Laser Link Red Hot
The Laser Link Red Hot features a pistol-shape design, where users simply hold the unit at a distance and point the red dot in the viewfinder at the target. The Red Hot can be used to target any object on the golf course, unlike Laser Link’s QuickShot, which can only target flagsticks equipped with reflective prisms.
The “point and shoot” design seems great at first blush, and Laser Link emphasizes the fact that users don’t need to hold the device close to their eyes. The Red Hot does work well for targeting a flagstick equipped with a reflective prism. Unfortunately, we found it much more difficult to hone in on other targets, such as flagsticks without reflective prisms, unless we actually DID hold the device close to our eyes, which sort of defeats the purpose of the design. This problem was only exacerbated by the lack of magnification in the viewfinder.
If your home course features flagsticks with reflective prisms and you like the form factor, the Red Hot is worth checking out; otherwise we think you’re likely to find competing products more to your liking.
- Cool design that works well when targeting flagsticks with reflective prisms
- Cool design doesn’t work so well when targeting anything else
- Not as quick to register distance readings
Retail price: $389
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EASE OF USE
The Red Hot is designed to be held like a radar gun, using the red alignment dot in the viewfinder to aim at the appropriate target. The resulting distance to the target is displayed on an LCD screen on the body of the device (and not within the viewfinder). In theory, this is great, as you can keep your sunglasses on while using the device.
This system generally works well for easily targeted objects like flagsticks with reflective prisms. Trickier targets (such as a flagstick without a reflective prism), however, required holding the viewfinder up to the eye and then engaging in a convoluted dance of waiting for confirmation (through vibration or an audible chime) that the Red Hot had locked onto a target, looking down at the LCD screen to read the distance, and, if the distance seemed incorrect, putting the viewfinder back up to the eye and starting the process all over again. Contrast this to other devices where users see the calculated distance while looking through the viewfinder, enabling them to easily double check the distance or hold the button and pan across multiple targets.
Compounding the problem is that the Red Hot is one of the few laser rangefinders that lack any magnification (the others being the Laser Link QuickShot and the Opti-Logic family of devices) – compare this to the 6x or 7x magnification of competing devices. The lack of magnification, which is necessitated by the pistol-shaped design, makes it challenging to solidly lock on to thin targets at a distance – like, say, a flagstick.
The device is average in size and weight versus the competition, and comes with a carry case that easily clips on to a bag. Hypothetically, it could also be clipped on to a belt, but we found that to be a bit awkward due to the bulk of the Red Hot. The device is easy to grip, with a hard red and black rubber exterior.
The Laser Link Red Hot takes one 9-volt alkaline battery. When the battery runs low on power, a low battery indicator icon will appear on the LCD display.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder ease of use.
The Laser Link Red Hot is a basic device (not always a bad thing), with a somewhat limited feature set. The device has just one button, which fires the laser and display the red aiming dot in the viewfinder when pressed with the trigger finger. The same button can be used to change the preference settings (accomplished by holding the button down for about a minute). Players can modify the LCD readings between yards and meters, and can also choose between an audible beep to confirm a lock on a target or the Red Hot’s vibrate mode, which vibrates the handle (nice for getting measurement confirmation without irritating your playing partners).
The Red Hot will continue to fire the laser and display the firing dot as long as the trigger button is held, but will stop displaying the distance on the LCD (and turn off the red aiming dot) after approximately six seconds.
The Laser Link Red Hot offers only a point-and-shoot mode at targets, and lacks the pan-and-scan capability available in other devices.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder features.
OBTAINING DISTANCE READINGS
While the Laser Link website claims measurements to trees and bunkers at up to 400 yards, and to a Laser Link reflector to 800 yards, they do note that “many players will find it challenging to get easy measurements to the flagsticks without a flagstick reflector in place” and that “Laser Link flagstick reflectors are strongly recommended in order to receive consistently simple measurements to the flagstick.” We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves.
Ease of Locking on a (non-reflective) Flagstick:
- Starting at 100 yards, the Red Hot would on occasion have difficulty locking on to a flagstick, even with our non-caffeinated hands.
- At 150-200 yards, the Red Hot starts to struggle in locking onto flagsticks, though we were still able to successfully target approximately 70% of the time at 175 yards, and over 50% of the time at 200 yards.
- At 200-250 yards, the Red Hot continues to drop off in ease of locking on to a flagstick, falling below a 40% success rate.
- At over 250 yards, the Red Hot was virtually unable to lock onto a flagstick, trailing the top devices by a wide margin.
While we have not done a comparative test of all devices on reflective targets/prisms, our on-course testing found that the Laser Link Red Hot, like all rangefinders tested, can easily lock onto flagstick reflectors at distances well in excess of 300 yards.
The Laser Link Red Hot finished toward the back of the pack in our speed test for obtaining distance readings. The Red Hot simply has one mode, and was tested against the full set of rangefinders, all but four of which have one mode as well.
- Panning Mode: When we compared the Red Hot in its one mode against other devices in their “panning” modes, it came in on the high side of times for our test.
- Pin-Locating Mode: When we compared the Red Hot in its one mode against other devices in their “pin-locating” modes, it finished slightly higher than average for the group.
- Using Both Modes: The Red Hot again finishes in the middle of the pack in the speed test when other devices were allowed to use both modes together.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison for Ease of Obtaining Distance Readings.
At a retail price of $389, the Laser Link Red Hot sits in the middle of the pack in our laser rangefinder cost comparison. Our struggle at times to obtain distance readings, however, affected our value perception, particularly when excellent devices such as the Leupold GX-1 and Bushnell 1600 are available at similar price points. It’s a cool gadget, but not the first one we would pick if our lives depended on obtaining a quick and accurate distance to a target lacking a reflective prism.