While we had high hopes for the ScoreBand Golf Watch as an extremely reasonably priced golf GPS watch, it ultimately failed to deliver on its promise. Having hazard information and scoring on the watch is a great start, but flawed execution, in terms of the user interface, a software bug that we discovered, and no way to update course maps, left us with the impression that ScoreBand still has work to do in polishing its products.
We weren’t wowed by the look of the ScoreBand Golf either. The watch is bulky to begin with, and the amount of plastic used on the body of the ScoreBand Golf made it look cheap.
We’re still optimistic that someone will bring a great low-priced watch to the market, and will certainly follow ScoreBand as they develop, but at this point we would probably steer bargain-seeking buyers toward entry-level products from the more established brands.
- Lowest priced golf GPS watch in our tests
- Hazard information
- Scoring (but not statistics)
- Raw product – we found a software bug and it’s not clear whether course updates are available
- Big and bulky
Retail price: $149.95
Three year total cost: $149.95
Amazon.com: Check price now
- The charging clip is not one of our favorites – it never solidly clips on to the watch, so you’re frequently unsure of whether it’s properly connected or not.
- Kudos to ScoreBand for providing a wall charger to go along with the charging cable! (None of the other watches we’ve tested come with a wall charger.) ScoreBand claims that you can completely recharge the watch in 2 hours.
- There is no readily evident way to update the course database on the ScoreBand Golf. There are links on the web site to download courses in North America or outside of North America, but neither the instruction manual nor the web site shed any light on how you actually get that file on to the watch.
- Firmware updates can be downloaded to the device, but there is no user-friendly interface for doing so. We had to look up the instructions in the manual in order to download the file to a desktop computer, connect the device, open it as if it were an external drive, and drag the update file into a specific folder. We were able to muddle our way through it, but this is not something that you want to introduce to your technophobe mom. The firmware update did not fix the scoring bug that we identify in “Features” below.
- Critical Golf Test: The ScoreBand Golf scored a respectable 96% in our course coverage test, where we select a random cross-section of courses across the country and evaluate whether those courses are available within a manufacturer’s database. Note that the only way to check course availability on the ScoreBand web site is to download a PDF listing all of their courses in North America. It would nice if somebody at ScoreBand would fix the pagination of the PDF, since the last column of text rolls over on to its own page!
- Manufacturer’s Claims: ScoreBand’s web site claims more than 27,000 worldwide courses are available on the ScoreBand Golf, and while that sounds like an awful lot, it places it last in our course coverage comparison test. As always, we recommend a greater focus on the Critical Golf Test, as the Manufacturer’s Claims are based solely on what is listed on their web sites and in their marketing materials.
EASE OF USE
- While the ScoreBand Golf is a relatively large watch, the screen does not take advantage of the available space– it only occupies a square area of about .875” x .875”, making for about 0.77” square inches of viewing area.
- The ScoreBand Golf is a hefty 2.2 ounces (as tested), making it one of the heaviest golf GPS watches we have tested. The watch is available in only one color scheme – a gray and black body with a black band made of rubber. A “keeper” loop holds the excess length of the band in place.
- Navigating through the functions of the ScoreBand Golf is done through the use of four fixed buttons on the watch, each of which has two functions – power/escape, OK/shot, up/score, and mode/down. There is no touch screen. Utilizing the features of the watch required some research in the manual and a bit of practice – there was a lot of pressing and holding of various buttons. For example, we thought we had hit a dead end in trying to start a round for the first time. We found the “Play Golf” mode easily enough, but when we launched it, the watch just showed a satellite icon and displayed the signal strength. We had to delve into the manual to discover that you had to hit “OK” again from that satellite screen to continue (there was no screen prompt). We did not find the ScoreBand Golf to be particularly intuitive, so this is not the best device for those who are not tech savvy.
- ScoreBand claims 8-10 hours of battery life while using GPS. After a single three-hour round (dawn patrol!) the battery meter was still showing 3 out of 4 bars remaining.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of ease of use.
COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING
- The ScoreBand Golf features hazard information as well as distances to the front, middle and back of the green.
- Hole View – Shows the hole number, the distances to the front, middle and back of the green, the par for the hole, and your score for the hole if you have already entered it (but not your total score or where you are relative to par).
- Hazard View –displays icons of hazards, placing them on the left or right of a center line to indicate whether they are on the left or right of the fairway, and indicating distances to reach or carry the hazard. The ScoreBand Golf isn’t consistent in the distance it chooses to display (reach or carry), although we saw a preponderance of “reach” distances. For whatever reason, the Hazard View will also display the distance to the tee for the hole – maybe so you know how far you have to sprint back after you can’t find your initial tee shot?
- Shot Measurement View – Holding down the “OK/SHOT” button will begin the shot measurement feature. Going to any of the other screens will end the measurement, and thus you cannot determine the distance to the green or a hazard while continuing to measure shot distance.
- Hole handicap information is not available on the ScoreBand Golf.
- The battery meter can only be viewed if you exit out of the round.
- Auto-Advance. The ScoreBand Golf will automatically advance to the next hole during play. Manually changing holes is easily done through the up/down buttons. There is no way to disable the auto-advance feature.
- Scoring and Statistics. The ScoreBand Golf enables to track your own score, but not that of your partners. There is no statistics tracking on the device.
- Scoring Evaluation. The ScoreBand Golf will store up to 10 scorecards – these past scorecards can only be reviewed on the watch itself (there is no integration with a web page or a mobile app). If you find that you made an error in entering your score on a hole, you can edit the scorecard even after it has been saved. We could not, however, find any way to delete rounds from the watch. Note that we found a bug in the scorecard function – for your overall score, the device doesn’t just sum up your front and back nines, but rather it tacks on the total par for the course as well. So the 80 we put up appeared as 152 on the watch. That’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t slip past the quality control folks. As noted earlier, this bug was not fixed in the firmware update that we installed.
- Shot Tracking. As mentioned above you can measure shot distances on the ScoreBand Golf, but cannot save the distances nor link them to a particular club.
- Watch Features. The ScoreBand does not have traditional watch features – no alarm, stopwatch or countdown timer. Strangely, while the time on the ScoreBand Golf cannot be set manually – it is determined through GPS –you still have to manually choose the time zone. It isn’t clear to us why the watch doesn’t just automatically adjust the time zone based on your location.
- Preferences. The ScoreBand Golf has a number of adjustable settings, including how long the backlight remains on (either 15 seconds, or on all of the time), the screen contrast, whether “night mode” (this is not described in the manual, but it appears to be whether the screen is illuminated every time you press a button) is enabled, whether or not daylight savings time is in effect, the format (12 or 24 hours) in which time is displayed, whether the sound is on or off, the unit of measurement (yards or meters), and the language (choose from English, Chinese, German, French, Spanish or Dutch).
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.
The ScoreBand Golf generally returned distances within our standard expected range of variance for GPS devices, usually plus or minus up to 4 yards from actual distances (based on marked sprinkler heads). The device stops displaying the distance to a point (whether it’s a hazard or the front, middle or back of the green) once you are within 15 yards of that point.
We did encounter one instance of an outdated course map, as a course that has been re-routed for almost two years had not been updated (other course databases have accurate maps of this course).
Retail Price: The ScoreBand Golf GPS watch retails for $149.95, which makes it the least expensive golf GPS watch in our tests.
Fees for Access to Course Database: There are no additional fees for course map updates to the ScoreBand Golf – of course there doesn’t seem to be any way to update the course maps either.
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With no additional yearly fees (or ability) to download the latest course information, the three-year total cost for the ScoreBand Golf remains $149.95. At this price point, it is the least expensive golf GPS watch in our tests.
Value: While the ScoreBand Golf is inexpensive as far as golf GPS watches go, the rawness of the product make it a little difficult to endorse for value. There are watches priced slightly higher that are much more polished products, such as the Bushnell NEO XS, which goes for about $50 more, but has a more elegant design and better fit and finish.
Retail price: $149.95
Three year total cost: $149.95
Amazon.com: Check price now
And a little video: