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CES 2008: Electric Spin

Posted by: John at 1/11/2008 10:00 PM
About three years ago I ran into the folks of Electric Spin in Kentia Hall at E3. They had a cool golfing simulator that didn’t rely on mechanical parts to judge your swing as the product used optics to judge your club head, speed, and trajectory. This year at CES, they are back showing their updated Launchpad and how it’s been improved.

As you can see, the product has shrunk in size a little bit. The smaller footprint should make it easier to stow away when not in use. The basic workings of the Launchpad remain the same as it uses optics to judge your swing. The components are better and the engine is more accurate now and that can be seen in the short game. This is one product where if you barely tap the ball, that’s what you will see on the screen as well as the other extreme. Speaking with Sr. Manager of Global Operations, Hamid Hashemi, he said he was really proud at how well the product simulates the short game. Pro golfers were consulted to see how the Launchpad could be improved upon.

The product is still pretty durable and can take a good amount of punishment. You’d really need to stand and take a full swing downward to damage the optics. The ball should last from 3-6 months depending on how many full strength swings you take and Electric Spin sells replacement parts in what they call reload kits which contain a ball, net, mat, and tee.

One great improvement over the original is the remote caddy. It’s a small remote control that you can clip on to your belt and you can setup your shot with it rather than having to go to the computer to do it now. If you want to switch from full swing, pitch, or putting just pull out the remote caddy and aim it at the Launchpad, press a few buttons, and you’re good to go. The indicator is also more visible on the Launchpad to let you know when it’s ready.

The unit plugs into the console or PC via a USB connector which has an 8 foot cord. Compatibility for now is with the PC, Mac, XTV, and PlayStation 3. Xbox 360 owners should expect it to work with their console as well in a short time after the product is released in March.

I took a swing with it and on my first shot I topped the ball and it rolled a little bit on the Launchpad. Looking up I saw the same thing happen on EA’s Tiger Woods 2008. My next shot was much nicer as I caught the golf ball fully and put in about ¾ power since it was a 150 yard shot. The Launchpad correctly sent the right information to the game and I saw my nice shot land near the pin side of the green and in the rough. On the green, the putting took me a bit getting used to as I didn’t really know how hard to hit the ball but it took me three shots to drop it in the hole. I have to say it’s really nice to use a real golf club to play and hearing the sound of a real golf ball being struck really added to the illusion of playing outside on a real course.

If you want to pick this up, you’ll have to wait until March but the Launchpad seems ready to go when I tried it out and watched a few demonstrations. The product will retail for around $200 and come bundled with Tiger Woods 08 for the PlayStation 3.