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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

IZZO SWAMI 1500

IZZO SWAMI 1500

Score

72

Grade

C-

OVERALL RATING: 72. GRADE: C-. Overall we were extremely disappointed in the IZZO SWAMI 1500. The concept behind the device (a bare bones device that comes at a low price point) is appealing, but the execution isn’t quite up to the task, nor is the overall price so low that we were able to overlook the lack of features. We also encountered some severe mapping inaccuracy problems that really altered our perception of the device. In some ways, it’s like paying $5,000 for a new car that has no windshield or headlights and doesn’t turn left. Sure, it’s cheap, but will you ever want to use it?

All in all, we would have deep reservations about recommending the IZZO SWAMI 1500 to consumers. Here’s hoping the next version of the IZZO SWAMI fixes the current woes. And we really, really hope that SWAMI is an acronym of some sort (or IZZO is owned by some descendant of Owen Meany), because the repeated usage of all caps makes us feel like we are shouting at our readers…

SCORE
73
GRADE
C-
Setup/Syncing
68
Course Availability
96
Ease of Use
90
Course Details
70
Features
65
Accuracy
65
Cost/Value
80

Pros:

  • The lightest device tested as well as one of the smallest
  • Easy to read distances
  • Least expensive device tested

Cons:

  • Only provides distances to front, center and back of green; no additional obstacles
  • Repeated incorrect distance readings
  • Clunky set-up

Retail Price: $99.99 plus yearly fees
Three year total cost: $129.96
Amazon.com: Check price now


68 / D+

SETUP/SYNCING

The Good: A light on the device indicates when charging is complete. Unfortunately, that’s about the only good thing we really have to say about the setup process.

The Bad: Lots of snafus in the installation process, with cryptic error messages – we wound up having to solve the problem through trial and error. This is far from the first impression you want for a device.

Details:

  • Required steps. Setting up the IZZO SWAMI 1500 necessitates a fairly traditional process of:
    • registering on their web site to create an account;
    • installing “desktop manager” software on a PC (note that the IZZO SWAMI 1500 does not support the Mac);
    • searching for desired golf courses;
    • downloading selected courses to the PC; and
    • transferring (or “syncing”) the courses from the PC to the device through a USB cable.
  • Time required for setup. We had more trouble getting up and running with the IZZO SWAMI 1500 than we did with any other device, with a total setup time of 45 minutes. Some of the hiccups we ran into were:
    • We had to re-download the desktop manager software to receive the most recent version.
    • We were prompted to connect the device by USB cable to the PC in order to install drivers for the device – it seems to us that this could have been done in a more seamless manner. We’re no technophobes, but our experience is that bad things usually happen any time there is a driver installation involved.
    • Then we were asked to install a new version of software on the device.
    • Searching for courses and syncing them to the device was simple…until we kept receiving a cryptic error message on our PC. After fruitless perusal of the user manual and the IZZO support web site, we wound up getting frustrated and randomly tried re-downloading the drivers. Ta da! That seemed to do the trick.

Suggestion Box: There seems to be a known glitch if you power up the device before you sync courses (there’s a fair amount of troubleshooting text about that on the IZZO website). But seriously…perhaps IZZO can engineer around that limitation in future SWAMIs? Don’t they know that the first thing that gadget-heads want to do is turn on the device?

What’s in the Box: The IZZO SWAMI 1500 is packaged with:

  • CD-ROM Setup Disc
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Wall Charger
  • USB Cable
  • Belt Clip

Optional Downloads:


96 / A

COURSE AVAILABILITY

Critical Golf Test: The IZZO SWAMI 1500 finished in top half of the pack in our test of course coverage with 96% coverage. Competition in the field has definitely gotten tougher when 96% barely sneaks you into the top half!

Manufacturer’s Claims: IZZO claims to have 19,500 courses available in its database, putting it near the bottom among the GPS devices tested.


90 / A-

EASE OF USE

The Good: Extremely convenient size and weight. Distances appear in large easy-to-read text.

The Bad: We couldn’t figure out how to turn the device on. Honestly. We actually had to look at the manual. If you guessed that to power up the IZZO SWAMI 1500 you needed to hold down a button marked “ENT” for just over 4 seconds then you are smarter than we are.

Details:

  • Buttons. The IZZO SWAMI has four buttons: up/down (to cycle through different holes or courses), FCB and ENT. FCB stands for front/center/back of the green, and toggles between readings for each of those points. We think that ENT stands for “enter”, which doesn’t really explain why it’s the power button.
  • Screen. The device has a black and white screen – which isn’t a big deal, since the only thing displayed prominently is a single distance reading.
  • Form Factor. We loved the form factor, as the IZZO SWAMI 1500 came in with the lightest weight of the devices tested, and is one of the smallest devices as well.
  • Starting a Round. Assuming you can figure out how to turn it on, the device will count down from 99 (though not at a consistent pace), during which the satellites are acquired, and then will automatically detect your course. Note that since there is extremely limited text display on the device, the IZZO SWAMI 1500 does not display the course name – courses are identified numerically. So if you want to manually change which course you are on (for resorts with adjacent holes on different courses), it is almost impossible to determine which one you should change it to.

Suggestion Box: The SWAMI 1500 would benefit from some type of course indicator (useful at resorts with multiple 9s). Also, we would like to see the hole number more prominently displayed and the IZZO auto-advance to the next hole (in case you are prone to forget manually advancing, and overlook the tiny print of the hole number). Given there is no scoring or context (bunkers, etc.) to tip users off that they have forgotten to advance the hole, these would be useful additions.

For details, check out the Critical Golf comparison ofgolf GPS ease of use across all devices tested.


70 / C-

COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING

The Good: Um…perhaps since you are not saddled with pesky details about the golf course, like how far away that nasty bunker is, your mind can turn its attention to solving other problems, like whether to have a hot dog or hamburger at the turn, and whether the cute cart girl really thinks your jokes are funny, or is just angling for a big tip (our many years of playing golf tells us the answers are “hot dog” and “big tip”).

The Bad: There really is not much detail available – just distances to the front, middle and back of the green. The IZZO SWAMI 1500 does not provide distances to any other targets.

Details:

  • Views. As mentioned above, the only data available is the distance to the front, center and back of the green. Users toggle between those distances using the “FCB” button.
  • Hole Information. No information is provided with respect to par or hole handicap on any screen.
  • Custom Mapping. The IZZO SWAMI 1500 does not have functionality for adding additional targets to an existing course or creating mapping for a new course.

65 / D

FEATURES

We’ll keep this section brief. Features = none.

For details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of feature sets across all golf GPS devices tested.


65 / D

ACCURACY

We tested the IZZO SWAMI 1500 across multiple courses (both municipal and Top 100 resort courses) on clear days. Though the device does not indicate the satellites acquired, we assume that on each day there were enough satellites for accurate readings.

Unfortunately, distance readings were inaccurate throughout several rounds, ranging from 5-16 yards off on one municipal to 12-18 yards off on a Top 100 course (a popular resort course, no less). The distances weren’t inaccurate just some of the time, but rather on the vast majority of readings. As with all devices, we cross-checked the distance readings against other GPS devices, a laser rangefinder, and marked sprinklers on the course.

We presume this is a mapping problem. But it totally shattered our confidence in the device.


80 / B-

COST/VALUE

Retail Price: The first golf GPS tested retailing for under $100 at a fire-sale price of $69.99 (with the release of the new IZZO SWAMI 3000), the IZZO SWAMI 1500 has the lowest retail price by a wide margin.

Fees for Access to Course Database: IZZO charges $9.99 per year for access to their course database. Consumers should note that this $9.99 annual fee, which is the lowest annual fee among all devices, provides the least amount of actual data (only distances to the front, center and back of the green).

Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: Coming in at $99.96, the IZZO SWAMI 1500’s three year cost of ownership is the lowest among devices tested, and actually is lower than the cost of any other GPS device alone.

Value: We applaud the concept of the IZZO SWAMI 1500 – a bare bones device that is impressively inexpensive. For those on a budget this may be the way to go, but our opinion is that users will want to consider spending more for a device with much greater utility, better accuracy, and ultimately better value.



  • paul

    I love my Swami for two reasons…it is simple and the numbers are large and easy to read. I have tried a half dozen other GPS devices for my smart phone and dedicated units and all are hard to read in bright sunlight, complicated, and hold up play. My complaint about Swami is IT IS NOT MACINTOSH COMPATIBLE!!!! To even charge the thing I have to go to a friends house and use his PC because you have to charge through the Swami PC application.

  • paul

    I love my Swami for two reasons…it is simple and the numbers are large and easy to read. I have tried a half dozen other GPS devices for my smart phone and dedicated units and all are hard to read in bright sunlight, complicated, and hold up play. My complaint about Swami is IT IS NOT MACINTOSH COMPATIBLE!!!! To even charge the thing I have to go to a friends house and use his PC because you have to charge through the Swami PC application.

  • Big T.

    Poor piece of equipment. The download system seems simple but if it doesn’t operate properly (as mine didn’t) there isn’t any convenient way to get help. My courses wouldn’t download. Help is not available on line at all and the phone help desk is only available during normal business hours. For those of us that play on the weekend (I’m thinking roughly 100% of the golfing population) this isn’t helpful. I recieved my SWAMI as a gift but from an unknown retailer, or I would take this piece of junk back for a refund.

  • Big T.

    Poor piece of equipment. The download system seems simple but if it doesn’t operate properly (as mine didn’t) there isn’t any convenient way to get help. My courses wouldn’t download. Help is not available on line at all and the phone help desk is only available during normal business hours. For those of us that play on the weekend (I’m thinking roughly 100% of the golfing population) this isn’t helpful. I recieved my SWAMI as a gift but from an unknown retailer, or I would take this piece of junk back for a refund.

  • Steve Smith

    No idea what you guys are talking about. Nobody is more computer illiterate than I am and setting up was no problem. Every course I have used it on was right on the money for the distances. Some small obscure courses that I play that you could never get the other companies to map were added at my request with no problems. The only complaint I would have is that when plugged into the car charger the screen doesn’t show that it is charging (even though it is). For the money I couldn’t be happier.

  • No idea what you guys are talking about. Nobody is more computer illiterate than I am and setting up was no problem. Every course I have used it on was right on the money for the distances. Some small obscure courses that I play that you could never get the other companies to map were added at my request with no problems. The only complaint I would have is that when plugged into the car charger the screen doesn’t show that it is charging (even though it is). For the money I couldn’t be happier.

  • Steve Smith

    You can get a charger to work from a ciggarette lighter or in your home. (Look on E-Bay)

  • You can get a charger to work from a ciggarette lighter or in your home. (Look on E-Bay)

    This reply is to Paul.
    I wish Discus would get straightened out and place replies where they belong instead of as new comments.

  • Mark Liu

    The Good: Realtively Cheap & Small device to carry.

    The Bad: Tried at 3 different courses. At the 1st course: Did not get the signal for 1st 2 holes. At the 2nd Couse: Did not get the signal at all. At the 3rd course: Did not get the signal for the 1st 4 holes. I was told by the IZZO customer service to get it exchanged for a new unit at the place I bought as the antena seems to be nor working properly.

    I have not got a chance to do that and I’ll post my review once I used my new unit, hopefully in a few weeks.

    • Kliuu

      Hi It’s Mark again here.

      I got a new unit and it is working very well. It picks up the signal as soon as I’m on the 1st tee.

      Their support staff was very helpful when I called them to convert the date from the old one to the new.

  • Montana Jack

    Worked like a champ. Read the instructions on the internet and FAQs. Went out today where we had 3 GPS instruments. Mine retailed at $ 59 plus the 9..99 to activate.The other cost $175 and 250. The Swami was on the money on every hole.  I had no problem.  Reading the instructions does help.

  • Sam

    EAY – Bought in spring ’11.  Used quite a bit successfully on multiple courses around the country.  Fairly adequate.  Some dead on.  Not too rugged.  It’s now a paperweight as it doesn’t seem to pick up the satellite any more.  If it had cost me more $ I might inquire with manuf.  but hey time to upgrade.  Having the exact yardage makes a difference.