When it comes to laser rangefinders, the key things that you should be looking for are accurate yardages, and ease of use. The idea is that you are able to factor any distance-measurement into your normal pre-shot routine, and be able to fully trust your yardage in order to execute the shot you desire.
Most amateur golfers will probably be familiar with having voices inside their head whilst lining up to take a shot, but for once this may actually turn out to be to an advantage.
That's because GolfBuddy has added their Voice technology to a laser rangefinder in the new aim L10V, having previously used the feature on their handheld GPS devices.
The 'Voice' feature gives the aim L10V the capacity to speak yardages out loud once you have zapped them through the lens, to ensure that you don't forget or misread the number.
What's It All About?
This is GolfBuddy's top of the range laser, and was released alongside the Laser 1 and Laser 1S models earlier this year. It carries the distinction of being the world's first talking laser rangefinder.
It features a new ergonomic design which gives it a sporty look, whilst also being compact, comfortable to hold and easy to use.
Obviously the main feature of the device is the Voice function, which acts by calling out the yardage that is measured once you lock onto your target in the viewfinder. The idea of this is to ensure that golfers are fully confident of the yardage that they just measured, reaffirming the number in their head as they select their club and execute a shot.
There are three distinct measurement modes within the aim L10V - Standard, Pin Finder and Scan - along with a Vibration Mode which works in a similar way to the Bushnell 'Jolt' in that it gives the user a small buzz when it locks to a target.
The laser boasts 6x magnification, making it easier to pick out small targets such as a flag or small tree from long distance, and there is a larger LCD screen than in previous GolfBuddy models for clear readings.
One of the best new features that has been added to rangefinders in the last few years is the slope-adjusted readings. These take terrain into account to give you a 'true' playing yardage which should help you on club selection, particularly for shots that are severely uphill or downhill.
The L10V comes equipped with an easy switch that you can move to turn this slope feature on or off, as it is not currently permitted during tournament play.
GolfBuddy says that the laser is accurate to within 1 yard up to 880 yards away, if you ever happen to stray that far offline! It also comes with a handy carry case which is very secure, and a carabiner clip so that you can attach it to your bag, trolley or buggy.
It's had a pretty successful start to life too, with major champions and golfing legends Bernhard Langer and Sandy Lyle utilising the L10V during practice rounds at this year's Masters. With undulations as varied as they are at Augusta National, it's a good job that they had the slope function to hand!
The aim L10V combines the most advanced GolfBuddy laser rangefinder technology with unmatched simplicity of use. The unique audio option in the L10V gives spoken confirmation of distances, providing extra confidence and ease of use to the golfer.
I took the aim L10V down to my local golf course on a bright spring day to put it to the test. Whilst I knew it wasn't going to drastically change my performance, I hoped that the accurate yardages would help with decision-making on the course, and lead to more consistent results. I was also interested in the Voice function of the laser and how that fitted into my round, considering if and when this could be a viable option for use.
In addition, I was looking to compare the rangefinder to an existing SkyCaddie GPS device to see whether it had any effect on a pre-shot routine both in terms of time and simplicity, whilst still being able to provide me with comprehensive information about the hole I was about to play. Let's jump in and see how it got on...
GolfBuddy aim L10V Rangefinder Review
When I first took the device out of the box, I was surprised at just how compact it was. Rangefinders are usually around the size of your hand but this was even smaller, fitting easily into the palm.
At a shade over 150 grams it was also very lightweight too, which I liked. I was already debating whether the L10V could even be kept in a pocket on my body whilst playing, for even quicker access.
The product arrives in an Apple-style white cardboard box which is smart, and reflects the £299.99 price tag. If you're going to pay that much money for a piece of golf tech, you expect to be suitably impressed when it arrives and I was.
I was immediately impressed with the zoom after a quick test in the office, whilst the Voice feature appeared pretty loud and clear, and thankfully matched up to the number shown on the screen!
On The Course
The first thing I would say about the L10V is just how easy it is to use. It fits so comfortably in the palm, which allows you to zap yardages with one hand. The on-screen display is also clear and easy to understand.
There's an automatic shut-off feature which also acts as a good battery saver, so you can just stow the device away when you've used it without having to worry.
The device is essentially made up of 4 simple buttons which allow you to switch between each mode. The main red button is what you use to confirm your target and receive the yardage, whilst selecting the 'Mode' button switches you between GolfBuddy's three targeting modes.
Holding down the Voice button on the side of the device turns this function on and off, and you also get a message through the screen to reflect this too which is a handy feature.
One of my favourite aspects of the laser was the really useful Slope Function, which was great for learning just how much the slope can affect your yardages and definitely helped my club selection on a couple of occasions. There is a really clear '+-' symbol with the original yardage next to it on the screen, whilst the main yardage is the actual playing yardage.
Obviously this technology has been around for a couple of years but if you're playing in serious competition and scoping out the course, or you want to get to know your own course better before a competition, then it could be invaluable. Just remember to turn it off before you tee it up for your monthly medal!
The actual laser seemed to find the pin consistently well and quickly, even early in morning with low sun. The magnification also helped me to successfully get the flag at nearly 400 yards away on one par 4 tee, which I was pretty impressed with.
I think that you can probably attribute some of this to the fact that the device was so lightweight that it was easy to hold still. Throughout the round the L10V was able to pick up most pins without incident, with the only real issues coming when there were trees grouped behind the green which required a little more care to ensure of the correct measurement.
The scan feature essentially finds targets for you and displays the yardage on screen, rather than you having to click the button every time you think you're locked in. This feature worked but I don't think I would ever use it because it seemed a little too eager to me, with the device latching on to multiple targets in quick succession.
With Voice mode on as well this then just ended up with numerous different numbers being shouted out, making it quite hard to know which of the readings was actually for the pin and not something else in the distance which had been picked up.
In terms of the new Voice function, it worked well, reading out the measured distance about a second after it appears on the screen. But I would be hesitant to use it in competitions because you're giving your playing partner a free yardage if he/she is standing near you while you're measuring.
It's a good gimmick and may come in handy when the light isn't great and you're struggling to see the green, but probably only one to use in a friendly game with your friends or if there's plenty of space around you!
There's a good quality carry case which is sturdy and can be attached to the bag. I found this to be a little stiff to get the device in and out of, but at least you are assured that it will be protected if you do happen to drop it, and clipping it onto your bag saves you from having to fish into your bag every time you want a yardage.
It's also small enough to fit into any of your pockets, so if you do find the case a little annoying then you can pop it inside one of those. Luckily the bag I was using had a designated rangefinder slot without a zip so I moved mine there, which made life even easier.
The Vibrate mode was really useful, whereas I found the Pin Finder a little ineffective, as the standard setting seemed to be suffice in finding targets anyway. This isn't a criticism because it may work for some, more a reflection of how easy I found the device to use that I barely needed the extra features.
Would I Use It?
Yes. It's quick, easy, compact and has enough features to keep you satisfied. Obviously there's the usual drawbacks of a rangefinder in that it doesn't give you the overview of a hole like a GPS would, where you can quickly see carry distances of all hazards and distances to different landmarks all at once.
But if you want fast, precise measurements of a single target then you can't go wrong. I may be tempted to use a GPS device over a rangefinder generally, but there isn't really too much to fault this product and I would happily recommend it to golfers of all ages and ability levels.
I'm confident that getting access to precise pin positions or distances to hazards will improve golfers' games, and gaining access to this kind of information is something which many golfers could do to ensure they are better prepared before they hit their shot.
Due to it being straightforward to use I found that it did not really affect my overall pre-shot routine and so I would be happy to use this during a round of golf, including a competition.
GolfBuddy aim L10V Rangefinder Verdict
The £299.99 price tag isn't low but is actually considerably cheaper than other brands such as Garmin or Bushnell, so the value for money isn't that bad in comparison.
Although it doesn't look or feel that substantial it is extremely easy to hold and use, and has all the different modes that you could really need from a rangefinder. Perhaps the Voice function may not catch on but I could imagine some golfers really warming to it, especially if they don't have the best eyesight or play during times of the day when the screen is not as easy to see.
Whilst GPS devices can provide a more comprehensive outline of a hole, if you just want to keep it simple then the L10V may be the perfect device for you. Now if only those voices in your head could be turned on and off too...
- Really easy to use due to being compact and light
- Vibrate function was helpful
- Slope function worked well
- Free carry case was a welcome bonus
- Text was clear and zoom was good on the screen
- Scan mode wasn't particularly useful
- Standard and Pin Mode weren't too dissimilar
- Voice Mode was a little unnecessary at times- would you use it in match play?