As a regular electric trolley user, one of the things that irks me is having to pay extra for things like umbrella holders and GPS holders.
Amazingly some manufacturers sell as many umbrella holders as trolleys each year, which I guess should not be such a surprise with the UK weather and probably why they charge for them. Equally surprisingly, they don't sell as many GPS holders as I thought they would, but that is my second favourite accessory.
However help is at handle, thanks to PowaKaddy who have integrated a GPS unit into their top of the range FW7s electric trolley.
The FW7s element of the package is the same as before and features the usual 9.8kg PowaFrame chassis that folds down quickly and easily by releasing the top and middle clips.
It comes with a very light 18 hole lithium battery as standard that slips easily into place and plugs in using PowaKaddy's Plug 'n' Play system that uses fixed connectors rather than cables and makes the set up process very slick.
The frame comes in any colour you like, as long as it is called Gun Metal Silver, with the real option of Brushed Silver or Carbon Graphite trims and 11 inch titanium coloured wheels that are a little wider and taller than standard.
It's all driven by a powerful and quiet 230 watt motor that is centrally located for balance and delivers the power quickly and easily.
The large FW7s display is now split into two and the left hand side features all the usual controls that you would expect on the FW7s. The dial controls the speed and the automatic distance function that enables the trolley to be sent off at gaps of 5 yards between 5 and 50 yards, which I love although the display numbers for this function could be larger.
There is also the usual, nice to have data telling you distance covered, calories burned and other stuff that really has no bearing on your golf unless you have some fitness side bets going on.
The right hand half is where the real story is with the FW7s because this is the GPS part of the display.
When you turn up at your course and turn on the FW7s GPS by putting in the battery, the main menu comes up and you click 'Play Golf' by pushing the main dial.
The trolley then searches for GPS satellites and within about 30 seconds has a list of courses it has found and you then select the one you are playing.
There are 35,000 courses stored on the trolley and these can be updated from time to time via the USB connector on the underside of the handle next to the USB charging point.
The update process does require a computer to connect via the supplied USB cable. Therefore a laptop in Wi-Fi range will have to be taken to the trolley, or the trolley taken inside to a desktop to plug it in, which hardly seems user friendly assuming you have one of these devices at home in the first place.
It takes some time too, as the download of courses updates ran for about 50 mins, so get it done the night before like your mother used to tell you.
That said, the FW7s GPS trolley is ready to go out of the box, so you probably won't have to do the update very often unless your course has undergone a redesign and even then there is no way to be notified that you need an update, so maybe just carry on in ignorant bliss.
Once underway the GPS display shows the front, middle and back distances in yards or metres next to a graphic of a green.
The graphic is not the actual shape of the green you are playing as it never changes, so maybe the space could have been used better. Larger numbers might be one option and moved up the screen a little as the bottom number for the front distance is sometimes partly obscured by the edge of the screen depending on how close you are standing to the trolley.
The GPS will auto advance between holes and if necessary, manually scrolling to the correct hole is easily done by pushing and holding the left or right soft keys below the screen.
Pushing the right button in the normal manner will scroll you through the hazard screen where you get distances to the nearest 4 hazards providing they are bunkers, water or dog legs.
Whilst this is a little basic and you have to figure out which bunker corresponds to which in front of you, it is good to see two distances to reach and carry each hazard, as many other small screen GPS only show one number.
The Hazard function is disabled when you buy the trolley so you will need to go into settings to enable it and the helpful user guide that comes with the trolley explains how to do this and everything else. Good to see a decent paper based instruction book these days.
Push the right button again and you scroll to the shot measurement function. This is better than others in the past as it uses GPS rather than the rotation of the wheel to measure distance so it will be more accurate, at least to within the +/- 5 yards margin for error that most commercial GPS have.
If you are in pause mode, which means not moving, then pushing the right button will also bring up a scorecard where you can keep track of your round.
You use the dial to scroll to the number of shots taken and then click to enter. It is not bad, but probably only of use if you have forgotten your scorecard or have an aversion to lead, as it doesn't track stats or save it locally or sync with an app for more analysis over time.
Most trolley manufacturers have been debating how to add a GPS function to a trolley for years and now there are several solutions in the market.
PowaKaddy has opted to build it into the handle and the advantages of this mean that the GPS is always charged, you never forget it, you can't knock it out of the holder, it is protected from the rain and easily visible.
The standard FW7s is a very good trolley with the usual good looking, well constructed PowaKaddy frame and motor. However the GPS version has to compete in the market with other ways of measuring distance and therefore needs to be considered as a self-charging GPS that can carry your bag, as much as a trolley with added GPS.
The wide screen looks good, but the layout of numbers could be better with graphics that mean something and bigger numbers for distances.The hazard information is useful and it is good to see front and back distances but, especially if playing a new course, you may want an overview of the hole that a full screen GPS or yardage book would give you and that is your trade off with this or any other small screen GPS.
The PowaKaddy FW7s GPS trolley is a stylish, well put together and easy to use piece of golf equipment. Really the buying decision is going to come down to what features you use with your trolley when you play golf and whether you play with your trolley 100% of the time. If you travel to play golf a lot you might prefer a separate GPS device that you can take with you.
The FW7s is already PowaKaddy's top of the range trolley, making it £80 more than their FW5i for the distance measurement, extra display data, bling trims and the security Pin Lock to disable the motor.
If you want the GPS version of the FW7s then that is another £110 over the price of the standard model, which is £85 more than a GPS holder if you want to use a portable device, or one of the many free GPS smartphone apps.
Or you could pay £60 extra for the standard FW7s with the EBS downhill speed control, which is an excellent feature by the way, add the £25 GPS holder for the free app on your phone and still have change for a dozen golf balls.
However that does mean buying a separate GPS or exposing your phone to the elements and that is where the integrated GPS unit in the PowaKaddy FW7s GPS has you, and your phone, covered.