The most hotly anticipated review in MyGolfSpy history; you might think we’re talking about a new Callaway driver or a set of Mizuno irons. In reality, there’s a case to be made that the title belongs to this review of the FlightScope Mevo personal launch monitor.
And why is that?
If Mevo lives up to its billing, we’re talking about a literal pocket-sized and affordable Doppler radar-based ball tracking device produced by one of the leaders in launch monitor technology. I can already hear many of you screaming, “Take my money!”
We're going to cover a good amount here, so for those who just came here for the bottom line, feel free to skip ahead to the data or the conclusion.
Interest in budget-friendly consumer launch monitor space is inarguably on the rise. Enterprise-class launch monitors with head tracking technology (Foresight, Trackman, FlightScope X3) still cost nearly as much as a Honda Civic. No thanks.
Mid-tier offerings from Skytrak, Ernest Sports, and FlightScope (Xi) are beginning to drop in price, but you’re still looking at $2k minimum – affordable enough for some, but still quite a bit more than the average guy is going to spend.
$500 though? For many that’s enticing. Skip the Epic, spend your money on the launch monitor and maybe improve your game the old-fashioned way. You know… practice (full disclosure, this is an entirely hypocritical suggestion as I constantly look to new gear to mitigate my own lack of practice).
But how much can we expect for $500?
Setting Expectations - The Mevo Dilemma
For FlightScope, entering the consumer space creates both opportunity and risk. Mevo needs to be accurate or at least consistent enough and provide enough data to be useful. At the same time, it can’t be so good that it undercuts the market for FlightScope’s mid-range offerings. It’s a delicate balance, and that makes it a relatively bold move for FlightScope in its position as first of the big guys to take the leap. I’m reasonably certain that both Trackman and Foresight will be watching closely. Intentionally or otherwise, Mevo has become the test case from which the other guys will learn while charting their courses in the consumer space.
Bottom line: While an enterprise-grade player in the consumer space is new and exciting, we must temper our expectations. For $500, is it reasonable to expect Mevo to offer the same precision and feature sets of units priced in the five to twenty-five-thousand dollar range?
Personally, I don’t think so.
What You Get and What You Don’t
Where data is concerned, Mevo gives you club speed, ball speed, smash factor, launch angle, spin, carry yards, peak height, and flight time. That’s it. For some, that’s plenty. For others – particularly those interested in advanced head data (like path, face to path, angle of attack, etc.) it won’t be nearly enough. For those focused on precision, the lack of an offline measurement may be a deal-breaker, while fitters will likely notice that descent angle is not included as well, but again, this is a $500 consumer unit and it is, in no way, intended for use in any professional capacity.
Again, we must manage our expectations to reasonable levels.
Mevo offers the ability to capture and analyze launch data, which is exactly what you’d expect from a launch monitor. That said, it notably lacks the game/skills modes of lower-priced units like Swing Caddie SC200. Frankly, I’m not too concerned about what is an admittedly limited competitive feature set. Mevo is in its infancy, and I expect that FlightScope will be rolling out enhancements to both the software (app) and the device itself (firmware) at a reasonably quick pace.
Setup and Use
First and foremost, the Mevo is incredibly small. Dimensions are 3.55 x 2.76 x 1.18 in. To put that in context, while it’s appreciably thicker than my iPhone 6 Plus, it’s also significantly shorter in both length and height. Oh, and it weighs less than half a pound. Portable is an understatement. Mevo will literally fit in your pocket.
I don’t want to waste too many words on what it takes to get Mevo up and running. The app is well-designed, and that means intuitive. Connecting via Bluetooth connection is seamless. In fact, for me, it’s been the easiest and most reliable of any consumer grade golf device I’ve used to date.
As with other small radar-based devices, you do need to specify the club being used for each shot. This is necessary because of the smaller doppler unit inside the Mevo. By way of simple explanation – think of radar as projecting a window through which it expects the ball will launch. Larger radar units (FlightScope X3) can project windows large enough to accommodate nearly any launch parameter and by extension, any club. With a smaller device, you get a smaller window, and so it becomes necessary to provide the device with an idea of how high you expect the ball to launch. This is accomplished by selecting the club you’re hitting from inside the Mevo app.
Currently, Mevo offers three modes – Indoor, Outdoor, and Chipping. The latter will be renamed Pitching in future releases of the app and applies to shots under 50 yards.
In all modes, FlightScope recommends you affix small metallic dots (stickers) to the ball, which enable Mevo to more accurately capture backspin. It goes without saying that there are practical reasons why using metal dots, particularly in an outdoor setting, isn’t ideal, which is why a good bit of our testing was dedicated to learning the degree to which they’re necessary.
Other settings allow you to adjust for distance to the tee (minimum four feet), and altitude. You can also select which data you want to be displayed on the screen. If you’d like, Mevo can audibly report a specific metric after each shot, so if you’re working on improving in a single area, you don’t need to continuously look at the phone.
If you choose to record your swing (video), Mevo will detect the beginning and end of the swing, making the experience almost entirely hands-free. Additionally, basic editing tools are available which allow you to mark key positions in your swing.
The Mevo app supports FocusBand integration and automatically syncs your data with the myFlightScope.com cloud service so that you can review and compare later. CSV download functionality (which made my life easier) makes it easy to pull your data out of the cloud for use outside of the FlightScope universe.
All of your data, as well as any recorded swings, also remain in the app, should you choose to do all of your analysis from your mobile device.
With the background out of the way, and the setup and use covered, let’s get into the meat of the review, beginning with an overview of our Mevo testing process.
How We Tested
- Testing took place over several sessions. We used the initial sessions to familiarize ourselves with the device, make informal comparisons of the data, and address any issues before digging into a full review process.
- Using two different single-digit handicap golfers (one indoor, one outdoor), we gathered data for a Driver, 6-Iron, and Sand Wedge in both indoor and outdoor modes.
- Metal dots were used on all indoor shots. Our indoor environment allows for approximately 14 feet of carry before screen impact.
- When testing outdoors, we collected (2) 5-shot sequences for each club. 5 shots were hit with metal dots affixed to the balls; an additional 5 were hit without dots.
- During outdoor testing, we made note of shot type/shape as our preliminary testing suggested Mevo may not handle poor shots particularly well, presumably because launch is often outside of the expected window.
- To establish a baseline, we used a Foresight GC2 with HMT. Where the recorded data differs significantly between devices, we rely on our eyes, our experience, and evidence within the data itself to determine which values are accurate.
- The driving range used for outdoor testing plays slightly downhill, which along with other environmental factors may partially explain the differences in reported carry distance.
Be advised: we have several charts we’re going to show you.
For each shot, we’ll provide both Mevo and GC2 data as well as the calculated differences between each metric. Note that Mevo includes a total flight time measurement, which Foresight does not. For simplicity, we have excluded that measurement from our charts.
We observed consistently significant differences in the height value for the majority of shots recorded. Quite frankly, we don’t have any basis to argue which device is more apt to be right. I will note, however, that numbers reported by Mevo tend to be above PGA Tour averages, while the numbers from GC2 numbers tend to be below those averages.
Foresight reports data in yards while Mevo reports in feet. To allow for a simple and direct comparison, we converted GC2 data from yards to feet.
Before you dig into the data, please be advised of a couple of general consistencies within the data.
- Mevo most often provides a slightly higher value for swing speed, but on occasion will report significantly slower speeds.
- Mevo’s reported launch angle is usually higher – often significantly. In fact, in our test set, for only 2 of 45 shots did Mevo report the same as or a lower launch angle than GC2.
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look.
- In general, Mevo impresses. Ball Speed differences with the driver are slightly higher than ideal, but never by more than 1.8%.
- Differences in club speed are minimal.
- Mevo consistently reports greater carry. Some of the difference could be related to environmental conditions (GC2 doesn’t have a barometric sensor), but when it’s a question of which to believe, I tend to favor the unit for which the height measurement is most consistent with the other shots in the sequence.
- Differences in launch angle are greater than I’d like, and it's my opinion that this is the metric where Mevo most needs improvement.
- Backspin measurements are excellent, and I believe, based on observation of the shot and the remaining data, that GC2 missed shots 4 & 5.
- While Flightscope recommends always using a metal dot, we believe driving range with no dot scenarios are the most likely for a typical Mevo user.
- Performance is generally consistent with the previous set, with the exception of the spin measurement, which the data suggests is adversely affected by the lack of metallic dots.
- For the 2 shots with wildly different carry distances, I’m reasonably certain, based on other numbers, that Mevo missed the 2nd. I’m absolutely certain that GC2 missed the 3rd.
- Where we see the most significant differences in spin, the lack of metallic dot paired with the remaining data point suggests that for other than shot 3, Mevo is most likely to be off.
- Again, we see slight though not massive differences in ball speed. The important thing is that the differences are consistent and close enough that most will feel comfortable with the data.
- As noted above, Mevo reports 6-iron club speed significantly higher than GC2/HMT.
- Carry distances can vary significantly. This is likely partially explained by differences in ball flight algorithms as well as environmental variables. Nevertheless, anything above 180 is a stretch for this tester.
- With the metallic dot in place, differences in backspin are good to excellent on a comparative basis. For the shot with a significant discrepancy, based on the other numbers, I can’t say with certainty that Mevo is incorrect.
- Again, we see a significant jump in the deltas when the metallic dot is not used.
- As has proven typical, launch angles reported by Mevo are high. It missed Shot 1 entirely, though it’s worth mentioning that it was a complete mishit and not the sort of thing you’d expect to get meaningful data from anyway.
- The remaining carry distances are encouragingly similar.
- Both ball and club speed are in line with previous scenarios, with the exception of shot 5, where Mevo didn’t pick up the loss in head speed that resulted from premature ground contact. This is likely attributable to differences in where each unit (the point in the swing) takes its measurement.
- Ball speed is generally consistent with previous data. However, there are significant differences in club speed.
- Line for line, Mevo’s swing speed measurements are less consistent than previous examples, which could suggest an issue with tracking wedges.
- Carry differences are reasonable with the exception of Shot 5 where GC2 clearly missed the shot.
- Launch angle remains the concern as Mevo consistently reports higher, sometimes significantly so, launch.
- Spin numbers aren’t as tight as I’d like here (nearly 10% on the high end), and while we can toss the last shot, Mevo’s ability to handle higher lofted clubs may warrant closer examination as the deltas are consistently high enough to be of concern.
- As with the previous wedge data, we see a greater discrepancy in head speed with Mevo reporting less consistent data.
- 2 of 5 shots produced appreciable differences in carry yards.
- Again, spin differences are significant, though some users may be comfortable with +/- 500 RPM.
For indoor testing, all shots were taken with metallic dots affixed to the ball. Our thinking is that in an indoor scenario, there’s no practical reason not to use the dots.
- Ball speed and club data are generally consistent where we have full data.
- Mevo generally reports greater carry differences.
- Mevo’s reported launch angles are higher – sometimes significantly so.
- Backspin differences are greater than we’d like, with Mevo results being consistently higher. This suggests Mevo may struggle to track the driver in an indoor environment.
- Ball speed consistency is again impressive, while differences in clubhead speed are reasonable.
- Again, we find Mevo consistently higher on carry distance but consistently is the operative word here.
- The deltas for launch angle are again significant with Mevo reporting higher a majority of the time.
- Spin measurements are generally good. A delta of 381 is a bit higher than I’d like, but 50, 63, and even 101 are excellent.
- Two of Mevo’s clubhead speed readings – one high, one low - are difficult to explain, but on the remaining shots, the numbers are reasonably close to GC2/HMT.
- Carry differences are reasonable with the exception of a single shot where Mevo clearly missed the spin.
- While differences in Shot 1 may appear significant, it was an appreciable pull that may have launched outside the expected window.
- Mevo's spin reading on Shot 4 is a bit of a mystery, but otherwise, it's excellent on well-struck shots.
In addition to full swings, we also tested the Mevo in chipping mode. The data we collected strongly suggests that Mevo struggles with short shots. I’m not posting the data because I believe we have more testing to do in this mode before drawing any conclusions.
The issue could be as simple as our test shots (15-30 yard carry) being too short for Mevo to register. It’s also possible that selecting a lower lofted club setting to lower the expected launch window may provide better results. As I said, we have more testing to do.
What We Learned
First, we reinforced what everyone should understand: every launch monitor – and I’ve used them all - misses shots. Perfection is an unrealistic expectation.
It’s also inherently unfair for us to test against Foresight, just as it would be unfair to put Mevo against Trackman or any of FlightScope’s other launch monitors. Mevo isn’t enterprise-class, and FlightScope has never suggested otherwise. As I said some 2000 words ago, in grading Mevo’s performance, it’s important that we set reasonable expectations. It’s unreasonable to think – though wouldn’t it be something – that Mevo would match the enterprise-class for accuracy and consistency. Our goal in using Foresight was to establish a baseline for consistency and accuracy.
So, with that said, we’re impressed with Mevo’s ability to measure ball speed. Head speed measurements are generally acceptable, and when significant variances occur, it’s usually attributable to something like hitting the shot slightly fat or bouncing a driver leading into impact. We’re talking about the kind of things that would cause us to toss the shot anyway. We must also acknowledge that different systems measure clubhead speed differently, so even when the swing is closer to perfect, different systems will often report different values.
While carry distances were sometimes significant, I’m not overly concerned about it. Environmental variables likely played a role in the differences. Certainly, Mevo isn’t perfect, but I would expect that a user would learn his Mevo averages and use them as a baseline to determine the effectiveness of whatever he’s working on. Those same averages will also help you identify shots where Mevo doesn’t quite get it right.
The high launch angles reported by Mevo are a bit of a concern. There’s room for significant improvement here, and I expect FlightScope’s development team is already working on it. While it’s not ideal by the absolute numbers, as with carry distance, Mevo is consistent enough in its measurement that I believe working off an established Mevo average may suffice. I certainly wouldn’t rely on it as a clubfitting tool, but if you’re, for example, working on hitting the ball higher, Mevo should allow you to evaluate the degree to which you've been successful.
Flightscope's instructions state that the stickers should be used in all cases - even outdoors in a full-flight (you're not getting the ball back) scenario. While the quality of the spin data reported when the metallic dot is used exceeded my expectations, I'm not sure asking a user to sticker every range ball he hits is a reasonable request. The good news is that at $25 for 1000, FlightScope’s stickers are reasonably priced, so should you choose to mark every ball, it’s not entirely cost prohibitive.
Conversely, when dots aren't used, spin measurements are all over the map - sometimes higher and sometimes lower than our baseline, rendering them useless as a basis for comparison. The data leaves little doubt that to get the most accurate numbers possible you absolutely need to use the metallic dots.
It should also be noted that the spin problem isn’t unique to Mevo, we’ve seen this with doppler-based units in an indoor setting, along with the other small outdoor radar devices we’ve looked at in full flight scenarios. Without the use of metallic dots, none of these devices capture spin with any degree of confidence. Imperfect as they may be, the metallic dots offer a solution.
Should You Buy Mevo?
Is Mevo worth 500 bucks? I’m guessing that’s what you came here to answer. At the risk of being less than helpful, it depends.
In my estimation, there isn’t a better launch monitor on the market at the $500 price point, and no other device in its class offers the same level of Upside Potential. FlightScope has an opportunity to stake an early claim to the leadership position in the consumer launch monitor space. It would be foolish not to devote the resources necessary to take advantage, and I expect it will.
If you’re looking to use it for fitting or your primary launch monitor in a teaching environment, I think the answer is no.
If your use case demands absolute launch angle measurements, again, the answer is no.
If you require precise spin measurements and aren't willing to sticker every ball you hit, the answer is also no.
If, however, you’re looking for an affordable device that provides generally consistent (though perhaps not exact) measurements for several key metrics, then Mevo is absolutely worth considering. The device is far from perfect, but I keep coming back to the fact that this is brand new technology for FlightScope and while functional as is, I suspect we’ll see significant improvements in both the accuracy of the data and the application’s feature set – and I don’t think it’s going to take particularly long for either to happen.
Let me be clear - where we stand today (App version 1.1.1/Firmware version 1.8), Mevo has plenty of room for improvement, so there’s certainly a case to be made for taking a wait and see approach. But, if you feel like you need to buy now or you're simply willing to cross your fingers and hope your investment will mature and live up to its potential, Mevo's is the direction in which you should toss the dice, and I suspect it will be for the better part of the next few years.
For more information on Mevo, visit FlightScope.com.