Review: Improve your game, set and match with Zepp Tennis 2

Zepp Tennis 2

Zepp Tennis 2
71.25

Design

8/10

    Ease of use

    7/10

      Use of information

      7/10

        Motivation

        7/10

          Pros

          • Works on any racket, 3 ways to attach
          • Highlight reel and cool video effects
          • Long battery life
          • Lots of social options
          • Priced lower than direct competition

          Cons

          • Difficulty identifying some shots
          • Does not show trends
          • Protrudes slightly from racket

          Back in the summer Zepp released the second generation of its smart tennis sensor. Unlike some of its competition, you can attach it to any racket and it will monitor key performance metrics so you can improve your technique on the court.

          There are some key differences between the Zepp Tennis 1 and 2. The new device offers a highlight camera, additional performance metrics and enhanced social features. It also features longer battery life, a quicker charge time and more internal smarts.

          Essential reading: Tennis gadgets and trackers to improve your game

          I’ve been taking Zepp’s latest tennis tracker through its paces. What follows are my impressions.

          Design
          Features and software
          Overview

          View technical specs


          Design

          In the box, Zepp Tennis 2 arrives with the coin sized sensor, a Pro Mount, Flex Mount, Insert Mount and a proprietary USB charging cable. To complete the kit there is also a free iOS and Android mobile app which you will need to download.

          You attach the little gadget in one of three ways. Via the Flex Mount which works on any racket and can be reused, the Pro Mount which can be stuck on the butt cap with a stick-on holder, and an Insert Mount which only works on selected models. The multiple mount options are pretty well done and easy to use.

          It is worth noting, whichever of the three options you choose, the sensor will protrude slightly from the racket. While not ideal, I did not find it to be a hindrance during play. It does make a good talking point as your opponent is likely to notice and ask questions.

          The sensor itself is incredibly small and light. You’ll barely feel it on your racket as it weighs just 6 grams. Additionally, the weight of the mounts are as follows: 2.3 grams (Pro Mount), 1.98 grams (Insert Mount) and 15 grams (Flex Mount). In terms of dimensions, Zepp Tennis 2 comes in at 25.4mm x 25.4mm x 12.3mm (L x W x H).

          When it comes to convenience, the Insert Mount is clearly the best option. You pop out the butt cap of your racket and click the mount into place. Then simply insert and twist the sensor. To see if your favorite tennis gear is compatible, check the racket list on Zepp’s website.

          I play with a slightly older model which is not compatible so opted for the Flex Mount instead. With this option, you slip the Green rubber holder around the butt of your racket. It takes a bit of stretching, but once in place it stays there. If you prefer, it is possible to wrap an over-grip over the mount for better grip and comfort during play. I did not find this necessary.

          Keep in mind, specific racket information does not influence measurements. However, specifying the correct mount does. So be sure to specify the mount type in the app before starting play!

          The sensor is not water resistant but Zepp says it can function with “light water exposure”. So sweating or light rain should not cause any issues.

          Hidden inside the little gadget are the brains of the system which consist of dual accelerometers, dual 3-axis gyroscopes and flash storage memory which holds up to 2,000 swings. As mentioned, Zepp has added more internal sensors the second time around to ensure better accuracy.

          Charging is done via a magnetic charging cable, and usually takes between 1 and 2 hours. Simply turn the sensor 180 degrees or until it snaps into place. The charger is keyed with a magnet to ensure it’s attached correctly and it features a multi-color charging light to supplement the light on the sensor. The orange blinking LED indicates that the sensor is charging, and green is your signal that its fully topped up.

          The battery will keep the little gadget going for up to 8 hours, which is awesome battery life for a tennis tracker. To be on the safe side, the company recommends you top-up before use. But in reality you should be able to squeeze a few sessions between charges. For sensor usage, click the power button anytime to know the battery level as well as it’s working status. This allows the sensor to be used in games without a distracting blinking LED.


          Features and software

          The set up is pretty straightforward and you can start getting stats pretty quickly. As with all battery operated devices, you need to make sure you fully charge prior to first use to avoid any future issues related to low battery. Then install the Zepp Tennis app on your smartphone and create an account in the app by answering a few basic questions. Nothing a regular user should have any problems with.

          Now its time to pair your device. Turn on the sensor by pressing the power button for 4 seconds. A white LED will flash twice indicating that its switched on. To connect, just choose the sensor name from the list of available ones in the app. This might also be a good time to do any firmware updates. From this point on, all future connections between the sensor and your smartphone should be made automatically.

          Having read through Amazon reviews, I’ve noticed some people were having problems getting the Bluetooth sensor to connect. Apart from a bit of touch and go the first time I paired, all subsequent pairings with my iPhone were done automatically and with absolutely no issues.

          The app is fairly easy to navigate. The tabs at the bottom show the various options. Zepp has gone big this year on social features with a Facebook type feed in the app where you can add friends, posts, comments and more. The History tab shows your complete match record, including each day‘s performance, match reports, and the video album.

          To start playing go to the app’s Record screen, select a court, invite your playing partners and start your match. All swing information will automatically be recorded and viewable once you have completed your match. There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to starting a recording, but once you get the hang of it you realize its fairly straightforward.

          You also have the option to assign someone on the sidelines to act as scorekeeper, perhaps a tennis coach or a friend who owes you a favor. They can track the match point by point and the app will use their inputs to generate advanced statistics about the match. You can also set up the phone on a tripod to automatically capture great moments in the game on video. But more about that later.

          Zepp Tennis 2 captures over 1,000 data points per second, and wirelessly sends that information to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. While you’re playing you’ll be able to see basic info on the smartphone, but its after the match when the app really comes to life.

          When the match is finished, confirm the score and connect the sensor to synchronize the data. The app will use the information to update the day report and to generate match statistics and video highlights.

          Like the original, Zepp Tennis 2 provides you with very detailed statistics. You can drill into info on forehands, backhands, serves, volleys and smashes, including the power generated with each stroke. Or break this down further by spin type (top spin, flat, slice) and look at separate performance reports for each. Tap the # or % to display the number or percentage of total strokes. It is also possible to aggregate the data into daily, monthly and annual shot statistics.

          Ball speed and ball spin speed are additional metrics that are only available on the second generation device. You’ll also know how well you are hitting those forehands and backhands through sweat spot accuracy statistics for each type of shot. This can help you cut down on unforced errors and evaluate where your game needs work. The app will also show your active time on the court and total shot count to determine the intensity of your session.

          Its worth noting, the statistics are based on the type of swing and type of spin type, so you don’t get individual shot by shot analysis. Also, there are no charts illustrating your progress from match to match, which can make it a bit difficult to monitor your progression. Perhaps a software update might rectify this. I imagine it should not be too difficult to do.

          The data itself is hard to verify so its difficult to vouch for its absolute accuracy. I’m of the opinion that no two tennis sensors will dish out the same statistics. But as long as you’re using the same gadget each session, you are comparing like with like so are bound to improve, particularly at the amateur level. Beside a tennis coach, this is the next best thing – and much cheaper! If you want to get better you need to have a rough idea of your swing mechanics.

          One thing was abundantly clear though, the sensor has issues detecting serves. Many of these are classified as forehands. I also suspect some of my backhands were classified as forehands. But then again, this may have something to do with my not so perfect technique. Hard to say.

          The other area where Zepp has gone big this year is video highlights. If you’re the sort of person who likes to make videos of your play, you’ll be happy to know the sensor comes with lots of tools for this purpose.

          To activate the feature start recording a session as instructed above, and than tap the camera icon. This will initiate Smart Capture video recording. You will of course need to position the camera at a good angle or have someone film the session. Once activated, the camera will record rallies and generate individual clips of shots for a highlight reel. Zepp will automatically pick the highlights based on key performance metrics such as the longest rally, fastest forehand/backhand/serve and fastest spin on forehand/backhand.

          Furthermore, if you or someone else inputs the match score and tags shot results throughout the game, the software can overlay that information so that it looks just like a professional broadcast. Or how about adding special effects such as ball tracer, performance metrics or slow motion effects? Lots of cool video editing tools to play with! The clips can then be shared on the social feed for bragging rights.

          Here is a nice little video demonstrating some of the effects.

           

          Finally, there is also a social community for Zepp Tennis players. Your match results are ranked on the leaderboards for each court, and for your personal ranking amongst those you follow. This will enable you to see who is the best among your friends, keep track of their progress and match results, share your favorite moments, and challenge Zepp enthusiasts to a match.

          A nice additional touch is that you can connect the Zepp Tennis 2 sensor directly to the Apple Watch for detailed info of your strokes during play. This is something that even made it on to Apple’s Keynote speech at WWDC 2017. The Zepp Apple Watch app will allow you to see your heart rate, calories, stroke count, ball speed, ball spin, and sweet spot percentage, all in real-time. For navigating between stats, simply use the digital crown.


          Overview

          Summary

          Zepp’s second generation device is a pretty decent effort at a smart tennis sensor. There are a few glitches here and there, but overall its pretty good at providing you with an unbiased report of your performance. The sensor works with your existing tennis gear, it comes with multiple options to attach, its simple to use and the app is well made. There are also some cool video editing effects and a growing social community.

          While the performance statistics are very detailed, I can’t help but feel the sensor is more suited for the casual rather than the well advanced player or aspiring professional. The algorithm has difficulties identifying some shots and there are a few app omissions such as a timeline of your progress. Most of this can be addressed via firmware and software updates. And its fair to say, none of the current crop of tennis sensors are 100% correct when it comes to identifying your shots. For some reason, most of them struggle to identify your serve.

          Zepp Tennis 2 Swing & Match Analyzer
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          Zepp Tennis 2 is the kind of product that you may have never given much thought to, but after using it you’ll want it around a lot more often. It’s great fun and its something that will enhance your experience on the court.

          For most people who play at an amateur level, the sensor gives the feedback and statistics necessary to take their game up a notch. This nifty gadget provides interesting insights without you having to go the extra mile of getting lessons or getting feedback from a more skilled player.

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