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Bushnell Neo

The Bushnell Neo provides an excellent blend of basic golf GPS functionality and an extremely attractive price point (it is the least expensive device we tested). In an environment in which manufacturers seem to be competing solely on the number of fancy bells and whistles, the Neo is a throwback, providing basic distances to the front, middle and back of the green, and to up to four hazards/targets, and doing it for 1/3 of the price of the more sophisticated units.

It has a basic appeal, particularly for those who don’t want to have to read a manual to figure out how to use their golf GPS device. If you’re looking for a straightforward, easy-to-use GPS device, this is the one for you.

You are the One, Neo. You see, you may have spent the last few years looking for me, but I have spent my entire life looking for you.
Yes, there will be quotes from “The Matrix” throughout the review. What did you expect when the device is named “Neo”?

SCORE
91
GRADE
A-
Setup
92
Course Availability
93
Ease of Use
92
Course Details
80
Features
72
Accuracy
84
Cost/Value
95

Pros:

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Small and lightweight – you barely notice it in your front pocket
  • Great value, even when recurring subscription fees are included

Cons:

  • Limited functionality
  • Holds only ten courses at a time
  • A couple of inaccuracies found in course mapping

Retail price: $149.99


92 / A-

Setup
The Good: Quick and easy process, and everything you need is included in the box – no external downloads necessary. You can get the Neo up and running in no time.

Agent Brown: The name is Neo.
Agent Smith: We’ll need a search running.
Agent Jones: It has already begun.

The Bad: Nothing we can think of!
Details:

  • Required Steps. Setting up the Bushnell Neo is a process similar to those for most other devices, involving:
    • registering on their web site to create an account;
    • using the included CD to install “desktop manager” software on a PC;
    • searching for desired golf courses through the web interface;
    • downloading the courses to your PC; and
    • using the desktop manager software to transfer (or “sync”) the courses to the device.
  • Time Required for Setup. The entire setup process took us about 15 minutes, including syncing courses.

What’s in the Box: The Bushnell Neo comes with:

Required Downloads: None! It was nice to have the software installation CD and a printed owner’s manual, saving us from the web downloads that many manufacturers require.


    93 / A-

    Course Availability
    Critical Golf Test: iGolf (the company that provides maps to Bushnell) has been hard at work, and the Bushnell Neo now comes in with 93% coverage in our test of course availability across a representative group of 100 courses, which put it average among devices tested. Note that we only count a course as “covered” if mapping of hazards/targets is available along with custom points – which excluded a few courses where only distances to the front/middle/back of the green were plotted. For $150 plus the annual subscription fee, you ought to know how far it is to the fairway bunker! The Neo’s overall ranking was slightly lower for new courses (only 16 out of 20).
    Manufacturer’s Claims: Bushnell’s course database is provided by its partner, iGolf, and iGolf claims to have more than 22,000 courses in the database. This places it in the middle of the pack.
    Our conclusion? Course coverage will be critical for the more basic units, and that staying in the middle of the pack would ultimately be crippling to the success of the Neo (or any similar device).
    Trinity: Please Neo, you have to trust me.
    Neo: Why?
    Trinity: Because you have been down there Neo, you know that road, you know exactly where it ends. And I know that’s not where you want to be.


    92 / A-

    Ease of Use
    The Good: There’s a lot to love. The Neo is as intuitive as it gets – the buttons are clearly labeled and the menus are easy to navigate. The device is so small and lightweight that you barely notice it’s in your pocket. Tremendously long battery life means you can go multiple rounds without needing to recharge.
    Neo: Am I dead?
    Morpheus: Far from it

    The Bad: Smallest screen among the devices we tested. And deciphering the three-to-four letter abbreviations for the marked targets can sometimes be akin to cracking the Enigma Code of the Nazis in World War II (you get doozies like “MFW” for “Middle Fairway Water Lay Up” and “MFWC” for “Middle Fairway Water Carry”).
    Details:

    • Buttons. There is a row of six rubber buttons on the bottom of the Neo – power/backlight, selecting the view, up, down, OK/mark shot and escape/menu. The buttons are a bit small and tightly spaced, so those with large hands may have a bit of trouble.
    • Screen. There is a price to be paid for the compact size of the device, as the black and white screen on the Bushnell Neo was the smallest one we encountered in our testing. While the font size of the yardages was sufficient, the font size for the menu options is a bit small. Brightness was never a problem, as the screen was clearly visible in all lighting conditions.
    • Form Factor. The length and width of the Neo is roughly the size of a credit card (of course it is a little thicker), making it the most compact device we tested. At 3.1 ounces, it was also the second lightest device, coming in 0.15 ounces heavier than the IZZO SWAMI 1500.
    • Starting a Round. Getting started on a round is as simple as turning the device on, selecting “Play Golf” from the menu that appears, and choosing the course from the list of courses that are loaded on the device (the Neo holds up to 10 courses).
    • Battery Life. In our experience with the Neo, battery life was a dream. After four (yes, that’s right, 4) rounds of golf, the battery meter still displayed 50% charge remaining. Even if the meter is a bit ambitious, it’s pretty clear that you don’t have to charge the Neo very often (which is excellent if you happen to forget to bring the wall charger with you on a weekend golf trip).

    Check out the Critical Golf comparison of ease of use.


    80 / B-

    Course Detail and Mapping
    The Good: The Neo one-ups simpler devices (like the IZZO SWAMI 1500) that only show distances to the front, middle and back of the green by also providing distances to up to 4 hazards/targets.
    The Bad: The number of hazards and targets actually mapped was usually less than four, leaving our information junkie reviewers craving more data, particularly when we were playing an unfamiliar course.
    Morpheus: Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

    Or knowing the distance to clear the bunker and hitting into the bunker.

    Details:

    • Views. The Bushnell Neo provides two different types of views:
      • Target View: The target view is text only, using three-to-four letter abbreviations such as “RFB” for “Right Fairway Bunker” and shows 2 hazard/target distances along with the distance to the center of the green (there are two such screens per hole, giving the user distances to up to 4 hazards/targets per hole). The abbreviations can be a bit cryptic, and there were typically only 2-3 points mapped per hole (as described below in “Features”, users can custom map their own points to fill any empty slots in the allocated 4 points per hole). In addition, when there are multiple fairway bunkers on the right, the mere description “RFB” isn’t particularly illuminating.
      • Green View: The green view (which also only displays text) shows the distance to the front, middle and back of the green.
    • Hole Information. All of the views display the current hole, but there isn’t a notation of par or hole handicap anywhere.
    • Custom Mapping. Users can customize an existing course map or even create their own new course map. As noted above, additional hazards/targets can be added on an existing course map (up to the maximum of 4 hazards/targets), and the user can also delete a previously marked hazard/target and replace it with a custom point. A new course can be created, with up to 4 hazards/targets marked on each hole along with the front, middle and back of each green.

    72 / C-

    Features
    The Good: Users can track how far they hit their shots – can you really carry your driver 225 yards? Might be good to find out BEFORE you try to carry the creek 225 yards away.
    The Bad: Alas, shot-tracking is about all that the Neo does. A skimpy feature set is the price you pay for not paying much of a price. Perhaps we’ll see more in the next version of the Neo?
    Oracle: Sorry, kid. You got the gift, but it looks like you’re waiting for something.
    Neo: What?
    Oracle: Your next life, maybe. Who knows? That’s the way these things go.

    Details:

    • Shot Tracking. The Bushnell Neo enables users to measure the distance of their shots through the process of pressing the “Shot” button to activate that feature, pressing “Shot” again to mark the starting point and “Shot” one more time to mark the finishing point. None of the shot distance data is saved by the Neo.
    • Score and Statistics. The Neo does not track any scores or statistics.
    • Clock. There is no clock on the Neo.
    • Auto-Advance. There is no ability to auto-advance on the Neo – the user must manually push the “up” or “down” arrow to advance to the next hole.
    • Preferences. Neo users can adjust the screen contrast, the basic unit of distance (yards or meters) and the rate at which the device refreshes GPS distances (you can elect to have the device stop refreshing distances once you stop moving, so there is no vacillation between distances when you’re standing still).

    Check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.


    84 / B

    Accuracy
    Device Accuracy: We experienced no distance accuracy issues in our test of device accuracy, with all distances within the acceptable range of plus or minus 4 yards.

    Mapping Accuracy: When we took the device out for some real-world rounds on a variety of different golf courses, we found readings were generally within the acceptable margin of 3-4 yards from marked sprinkler heads and our laser rangefinder readings, but saw a couple of glitches where the device was approximately 10 yards off. These came on a higher-end course (Chambers Bay, site of the 2010 U.S. Amateur and 2015 U.S. Open). Our unscientific conclusion is that mapping tends to be best on municipal courses, because users will complain if there are inaccuracies on courses that they play on a regular basis. Higher-end courses tend to have fewer errors because there’s little incentive for a user to follow-up with the manufacturer about incorrect data. Inaccuracies are also often found on courses with significant topography – the satellite images that course mappers use flatten everything out into a 2D map. Unfortunately, we live in a 3D world.
    Morpheus: Welcome to the real world.


    95 / A
    Cost/Value

    Retail Price: The retail price of the Bushnell Neo is $149.99, one of the least expensive devices tested.
    Fees for Access to Course Database: Bushnell charges an annual subscription of $34.99, which pays for unlimited access to its course database over the course of the year.
    Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: The Bushnell Neo comes in at an attractive three-year total cost of ownership of $254.96, which makes it the least expensive device we tested.
    Value: Our conclusion is that the Bushnell Neo provides an unprecedented combination of simple user-friendly functionality with a great price point. Bargain-loving users with simple needs will gravitate toward this device.
    Trinity: Neo… nobody has ever done this before.
    Neo: That’s why it’s going to work.


    iGolf Neo

    The iGolf Neo was re-branded under an agreement with Bushnell and is marketed (and reviewed by Critical Golf) as the Bushnell Neo. The iGolf Triton and Saturn are now available as the Bushnell Yardage Pro XG and XGC.


    Bushnell Press Release, January 23, 2009:
    For 2009, under the expanded partnership, Bushnell has acquired the rights to iGolf’s line of handheld golf GPS devices. The popular iGolf Neo handheld GPS will be re-branded and marketed under the Bushnell name, and two new premium devices will be launched as the Bushnell Yardage Pro XG and XGC, previously sold as the iGolf Triton and Saturn, respectively.


    GolfLogix

    GolfLogix for the iPhone is the sister application to the dedicated GolfLogix GPS-8 GPS device. The newest version of the GolfLogix iPhone app adds overhead satellite images of each hole; the previous version we reviewed only provided readings to pre-mapped hazard/target points. The player can use the iPhone’s touch screen to determine both the distance to any point on the satellite image and the distance from the selected point to the flagstick.

    GolfLogix tops the group in number of statistics that are trackable, and is unmatched in course coverage. The GolfLogix application seemingly has everything a user would need (and more), but the application has a few kinks to be worked out. For example, on most holes, GolfLogix will automatically change from the hazard or hole view to a green-only view at somewhere between 150 to 250 (!) yards from the center of the green, which is far earlier than you will often want. To make matters worse, there is no ability to return to the hazard or full hole views. GolfLogix has an annual subscription fee of $20 that also may lead price-conscious users toward applications that charge one-time only fees, such as Golfshot.

    SCORE
    87
    GRADE
    B+
    Course Availability
    100
    Starting a Round
    96
    Ease of Use
    84
    Course Details
    90
    Features
    92
    Accuracy
    90
    Cost/Value
    70

    Pros:

    • Best course coverage in our test
    • Easy to use interface
    • Good statistics tracking, accessible both on the iPhone and online
    • Satellite images and ability to determine distance to any point on the hole

    Cons:

    • Highest priced iPhone golf GPS app available over three years
    • The application auto-advances within the hole much more quickly than desired
    • Not intelligent enough to know when not to ask for statistics detail

    Price: $19.99 annually
    Three-year total cost: $59.97
    Price: Download GolfLogix from iTunes


    100 / A+

    Course Availability
    Critical Golf Test: GolfLogix was the first application to achieve a perfect 100% in our course coverage analysis – impressive!! The ability to leverage the course database that they already built for their GPS-8 makes GolfLogix the clear winner over the other nascent iPhone apps.
    Manufacturer’s Claims: GolfLogix claims to have over 25,000 courses in its database, which places it tops among its iPhone application competitors.


    96 / A

    Starting a Round
    The Good: Nice straightforward process, which loads in a jiffy. You will be reminded to reduce screen brightness and turn off auto-brightness each time you start the app, which is a bit of an annoyance. With the addition of satellite images, the user will also be prompted whether they want to download satellite images (which everyone should do). If you leave GolfLogix in the middle of your round and then return, you have the option to continue that round with all of the information saved from when you began – apps and dedicated golf GPS devices that don’t do this should be ashamed!

    The Bad: If users select to download satellite images, GolfLogix will not allow users to begin play of the round until images for all 18 holes have been downloaded, which can take some time depending on your connection. Also, GolfLogix sorts courses by towns instead of distance, so the nearest course to you may not always be listed first.
    Details:

    • Allows you to initially select the course either by current location (separated into lists by town) or from an alphabetical list based on region.
    • The first time playing you will be asked to join GolfLogix and pay the yearly fee, or continue as a guest for a 24 hour trial period.

    84 / B

    Ease of Use
    The Good: A polished and intuitive interface allows for easy navigation between hole views, scorecard and statistics during play.
    The Bad: GolfLogix takes things too far in its efforts at simplicity. The app switches from hazard view (a list of distances to various hazards and layups) or hole view (full hole satellite images) to green-only view when the user comes anywhere within 150-250 yards of the center of the green, and then DOES NOT allow the user to toggle back to the prior view. Argh! While you may appreciate the simplicity, there more often than not will be situations where you would rather still be in the hazard or hole view – say, if you can’t reach a green from 250 yards out or if you’re off in the woods and need to chip back to the fairway. In the hazard view, GolfLogix stops showing targets/hazards once the user is within 150 yards of the target/hazard. Depending on your abilities (and position on the hole), you may very well be left without critical distance information when you need it.
    Updating of distances is on par with other iPhone applications. With any dedicated GPS device or iPhone golf GPS application, users will want to pause up to 8-10 seconds upon reaching their ball to wait for distances to update.
    Details:

    • Buttons. Back and next buttons move the user both between the hazard and green views, hazard and satellite views, and between holes. There is a button to track shot distances, as well as reset or log the distance following the shot. Dedicated buttons that remain available regardless of view allow the user to quickly move between hole views, statistics, setup, app support and information.
    • Battery Life. Every iPhone golf GPS application that we tested was a battery hog, but the GolfLogix fares better than most. Check out our intro to iPhone golf GPS applications for tips on how to conserve battery life, or you will be left with a dead battery before you know it (or even finish your round!).

    90 / A-

    Course Detail and Mapping
    The Good: GolfLogix generally maps a solid number of hazards/targets, including key bunkers, water, trees, doglegs, and even 100, 125 and 150 yard layups on most par 4s and 5s. The addition of satellite images along with the ability to determine distances to any point on the hole is a big plus.
    The Bad: While the detail included in the hazard view was often exceptional, we were sometimes left wondering why some key targets were omitted, such as the distance to clear bunkers or water hazards (especially when corresponding distances to reach the bunkers or water hazards were shown). And as mentioned before, all the detailed mapping in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t access the views you want, which you often won’t be able to do when tossed into green-only view early during play of the hole. Lastly, we experienced some bugs with the application, such as holes where distances to selected points in satellite view would not be displayed, and other holes where the distances were displayed off the edges of the screen, forcing us to pan left or right to see the actual numbers.
    Details:

    Review of GolfLogix iPhone Golf GPS Application


    Click image for views
    • Views. GolfLogix offers two ways of viewing each hole: either through a hazard/target view or through satellite images. As mentioned previously, from somewhere between 150 and 250 yards from the center of the green, the view will automatically move into green-only view, and you will not be able to return to the hazard or hole view. Users toggle between the two views with a simple push of an on-screen button. One item to note – before you get too excited about the crispness of the satellite images at right, the images we actually experienced during play were nowhere near that clear (ahh, marketing!).
      • Hazard/target view – When in hazard/target view, the distance to the center of the green is displayed at the top (but not the distances to the front or back of the green), followed by a listing of distances to selected hazards and targets with accompanying generic clip art pictures of the hazards/targets. When the user gets within some (seemingly arbitrary, as mentioned) distance of the green, the view switches to provide distances to the front, center and back of the green. This green view contains only a generic picture of a green (which bears no relation to the actual shape of the green or its surroundings), with no ability to place a flagstick to receive a more specific distance estimate. Front and back points are fixed and do not move in relation to the player. Once in this view, the user can’t return to the hazard/target view.
      • Satellite view – An overhead satellite image of the hole, with the ability to zoom in and out at the touch of a button along with the ability the “pinch” to zoom and the also the ability to pan. The satellite view shows the position of the player with a red cross, and also allows the player to touch any desired target point on the image to obtain the distance both to that point and from the selected point to the center of the green. As with the hazard/target view, the user will get unceremoniously kicked into a green-only view all too early in the hole. When in satellite view, the green will be a satellite image of the hole if available, which can range from somewhat clear to beyond blurry. If an image is not available GolfLogix will instead show a graphic image of the green, which is reasonably accurate (though we found holes with missing bunkers or multiple bunkers combined to create one large bunker). A very small amount of area surrounding the green is shown in these green-only views.
    • Hole Information. The hole number and par are available on all screen views. Hole handicap is also provided.
    • Custom Mapping. Like all other iPhone golf GPS applications, GolfLogix does not allow users to add custom hazards or targets to the course map.

    92 / A-

    Features
    The Good: GolfLogix has a solid feature set that holds up well against the competition. If there is something you want to track, GolfLogix more than likely offers it.
    The Bad: A few minor software glitches.
    Details:

    Review of GolfLogix iPhone Golf GPS Application

    Click image for more
    • Shot Tracking. GolfLogix has the ability to track shot distances, and when the user reaches their ball they have the ability to save the distance along with the club used (which the user selects from a customizable “bag”). A nice feature of the GolfLogix is that it provides the player with the longest distance for each club along with average distances.
    • Score and Statistics. The GolfLogix application allows the user to select from a number of different statistics to track. This includes scoring (score and putts) along with drive details (fairway hit, or miss left/right), the number of chip/sand shots, penalty strokes, and even details on each putt (distance of putt and if missed, even how far and in which direction missed!). This is reaching the maximum of what most players will ever want to track, and GolfLogix is wise to allow players to select which of the statistics they want to track, and turn off the rest.
      • A minor quibble is that GolfLogix doesn’t have the intelligence of some of its competitors, such as Golfshot, when it comes to asking for input on statistics. If a player records a 3 on a par 3 with 2 putts, GolfLogix will still ask how many sand shots, chips, and penalty strokes they took for the hole. Other applications save you a bit of data entry by skipping the questions if they aren’t relevant.
      • GolfLogix provides a scoring summary, which will show an image of the player’s scorecard (along with indicators for bogeys, birdies, etc.), total score (but not score relative to par, unfortunately) and current stats on fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts chips/sands and penalties. There is no corresponding hole handicap information shown on scorecards. At any time users can always look at their stats for a prior round (but not the current one) or cumulative stats from previous rounds. This includes full scorecards, scores on par 3s, 4s and 5s, statistics for fairways hit and those missed left or right, GIR, sand shots and chips, number of putts (1, 2 or 3+) and average, scrambling percentages, and detailed putting information.
      • While we do appreciate the breadth of statistics tracked and summarized, we do think the folks at GolfLogix need to either give Edward Tufte or Stephen Few a call, or at the least take some pointers from the competition at Golfshot and create charts that are a bit more polished.
      • GolfLogix makes your scoring and statistics data available online, which is a nice way to review information following the round or share with others.
    • Auto-Advance. The application does not have the ability to automatically advance to the next hole – the user must always manually elect to move to the next hole.
    • Preferences. As noted below, users can also edit the par on a hole, though it was a bit buggy during our use. Users can also select whether to be prompted to enter score and statistics information at the end of each hole.

    90 / A-

    Mapping Accuracy
    We generally had a good experience with the mapping accuracy of GolfLogix, with readings that were consistently within a standard 4 yard range versus marked sprinkler heads and tee boxes. Though pre-mapped green distances to the front, center and back are no longer shown once you are within 30 yards of the center of the green, you can still get green distances under 30 yards when in satellite view. Hazards and targets drop off once the user is within 150 yards of the hazard, or when GolfLogix has decided you only need green information, whichever comes first.

    We noted a couple of errors for holes with incorrect par values: one on a par 4 that was changed to a par 3 several years ago, and another hole marked as a par 4 even though it has always been a par 3. Fortunately, GolfLogix allows the user to fix these incorrect pars during the round and send the corrected information to GolfLogix. Unfortunately it took us several attempts to modify these pars before the corrections were saved to the application.

    As with all apps or dedicated devices that include satellite images from a 3rd party (we are talking about you, Google), some hole images may be out of date. And if you play enough courses, you will eventually find ones that are.


    70 / C-

    Cost/Value
    Retail Price: A one-year subscription for GolfLogix is $19.99, making the cost for one year about average application in our cost comparison test.
    Fees for Access to Course Database: GolfLogix charges a yearly (!) subscription fee of $19.99 to access an unlimited number of courses from the course database.
    Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With a three year total cost of $59.97, the GolfLogix application for the iPhone is the most expensive in our cost comparison (this is even down from an initial $119.85 price tag over three years!).
    Value: From a value standpoint, the great course coverage and user interface can’t offset the relatively high (for an iPhone application) cost over three years.


    Tested: v1.2.1