Rapsodo Launch Monitor Review: Is it Worth $500?
While it’s been out for longer, the first time I learned about the Rapsodo MLM Launch Monitor was at this year’s PGA Show.
Frankly, it was one of the items that excited me the most. I mean, to have a portable launch monitor that connects to your phone, and fits easily in your golf bag?
If it works, that’s a pretty cool piece of tech that has the potential to have a real impact on your game.
It’s especially appealing considering it comes in around $500, making it a fraction of a traditional Trackman or Flightscope.
But the consumer launch monitor market is getting more and more fierce these days. Which begs the question, is the Rapsodo Launch Monitor king of the hill at that $500 price point?
The answer is a resounding….maybe.
Let’s dig in.
First Impressions of the Rapsodo Launch Monitor
Everything about the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor (or MLM for short) appealed to me.
Unlike the Swing Caddie SC200 which I reviewed a few years ago, it has a built in app for being able to easily review your statistics and track improvement.
But where it really sets itself apart is with the built in camera. It records and plays back every single shot you hit, while also adding a shot tracer.
Pretty cool tech.
But what was it like out of the box?
The packaging was very nice overall, and the device came in a case similar to what you’d find a high end range finder shipped with. It’s very sturdy and high quality canvas, with a zipper pouch for the device.
Inside was the Rapsodo MLM, a USB charging cable, and some quick start instructions.
I’ve made the mistake many times of opening up a new product at the course. Fortunately for my first foray into the Rapsodo I was smart enough to take it out and charge it the night before.
Ease of Setup of the Rapsodo Launch Monitor
Once I got to the course, I took the device out, turned it on and went through the setup process on my phone – which was remarkably easy.
The instructions were very clear in the app, and with the latest version of the app there is no additional calibration you need to do with the device and the camera.
It connected via bluetooth right away.
I told it which clubs I had in my bag via a simple drag and drop interface with the app, and I was ready to go in just a few minutes.
I told it which golf course I was at, set my point to the exact spot on the range I was, and told it which direction I was hitting – should be ready to rock.
So with my phone tucked into the device, bluetooth connected, camera on, and a green LED light indicating I was ready to hit, I stepped up to the ball, and made a perfect swing.
The LED light immediately turned blue indicating it was processing the shot, but it just stayed blue.
It never went back to green,
I figured ok, maybe the device wasn’t close enough to the 8 foot distance behind the ball recommended?
Moved it around, set it on it’s case to make sure it was perfectly level behind the ball…
Restarted the app. Light turns green.
Hit another ball.
Hmmmmm, we’re not off to a good start here.
There was about 15 minutes of this before, I fully restarted my phone turned off the device, and went through the process again.
I stepped up to the ball after getting the literal green light, ripped a 7 iron, and lo and behold I turn around and see 161 yards. 116 ball speed. 89 clubhead speed.
Ok, now we’re onto something!
And to jump ahead and give you peace of mind, in the now three times I’ve gone back and set it up from scratch everything has worked perfectly each time.
For various reasons I’ve found that with many high tech training aids, the first time setup, even when it’s simple, can run into unexpected issues.
So I’m confident this was an isolated incident and not an indicator of any underlying quality issues.
Using the Rapsodo Launch Monitor
Let’s cut right to it, the Rapsodo MLM is a cool device.
Under normal practice conditions, you’ll hit a ball, turn around, and it will tell you those three metrics: distance, ball speed, and clubhead speed, while also replaying the video of your swing with a shot tracer added.
I found the video to be even more useful than I expected. As I’m battling with years of coming over the top, to be able to see video of each shot while I actively work to correct it is hugely valuable.
You can also easily export your video to your phone with the stats embedded in the side, which is a nice feature.
With the standard MLM purchase of just the device, you’re supposed to get 100 saved videos within the app, so it will keep the video of your 100 most recent shots which you can review in the app.
For some reason, when I tried to go back and review my videos, for each one I get an error that says “insufficient package size.”
There are an endless amount of jokes I can make about this, but I’m going to spare you on that one.
I’ve got an email into Rapsodo Support to see if I can figure out what the deal is, and I’ll update as soon as I hear back.
Another cool feature is that if you change clubs, all you have to do is hold the end of your club in front of the camera for a few seconds, and it will automatically recognize the club change.
In practice this worked pretty well, although I did have an issue where it thought my gap wedge was a 6 iron – but it only took 5 seconds to update it manually via an icon on the screen.
Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor Performance: Did it Live Up to Expectations?
After spending a few hours with the Rapsodo Launch Monitor I’ve found it to be a bit of a mixed bag in terms of performance.
85% of the time it seemed to work very well.
I compared the distances against both the Swing Caddie SC200 as well as the cheaper PRGR Launch Monitor, and for the most part it seemed to be very similar to the Swing Caddie, while the PRGR was about 5-7 yards longer consistently.
So I believe that both the Swing Caddie and Rapsodo have pretty accurate distances.
That said, it wasn’t perfect.
For some reason distances with my 9 iron only were a bit off. This may have been a user error somehow, I might have somehow got it into carry distance rather than total distance, or had it on the wrong club setting, but just with my 9 the distances were about 15 yards short.
But for the most part all of the major metrics of distance, ball speed, and club head speed all felt good.
The other feature that was a bit hit and miss was the shot tracer feature.
While it was nice to see, the accuracy on this was definitely a bit suspect. There were times that I clearly hit a fade, and it drew me up as hitting a draw.
I’d say the shot tracer felt inaccurate for 1 in 5 shots or so.
As mentioned, there are definitely times that you get shot data that doesn’t feel 100% accurate, and I have found that how well the device performs can be impacted by the light at the range.
For instance at my home course, it seems to work better in the afternoons than it does in the mornings – so if you’re having accuracy issues, try moving to a different spot or going at a different time of the day.
This device needs at least 30 yards to track the ball, so it will not work at home into a net or indoors.
So from a performance standpoint, the Rapsodo Launch Monitor was definitely not perfect, however I also don’t expect it to be at this price point.
$19,000 Launch Monitors vs. $500 Launch Monitors
For devices that are $500 and below, I don’t think there’s a single product that is perfect. When you think of the staggering amount of variables and technology that go into these devices, it’s pretty amazing what they are able to for a few hundred bucks.
However, there isn’t a single one I’ve tested that truly gave Trackman like accuracy and performance.
But for literally about 1/40th of the price of a new Trackman? You start to see the value in these devices. Not to mention when you throw in the portability, and ease of setup – they can still be valuable tools even if they aren’t dead on every single time.
Other Rapsodo Launch Monitor Features
On top of just the standard practice features we’ve talked about, there are some other pretty cool features of the Rapsodo device.
One is being able to see a scatter shot of all of your shots on a GPS overview of your range after each section.
I found this to be particularly interesting to get a sense of how consistent I actually was (usually, not very).
There are also built in games you can play, like closest to the pin and long drive challenges which are a fun diversion, and help to keep things interesting while you practice.
The Swing Caddie had a few basic games as well, and this is one area where I’d love to see some of these lower priced launch monitors really get creative.
The Rapsodo MLM App
Overall the app works well. It’s easy to pick the clubs in your bag, connect to bluetooth, and do any of the other things you need to make the product work.
There’s an “explore” tab where you can watch other user’s swings, which I found surprisingly enjoyable.
It’s taken a little while to fully understand how to use the Sessions and Stats pages to dig into all of your data after the fact, but it’s all there, and the diagrams and scatter charts are a great way to visualize your game.
I think they could probably improve the UX a bit to make the stats easier to navigate, but overall the app does it’s job and any issues I have with it are minor.
Rapsodo Launch Monitor vs. Swing Caddie SC200
This isn’t a 100% fair comparison, because it’s the Swing Caddie SC300 that is at the same $500 price point, and includes an app – but I have yet to test it out.
Which device is best for you will really depend on what you want to use it for.
The Swing Caddie SC200 is $200 cheaper, gives similar results, and has a remote control which I found really helpful for switching modes.
However, there is no app or video for reviewing data later.
If you’re the type of person who loves looking at video of your swing, will drill down to the analytics of your shots, and wants to be able to track improvement via an app over time?
It’s worth the extra money for the Rapsodo Launch Monitor.
If you like the app tracking analytics, but don’t care about video? You might check out the SC300.
And if all you want is a device to use on the range to get distances and make your practice a bit more enjoyable?
Save some money and pick up the Swing Caddie SC200.
Also there are a couple other obvious choices in the $500 range like the Flightscope Mevo and Ernest ES14. Those are worth looking into as well, and I’ll update when I’m able to get hands on with them.
Final Thoughts on the Rapsodo Golf Launch Monitor
The big reason I personally will continue to use this specific device is to:
- Have a way to get easy video reviews of each swing
- Make the range and practice more fun
And the Rapsodo Launch Monitor is great for this.
It gives generally good data, great video feedback, is fun to use, and gives me all the stats in my phone to review whenever I want.
It’s not perfect, but like I said above, I don’t believe any of the products in this price range are.
When I’m truly working on my game, my swing, and want to track improvement? This is the device I’ll go to.
If I’m just casually on the range, and want the fastest and easiest device to use? I’ll probably set the SC200 up there.
I think both are solid devices and worth the money, as long as you understand their limitations and know what to expect.
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- Extremely Portable and Convenient
- Lots of features that make the range fun
- Video review of shots very helpful
- Data can be a little hit or miss
- Shot tracer doesn't always work correctly
- Lighting at the range can effect results