Vincent

Having reviewed the Target Pro GT-H47 sponge, this is installment #2 on the great line of Cornilleau European tensor sponge rubbers. The fascinating thing about this series of four (and I’ve tried them all), is that that really *do* produce individualised behaviours on these two sponge offerings, the H47 and S39. The test blade for S39 is the greased-lightning Stiga Carbonado 145 blade, so that might taint the results a tad. It is installed (Red, Max) on my forehand, my nemesis for receive-of-serve. Saying that, S39 is much improved on touch as compared to the H47 for both receive and serve themselves. Good, short returns, and great first ball open if the opportunities are there. As mentioned in the first H47 review, there is a definite “click” sound when looping the ball. Looping the ball with S39, the clicking sound seems deeper and a bit louder, as is exhibited by more prolonged dwell time, with a similar stroke using H47, and….surprise….*much* more topspin than H47. This, folks, is one of the best topspin sponges I’ve tried with this 145 blade emulating the old-fashioned “big-arm, top or side, or both” loop drive of the 1970’s, a-la Istvan Jonyer or Tibor Klampar, and…yes, I’m working hard on it, the fast-bent elbow Chinese over-the-table loop drive. Be it known, however, when you change to a more flat-on hit, the click becomes a crack. There seems to be fewer flyers off-the end with this combination as well using our new “friend” the new poly ball. Not to make light, the result is almost musical when varying your ball contact. Two thumbs up for this baby!

Speed: 8.5/10   Spin: 9+/10   Control: 8/10   Gears: 8/10

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Manufacturer: Yasaka  Model: Rising Dragon

Reviewer: Chris Ellis

Just put a sheet of this new Yasaka rubber on my Photino Light. The is very interesting stuff. A firm fast sponge combined with a tacky top sheet. First impression was the sightly low throw of the rubber compared to most of the tensors I have tried recently. It’s also a tacky top-sheet, so the ball is not as reactive on touch shots and services as I’m used too. However, once I got used to it and made my strokes more positive it displayed good control with plenty of spin, aggressive push chops worked particularly well. Driving with this rubber was interesting, again if the stroke was positive the ball reacted well with quite a lot of speed and plenty of control. Killing the ball is excellent, hit it hard and it goes very fast. However, where this rubber really excelled for me was in looping. I could pick up and loop short balls with this rubber that I would have pushed with most of the other rubbers I have tried. The level of spin and speed created was outstanding, which meant that despite the low throw causing me to hit a little long the extra rpm helped bring the ball back down onto the table. For me this is an excellent forehand rubber.

Speed: 9.5/10 Spin: 9.5/10 Control: 8.5/10 Gears: 9/10

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Manufacturer: Victus (TSP)   Model: V>15 Limber

Reviewer: Chris Ellis

I’ve been using this rubber on my backhand for a couple of weeks. I tried it as a much cheaper substitute (~$35) for Tenergy 80fx. This is for me a good substitute. It’s very linear, what I put in is what I get out of it. It generates acceptable levels of spin and speed. It’s perhaps a tad slower and a little spinners than the 80fx I was using, but it seems to have very good control, is good for serving and is not overly reactive to incoming spin. From this is like a more linear, more controllable, version of MX-P. It might not be the best rubber in the world if you have an explosive backhand, but if you use controlled aggression it might be worth a try. Just a nice all around rubber.

Speed: 8.0/10 Spin: 8.5/10 Control: 9.0/10 Gears: 8.5/10

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Manufacturer: Yasaka  Model: Shining Dragon

Reviewer: Chris Ellis

This is the latest hybrid rubber from Yasaka. It plays a lot like Rising Dragon. The top sheet is a little tackier and the sponge a little softer. Compared to it’s Rising cousin I find the throw to be a little lower. I’ve hit with it on my regular Photino Light and on a Yinhe T-11.  Spin is quite extreme on services and  loops. I can vary my loops nicely with this rubber on the Photino Light but with it on the T-11 it was hard to brush loop. On the slower blade it plays beautifully, its somehow non-reactive to incoming spin yet imparts a lot of spin it you want it to. On the Yinhe blade, which is very fast, I lost control and fired some shots way long. Surprisingly I found it as fast if not faster for my forehand loops than  Rising Dragon. This shouldn’t be as the top sheet is tackier and the sponge softer. I suspect that the lower throw and extra spin just suits me and allows me to wind up more and with greater confidence. Driving, counter-hitting and blocking is easy with this rubber, its not the fastest but its fast enough and the control is excellent. Overall this seems to be an excellent rubber for the close to the table attacker. It does seem to lose something back from the table so it might need to be paired with a very fast blade if used this way.

This rubber has taken over from Rising Dragon as my forehand rubber of choice.

Speed: 9.0/10 Spin: 10/10 Control: 9.0/10 Gears: 9.5/10

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Balls

Manufacturer: Nittaku            Model: Premium 40+ 3-Star Poly Ball (made in Japan)

Reviewer: Chris Ellis

There’s a lot of hype around this ball. It’s supposed to be the new “gold standard”, it’s very difficult to get and quite expensive. Unfortunately I don’t like it. It plays as if it’s very heavy, hard to lift if you are looping or driving, and when you do lift it then it’s hard to keep on the table. It doesn’t behave much like the celluloids that we are used too. For those old enough to remember the Dunlop Barna balls from long ago the new poly Nittaku balls are their reincarnation. In my opinion this ball has a different trajectory to the celluloids, it reacts less with the spin early in its trajectory and more later. I get surprised when the ball “swings late” when hit with sidespin. I have tried the seamless balls from XuShaofa and Palio (from the same factory in China) and find these to provide a more enjoyable playing experience which is closer to the old Nittaku celluloid.

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One Response to Equipment Reviews

  1. John says:

    Ron Vincent,
    I enjoyed your review of the Stiga Carbonado 145. I am a two wing looper & RPB penholder. I tend to play at mid-distance and hit the ball on the descent. Also I tend to easily put side spin on most of my shots. I am considering purchasing the 145. So I’ve got a few questions. Is the high throw angle of a blade real? I thought that was only a function of the rubber. How’s its spin potential? My Xiom Zetro Quad combined with Donic Bluefire M3 on both sides is a spin monster. {love it!} I see its crazy fast. {adjustment time} Lastly is it totally uncontrollable? Big thanks for your reply.

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