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Twire
13-Jan-2009, 15:12
Bit of a long one this…you may want to skip the first five paragraphs and jump straight to the functionality of the product.

Playing in a competition at another club last September, a chap I was playing with had a GPS system. This was the first time I had seen anything like it, and was very impressed. This is when I decided what Mrs twire was going to buy me for Christmas.

After a fair bit of research, and even running a poll on the GM forum (The result was a unanimous victory for the SkyCaddy) I chose the CaddyAid. I felt the concept was very good. The idea of having a hand held PDA with a photo of the hole and a cursor showing you your live position with all relevant distances was a great idea, especially when playing new courses. Also I would have a PDA that I could use for other things.

With the decision made, I was even more pleased when I revisited the CaddyAid website to find that the prices had dropped. Initially the prices were £299 for the complete system on a MIO PDA and £99 for software only. Now the prices were £249 for the complete system on a HP PDA and £49 for the software only. This prompted me to look at PDA prices, now the PDA they were supplying with the package I could purchase for £160 so with a few mental maths calculations I realised I could upgrade to the next level PDA for a cost of £200 buy the software for £49 and get a better package for £249……Result….or so I thought. What I hadn’t realised was the initial MIO PDA had inbuilt GPS the HP ones didn’t. This was not made clear on their website, so after purchasing the HP PDA I then had to find a Bluetooth GPS receiver. Reading through several specifications of receivers I chose the one with the highest accuracy (2.5 metres). Now that’s all the hardware sorted. I handed them over to Mrs twire for the Santa treatment.

The next step was to order the software. They were also doing a deal on courses, so I purchased the software and five extra courses. I downloaded the software and then selected my home course off their drop down list. To my surprise even though my course was on the list, it had not yet been mapped. (Lesson 1; don’t assume your course has been mapped just because it’s on the list) There was a button to select if you required the course urgently, this was selected and the message came back that they would email me as soon as it was mapped. After a week and no news I decided to phone them to see how they were getting on with it, the answer was it would be with me for the weekend. What great customer service I thought….. A couple more phone calls, and a few false promises later the mapped course was finally put into my member’s area in just under 3 weeks. (Lesson 2; if you’re travelling to a new course, check that it’s been mapped at least 3 weeks before you require it)

Christmas arrived, and guess what Santa had got me? I was like a kid in a sweet shop. I quickly downloaded the software onto my new PDA, followed by my home course and started playing around with it. I soon realised the quality of photograph for my home course was not very good, this was disappointing as, and I quote: - “CaddyAid gets ALL of its data from aerial photographs, using a wing mounted £1 million camera, guaranteed to 1 metre accuracy. When we fly the Open Championship, that one image alone will cost around £3,000, so hopefully that shows how accurate our core data is. Other companies use less sophisticated methods like Google Earth to get its data, which is widely known to be highly inaccurate.” Imagine my surprise when I cross checked my home course against Google Maps, the photo’s were identical, it was the same for two other courses I downloaded. I sat on this for a week then on the 2nd January sent them a strong email. More of that later.

Now for the functionality of the system. Setting the software to talk to the GPS receiver was not easy. Using CaddyAid’s auto set up which was recommended seemed to ‘lock up’ the receiver. I managed to set the communication manually using the same settings as I was using for other GPS software on the PDA. (This is where I would imagine buying the complete system would come into its own; it would probably be pre set). With the system now all set, I ventured out onto the golf course. This was not for a game of golf, but purely to walk the course and test the unit

My first disappointment was that the photograph that comes up on the screen, apart from being poor quality focuses from around 150-200 yards and into the green. (Just the green and greenside hazards on par 3’s) This means you have to keep zooming out on each hole to find the tees and the live cursor (your position). If this is not done then hazards can be missed, fairway bunkers, ditches etc, especially on par 5’s. This aside, I then stood on a few 100 and 150 yard markers. At my course the markers are to the middle of the green, but CaddyAid only gives front and back on their readout. Now with me being a mid handicapper the middle of the green is as important if not more important for me than the front and back. The options to find this distance are to either do the mental maths i.e. take front measurements from back divide by two then add to the front measurement….or the system has an end function where you can tap the screen on the green or where you think the pin position is and it will give you the distance. This in theory is fantastic, but in practice not so easy, accuracy depends on pixel size, plus how well you can position you screen tap while stood on the course on a bright sunny day. Screen tapping brings me to the next problem, and that is touch screens. Now these are terrific if sitting in an office or at home etc when you place them onto a desk or table, but when you have to put the PDA either in your pocket or golf bag while still switched on this is when the touch screen becomes a problem for obvious reasons. Someone suggested switching the screen off before putting it into my bag, now I’m sure this can be done (although I’ve not managed to find out how on my PDA), but it just means more button pushes when it comes out of your bag.

Accuracy, this is a hard one to argue without walking around the course with a tape measure, but I will tell you what happened when I walked the 18th. We have a bunker on the right hand side of the fairway about 30 yards short of the green. This bunker is about 4 yards wide, now as I went around the right hand side of this, the live cursor showed me walking down the middle of the fairway.

I have tried to use CaddyAid several times over the Christmas period, but it’s always ended up in the bag after 3 or 4 holes. Reasons for this are, loosing Bluetooth connection on receiver, touch screen sending PDA haywire whilst in bag, and the pure hassle of all the button presses needed. I now wish I’d gone for the more popular SkyCaddy. Unfortunately my money reserves were used up on this, so I’m now stuck with it.

Coming back to the email I mentioned earlier. I hadn’t had a reply for over a week (and still not had one as I write this) so I decided to phone them and question the photo’s origin. I was assured that the images of my course did not come from Google Earth (even though they are identical) and that they purchase their images from Get Mapping who fly the course several times taking photographs. When I pointed out they were the same as Google Maps, I was told that Google must buy their images from the same company. If this is true, then they need to look at their advertising, as they state “Other companies use less sophisticated methods like Google Earth to get its data, which is widely known to be highly inaccurate.”

I’ll try to list the pros and cons of this system as I see it, and being as objective as I can.

Pros:-
Great concept
Layup function
Photographs of hole (if they were better quality)
Live position cursor

Cons:-
Customer service (still waiting for email reply)
Not easy to set up
No middle green measurement
Can’t measure distance away from course (for gauging club distance)
Not easy to use on the course
To gimmicky

All in all very disappointing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me direct.

haplesshacker
13-Jan-2009, 15:34
That's quite some review. Having read every word of it, I won't be buying Caddyaid.

As you say, the concept of it is excellant, though if somewhat poorly executed.

I've looked into Caddyaid with the desire to purchase. The photos on their website obviously don't match the quality of the images that you have. I'm put right off.

You might as well have a GPS enabled phone / PDA, switch on the GPS and load up Google Earth and measure the distances off yourself.

Anyway now that you have the hardware, try Freecaddie. It's free and does use GE, and only gives front, middle and back of the green measurments. But it's useful enough for me.

Sorry to hear that Caddyaid has been a waste of money for you. There's nothing more infuriating that spending hard earned cash on crap.

Ken_A
13-Jan-2009, 15:48
I am debating a GPS. This product looks great, the pics on the website etc really sold it to me. After readfing every word it is now off the purchase list. I think its skycaddie for me.

viscount17
13-Jan-2009, 15:50
Disappointing without doubt but if there is a bright side, it's that you now have the PDA & GPS Rx and more than likely in the not too distant future a decent software package will hit the market (SS2?).

Yes you will be out the cost of Cruddyaid but let's face it, who among us golfers hasn't blown as much in a pointless purchase.

haplesshacker
13-Jan-2009, 15:54
who among us golfers hasn't blown as much in a pointless purchase.



Not yet, but I tend to be quite anal about what I buy, and research it to the point that the Mrs goes mad about it.

In all honesty I was waiting until someone else had the Caddyaid and reviewed it before parting with my cash, and the fact the whole course is changing this spring, so any GPS purchase would be a waste of money for the time being.

Leftie
13-Jan-2009, 15:54
I received an email today from CaddyAid confirming that they buy their photos from Bluesky as do Google Earth. Both are at least 1M accuracy (or in some areas better) so how can they claim that Google Earth data is widely known to be highly inaccurate? :mad:

Trading Standards and Google Earth might be interested??

viscount17
13-Jan-2009, 17:14
I don't know about accuracy but I do know that at least some of the maps available on the freebie version of GE are old. It may be that you get current maps on the 'pro' version but I've never seen it to compare.

Does CaddyAid give any indication as to the age of the data?
It would be interesting to compare their mapping against a course where you know GE to be several years out-of-date.

HomerJSimpson
13-Jan-2009, 18:41
Great review and a shame that the product didn't live up to expectations and even worse that the customer service only added to the angst.

I think the problem with these GPS devices using photos is that you are reliant on the data being up to date. If a hole is revised, how long will it be before a new picture is uploaded.

I have to say I wasn't struck by these types of devices when I was looking hence my choice of SC5 but your description and woes would make me think about recommending or looking at them in the future.

theeaglehunter
13-Jan-2009, 19:45
Great review I enjoyed reading it and can only suggest selling the system on ebay or something and buying a skycaddie with what you get for it. I am sure the PDA at least is worth something and as you bought it for a gps cut your losses and sell it on.

Imurg
13-Jan-2009, 19:55
Its a pity as the concept sounds really good.

If Caddyaid does use photos from Bluesky, is there any indication as to how often they are updated? I know Skycaddie will come and re-map a course if there have been major changes - will CAid update?

Hapless - had a thought about using your phone on the course - most phones are not even water resistant let alone water proof. SC say that the SC2.5 is good to use in all weathers - make sure you keep your phone dry!

haplesshacker
13-Jan-2009, 19:59
Imurg.

Only really play on the home track, so don't use it a great deal. But yes, my phones not waterproof, and I don't use it in the teeming rain.

CarpeDiem
14-Jan-2009, 11:09
I have a £2 yardage book, which I have made additions to whilst playing and another member of the group had a Skycaddie. After reading the review I think I was justified.

Beaker
14-Jan-2009, 13:01
Great review Twiregolf, just a pitty the Cruddyaid is no good! Stick at contacting them, push them for a refund and say it doesn't do what they say, if not take it to trading standards. You've spent alot of money and alot of time on it plus i think your well within your rights to claim full refund?

Anyway, hope you get sorted!

rookie
14-Jan-2009, 16:57
cheers for the review, Skycaddie ftw !

Cernunnos
15-Jan-2009, 22:38
Great Review 'Twiregolf'. The Caddyaid system sounds great in principle & a very helpful chap on the DMC/Caddyaid stand at the Quinn British Masters, gave me all the hype about their system. Now obviously after reading the review it seems all the hype is just this Hype & bluster & even perhaps half truths by the sounds of it.

I nearly bought a unit there & then, but something stopped me. No, not the missus, as she was all for it too. But I thought I'd check online to see what he was saying about the price was right or not... Seems the Weekend price at the masters was not quite so special as he made out. So decided to hang fire & try out their mobile version. I registered my details on their website. Nothing turned up for months...

I too e-mailed & even phoned. The lady I talked to at their end tried to weave me a story & excuse that the mobile software was not ready, when everything on the website was claiming otherwise.

Re-regestered recently & downloaded the free mobile software which I've yet to try out. Though after reading the review of the main caddyaid system I'm less than hopeful of decent results.

Though I'm sure all the problems with the caddyaid system will be sorted, but not convinced it'll be in time for most of us to be able to take advantage of.

'Twiregolf' perhaps you can sell on the software & the GPS reviever to someone else to try via evil-bay, perhaps they'll havemore luck using the system.

Sounds to me as if Using the system in None GPS Mode might actually be the way to go. But may be an expensive way of getting course guides in the long run me thinks.

TonyN
17-Jan-2009, 10:58
O too registered to try the free software a number of tmes I dent get anything butban increase in junk mail.

If I was you, I would print this topic off and stick it in an envelope and send it to the head honcho him/herself. Not even any need for a letter this post says it all.

Very very glad I went SC.

obiwan
22-Mar-2009, 13:40
Hi,
Thanks for this post,I could have written most of it myself.I got the all singing and dancing version of this at
christmas too.I've downloaded six courses so far and like yourselef five had not been mapped and had to be emailed to me on completion.I've been trying since I got it to pick up
gps and only managed to do so on two holes of my home course,I think you have to stand with your left big toe in your mouth,your right elbow behind your right ear and spin round to face Pluto to achieve this.I have managed to make contact with the other side but i'ts just continual are you doing this or that,Lee Weswood managed.
However I'm at my end with it and about to question thier
glossy advertising and ask for a refund.we'll see.
Thanks again