SkyCaddie SGX

[Editor’s Note: The review below has been revised to reflect our impressions of SkyCaddie’s 2011 software update for the SGX.]

The SkyCaddie SGX is the latest offering from SkyCaddie, which still reigns as the best-known GPS company in the game. The SGX includes new features such as a digital scorecard, statistics tracking, overhead hole maps with the ability to select a point and receive distances both to that point and from that point to the green (HoleVue), and detailed green maps with contours and false fronts (Intelligreen Pro). But the availability of HoleVue and Intelligreen Pro is sparse (see our golf course coverage test for details), and the syncing process is abysmal. And let’s not forget the top-end price tag for the unit and a steep yearly subscription fee to access the course database.

Our conclusion – the SGX is a nice unit that provides SkyCaddie with something that is competitive with the top devices. The problem is that it doesn’t surpass those other devices, which makes the premium pricing difficult to swallow.

SCORE
85
GRADE
B
Setup/Syncing
75
Course Availability
59
Ease of Use
80
Course Details
94
Features
90
Accuracy
90
Cost/Value
82

Pros:

Cons:

Retail price: $349.95
Three year total cost: $499.80
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the SkyCaddie TOUCH
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now


75 / C

SETUP/SYNCING

The Good: Detailed step-by-step instructions make setup straightforward.

The Bad: The SGX took longer than any other device tested to set up, largely due to required software updates and the SGX freezing on us during the initial update attempt. An update of the software was required once during initial setup, then again two weeks later with the release of yet another software update. We had issues with connecting the SGX nearly every time we attempt to sync the device, though this is usually fixed by trying the “sync” button multiple times and/or unplugging and plugging the SGX back in again.

CaddieSync Error Messages

Click for errors

We revisited the SGX after their latest 2011 software release of a new software update. Unfortunately, what resulted was a comical 30 minutes that included a failure by the CaddieSync app update the software during the initial attempt, a crash when we attempted to reinstall the software update as instructed, and then multiple pages of errors when we attempted to open CaddieSync. We had the pleasure of uninstalling and re-installing the application, powering on and off the SGX, and then on the third try had success with the software upgrade. Just when we thought we were out of the woods, the CaddieSync app crashed again, requiring one more attempt before a successful sync. Needless to say, if you like a smooth syncing process, this just isn’t the device for you (and with the number of devices available today with all courses included out of the box, you have the option to select a device that doesn’t even require syncing).

Details:

What’s in the Box: The SkyCaddie SGX comes with:

Required Downloads: :


59 / F

COURSE AVAILABILITY

Critical Golf Test: The low rating/grade for the SkyCaddie SGX is based upon the current lack of courses for which HoleVue and Intelligreen Pro are available – the SGX scored near the bottom of our golf course coverage test, which doesn’t seem like enough progress from our initial score of 42% in 2010. We do note that the SGX provided 98% coverage for standard distance information. We believe, however, that the appropriate comparison point, given the premium price that purchasers will pay, is the course coverage for the device’s top feature set. We are disappointed in this continued low course coverage score, and if you are considering purchasing the SGX, we would recommend doing a careful check on whether the courses you plan to play have HoleVue and IntelliGreen Pro available through the SkyCaddie website.

Manufacturer’s Claims: SkyCaddie claims to have nearly 30,000 courses available in its course database, placing it among the top devices tested. This number refers, however, to coverage of standard distance information – SkyCaddie doesn’t break out for HoleVue and IntelliGreen Pro coverage.


80 / B-

EASE OF USE

The Good: The device has an exceptional display that shows well even in bright sunlight.

The Bad: The SkyCaddie SGX, at 5.5 ounces (as tested), tied with its sister device, the SG5, as one of the heavier devices in our test. We wish that SkyCaddie had incorporated a touchscreen display to keep up with the competition. The interface was confusing at times, with situations where you expect to be able to use one of the softkeys on the device, but instead need to use the joystick to select an option. There is no ability to zoom out one level when in hole view – users need to zoom in all the way to the green, then zoom out to the highest level of zoom and start again. In addition, we not only experienced the above-mentioned errors in the CaddieSync process, but also had the pleasure of frozen screens during play and an error message that required restarting the device and losing our recorded scores in the middle of a round. Awful, just awful.

Error

Details:


94 / A

COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING

The Good: New overhead hole views (HoleVue) provide a solid amount of detail, including the mapping of trees. The green rotates based on player position, and is a very accurate representation of the shape.

The Bad: For some courses where IntelliGreen Pro was available, we found contours and false fronts mapped for only some of the holes. Whether this was an oversight, or whether SkyCaddie didn’t think that the contours were significant enough to map, isn’t clear. In addition, the start of some holes were cropped and not visible upon initial viewing of the hole and not accessible via scrolling.

Hole View

Click for views

Details:

Suggestion Box: Full hole views should allow users to zoom in and out as they desire, but the SGX forces you to rotate through all of the zoom levels in progression, zooming all the way down to the green view before you can cycle back around to the highest level of zoom. This may result from the fact that the SGX’s user interface is overwhelmed as it is, and would have problems accommodating another function.


90 / A-

FEATURES

The Good: The SkyCaddie SGX provides most of the general features you would expect to have in a golf GPS device, as well as a wide array of user-adjustable settings.

The Bad: We would prefer to see statistics from the current round during play. It would also be nice to be able to track sand and penalty strokes (not that we ever have those!).

Scoring

Click for images

Details:

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.


90 / A-

ACCURACY

Device Accuracy: We experienced no distance accuracy issues in our test of device accuracy, with all distances within the acceptable range of plus or minus 4 yards.

Mapping Accuracy: We tested the SkyCaddie SGX on a variety of courses and had limited problems with the accuracy of the course mapping. As distance readings are available at any distance from a target or the green, we were able to develop confidence in the SkyCaddie SGX’s accuracy. We did find some key targets missing from holes, such as bunkering (added approximately a year ago), and trees in fairways that are in play (that are decades old). SkyCaddie’s advertising emphasizes that they work with local golf course professionals to be notified when a layout has changed, and that they physically walk each course to create the mapping, so it’s difficult to overlook these errors, especially given the steep annual subscription fee for access to the course database.


82 / B-

COST/VALUE
Retail Price: With the release of the SkyCaddie SGXw, the SkyCaddie SGX now retails for $349.95, in the upper half for golf GPS devices tested.

Fees for Access to Course Database: SkyCaddie owners must choose one of three membership plans to access the course database, which are priced at $29.95/year for unlimited courses in one state, $49.95/year for unlimited courses in the United States, and $59.95/year for unlimited courses worldwide.

Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: At $499.80, the SkyCaddie SGX falls at the upper end in our test of the three-year total golf GPS cost, which makes assumptions on the number of new courses a user will want to access each year.

Value: While the SkyCaddie SGX incorporates some features which users will find appealing, the lack of polish in the interface, no touchscreen ability, the poor course coverage, and buggy desktop software make this device difficult to wholeheartedly recommend at a cost of approximately $500 for 3 years.

Updated (course coverage): March 2013