We are big fans of the original SkyCaddie Aire, so excitement was high in the Golfalot office when we heard news of the next generation, the SkyCaddie Aire II golf GPS.
Like it's predecessor, the Aire II is built around the powerful concept of being light, affordable and versatile - giving golfers a no nonsense option to get all the important information they need on the course.
When you take the SkyCaddie Aire II out of the box and activate it you have immediate access to over 35,000 preloaded courses. Simply turn on the device and let it find the course you are at and you're ready to play.
As you complete each hole and move around the course you can make use of the scoring feature to keep track of your progress. SkyCaddie knows the par of each hole so the score defaults to par meaning you simply subtract or add strokes for your total and it will store up to 20 rounds on the device.
One of the best features from the original Aire was the easy access to front, centre and back yardages. SkyCaddie has improved this functionality in the Aire II by making these yardages dynamic. Instead of the measurements being calculated from the middle of the fairway, the Aire II gives you distances to these key points from your angle to the green if you are off line.
The Aire II shot measurement feature allows you to learn how far you hit each club so you can remove guesswork from your club decisions.
Another upgrade in the Aire II is the inclusion of two Layup Zones on each hole, allowing golfers to easily plot a common sense strategy. The Fairway target is a safe spot about 220 yards from tee and the Layup target is 120 yards from the centre of the green. The Aire II tells you the distance to both these points from your current location, and also the distance from them to the centre of the green.
If you like the Layup zone facility then SkyCaddie give you the option to upgrade to a SkyCaddie membership that allows up to 40 targets per hole, so fully customising your device for courses you play regularly is easy. Upgrading also adds SkyCaddie's Intelligreen feature that shows actual green shapes as well as the ability to joint the SkyGolf 360 online community for comprehensive post-round analysis and interaction with other SkyCaddie members.
Although you need to pay for these additional features, the SkyCaddie Aire II has no annual fees for the standard features, something key to consider in the Golf GPS market. Out of the box customers have 30 days to register the device and by picking the free "GoPlay" option they have access to all 35,000 courses worldwide at no cost and this free option is renewable every year.
As well at the distance options the Aire II comes with some handy extras that add to the overall package. The Odometer function allows you to measure how far you have walked and allows you to time your round and even tells you how many calories you've burnt.
The unit is fully waterproof, compact and lightweight and can easily be worn on your belt or hung on your bag or trolley.