Congrats to the 3 Winners!
We selected our 3 winners of the Bushnell Neo+ GPS Watches….and they are:
(MSP1404, Mark Farkhan & Ron Cuffie)
(Written By: GolfSpy Dave) As computing power gets cheaper and smaller, the overall trend in electronic devices is definitely toward packing more and more features into the new models. Can you imagine a new iPhone press conference that doesn’t have that “one more thing”? Want to get fired from your job as an Apple engineer? Just roll out an iPhone 6 with the exact same specs at the iPhone 5. We expect the new gadget to be more powerful and to do more.
Bushnell’s new Neo+ GPS Watch definitely goes against this increasing complexity trend. The Neo+ GPS Watch is marketed as Golf Distance Made Simple™. Where other GPS units are becoming more and more software dense, including such features as scorekeeping and even the ability to trace your progress around the course, the Neo+ Watch is all about giving you just the basics you need to play golf. Here’s-your-distance-now-hit-the-ball simplicity. The question then becomes, is the Bushnell Neo+ GPS watch too simplistic, or does it in fact give you just what you need to play an accurately-ranged round of golf?
AESTHETICS & DESIGN
Discussing watch aesthetics is almost as dangerous as discussing putter aesthetics. Watch collecting is a serious passion for some. However, many people in the “my phone tells the time” generation have never even owned a watch. The Bushnell Neo+ GPS Watch is a clean looking plastic watch. It reminds me a bit of my “old” 1990’s Casio G-Shock watch (which my son considers “vintage”). The face is large and easy to read. The buttons are huge, but sleek. Even though there are five buttons, you almost don’t notice them when you look at the watch. The band is pre-bent to wrap around your wrist, similar to the styling of the G-Shock as well. The clasp is a standard belt-like closure, which should provide all but the very large or very small wrists a secure fit.
Overall, even though the watch is a bit larger than the titanium Fossil that I usually wear, I found it very comfortable and visually very pleasing. It’s not flashy. It’s totally bling-free. Maybe, based upon the simple intentions of the GPS, a bolder style would seem inappropriate. Although, there is also a white version of the watch if that is more how you roll…
AESTHETICS & STYLE SCORE = 20/20
So what do you need your GPS to do for you on the course? These are the first things that came to my mind:
- Give accurate yardages to multiple important targets (front, middle, back, traps, doglegs, & etc.)
- Be fast
- Have a strong enough battery
- Have data for all of the courses I play
- Keep my score and play statistics
- Be easy to use
- Have something extra to separate it from my iPhone or laser rangefinder
1. Give accurate yardages
As I have said in previous reviews, the whole point of using a rangefinder of any kind is to know the correct yardage to your target. As with every GPS review, I verify the GPS distances whenever possible using a laser. The Neo+ GPS Watch only provides you with distance to front/middle/ and back of green. While this is a limited data set compared to other units in the marketplace, the distances are accurate to a degree well within my ball-striking skill needs.
2. Be Fast
Odds are, if you are using the Neo+ GPS Watch, then the watch is already on your wrist. When you need a number, look at your wrist. That seems like quick access to me. When you walk up to the ball, the yardage number does take a touch of time to stabilize, but it is definitely not longer than any other GPS unit, nor is it more time consuming than taking a reading with a laser. Waking up your smart phone to access a GPS app will take more time. The watch also is very quick to lock on to the GPS satellites.
3. Have a strong enough battery
In watch mode, the battery will last for about a year between charges. Measuring battery life in years, rather than hours, seems good. When you are running the GPS the battery life decreases, but it still lasts quite a while. Multiple rounds per charge are not a problem. If you are a “forgot to charge” kind of person, you will really appreciate the longevity. I think that the simplicity of the GPS readings likely contributes to the extended battery life, though that is just my speculation.
On a side note, the charger for the watch is a little different. At one end of the cable, you have a standard USB plug. At the other end, there is this crazy-looking clamp with little metal teeth. These teeth plug into ports on the underside of the watch, while a rubber pad on the other side of the clamp rests on the face. I imagine that the reason for this interface is that it saves space in the watch’s interior when compared to a standard USB connector. Regardless, it’s a bit different and may take you all of 10 seconds to figure out. Don’t fret, the display on the watch will tell you that you have it right and that the watch is charging.
4. Have data for all of the courses I play.
Right off the bat you get access to 25,000 courses worldwide. With many of the pre-loaded units, this 25K seems to be the magic number. The Bushnell Neo+ GPS Watch did have the data for every course that I played with it, but it didn’t have all of the data that I usually like to have. Front/middle/back of green represent about 75%-ish of the numbers that I want from a GPS. What I also like to see are the numbers that I cannot shoot with a laser such as doglegs, traps, and so on.
I think that if you are on a course that you have played many times before, than the front/middle/back yardages will suit you just fine. Maybe the measurement complexity of the other units out there has spoiled me a bit. The Neo+ GPS Watch numbers were good, but I would like more of them. I would love to see them get the unit to give the same set of numbers as the handheld Neo+. Perhaps this is coming down the road…
5. Keep my score and my play statistics.
No scoring or stats on this GPS. Distance Made Simple™
6. Be easy to use
So first you put on the watch. Next you hit menu to get “Play Golf”. You then pick the course from the 25,000 preloaded courses. Don’t worry, it knows where you are so only close courses are suggested. Once selected, all you have to do is walk the course and look at the watch when you need a number. It even auto advances as you walk to the next tee. Silly easy.
7. Have something extra to separate it from my iPhone or laser rangefinder
OK, so we have established that the Bushnell Neo+ GPS Watch was never intended to be the complex data providing and collecting machine like its largely more expensive hand-held competitors. We are back to the Golf Distance Made Simple™ tag line. Without belaboring the obvious, the “something extra” that this unit brings is the fact that you can use it as a watch when you are both on and off the course.
If you don’t wear a watch, this may not be an added value feature to you. The watch side does have the standard features like telling time, and the ability to set an alarm. I know, amazing… The GPS nature of the watch does allow it to also have an odometer function though, something that my Casio can’t do. If you run, cycle, or ?, then the odometer may be a feature that you really appreciate and use.
The other question that needs answering is “Is it comfortable on the course during play?” While I do wear a watch at work, I do not wear one when I play golf. Keep that in mind when I say that wearing the Bushnell Neo+ GPS Watch did not seem to have any effect on my golf swing. After a few holes, I didn’t notice it until I looked at it for yardage. The comfort was good when the temperatures were cool. However, when the temps jumped into the 90’s and above, wearing the watch generated a bit too much wrist sweat for my liking. At this point, I took it off and fastened it through a belt loop instead. Not quite the intended attachment, but it worked, and the display is large enough to read even from the hip rather than the wrist.
PERFORMANCE SCORE: 47/60
The Bushnell Neo+ GPS Watch retails for $199.99. For a GPS unit with intentionally-limited features, I think that this is OK, but perhaps a touch high, price. Bushnell’s own non-watch Neo+ has more features and can be found online for about $130. The watch GPS units from Garmin are more expensive, but I have not used one of the Garmin units, so I can’t really say if it is competitive with the Neo+ watch. Based upon the literature I have read though, the Bushnell watch kills the Garmin in terms of battery life. Bushnell’s watch runs as a watch for a year or for three rounds of golf. The Garmin lasts for three weeks as a watch, or 8 hours of golf. So vs. the other watch GPS units, value is solid, but it seems the handhelds like the Neo+ may give you more bang for the buck.
VALUE SCORE: 16/20
If you look from the perspective of Golf Distance Made Simple™, then Bushnell’s Neo+ GPS Watch definitely does what it is advertised to do. This is a quick, accurate, and very easy to use GPS unit housed in a simple, yet stylish, watch. The points lost in this review were not lost due to poor performance, but rather due to the lack of the features that I like to see in a GPS (distance to hazards, data/score recording) that were left out intentionally by Bushnell. Again, the marketing point is Golf Distance Made Simple™, and Bushnell definitely hit their intended mark with the unit. If you want a GPS that gives you measurements to front, back, and middle of the green, and also doubles as a casual watch, give the Neo+ GPS Watch a look.
TOTAL SCORE: 83/100
Win 1 of 3 Bushnell Neo+ GPS Watches!
To be in the random drawing to win one of three Bushnell Neo+ GPS Watches, simply answer the following questions in the comments section:
1. Do you wear a watch when you play golf?
2. Do you think that the distances provided by the Neo+ GPS Watch are sufficient for your game? If not, what other distances would you like to see?