The IZZO SWAMI 3000 is an entry level golf GPS device that provides foolproof access to the most basic distances…but ONLY basic distances (to the front, center and back of the green). If you like bells and whistles, look elsewhere, but if an uncomplicated approach is more to your liking, the SWAMI 3000 is a nice simple unit in a lightweight and compact form factor.
The satellite antenna on the device seemed to be on the weaker side – we had frequent problems acquiring satellites at the beginning of a round (at courses where we didn’t experience this problem with other devices), and the SWAMI 3000 was also slower to lock on to distances during play. In addition, we found that distance readings on the device fell outside of the 3-4 yard standard margin of error (when compared to marked sprinkler heads) more often than on other devices, but it was unclear if this was a mapping or antenna issue.
The IZZO SWAMI 3000 is best suited as a nice introduction to golf GPS devices for beginners and those who aren’t as comfortable with technology, but as prices for premium devices drop below the $200 point, these most basic devices become harder to recommend.
- The lightest device in our tests; also one of the smallest
- Easy to read distances
- One of least expensive devices tested
- Only provides distances to front, center and back of green; no additional targets
- Distance readings more variable than competition
- Not compatible with Macs
The Good: The SWAMI 3000 is the first device from IZZO to include courses pre-loaded on the device, so you can take it straight to the golf course.
The Bad: The map updater software (and device drivers), which you will want to use on occasion to ensure you have the latest course data, doesn’t work on Macs.
- Required steps. With courses pre-loaded on the SWAMI 3000, you can hit the course as soon as the battery is charged (normally within 3-4 hours; the device will power off when fully charged ). To make sure you have the latest course maps you’ll want to use the SWAMI 300 Map Updater software on occasion (available for an additional fee). This involves:
- installing “map updater” software on a PC (note that the IZZO SWAMI 3000 is not compatible with Macs – c’mon!);
- plugging the SWAMI into your PC using the USB cord;
- launching the Map Updater software;
- paying for your subscription (the Map Updater software automatically sends you to a web page where you enter your credit card information);
- going back to the Map Updater and clicking “Update Maps”
- waiting about 4-5 minutes while the SWAMI updates. That’s it!
As mentioned above, the IZZO website tells you that the SWAMI Map Updater software is not supported on the Mac operating systems. Our experience running on a PC was smooth as silk (as detailed above), but when we got crazy and tried to use it on a Mac running Windows XP through VMware, it failed miserably, and SWAMI tech support wasn’t able to help us get it to sync. Sorry Mac users!
- Time required for setup. The entire process took about 6-7 minutes on a PC. The instructions on the SWAMI web site are pretty complete, and include screen shots of what you should see on your computer at different stages in the process.
What’s in the Box: The IZZO SWAMI 3000 is packaged with:
- Quick Start Guide
- Wall Charger
- USB Cable
- Belt Clip
Recommended Downloads (to get latest course maps):
Critical Golf Test: The IZZO SWAMI 3000 finished near the top of the pack in our golf course coverage tests. As the SWAMI 3000 provides only distances to the front, center and back of the green, this is what we expect.
Manufacturer’s Claims: IZZO claims to have 19,500 courses available worldwide, putting it at the bottom of GPS devices tested.
EASE OF USE
The Good: Very light and easy to keep in a pocket during play. Text indicating distances is large and easy-to-read. With only basic functionality, it’s straightforward to use.
The Bad: Didn’t lock in to distances as quickly as other devices. We also had a few issues acquiring satellites to start a round.
- Buttons. The IZZO SWAMI has four buttons: up/down (to cycle through different holes or courses), FCB and power. FCB stands for front/center/back of the green, and toggles between readings for each of those points. We are glad they took our advice from our IZZO SWAMI 1500 review and replaced the previous generation “ENT” button with a simple power symbol.
- Screen. The device has a basic black and white screen. Large numbers make distances easy to read.
- Form Factor. The IZZO SWAMI 3000 is one of the lightest GPS devices on the market. It’s one of the smallest as well, and you can easily leave the device in your pocket during play (there is a belt clip included as well, but that isn’t for us – BlackBerrys and SWAMIs alike).
- Starting a Round. At the start of the round the SWAMI 3000 will display a countdown from 99 as it acquires satellites. The nearest course will then be displayed. If the incorrect course is displayed or you want to select another, you can move between other courses (you must be at a location where there are multiple courses – it won’t search other courses that are simply nearby) by pressing the power button again and then the arrow buttons. Interestingly, on several occasions the screen simply went blank after counting from 99 all the way down to 0 (apparently as a result of not acquiring satellites), and in other situations the course was located but distances were not displayed. This was solved by powering on/off and going through the countdown process several times (not fun).
For details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS ease of use across all devices tested.
COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING
The Good: The SWAMI encourages a laser-like focus on the green. For some players this is a boon: no distractions to provide a wealth of information as you stand above your ball evaluating your next shot. If you spend all of your time in fairways, and play courses you know extremely well, then distances to the front, middle and back of greens may be all you need.
The Bad: We like to play new courses on a reasonably frequent basis, and we don’t spend all of our time on the fairway, so it would be useful for us to have additional target information. And though the box says “SWAMI knows all” – it really only knows distances to the front, middle and back of the green.
- Views. The SWAMI 3000 single view provides the course name (or a portion thereof…the name will get clipped at about 12 characters), hole number, battery level, and units. There is really just one view that players will see during a round – the only thing that ever changes is whether the displayed distance is to the front, center or back of the green, which is effected by pressing the “FCB” button. Curiously, the distances don’t rotate front-center-back, but rather front-back-center. Curious both because the button is labeled “FCB”, not “FBC”, and also because it seems counterintuitive to us to go in that order.
- Hole Information. No information is provided with respect to par or hole handicap.
- Custom Mapping. The IZZO SWAMI 3000 does not have the ability to add targets to an existing course or map a new course. Existing front, center and back points cannot be modified.
This section is easy. “Not applicable.” The SWAMI 3000 won’t auto-advance between holes, so don’t forget to do so manually after each hole. With no other target information provided, if you don’t remember to advance and then overlook the hole number when focusing on the distance, you may find yourself pulling out the wrong club. Don’t expect the SWAMI to keep track of your score, shot distances, or provide the ability to map targets.
For details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of feature sets across golf GPS devices.
We were pleased that our IZZO SWAMI 3000 fared much better than the original SWAMI 1500 in distance readings. We found that distances were generally within our expected range of 3-4 yards from on-course markings (and comparison to other devices). We did find that discrepancies of 5-6 yards off of actuals were more common with the SWAMI 3000 than with other devices. Whether this is a mapping or a GPS issue is difficult to say (testing was always done under clear skies in open areas).
Retail Price: IZZO continues their aggressive pricing, introducing the SWAMI 3000 at a mere $99.99, making it one of lowest priced devices in our tests. This matches the price of the original SWAMI 1500, though it now also includes courses pre-loaded at no additional cost.
Fees for Access to Course Database: You wouldn’t know it from the box or main page of the website (you have to click through a couple of pages to find out), but IZZO charges a yearly fee of $19.99 to access course updates, or $39.99 for the lifetime of the product.
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: Coming in at only $139.98 over 3 years (we assume you want to have the latest course maps, correct?) even with the purchase of map updates, the IZZO SWAMI 3000 three year cost of ownership is still one of the lowest of devices tested. One side note – if you need a course that isn’t in their database, IZZO may charge a fee to provide a new course map (and it may take up to 3-4 weeks).
Value: We are fans of the idea of a simple device at a reasonable cost. Those who are pinching their pennies will want take a look at this device – there are few competitors that are competing at such an aggressive price point. But for just a bit more money ($10-40 over 3 years), you can buy a device that provides significantly more information about the course, such as additional pre-mapped target points (bunkers, water hazards, etc.) or the ability to map points by yourself. Those on a budget, or who aren’t very comfortable with technology, may find the IZZO SWAMI 3000 right up their alley, but we think that most players will be better served by paying a bit more for additional functionality – Bushnell’s Neo+ being the most obvious competitor in both form factor and cost.