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Bushnell 1600

OVERALL RATING: 92. GRADE: A-. The Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition is the top-end tournament legal device from the “#1 Rangefinder in Golf” family. While it is the largest and heaviest laser rangefinder tested (even more so given its bulky carry case), and intended for use with two hands, its 7x magnification and large field of view make it a breeze to aim at individual targets or rapidly scan across multiple objects. The device can easily picks up the flagstick at any approach distance, with distances clearly displayed, and PinSeeker mode is easily accessible.

SCORE
92
GRADE
A-
Ease of Use
95
Features
90
Obtaining Readings
94
Cost/Value
89

The Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition is an exceptionally well-made product with the best viewing of all devices, and despite its size, is a great choice among tournament-legal laser rangefinders.

Pros:

  • 7x magnification is the highest available among devices we tested
  • Best overall device at locking on to targets at distances beyond 200 yards

Cons:

  • Big and heavy
  • Massive carrying case/fanny pack

Retail price: $399.99
Availability: No longer available. Replaced by the Bushnell Pro 1M


95 / A

EASE OF USE

Our reviewers liked the look and feel of the horizontally-oriented (like a pair of binoculars) Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition. What they didn’t like was the carry pouch (which weighs a whopping 7.2 ounces, on top of the 14.8 ounces for the device itself). Shaped like a fanny pack, with straps that wrap it around the circumference of a golf bag, the carry pouch seems like overkill. A simple clip to attach the device to a bag or cart would have been sufficient and more flexible to use.

The information displayed by the Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition is exceptionally clear and easy to read. The 7x magnification is tied for the highest among rangefinders, and makes it relatively easy to pinpoint targets even at over 300 yards. The optics are bright and clear under all conditions. Bushnell displays the distance, mode and yards/meters in the lower portion of the viewfinder below the aiming circle, making the information stand out against the light colored background of a green, fairway or rough. Since the distance is displayed in close proximity to the aiming circle, the user’s eyes don’t need to dart back and forth between the aiming circle and some other portion of the viewfinder. While there is no option to change the style of the aiming circle, our reviewers liked the circle and found it easy to target the flagstick or other objects.

The adjustable eyepiece (+/- 2 diopters) of the Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition enables the user to adjust the focus of the LCD display much more smoothly than in the other devices we tested. It also is the only golf laser rangefinder that has a twist-up eyepiece, which is designed to exclude extraneous light while targeting objects. For those without glasses, it is best used in the fully “up” position, and for those with glasses, the eyepiece should be left down to be able to see a full field of view. It’s a great option to have, and another example of why we liked this device so much.

There are only two buttons, which keeps the device about as easy to use as possible. The power/laser button, located on the top of the Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition, is used to turn the device on/off, as well as to fire the laser to acquire distances. The mode button, on the front left side of the device, allows the user to change between yards and meters (if the button is held for several seconds), or cycle between different modes (if the button is pressed quickly).

The Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition uses a single 9-volt battery. Bushnell recommends replacing the battery at least once every 12 months.

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder ease of use.


90 / A

FEATURES

The Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition features two modes: automatic scan and PinSeeker. The mode selection button cycles the user between the two modes. When powered off, the device will retain the previously selected mode.

Automatic Scan Mode

Automatic scan mode allows the user to pan across the course and receive updated distances to different targets so long as the user keeps the power/laser button depressed. While obtaining readings to targets with other objects close behind them (such as a flagstick with trees behind it) is easier with “PinSeeker” mode, experienced users kept the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition in automatic scan mode virtually the entire time during play because of the ability to quickly generate multiple readings. With some practice, users were able to generate accurate readings in automatic scan mode by aiming at either the flag (it is easier, not surprisingly, to pick out a flag that is extended in the breeze than the flagstick itself) or the base of the flagstick.

Reviewers liked the automatic scan ability as well as the smooth updating of the distance displayed on the LCD during scanning (on many competitive devices, such as the Leupold devices, the distance “blinks” as it is updated). The 7x magnification and large field of view (we can’t mention these enough) set the Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition apart from other devices in ease of use and targeting.

PinSeeker-Only Mode

PinSeeker mode is meant to make life easy for the user in those situations where the target has other objects close behind it, like a flagstick with trees behind it (note that despite its name, PinSeeker mode can be used to determine distances to targets other than a flagstick). PinSeeker mode identifies when there are multiple objects being picked up within the crosshairs and ignores the background targets even though they may be larger and thus more reflective. The Pro 1600 Tournament Edition displays a small icon of a flagstick in the lower left of the display when the user engages PinSeeker mode. Once the device has located the closest of the targets in the area of the aiming circle, it will display a circle around the flagstick icon and show the distance to the closest object. In most cases, this means that the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition has properly “locked on” to the pin and is properly ignoring the trees behind it.

While it sounds like the perfect solution to targeting flagsticks, PinSeeker mode isn’t flawless. It is possible for the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition to “miss” the desired target and lock on to an object in the background while still displaying a circle surrounding the flagstick icon, particularly at long distances. Likewise, it may display the correct yardage while not displaying the circle. If there is any doubt on the distance, users will likely want to fire the laser multiple times.

Whether it was the increased magnification and horizontal form factor (which promotes using two hands to steady the device) or the optics and software running the device, the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition was noticeably more reliable in PinSeeker more than its little brother the Bushnell Tour V2, particularly at distances in excess of 200 yards.

The maximum amount of time the laser can be fired is approximately 35 seconds in automatic scan mode, and 10 seconds in PinSeeker mode (if a target is acquired, the laser may automatically stop firing in PinSeeker mode after only a few seconds, even if the circle is not displayed around the flagstick icon). To conserve batteries, the LCD will only display the last distance measurement for 30 seconds after the laser is done firing.

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder features.


94 / A

OBTAINING DISTANCE READINGS

Bushnell claims that under optimal conditions, the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition is accurate at up to 400/1,000/1,600 yards for flagsticks, trees and reflective objects, respectively. While we find these numbers to be more marketing and less real-world numbers, the Bushnell was the best overall device in picking out flagsticks and other targets at a distance.

Ease of Locking on a Target:

  • At 150 yards, the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition was quick to lock on to the flag, as were all of its competitors
  • From 200 to 300 yards, the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition was the standout among the devices we tested in acquiring the pin
  • Beyond 300 yards it began to be more difficult to obtain flagstick readings, though the Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition was still at the top of the heap across different testing conditions. As mentioned above, at these longer distances the device may indicate that it has “locked on” to a target in PinSeeker mode even when it has picked up the wrong target. Users trying to pick up flagstick distances at these yardages would be well-served to fire the laser multiple times until they are comfortable with the reading.

Speed Test:

The Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition was one of the fastest devices in our speed test for obtaining distance readings.

  • Panning Mode: When we tested utilizing only a “panning” mode, the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition (with its Automatic Scan Mode) was the second fastest device.
  • Pin-locating Mode: When tested against other devices with “pin-locating” mode, the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition was the fastest device, and second fastest when tested across all devices.
  • Using Both Modes: When we tested utilizing both modes together (which included pushing the buttons to cycle between modes) against devices that have more than one mode, the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition finished at the head of the class. When tested against devices with only one mode, the Pro 1600 Tournament Edition finished in the middle of the pack.

89 / B+

COST/VALUE

The Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition retails for $399.99, which makes it slightly more expensive than the average price for laser rangefinders tested. But even at this price, its 7x magnification, ability to find flagsticks and other targets, large field of view, rapid distance updates and crisp clear display make the Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition a reasonable value. Add in the 2-year warranty (the longest offered by any laser rangefinder manufacturer), and you have a product that should definitely be on your short list.


Clicgear 3.0

SCORE
93
GRADE
A
Size/Weight
84
Ease of Set-Up
85
On Course Impressions
92
Storage/Accessories
92
Style
94
Value
90

OVERALL RATING: 93. GRADE: A. Clicgear has updated the design of their cart with the release of the Clicgear 3.0. The 3.0 retains the rugged good looks, solid build and rock-steady performance of the prior version. What’s new is an upgraded brake mechanism and significantly better storage space.

Our only reservations are the complexities of unfolding the Clicgear, which isn’t the most intuitive of processes, and the fact that when it’s folded up, it becomes an awkward-shaped cube.

All in all, the Clicgear 3.0 is a nice improvement to an already excellent product, and definitely one of the top golf push carts on the market.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the wide range of accessories that are available for Clicgear carts. Our favorite was the shoe brush (perfect for scraping off grass and other gunk that clumps on your spikes), but there’s a whole host of nifty add-ons, including a seat, cooler bag, and upgraded umbrella holder with adjustable angle.

Retail price: $229
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by Clicgear 3.5+

Pros:

  • Sleek aggressive styling
  • Sturdy and stable on the course
  • Improved brake system

Cons:

  • Complex unfolding process
  • A little heavier than most and bulky when it’s folded up

84 / B

SIZE/WEIGHT

At 19 lbs. (as tested), the weight of the Clicgear 3.0 is a hair more than that of the prior version, and it is at the heavier end of the spectrum among the push carts we tested (compare this to the lightest cart, the Tour Trek Tahoe, at 10.5 lbs.). And it still folds into a bit of an unwieldy block. It’s an improvement on behemoths like the Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1 and V2, but we still found ourselves throwing it into the back seat, rather than spending time rearranging all of the junk that tends to accumulate in the trunk of the car in order to fit both a set of clubs and the Clicgear. Two sets of clubs and two Clicgears is beyond our feeble packing capabilities.


85 / B

EASE OF SET-UP

Unfolding the Clicgear 3.0 is not the most intuitive process (interestingly, they no longer include an instructional DVD). Clicgear tries to make the 5-step process easier by making the critical knobs and levers bright red, but unless you have a Ph.D in origami, you may do a little bit of head-scratching each time you have to fold or unfold it.


92 / A-

ON COURSE IMPRESSIONS

  • We liked tooling around with the Clicgear 3.0 on the course – it felt sturdy and stable, and the tires seemed like they could handle any kind of terrain.
  • The Clicgear 3.0 includes a great new brake lever that is positioned for easy access directly under the push handle. It’s as simple as rolling to wherever you want to stop and pulling the lever in one easy motion as you naturally move your hand back off of the push handle.
  • Instead of a friction-based bicycle brake, the Cligear 3.0 has six gear notches around the front wheel and the brake is a block that inserts into the nearest notch to stop the wheel from rolling. The brake on the prior Clicgear 2.0 was a bit fussy, requiring you to sometimes have to roll the cart a few inches forward or backward so that the block would slip into the appropriate notch and engage the brake, exacerbated further by the fact that at the same time, you had to pull and twist the brake handle. Not so with the nifty new Clicgear 3.0 brake lever – since the lever is directly under the push handle, it’s easy to just feel whether the brake is ready to click into place – if not, you just keep nudging the cart forward, since your hand is already on the handle.
  • The tires are made of solid foam, so there is no danger of winding up with a flat.
  • The handle can be adjusted within about a 45 degree range, providing flexibility for users of different heights.

92 / A-

STORAGE/ACCESSORIES

The storage and accessories available on the Clicgear 3.0 include:

  • a valuables tray with a magnetic lid, which is nice and roomy (much improved over the Clicgear 2.0). The tray easily handled our traditional “stuff capacity test” of 2 golf balls, a GPS device, an iPhone, a set of keys, and a wallet. Note that the storage box has a bracket that is designed to hold 3 golf balls (there are no other doohickeys on the Clicgear 3.0 to hold golf balls)
  • a fantastic storage net that is great for holding head covers in between shots, providing easy access to snacks, or generally stowing miscellaneous junk that you bring on the course
  • an elastic band attached to the lid of the valuables tray that is designed to hold down a scorecard – we actually found this to be quite handy for securing an iPhone that was running a golf GPS application
  • another elastic band attached to the lid of the valuables tray that is designed to hold a pencil – which we found to be a bit clunky because the elastic was too tight for easy access to or stowing of the pencil
  • 3 holes for storing tees
  • hooks for hanging a towel
  • an umbrella mount that holds an umbrella upright to provide you with shelter when it’s raining
  • 2 straps to hold a folded umbrella when it’s not in use (similar to those found on most golf carry bags today)
  • a cup/bottle holder that can be clipped on to any one of three different pegs (1 on the left side of the cart and 2 on the right). We liked the flexibility of where to position the cup/bottle holder, but note that it would occasionally pop off as we were folding up the cart.

We also like the optional shoe brush that clips on to the frame of the cart (available for an additional $9.99). It can occasionally come unclipped if you’re too aggressive in your scrubbing, but is generally extremely useful for getting mud and dirt off of your spikes during a round.


94 / A

STYLE

Review of Clicgear 3.0 Golf Push Cart

Click image to enlarge

The Clicgear 3.0 is still the coolest looking push cart on the market. Moving the front wheel lever away from the side of the wheel (as it was on the 2.0) and making it a button on the front takes away the image of a brightly colored brake caliper showing through the wheels of an exotic supercar, but it’s a minor quibble. The Clicgear 3.0 is available in kiwi (light green) black, blue, silver, red, orange, white and yellow. No matter which color you select, the trim color for the wheels, knobs and handles is always red.


90 / A-

VALUE

With a retail price of $229.00, the Clicgear 3.0 is the second most expensive golf push cart among the units we tested. But with a nice feature set, solid fit and finish, and dependable performance on the course, the Clicgear 3.0 provides first-rate value.


Tour Trek Tahoe

SCORE
81
GRADE
B-
Size/Weight
85
Ease of Set-Up
92
On Course Impressions
81
Storage/Accessories
79
Style
79
Value
89

OVERALL RATING: 81. GRADE: B-. The Tour Trek Tahoe delivers moderate performance for a moderate price. At an MSRP of $99.99, it’s half the price of the other push carts we tested. Unfortunately, with that price come trade-offs in both the feature set and build quality.

Tour Trek appears to be one of Golfsmith’s house brands, and the Tahoe is the low-end option in their line of three push carts. It is lightweight (albeit not particularly compact when it’s folded up), but didn’t give us much confidence in its stability on the golf course, and also doesn’t provide much storage space. It also tended to squeak and creak quite a bit.

If you’re only an occasional golfer and are looking for an inexpensive lightweight push cart for the few times that you do play, the Tour Trek Tahoe may fit the bill, but frequent users will likely find greater value in the selections available at a higher price point.

Retail price: $99.99
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the Tour Trek One Click 2.0

Pros:

  • The lightest golf push cart that we tested
  • The least expensive golf push cart that we tested

Cons:

  • Unwieldy long shape when it’s folded up
  • Lacking in fit and finish
  • Meager storage space

85 / B

SIZE/WEIGHT

The Tour Trek Tahoe was the lightest cart in our comparison test (10.5 lbs. as tested). Sweet! Unfortunately, the odd shape of the cart when it’s folded makes it unwieldy to handle – the front wheel extends out such that a folded Tahoe is over 3 feet 8 inches long. Not sweet! Even if you are motivated enough to remove the front wheel (by releasing a clip and pulling the wheel off), it’s still pretty long. Did we mention that it’s long? If we throw in the word “upside” a few times, we’ll sound like Jay Bilas during the NBA draft coverage.


92 / A

EASE OF SET-UP

The Tour Trek Tahoe is pretty simple to set up – you unfold it, slide a clip into place, stick your bag on it, and then secure straps at the bottom and top. One of our “mechanically challenged” reviewers had a devil of a time figuring out where the sliding clip was, but once he was pointed in the right direction, he was able to master the process. Trust us, if he can do it, anyone can do it.


81 / B-

ON COURSE IMPRESSIONS

  • The Tour Trek Tahoe felt a little less rugged and sturdy than any of the competing products. Part of this may just be its light weight, but it also has a bit of the squeakiness of an IKEA desk that has been hurriedly assembled. The angle at which the bag sits places most of the weight on the back half of the cart, which made us nervous about it tipping backward – as a result, we tried to avoid parking it pointed uphill on any steep inclines. The wheelbase is narrower than competing products, leading to a little less stability on side hills.
  • The brake mechanism is unique – each of the two rear wheels has a ring of ten “notches” at the axle, and near each of the rear wheels is a plastic pedal. Pushing the top part of the pedal with your foot inserts a plastic “stopper” into the ring of notches and engages the brake (it doesn’t matter which of the two wheels you decide to “freeze”, so you can use either your right or left foot). Pushing on the bottom part of the pedal lifts the plastic “stopper” out of the ring of notches, and off you go. It feels kind of cheap and plasticky, but it’s simple and it works!
  • The tires are made of plastic, so there is no danger of winding up with a flat. Unfortunately, the plastic creates more friction going through heavy grass than either rubber or foam tires. Of course, this isn’t as much of a problem if you’ll just hit your ball into the middle of the fairway, where the grass is nice and short…
  • The handle can be adjusted within about a 45 degree range, providing flexibility for users of different heights.
  • We found that the alignment was off on our Tour Trek Tahoe, so the cart would pull to the right. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any way to correct the alignment.

79 / C+

STORAGE/ACCESSORIES

The storage available on the Tour Trek Tahoe was the most meager among the push carts we tested, which is unfortunate, since one of the joys of using a push cart is being able to easily carry way more stuff than you would ever need. What the Tahoe does include is:

  • a valuables tray with a magnetic lid, which was the smallest among the push carts we tested, and includes a bracket to store up to 3 balls. Because the tray is so shallow, we were unable to cram our standard set of stuff (2 golf balls, a GPS device, an iPhone, a set of keys, and a wallet) into the tray. In addition, the lid latches at the bottom of the tray (instead of at the side or at the top), so if the lid accidentally pops open, all of your stuff will fall out (thank you, gravity!) – this struck us as an unfortunate design choice.
  • 4 holes for storing tees
  • 2 holes for storing ball markers
  • a clip for holding a pencil
  • a pair of clips/tabs to hold a scorecard
  • a cup/bottle holder (which we wish was positioned a little higher on the cart for easier access)

Note that the Tour Trek Tahoe is not umbrella friendly – there is no receptacle for holding a deployed umbrella, nor is there a strap to store one when not in use (although almost all golf bags these days have a strap, so it’s not strictly necessary to have it on your push cart).


79 / C+

STYLE

The Tour Trek Tahoe isn’t going to impress your friends with its flashy good looks. It looks, well, like a cart. But hey, surely it’s available in bright colors that jazz it up, right? Nope – it only comes in silver. Just repeat the old mantra from your mom…”If your friends are going to judge you on your push cart, then they aren’t really your friends at all…”

Review of Tour Trek Tahoe Golf Push Cart

Click image to enlarge

89 / B+

VALUE

With a retail price of $99.99, the Tour Trek Tahoe is the least expensive push cart we tested. So while we wish it had more features and that the build quality was a bit better, at this price, we can’t complain too much. If your goal is to find an inexpensive alternative to carrying your bag on your back, the Tour Trek Tahoe isn’t a bad choice.


Energizer AP1500 (iPower)

Our overall impression of the Energizer AP1500 (which is also marketed as the Energizer iPower) is that it falls into the middle tier of the iPhone battery extenders that we tested – it excels in some aspects (3-year warranty! Super lightweight!) and falls short in others (disappointing recharging power). Note that the AP-1500 is made by XPAL Power, who apparently licenses the “Energizer” brand name, and NOT the Energizer Battery Company.

SCORE
86
GRADE
B
Ease of Set-Up
88
Size/Weight
88
Style
84
Battery Life / Usage Impressions
84
Value
84

Retail price: $79.99


88 / B+

Ease of Set-Up

The Energizer AP1500 comes with a USB-mini cable (mini-cables have a small connector, but not as small as a micro cable). The instruction manual is clear and concise, which is always helpful, since even with simple devices like battery packs, there are variations in how competing products operate. But here’s an oddity – the manual states that the USB cable of the AP1500 only serves to charge the device, and that you can’t sync to iTunes through the AP1500. But when we plugged it in, the iPhone went through the sync process. Color us confused…

One minor nit we experienced is that the rubber cap that covers the input receptacle of the USB-micro cable when it is not being charged tore off the first time we unplugged the cable from the AP1500. Not a big deal, since most other devices don’t even provide a protective cap, but it always makes us sad when stuff breaks.

The AP1500 has a blue power bar on the front of the device that indicates the remaining charge. Pressing a small button on the left side lights up the power bar. While the power bar looks like it provides an infinite amount of precision on the remaining charge, it’s actually no different from the other battery extenders in that it is only illuminated in 4 different sectors, which indicate the remaining charge level (4 illuminated lights means between 100% and 75% charge remaining, 3 illuminated lights means between 75% and 50% charge remaining, etc.)

As a side note, the Energizer AP1500 is certified by Apple as “Made for iPhone.” Even though the certification isn’t a huge differentiator among the products we tested (the Trent IMP190 is the only one not certified), we still appreciate the comfort that the iPhone will not explode when you plug it into the battery extender that you just bought.


88 / B+

Size/Weight

The Energizer AP1500 takes the crown as the lightest iPhone battery extender in our comparison test, coming in at 2.2 ounces (as tested). Note that the AP1500’s web site page actually lists it heavier, at 2.9 ounces. That’s not good marketing! Oddly enough, the AP1500 takes up a fair amount of space – with an iPhone installed, the combined device is about 0.5″ longer, 0.23″ wider, and 0.1″ deeper than an iPhone itself, making it one of the larger devices we tested.


84 / B

Style

The AP1500 looks pretty much like most of the other iPhone battery packs. Made of plastic, it is somewhat unique in having little bumps at certain spots on the side of the device that help the user maintain a steady grip. The AP1500 does not cover the top of the iPhone, thus leaving the camera lens, headset jack, ring/silent switch and sleep/wake button unobscured (strategic cutaways also provide access to the volume buttons). The downside is that you don’t get the added bonus of a protective case if you were to drop the iPhone on its top half. Those hoping to express their individuality with a battery packs should look elsewhere – the AP1500 only comes in shiny black with a white interior.


84 / B

Battery Life / Usage Impressions

The Energizer AP1500 finished in the back half of the pack in our performance testing. This isn’t surprising, as we would expect a trade-off for the light weight. For details on our performance testing methodology, see our description of “How We Test.”

  • At 1500 mAh (milliamp hours), the capacity of the AP1500 is at the median among the battery extenders we tested. The packaging actually states that the capacity is 1200 mAh, but the specifications on the web site list it at 1500, and the name of the product itself seems to support 1500 as well.
  • In our “real world” test on the golf course, the Energizer AP1500 averaged approximately 26% battery life remaining after a round, finishing last in our test – yikes! This doesn’t quite put you at a desperation level for power, but it does leave you looking for a recharge at the earliest opportunity.
  • Strangely, the AP1500 performed much better in our recharging test. We were typically able to recharge a completely drained iPhone up to about 60% using the Energizer AP1500 (which took about 1 hour and 45 minutes). Note that our “real world” test includes more variables (the length of the round, the network coverage, and the satellite reception on a given day), so the poor golf course performance could be the result of a statistically insignificant sample size.
  • As mentioned above, the device is made of smooth plastic, which makes it easy to slip in and out of your pocket. This is particularly handy for quick access on the golf course. The bumpy texture provided at key spots on the sides helped keep the iPhone in our hands, and not on the concrete.

84 / B

Value

With a retail price of $79.99, the Energizer AP1500 falls into the median of iPhone battery pack pricing. At that price, we have a tough time endorsing the product, as it falls short on charging performance and doesn’t deliver any aesthetic “wow” factor. Still, we recommend doing a price check before you make any decision, as most iPhone battery packs can be purchased at prices significantly below MSRP.


MiLi Power Pack

SCORE
88
GRADE
B+
Ease of Set-Up
88
Size/Weight
81
Style
82
Battery Life / Usage Impressions
95
Value
89

The MiLi Power Pack is the workhorse among the iPhone battery extenders we tested. It’s not much of a looker, but it showed significantly better recharging power than its competitors. If maximizing the time between recharging is of utmost importance to you, then look no further than the MiLi.
Retail price: $99.95


88 / B+

Ease of Set-Up
The MiLi Power Pack comes with a USB-mini cable (mini-cables have a small connector, but not as small as a micro cable). When the iPhone is connected to the MiLi, plugging the MiLi into a computer with the USB cable will charge both the iPhone and the MiLi, and will also sync the iPhone to iTunes on the computer. A nifty feature of the MiLi is that it has a USB out port as well, so you can use it to charge any other device that has a USB charging cable, like a BlackBerry or an iPod. Sweet!
You have the option to use the MiLi solely as an emergency back-up battery because it has a “power” button – even when the iPhone is docked in the MiLi, charging will not begin until the “power” button is pressed. The MiLi sports 4 blue lights on the front of the device that indicate the available charge. Pressing the “power” button will illuminate the lights (4 illuminated lights means between 100% and 75% charge remaining, 3 illuminated lights means between 75% and 50% charge remaining, etc.).
The MiLi Power Pack is certified by Apple as “Works With iPhone,” but we experienced some bugginess while charging that made us question the value of the certification (or the rigor with which certification testing is done). Every once in awhile when we were recharging the iPhone solely through the MiLi, the phone would stop charging (with the accompanying audible chirp) and display a yellow warning that read “Charging is not supported with this accessory.” If we disconnected and reconnected the iPhone to the MiLi, we received a different warning in a grey box that read “This accessory is not made to work with iPhone. Charging is not supported with this accessory.” It would then present the option to “Dismiss” – which, when we pushed the button, would re-initiate charging. We were always able to ultimately complete a full recharge, but the hassle of it prompted us to dock the MiLi a few points.
One additional complaint – the instruction manual could use a bit of editing by a native English speaker (“Press the power button to start charging in condition of no external electrical source connected”).


81 / B-

Size/Weight
The MiLi Power Pack tied for the heaviest device in our comparison test, weighing 2.8 ounces (as tested), and was also one of the bulkiest battery extenders. If you’re looking to maintain the iPhone’s svelte form factor, the MiLi is not the product for you.


82 / B-

Style
The MiLi Power Pack does not cover the top of the iPhone, thus leaving the camera lens, headset jack, ring/silent switch, volume buttons and sleep/wake button unobscured. The corollary, of course, is that you do not get the benefit of a full protective cover.
The MiLi is made of shiny plastic, and comes with either a black exterior (with your choice of a blue, green, grey or black interior) or white exterior (with your choice of an orange, green, gray or white interior). In our eyes, however, the bulk of the device overshadows any style points you hoped to gain by picking a snazzy color combination.

Review of MiLi Power Pack

Click image for views

95 / A

Battery Life / Usage Impressions
Oh, but the bulk of the MiLi Power Pack is put to good use when it comes time to charge the iPhone. The MiLi easily outdistanced its competitors to win top honors in both our “real world” and our recharging tests. For details on our performance testing methodology, see our description of “How We Test.”

  • At 2000 mAh (milliamp hours), the MiLi Power Pack had the largest capacity among the battery packs we tested.
  • In our “real world” test on the golf course, the MiLi averaged 78% battery life remaining after a round – significantly more than the competition.
  • We were always able to completely recharge a completely drained iPhone up to 100% in about 3 hours. On occasion, we were able to subsequently use the MiLi to recharge the iPhone (after we completely drained the iPhone again) up to an additional 10%. Nice!
  • As mentioned above, the device is made of smooth plastic, which makes it easy to slip in and out of your pocket. This is particularly handy for quick access on the golf course.

89 / B+

Value
We were torn in our assessment of the value of the MiLi Power Pack. With a retail price of $99.95, it was the most expensive iPhone battery extender we tested. On top of that, the glitches we occasionally experienced while charging were frustrating. But we see plenty of evidence that most retailers don’t charge anywhere near MSRP (it seems to retail on Amazon for less than half of that, and even PhoneSuit, the maker of the device, is selling the MiLi Power Pack on its own web site for $79.95). And it does provide more juice than anyone else. So in the end, we awarded a B+ on value – it’s pretty good, but there’s room for improvement.


Mophie Juice Pack Air

The Mophie Juice Pack Air combines a sleek profile, protective casing, solid charging performance, and a thumbs up certification of “Made for iPhone” from the Apple mother ship. Sure, it’s at the upper end in terms of price, but this is the battery pack that we would most likely use on a regular basis on our iPhone.
Retail price: $79.95

SCORE
93
GRADE
A
Ease of Set-Up
94
Size/Weight
94
Style
94
Battery Life / Usage Impressions
91
Value
93

94 / A

Ease of Set-Up
The Mophie Juice Pack Air comes with a USB-micro cable (the kind with a teeny tiny plug), and serves as a pass through so users can sync an iPhone to a computer without undocking the iPhone from the Juice Pack Air. Kudos to Mophie for writing a user’s manual in clear, readable English (which surprisingly makes them the exception, and not the rule).

The Juice Pack Air has four blue indicator lights on the back of the device. Pressing a small button immediately to the left of the indicator lights activates them, revealing the remaining charge level (4 illuminated lights means between 100% and 75% charge remaining, 3 illuminated lights means between 75% and 50% charge remaining, etc.).
Note that the Mophie is unique in having two separate pieces that slide together. The bottom piece contains all of the working parts – the top piece just completes the protective casing. Both cases fit snugly around the iPhone, and we never had a problem with either piece sliding off.


94 / A

Size/Weight
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is the battery extender that best maintains the iPhone’s slim design profile. At a feathery 2.3 ounces (as tested), the Juice Pack Air was the second lightest iPhone battery pack in our comparison test. It is also the thinnest device we reviewed, and only slightly increases the dimensions of the iPhone when it’s on (adding 0.4″ in length, 0.2″ in width and 0.27″ in depth).


94 / A

Style
The Juice Pack Air is a runaway winner in the style contest. Its slender profile and professional fit and finish complement the sleek lines of the iPhone. For the fashion-conscious, it also comes in four different colors (black, white, purple and red). We awarded bonus points because the Juice Pack Air is the only unit we tested that completely surrounds all four corners of the iPhone and thus serves double duty as a hard shell protective casing.


91 / A-

Battery Life / Usage Impressions
The Mophie Juice Pack Air finished a solid second in our performance testing, which was a pleasant surprise given how lightweight it is. For details on our performance testing methodology, see our description of “How We Test.”

  • At 1200 mAh (milliamp hours), the Mophie Juice Pack Air has the smallest capacity of the batteries we tested.
  • In our “real world” test on the golf course, we averaged 66% battery life remaining after a round (putting it in second place), which is more than enough juice to last through the rest of the day without needing an emergency recharge.
  • The Juice Pack Air even fared well in our “recharge” test (again, placing second among a group of competitors that were larger and heavier) – the average level to which it would recharge a completely drained iPhone was 63% (which typically took about 2.5 hours).
  • The device is made of smooth plastic, which makes it easy to slip in and out of your pocket. This is particularly handy for quick access on the golf course.

93 / A

Value
With a retail price of $79.95, the Mophie Juice Pack Air was one of the most expensive devices that we tested. Having said that (yes, we saw the Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld riff on that phrase in the most recent season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), we liked the way it looked, felt, and performed. In addition, the Juice Pack Air is certified by Apple as “Made for iPhone”, which should give you some comfort that your phone won’t blow up when you plug it in to the device. This is one of those times when a few extra dollars is well spent.


New Trent IMP190

SCORE
60
GRADE
F
Ease of Set-Up
79
Size/Weight
85
Style
80
Battery Life / Usage Impressions
60
Value
60

The first New Trent IMP190 iPhone battery pack we purchased was broken, charging the iPhone only sporadically. New Trent was quick to get us a replacement, but we experienced the same issues with the second unit as well. In the crowded field of iPhone battery packs, the New Trent is trying to compete on price, but the device has to work before a cheaper price is going to win any customers.

Retail price: $69.95


79 / C+

Ease of Set-Up
The New Trent IMP190 comes with a USB – micro cable, and serves as a pass through so users can sync an iPhone to a computer without removing the iPhone from the battery pack. The enclosed instruction manual was a bit of a disaster, making set-up a real head-scratcher (for which we docked its grade). For example, it includes the following text (which we copied verbatim):

  • When iPhone is well put on the power case which is connecting with electrical source iPhone will be charged first until fully charged, then to the power case; when electrical source is cut off in condition of iPhone’s power less than 100% and power case more than 5%, the product will charge iPhone until it is fully charged.

Huh?!?? Our hunch is that New Trent originally wrote the instruction manual in another language, pasted what they had into Google Translate, asked it to translate to English, and then put whatever was spit out into the manual.

The IMP190 has an on/off switch and like almost all of its competitors, has four blue indicator lights on the back of the device. Pressing a small button immediately to the right of the indicator lights will activate the lights, which then display the remaining charge level (4 illuminated lights means between 100% and 75% charge remaining, 3 illuminated lights means between 75% and 50% charge remaining, etc.).

As a side note, curiously enough, New Trent doesn’t indicate the company name anywhere on the box, manual or unit itself. Doesn’t really lend itself to a brand you can trust.


85 / B

Size/Weight
The 2.55 ounce (as tested) New Trent IMP190 fell directly on the median line in terms of its weight. It trailed only the Mophie Juice Pack Air in terms of avoiding bulkiness (increasing the dimensions of the iPhone from 4.5″ x 2.4″ x .48″ to 4.94″ x 2.625″ x .8″), but in fairness, after the Mophie, there isn’t a huge difference in size from one device to the next.


80 / B-

Style
Perhaps the most charitable way to describe the look of the New Trent IMP190 is “utilitarian.” There isn’t any choice available on color schemes – the IMP190 comes with a black exterior and a neon green interior. While the interior color is generally obscured when the iPhone is plugged it, we still question the decision to go with neon green…The exterior finish is rubber – which may help if you have butterfingers, but doesn’t make it look very sexy.


60 / F

Battery Life / Usage Impressions

We purchased our initial unit, charged it, and took it out for testing. It stopped charging the iPhone during a recharge test. We tried powering the New Trent on and off, unplugging it from the iPhone and back several times, but this didn’t have any effect. Ultimately we went back and plugged it in to confirm it still had a charge. It did, and in addition, this seemed somehow to “reset” the unit, as when we tried replugging in the iPhone it began to charge again. We thought the issue was fixed, though when we headed to the course for additional testing, the pack failed us, unable to provide any charge to the iPhone whatsoever.

So we contacted New Trent’s customer service department, which was extremely responsive and quickly sent us a replacement unit (we had to send the defective unit back to them). Problem solved, right? Wrong. We experienced the same types of problem with the replacement unit. This is unfortunate, but in our eyes, you only get two strikes before you’re out.

For details on our performance testing methodology, see our description of “How We Test.”

  • At 1900 mAh (milliamp hours), the New Trent IMP190 had the second largest capacity among the battery packs we tested.
  • We were unable to complete our “real world” test on the golf course because both the initial device and the replacement unit failed during testing.
  • We were able to complete a recharge test just once before the unit failed us – recharging a completely drained iPhone to 77% in about 3.5 hours.
  • As mentioned above, the device is made of smooth rubber, and is easy to slip in and out of your pocket.


60 / F

Value
With a retail price of $69.95, the New Trent IMP190 was the least expensive device in our comparison test. And while we’re always looking for a good deal, the New Trent is only worth purchasing if you’re lucky enough to receive a functioning unit, which we weren’t. Twice.

Check Amazon.com price and buy now


Tekkeon MP1200 (myPower)

SCORE
86
GRADE
B
Ease of Set-Up
86
Size/Weight
81
Style
86
Battery Life / Usage Impressions
88
Value
86

The Tekkeon MP1200 (also marketed as the Tekkeon myPower) is a unique blend of features and oddities. It follows the road less traveled, eschewing traditional design elements, such as a shiny black exterior and a 4-light charge meter, in favor of black leatherette with white stitching and a single multi-colored charge indicator light. On the technology front, the MP1200 is bizarre in that it cannot be used to charge the iPhone – it only acts as an auxiliary power source that, when the iPhone is connected, is drained first before the iPhone battery is used. More on this below, but suffice it to say that this creates limitations in certain use cases. The Tekkeon MP1200 is so different that it’s difficult to evaluate against its competitors – you will likely either love it or hate it, and our overall rating reflects the even split among our review staff on the merits of the device.

Retail price: $79.95


86 / B

Ease of Set-Up
The Tekkeon MP1200 comes with a USB-mini cable (mini-cables have a small connector, but not as small as a micro cable). When the iPhone is plugged into the MP1200, connecting the M1200 to the computer with the USB cable not only charges both the MP1200 and iPhone batteries, but also syncs the iPhone to the computer. The well-written instruction manual does a nice job of detailing the various features of the MP1200.
One of the oddities of the Tekkeon is that the charging indicator is a single tiny light on the side of the device that glows green if the charge remaining is between 65%-100%, orange if it’s between 30%-65%, and red if it is below 30%. As small as it is, the light is difficult to find, and in bright lighting conditions, it is extremely difficult to make out the color.


81 / B-

Size/Weight
The Tekkeon MP1200 tied with the MiLi Power Pack as the heaviest iPhone battery extenders in our comparison, coming in at 2.8 ounces (as tested). The dimensions also make it among the largest devices we tested. While it only adds approximately 0.5″ in length and 0.25″ in width, the MP1200 basically doubles the thickness of the iPhone. Thickness is good for milkshakes and wads of money, but for phone batteries? Not so much…


86 / B

Style
The MP1200’s black leatherette exterior with white stitching is unique among the devices we tested. The look is similar to the leather seats on some luxury automobiles, providing a buttoned down professional feel. Lost as a result of this is the sleekness of the iPhone, which led to a sharp division between our reviewers on the appropriate grade for “Style.” We wound up splitting the baby…
The Tekkeon has a strap that snaps over the top of the iPhone, thus providing some coverage over each side of the phone, with significant sized cutaways that provide access to the camera lens, headset jack, ring/silent switch, volume buttons, and the sleep/wake button. Note, however, that these same cutaways leave the upper corners of the iPhone essentially exposed should you drop it.

Review of Tekkeon MP1200 (myPower)

Click image for views

88 / B+

Battery Life / Usage Impressions
The Tekkeon MP1200 continued to confound us when it came time to rating its battery life. It performed well in the “real world” test on the golf course, but we were unable to verify its battery power in the recharging test. For whatever reason, the Tekkeon is designed such that it will serve as an auxiliary power source (i.e. when the iPhone is plugged into the MP1200, the MP1200’s battery will be drained before any of the iPhone’s battery is used), but it will not charge the iPhone on its own. Thus if you have drained your iPhone down to 20%, then connect the Tekkeon, the iPhone battery will stay at 20% while the iPhone uses the Tekkeon’s battery. But your charge will not rise above 20% – it will just stay there. We did find that if the iPhone battery is drained completely (showing the dreaded red battery meter), the Tekkeon would provide resuscitation, lifting the charge to 5%. But it would then stay at 5%.
What this really means is a loss of flexibility – if your iPhone battery is run down, you have to connect the MP1200 and keep it connected. This isn’t the end of the world if you plan on keeping the battery pack on your phone at all times. But if you wanted to just recharge the iPhone and then shuck the battery pack to cut down on weight or size, you are out of luck.
For details on our performance testing methodology, see our description of “How We Test.”

  • With a battery capacity of 1500 mAh (milliamp hours), the Tekkeon MP1200 sits at the median among the battery packs we tested.
  • In our “real world” test on the golf course, we averaged 62% battery life remaining after a round – which places the Tekkeon in the middle of the pack.
  • As noted above, we were unable to do a test on how much of the iPhone battery the Tekkeon would charge, as the Tekkeon only charges the iPhone if they are both plugged into an external power source.
  • The leatherette casing makes the Tekkeon a bit bulky, but it doesn’t generate enough friction to really impede sliding it in and out of a pocket. The leatherette improves the grip that you can maintain on the iPhone, which is nice when you’re standing over a concrete cart path. (This is probably neither the time nor the place to get into our distaste for paved cart paths on a golf course…)

86 / B

Value
With a retail price of $79.95, the Tekkeon MP1200 sits at the median of iPhone battery pack pricing. Some of our reviewers wanted to dock the Tekkeon on value because they perceived its quirkiness as a loss of features. Others loved the styling, and didn’t really care about the missing feature set. Reasonable minds can differ – so we went up the middle with our rating.


GolfLink

The GolfLink iPhone app is a recent release from the online golf portal of the same name. While it seems with this introduction that GolfLink is trying to grow beyond being a mere content provider, the level of quality of the app tells us that this might just be, like Steve Jobs would say about the AppleTV, “a hobby.” The GolfLink’s list of features includes almost everything, including satellite imagery, the ability to zoom in on target locations, scorecards and statistics, and a variety of user settings. The layout and functionality is eerily similar to the top-rated Golfshot app, but the execution isn’t really there. In addition to poor course coverage (which doesn’t appear to be improving over time), we regularly experience bugs, crashes, and poor data.

While regular visitors of the GolfLink portal may purchase this app, we believe those who look around a bit will be more satisfied with competing apps.

SCORE
85
GRADE
B
Course Availability
73
Starting a Round
85
Ease of Use
85
Course Details
92
Features
92
Accuracy
90
Cost/Value
87

Pros:

  • Satellite images with ability to zoom and pan, including magnifying loop to more easily pick target points
  • Can determine distance to any point on the hole, and distance from targeted point to the center of the green

Cons:

  • Satellite zoom detail is too far out
  • No targets or hazards pre-mapped
  • Statistics graphics dated and at times include errors

Price: $9.99
Download Golflink from iTunes


73 / C-

Course Availability
Critical Golf Test: GolfLink finished near the bottom of our comparison of iPhone golf app course coverage , coming in at a mere 73%. Coverage across all course types and regions was roughly equal (fair in all), with the exception of a very poor showing for new courses.
Manufacturer’s Claims: GolfLink claims to have over 18,000 courses in its database worldwide, which places it at the bottom of the iPhone app heap.


85 / B

Starting a Round
The Good: GolfLink allows the user to load all the images before play (and nicely indicates if the satellite images are already loaded) or you can load images when you begin play. GolfLink loads all satellite images before play, so there is no delay as you move either between zoom levels on a hole or advance between holes. User course ratings (a benefit of the content from the GolfLink portal) are available for each course.
The Bad: Players need to load all satellite images before they can begin play, and if starting on any other hole than the 1st, manually advance hole by hole. On occasion, Golflink was unable to find the course where we were playing, and had to reload the application several times before the course in question would appear in the listing of nearby courses.
The app would sometimes indicate multiple tee boxes of the same color available on the same course (one course was listed as having 2 red tees, 3 white tees and 2 blue tees!). In such a case, you won’t know which tee box is correct unless you have a scorecard to match up total yardages. Some courses also had the tee colors incorrect – not a big deal, but when trying to compete with the best, it’s all about the details.
Details: The main menu prompts the user to either Play Golf or resume a round in progress. When you select “Play Golf,” you can choose from a list of nearby courses or a list of courses played most often, or elect to browse by region. After selecting the course, you select the tees you will play, add the names of the golfers for whom you are keeping score, and begin. As with any iPhone golf GPS app, it can take some time to load all satellite images for the course, so it’s best to have the images loaded before heading to play.


85 / B

Ease of Use
The Good: Users can easily move between and within screens during play. Holes are always shown from the same viewpoint with the tee box at the bottom of the screen and a blue dot indicating the player’s position. GPS signal strength is helpfully displayed at the top of the satellite image screens.
The Bad: One of the biggest drawbacks of the GolfLink app is the levels of zoom available. Users begin the hole at the highest level view, and can only zoom down one additional level. Many users will still find the more detailed view not zoomed in as much as they would desire, though GolfLink does allow you to use a magnifying glass feature to see more detail for a selected target point. The downside is that in many cases, using the magnifying glass will obscure the display of the distances both to the target and from the target to the hole.
Details:

  • Buttons. Like other iPhone golf GPS applications, everything is accessed through touchscreen buttons.
    Upon launching the application, users are presented with a screen with buttons that can be selected to:

    • Play a round (or resume your round),
    • View historical statistics,
    • View scorecards from past rounds, or
    • Adjust user settings, including entering the clubs carried, whether scoring and statistics functionality is enabled, etc.
    • Access app support through the GolfLink website.
  • Users start each hole in the highest level view (too zoomed out for us), with crosshairs pre-positioned at a point on the hole. Oddly enough, the crosshairs aren’t always pre-positioned in the fairway (again, just an example of how this app isn’t as polished as others) – we sometimes saw the crosshairs initially set in a grove of trees.

  • Battery Life. Every iPhone golf GPS application is a battery hog unless managed tightly. Users must balance their desire to get a quick and accurate distance reading with the power that is necessary to keep the iPhone constantly locked in on a GPS signal. When the iPhone “auto-locks” after a certain period of inactivity (another name for it going to “sleep”), the GPS antenna is shut down, so when the iPhone is “woken up,” the user frequently has a long wait while the GPS satellites are reacquired. GolfLink allows the user to disable the “auto-lock” function and keep the GPS antenna on all the time, which is great for usability, but tends to seriously drain the iPhone’s battery. The GolfLink app helps a bit by dimming the screen to save power. See our intro to iPhone golf GPS applications for additional ways to conserve battery life during play, or consider the purchase of an external battery pack.

92 /A-

Course Detail and Mapping
The Good: The ability to select any point on the course and receive both the distance to the point, and the distance from the point to the green.
The Bad: GolfLink does not pre-map any key targets for the user. In certain zoomed satellite views, the distances to the target or from target to green will fall outside the edges of the satellite image and not be displayed, requiring users to pan to a different part of the hole in order to see the distance.
Details:

GolfLink iPhone Golf GPS Application 

Click for satellite view
  • Aerial view. The Aerial View is a satellite image view of the hole that provides (a) two levels of zoom, (b) the ability to place the crosshair (that can show the target slightly magnified) anywhere on the hole to receive both the distance to the selected point and the distance from the point to the green, and (c) the ability to pan up, down and side to side on the satellite image. The zoom will focus on wherever the crosshair is located.
  • Hole Information. The hole number and par are available on all screens views for the course. Hole handicap is not available. We did see a few holes with incorrect pars listed.
  • Custom Mapping. Like other iPhone golf GPS applications, GolfLink does not allow users to add custom hazards and targets to the course map.

Suggestion Box: Would be nice to have key targets pre-mapped.


92 / A-

Features
The Good: GolfLink has a large number of both features and settings, covering all the essentials and then some.
The Bad: Statistics charts and graphs didn’t always work, and when they did, the graphics and user interface aren’t quite as polished as some of the competing apps. No auto-advance to the next hole.
Details:

  • Shot Tracking. GolfLink has the ability to track the distance of shots through simply pressing the golf ball on the screen. The shot distance will then appear as a transparent overlay to the satellite image. There is no ability to indicate which club you used for a tracked shot, so you cannot calculate your average distance with specific clubs.
  • GolfLink iPhone Golf GPS Application 

    Click for features
  • Score and Statistics. GolfLink provides the ability to either just track the basics, such as score and putts, or also enter the drive result (fairway, or miss left/right), the number of sand shots, and the number of penalty strokes.
    • You can pause a round at any time. When you save a round (with or without adjustment for handicap), you can have the scorecard emailed to you for viewing, or share via facebook or twitter. After syncing your scorecard, statistics are available both on the iPhone and computer.
    • The scorecard screen displays the score and putts for each player on a given hole, along with their score relative to par. With statistics enabled, drive result, GIR, sand shots, and penalty information will also be displayed on the scorecard.
  • Auto-Advance. GolfLink will not auto-advance from hole to hole.
  • Preferences. GolfLink allows the user to modify a wide variety of settings, including hole statistics, display of handicap strokes received per hole, yards vs. meters, what clubs are in your bag, what geographical region of courses to regularly sync and more.

90 / A-

Mapping Accuracy
Mapping Accuracy: GolfLink showed the same level of accuracy as most other iPhone apps, with our test rounds across a variety of courses maintaining a reasonable level of accuracy, within 5 yards of marked course yardages.


87 / B+
Cost/Value

Retail Price: GolfLink has reduced their price from $14.99 to $9.99, making it one of the less expensive (paid) iPhone golf apps in our test.
Fees for Access to Course Database: There is no cost to access the course database. All courses are included within the cost of the application.

Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With only an initial one-time fee of $9.99, GolfLink is cheaper than average in our three-year cost comparison across iPhone golf apps.

Value: Since GolfLink is one of the less expensive iPhone golf GPS apps on the market, it’s hard to say that any player would feel that they didn’t get their money’s worth. While we like the variety of features available for low cost, we would seriously recommending spending an additional $10 for a more polished app with better course coverage.


Tested: v1.1