Precision Pro R1 Rangefinder Review: A GPS Game Changer
I first heard rumblings of the Precision Pro R1 rangefinder nearly two years ago, and from the jump, I was intrigued.
No, that doesn’t accurately describe how I felt.
I was legit excited.
Precision Pro was promising a smart rangefinder, that combined a traditional rangefinder with GPS capabilities. On top of that, they were hinting at an extra layer of personalization, as well.
I’ll be honest, I had my doubts that the product would live up to expectations.
I’ve always been very impressed with the products Precision Pro has put out for their price point.
But they’re still a small startup company.
And they had the audacity to think they could essentially invent a whole new segment? One that’s rife with technical complications and potential pitfalls?
Yes. Yes, they did.
Now that I’ve finally got an R1 in my hands, does it live up to my lofty expectations?
Honestly? And I’m a little surprised to say this, but the answer is a resounding…
The R1 GPS rangefinder is the single best product Precision Pro has ever put out, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a trailblazer in the world of smart golf devices.
Want to know more? Keep reading.
A fantastic rangefinder with great optics and high-tech features in a package that's both easy and enjoyable to use. Highly recommended.
First Impressions of the Precision Pro R1 Rangefinder
Considering Precision Pro has always been squarely in the mid-range to budget segment of golf rangefinders, their packaging and presentation was never much to write home about.
Obviously, the goal is to keep costs low so you can keep your prices low as well, so they never had much in the way of fancy packaging.
With the R1, I wouldn’t say it’s fancy or over the top – but it’s very well done.
The semi-translucent box gives just a hint of what’s to come, and opening it up I feel like I’m diving into a high-end device.
And to be honest? This is the first Precision Pro rangefinder that feels high-end.
Taking it out of the box and using it for the first time, everything about it feels a step above their other models.
More about that in a minute.
In the box you won’t find anything super unexpected:
- The R1 Smart Rangefinder
- Canvas carrying case
- USB-C charging cord
- Literature/instruction package
But honestly, there isn’t much else you need.
The R1 itself is a two-tone grey that I think looks very nice.
Half of it is regular plastic, and half of it is in a texturized rubber that makes it feel rugged and weatherproof.
To that point, I actually looked to see if I could find a water resistance rating or any marketing designating it as waterproof – but I couldn’t. I emailed their team and was told it was rated Ip54.
It’s funny as the Garmin Approach Z82 I could have sworn wasn’t waterproof (it is), and this I’d swear is waterproof, yet it is not.
Ip54 basically means that it will provide good protection against dust and particles as well as water splashes. But it’s not waterproof.
Honestly, this doesn’t concern me too much. I’ve had it out in rain with no issues, and it’s not like you’re ever going to throw it in a pool. Just make sure your pull cart doesn’t go rogue and send your golf bag into the drink.
In any case, it looks good, it feels good, and I’d argue it’s the most well-designed Precision Pro rangefinder yet.
If I had any complaint as far design goes, the two buttons on the top of the device are slightly too far apart for me personally. But once you get used to their location, it becomes a non-issue.
What is the Precision Pro R1?
Ok, so why is this device such a big deal?
Because it’s one of the first truly GPS-enabled smart rangefinders.
The first (as far as I know) is the Garmin Approach Z82 which we recently reviewed. That device has more features, but also some drawbacks as well, and it comes in at nearly double the price of the Precision Pro R1 rangefinder.
So this is arguably the first affordable smart rangefinder.
But what does that mean exactly?
The R1 pairs with the companion Precision Pro Golf App, to get GPS data.
So just like any GPS device or app you’re used to using, you can use the app to get data to hazards, front, back, and center of the green – as well as environmental data like altitude and wind adjustments.
But where the R1 takes thing to a new level is that it uses that data in the app, and then sends it to the rangefinder itself.
So with a simple look through your rangefinder, not only can you get the exact distance to the pin, but hit one button, and you can get data to the front/back/center of the green, plus an adjusted “plays like” distance and wind information.
That’s a remarkable amount of data you can get very quickly and easily.
One of the unique features about the Garmin smart rangefinder is the fact it uses a digital screen as opposed to an optical viewfinder.
It feels high-tech and allows for cool features like a GPS map overlay, but it doesn’t have the familiarity of a traditional rangefinder.
And that’s where the R1 shines.
It’s a smart device, but you can also use it just like a regular rangefinder.
So, How Does it Perform as a Regular Rangefinder?
If you strip away all of the smart features of the R1, this is still by a fairly significant margin, the best Precision Pro Rangefinder to date.
The quality of the optics, while not quite up to Nikon standards, is very, very good.
The numbers are displayed in a very readable format within the viewfinder, and it’s super fast. It locks on almost immediately with a satisfying buzz when it’s confident it’s found the pin.
I do wish they’d put the battery life indicator in a less prominent position. It’s right in the center below your distance, and it feels a bit unnecessary to have to see it all the time.
To be totally honest, I’ve always been a fan of Precision Pro as a company. The people behind it are great, and I truly believe they’re trying to grow the game and put out the best product they can.
But they’ve always been a step behind the big players like Bushnell.
Now, the biggest reason for this is price. They come in at a much lower price point than most Bushnell models.
But this is also what makes the R1 so important.
It’s just as good as any Bushnell models I’ve used at this price point.
I truly mean that.
I fully expected this first attempt at a “smart device” to be a work in progress. “Great idea, but you’ve got some work to do.”
But that’s not the case.
It integrates the smart features very well, and does it while still being super familiar and adept at just being a normal rangefinder as well.
But, there’s gotta be a catch right? Well, yes. There’s a catch.
Ok, I’ve now spent around 1,000 words talking about how great this device is.
And to be clear, it is great.
(There’s always a but, isn’t there…)
The R1 won’t be for everyone.
What do most people want in a rangefinder?
Honestly, I think it’s to not think about the rangefinder.
You leave it in your bag, you pull it out, 3 seconds later you have the yardage you need.
The R1 is a little more involved than that.
And this is more a function of this new “Smart Rangefinder” segment as opposed to being a specific issue with the Precision Pro.
Before you start your round you’ve gotta use the app to set it up.
During your round, now that you have more data in the rangefinder, you naturally will spend more time using it and looking through it.
All of a sudden your peaceful walk becomes you being glued to your devices.
And with that many devices doing all of their high-tech things, you’ll inevitably have the occasional hiccup.
This will cause you to spend even more time on said devices trying to fix them.
For instance, while reviewing both the R1 and the new Precision Pro Ace speaker (review forthcoming), I couldn’t get any music to come out of the speaker itself – it only came out of my phone despite being paired.
It took me 5 holes to figure it out.
And throughout all that time, I’m in the app, I’m pairing/repairing, while also trying to get used to a new “smart” rangefinder.
It’s a lot.
If you’re a minimalist golfer? You’re probably better off with a different rangefinder.
Yes, the Precision Pro R1 is excellent. It exceeded all of my expectations and it gets my full recommendation – if it’s what you’re looking for.
My Biggest Personal Complaint About the R1
Right now you may be thinking something along the lines of this:
“But you said this was the best Precision Pro Rangefinder even without the smart features! So why wouldn’t I just buy it and not use the GPS when I don’t want to.”
And for me, the answer is simple: the battery.
This is my biggest complaint with the Garmin Approach Z82, and likely any device in this segment.
It doesn’t have a traditional battery. Rather you need to charge it via a USB-C cord.
Sidenote: Props to them for using USB-C. I hate seeing devices these days with older USB connections.
Let’s revisit our earlier point about what most people look for in a rangefinder: They want to not think about it.
Well, since you have to charge the R1 every round or two, you’re forced to think about it.
You’ll have to take it in, charge it, then remember to put it back in your bag before you hit the course again.
For many of you? This likely won’t be an issue at all.
However, I’m flaky, forgetful, and have a lot of gadgets I need to charge in my life.
So this is where the biggest sticking point is for me.
I haven’t used it enough without the GPS features to know what the battery life is like as just a regular rangefinder.
However, I’ll update this as I get more time with it.
The Precision Pro Golf App
I didn’t mean for those last two sections to detract from how good the R1 is.
But as with any foray into a new tech frontier, there will be both positives and negatives.
I think with the R1 the positives far outweigh the negatives, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t bring them up.
The Precision Pro team had to have spent a significant amount of time, energy, and money to create the companion app that works with this and the Ace Smart Speaker.
And I’m very impressed by it.
It’s super easy to pair the R1 to your phone and using it during a round is incredibly easy as well. It makes for a nice compliment to the rangefinder, and if you’re looking for additional hole data, you can find it in the app.
The Precision Pro App also has some cool archive features to help you keep track of your best rounds, and so forth.
So if you really commit to using the Precision Pro ecosystem, there’s some cool info there, that I’m sure will only get more robust over time.
One of the most unique features of the R1 is also one that’s likely to be the least used.
What is it?
One of the cool capabilities of the Precision Pro R1 and the app is its ability to customize your slope calculations specifically to your golf game.
Imagine being able to have all of your preferred layup distances, based on your actual yardages, saved in the app.
The idea is pretty cool, but unfortunately, in order to get accurate information, you’ll need some specific data that you can only get from a launch monitor.
Basically, it’ll have you hit a handful of balls with each club, average out the numbers from your shots, and then you’ll input them in the app.
Specifically, it asks for ball speed, launch angle, and spin rate.
Then when MySlope is enabled it will customize your data based on the information you give it.
It’s a cool feature in theory, but here are my two issues with it.
- The average golfer is inconsistent enough, that this isn’t that useful
- Getting that data, accurately, can be difficult.
For instance, the most affordable launch monitor we’d recommend is the Rapsodo MLM – but it doesn’t have spin data.
All that to say, I think for this to really gain traction they’ll need to partner with club fitters, ranges, or a big box store where users can hop on a trackman and get these numbers in 15 minutes.
The potential is there, it’s just going to take some work to see this feature really get widespread traction.
“Find My Rangefinder”
Ok, that’s not what it’s called, but this is essentially what it does. You know how if you lose any Apple device you can hop onto the “Find My iPhone” app and it will tell you where it is?
The R1 can do that too, except it does it for your rangefinder.
Seriously, I think every golfer I know has left their rangefinder at the course at least once.
And at least a handful of them didn’t realize they did it until said rangefinder found a new home in someone else’s bag.
So to have a feature that essentially promises you’ll never lose your rangefinder again, makes this worth the cost of admission.
I did find the app to be slightly over-zealous at times with the notifications informing me that the device may have been lost – but better safe than sorry.
Final Thoughts on the Precision Pro R1
Overall I’m incredibly impressed with this rangefinder.
If this sounds like the type of device you’d be interested in, then 100% you should buy it.
Overall it works very well, the app integration is done well, and I think things are only going to get better with the Precision Pro ecosystem.
If you hate charging things, and don’t care about the GPS features? Then stick with a more typical rangefinder. The Precision Pro NX9 is very good, and for a few bucks less than the R1, you can get the Bushnell V5 which is simply a joy to use.
But at $319 retail, the R1 is nearly half the price of the other well-known smart rangefinder, and for as cool as the tech is on that? In many ways, the R1 works even better in real life.
The only reason this doesn’t get a full 10/10 is because of the inconvenience of having to charge it.
Well done, Precision Pro. This is one device I’m looking forward to using in many rounds to come.
A fantastic rangefinder with great optics and high-tech features in a package that's both easy and enjoyable to use. Highly recommended.
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