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Table Tennis Tips

A real low and short no-spin serve can give you some easy points in matches, as they are difficult to flip hard, and they require good timing to push hard. Mix it up with a heavy backspin in the same spot. Remember to get it short, the ball should bounce short on your side close to the net...

 Smartpong vs Newgy 2050 robot comparison:

Smartpong vs Newgy Robo-Pong 2050 comparison

As I have a fair bit of experience with the Newgy robots, I'm often asked how they compare to other robots. Both the Smartpong and Newgy 2050 came into the market a few years back, so I thought it would be useful to compare these 2 models side by side.
I think people are sometimes swayed towards the Smartpong by it's impressive promotional video and made to think that this robot does it all. I think what this article shows is that neither robot does it all, and it's all about compromises and buying a robot that offers most features that you
need and that fits into your budget.

Constructions and setup:
Both the Newgy 2050 and the Smartpong design seem to be based on the Newgy 2040 design, as they look very similar and are both made of sturdy plastic. This is not a bad thing as the Newgy has a good track record for being sturdy and reliable. Setup and take-down procedure for both units is very similar and easy.

Manuals:
Both manuals are written in clear English with illustrations. Both manuals are available on the web for download.

The Smartpong Manual is fairly basic, containing:

  • A decent setup guide showing you how to set it up and take it down.
  • A brief trouble-shooting guide to solve the most basic problems. For any issues that require opening the robot
  • or changing any parts, you'll need to take or send it to your service centre as the manual does not cover how to take things apart or replace parts.
  • A user guide that cover the basic operation of the robot function and settings via the remote with good pictures of all the settings. Unfortunately it does not have a user guide that shows some recommended setting to start with or some common routines. Experienced robot
    users can probably work this out, but for new users they'll have to figure it out for themselves.

The Newgy 2050 manual is far more detailed in every respect, containing:

  • A detailed guide on how to set it up and take it down.
  • A detailed description of every single setting of the robot using the remote, including detailed pictures and examples.
  • A section describing the setup menu where you can change a lot of the basic settings, such as language, display contrast, calibrations settings (not usually required)
    and then some special functions like unloading balls, restore factory settings, self-diagnostic, etc.
  • A section on how to setup the head angles, setup the spin types, all with diagrams.
  • A detailed section with diagrams of all the 64 drills inbuilt.
  • A long and detailed section on how to generate and load your own programs via a notebook/laptop/PC, including
    the operations of the software (included in the package).
  • A section on maintenance, other Newgy accessories that might be useful.
  • A very detailed guide on trouble-shooting any problems. The Newgy robots are designed so that they can not only be maintained but also fixed
    by the users if any problems arise. Detailed description and with diagrams shows you how every
    part fits together and can be replaced if required.

The Remote:
Both units use a digital remote. The main difference is that the Smartpong remote (pictured left) is wireless (infrared) whereas the Newgy (pictured right) is wired and attached with a bracket to the table. Although wireless looks and seems nicer, most of the programming or setup is done while you're not playing and standing at the table, so the advantage of wireless is only minor. The disadvantage of wireless is that you need to replace batteries (3 x AAA) when flat, and you're more likely to drop the unit and break it, or misplace it and can't find it (you don't ever misplace your TV remote, do you? LOL).

 

Both remotes have a liquid crystal display. Newgy uses a menu based system with 4 lines of descriptive text on the screen, and you scroll through the different setting and adjust your values. Smartpong uses icons with numbers to indicate the different settings, and has separate buttons to change values of the different settings. The nice thing about the Smartpong is that it gives you an instant overview of all the settings, but the Newgy gives you more details and the setting are more descriptive, so which you prefer is personal preference. Both are relatively easy to learn how to use.

 

 

 

 

Robot features:
Both robots are based on a single throwing wheel design, which means that spin and speed are not independent, and they cannot produce a no-spin ball. Not a big deal for most people, and although the more expensive 2-wheel robot designs can theoretically overcome this, practical designs still struggles to make spin and speed truly independent, as well as struggle to produce a true no speed at variable speeds.

Spin Adjustment:
Both robots allow you to adjust the head angle up and down, and adjust the head angle for a multitude different spin. The big feature that the Smartpong has over the Newgy is that the Smartpong can do this electronically and therefore adjust setting in between shots or during a routine. The automatic head angle (up and down) is probably not that important, as I can't think of many standard routines where this would be used, but the automatic spin adjustment can be quite useful, as it allows you to program in routines that contain both topspin and backspin, whereas the Newgy can only be programmed to perform all backspin or all topspin (or sidespin of course) within one routine. Both robots allow you to change the direction and depth of the balls during a routine or from ball to ball.

The Smartpong can project the ball at 9 different angles, from the extreme right to the extreme left of the table. For each of these angles you can adjust how deep the ball will land changing the ball speed setting. The Newgy uses a very similar method, projecting the ball at 20 different angles, and also allow you to set the dept by controlling the value of the speed of the ball.

Both Robots allow you to set the unit to run for a certain amount of time, although the Newgy also allows you to set it for a certain number of balls, and for drills you can set the number of drills (each one may contain many strokes).

The Newgy all has quite a few other nifty little features, like a setting for unloading all the balls from the tray into the box, and a range of calibrations and adjustment features to help diagnose and resolve issues.

Random balls
The Newgy has the ability to make both the horizontal angle and the speed of the ball random, which the Smartpong does not seem to have. Random angles can be very useful for a routine where for example you wish to practice your blocking against loops. In a real game a good looper can continue to loop your balls and will continue to vary both the angle and depth. The Newgy can simulate this with the random feature. The region over which the angles vary can be set between 2 angles, so that for example you can just practice random angle balls to your forehand region of the table. Similarly the ball speed can be set between a min and max speed, and it will vary randomly between them.


Programming / Drills:
Drills: To program the Smartpong you can select up to 9 different balls setting, and run these in a continuous sequence for a set amount of time. For each ball you can program
in the ball speed and angle, as well as the type of spin. Programming is done on the remote where you select the setting of each ball to one of the 9 memory locations, and then program them into the robot. The Smartpong does have some routines already built in, they are not mentioned anywhere is the instructions and they cannot be changed.

The Newgy 2050 comes with 64 built-in routines, including many of the classic ones like the Falkenberg drill. These routines are clearly outlined in the manual with diagrams.
32 of these routines can be overwritten with your own routines and can be as simple or complex as you like. The 2050 comes with software on a CD which runs
on a Windows operating system. The software makes it easy to design the routines, and they can be programmed offline, and then uploaded or downloaded
whenever you connect. To program in a routine, for each ball you can set the angle and speed (depth), the number of balls and the wait period. You can continue adding values to make the routine more complex. Once the program is finished you can upload it to the robot, or save it to share around to anyone, which is one a very nice feature.

Accessories:
Although Newgy has a lot of robot accessories and Smartpong does not, there is no reason you can't use Newgy accessories for other robots and most are not specific to one robot. One notable exception is the Pongmaster game, which can be a useful practice tool as well as it being good fun especially for kids. This will only work with the Newgy robots.

 

Warrantee and repairs:
Newgy has distributors in most countries or regions, and it is these distributors that offer the warrantee and handle support and repairs. Support, guides and FAQs is also provided via the various Newgy websites. Since most repairs are often just a simple a replacement of a part, the unit does not usually need to be returned. Note that Newgy does not offer international warrantees, so if you buy one from another country, it's not covered by the warrantee of the distributor in your own country.

Smartpong warrantee is handled by the local distributor as well, but any repair that requires opening of the robot may require you to return the whole unit.

Conclusions:
So which is the better robot for you?
Ok, lets first get a few myths dispelled:

  1. Despite their name, 'robots' are not designed to simulate a real opponent, but are designed for practicing specific strokes, routines or footwork.
    A robot cannot replace a practice partner nor coach, but is perfect for practicing specific strokes as it feeds the same ball twice (unlike a practice partner), and is also perfect
    for re-enforcing the techniques that you coach has taught.
  2. No robot does it all... it's always a matter of tossing up the features that you place most value in, within the budget that you can afford.

By far the greatest amount of use by robots owner is for the practice of a specific stroke (loop, push block, return of serve), for fitness and/or for footwork training. For simple routines such as these, both of these robots are more than sufficient for this use, since they can create every type of spin for you to practice, they can throw balls side to side for sideways footwork, they can throw balls long and short for in & out type footwork, and will no doubt give you a great fitness workout!

Although the complex routines seem really nice and important, there is not much value practicing a complex routine if you can not consistently, say loop 10 balls in a row, with the correct footwork (stepping sideways and in/out) and stroke. If you do achieve the level where you can consistently do this with the correct strokes and the correct footwork changing between forehand and backhand, you might be ready for the more complex routines, which is where the difference between these robots might be important.

If you really need the ability to change the spin on the ball from one ball to another, then the Smartpong might be the better choice.

If you really need the random features of the robots or you need a much larger choice and longer routines, then the Newgy might be the better choice.

If you're not very technically minded, then the detailed manual of the Newgy would prove to be invaluable. Regarding reliability, it too early to tell which of these robots will prove to be more reliable, but the Smartpong has a more complex design and more parts that are moved electronically, so the chance of one of these breaking down or wearing down may be higher.

If future warrantee and repairs is an issue, take into account the track record and future of the two manufacturers, and the location of support and repair centers and the likelihood that your robot will need to be returned, which will cause downtime and possible costs.

Finally there is the cost... the Newgy 2050 is considerable cheaper than the Smartpong.

You'll have to weigh all this up to make up your mind!

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