Smash it right with the Sotx A9 Smart Racquet

Sotx A9 Smart Racquet package comes with a badminton bag and a charging dock. Just put the racquet's handle inside the dock to charge.
Sotx A9 Smart Racquet package comes with a badminton bag and a charging dock. Just put the racquet's handle inside the dock to charge.PHOTO: SOTX

Sotx might not be a household badminton racquet name in Singapore, but this Chinese brand has its own following in China and Europe.

The company recently launched a high-module carbon racquet called the A9 Smart Racquet. Sturdy and lightweight, it feels and plays like any high-performance badminton racquet.

But unlike other racquets, the A9 has a sensor built into its handle, that tracks stroke types and stroke speed and provides feedback during games.

The package comes with a badminton bag and a cool-looking white charging dock that seems to take its design inspiration from Apple's Mac Pro. Just put the racquet's handle inside the dock to charge. Depending on the game's intensity, it can last between two and four hours on a full charge.

You need to download the Smart Badminton app (available for Android and iOS) on your smartphone. Here, you can set the duration of each session and the target number of swings you want to achieve in each session.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $495, available at crazybadmanshop.online

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 90g

  • RATING

  • DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

Next, pair the app with the racquet. Make sure the pairing takes place at a spot where there are no other Bluetooth devices, as these might interfere with the pairing process.

When you finish a game, simply refresh the app to download the latest data. The app shows the total number of swings as well as the number of smashes, drives, lifts and slices you have made.

Based on the percentage of your different strokes, the app will show you what kind of player you are - for instance, whether you are an offensive or balanced player.

The app also shows the calories burnt and the maximum speed of your swings. It felt good to know that my smashes can hit a maximum speed of 276kmh.

The app also lets you have the option of switching to real-time feedback. This option allows you to see only the strength, speed and angle of your smashes in real time. This is a great tool for those who want to fine-tune their smashes.

However, the A9 has a tendency to detect drives and clears as smashes. Lobs or slices were picked up more accurately.

In addition, the app does not have any video-recording feature to record your strokes and tag them with the data collected. It would have been useful to be able see if your technique is correct.

While the app has videos teaching you how to grip a racquet, make a drop shot or deliver a smash, the audio is in Mandarin with no English subtitles.

Despite its hefty price tag, the A9 comes as an unstrung racquet. So you will have to make a trip to Queensway Shopping Centre or other badminton shops to string the racquet.

There is a cheaper model - the A3 Smart - which costs $320. The difference between the two models is that the A9's shaft stiffness is lower, which makes it more suited to advanced players. The more flexible stem allows for more stroke variations.

Trevor Tan

• Verdict: The Sotx A9 Smart Racquet is the racquet to get for badminton players who want to know how well they are really doing. If you have the moolah.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline 'Smash it right with the Sotx A9 Smart Racquet'. Print Edition | Subscribe