PDA

View Full Version : Racquet tehnology experts - O3 tech question


netman
03-03-2006, 09:44 AM
I'm currently demoing a Shark Hybrid MP and have to say I've been impressed with the O3 tech. What has me intrigued is that there are 3 racquets in the Prince lineup that are obviously variants on the same theme. The O3 White, the O3 Shark Hybrid and the O3 Hornet Hybrid. The White and Hornet have the same physical form factor, the difference being the Hornet is lighter and stiffer with O3 on the mains only. The Shark splits the difference, again with O3 on the mains only but the same weight and flex as the White. So obviously the Prince engineers are mixing and matching the variables to microsegment the tweener sweetspot of 10.5-11.5 oz.

I understand the Hornet difference. Take away weight, you have to add stiffness to retain power. What I find interesting is that even though the White has O3 on both mains and crosses, its been tagged as a less powerful racquet than the Shark Hybrid MP. Its been stated on these boards countless times that the mains provide the power and the crosses the stiffness on the string bed. So comparing the Hybrid Shark and White which are essentially identical except for the White's O3 tech on the crosses, it would seem the White would have the highest trampoline effect and therefore be more powerful than the Shark Hybrid. Yet the Shark Hybrid is listed as the more powerful frame. Or is it that the conventional crosses on the Shark actually add power because they are stiffer? Which seems counterintuitive since a stiffer string bed is supposed to add control, not power.

Can anybody help out this confused tester?
-k-

ohplease
03-03-2006, 11:01 AM
I'm currently demoing a Shark Hybrid MP and have to say I've been impressed with the O3 tech. What has me intrigued is that there are 3 racquets in the Prince lineup that are obviously variants on the same theme. The O3 White, the O3 Shark Hybrid and the O3 Hornet Hybrid. The White and Hornet have the same physical form factor, the difference being the Hornet is lighter and stiffer with O3 on the mains only. The Shark splits the difference, again with O3 on the mains only but the same weight and flex as the White. So obviously the Prince engineers are mixing and matching the variables to microsegment the tweener sweetspot of 10.5-11.5 oz.

I understand the Hornet difference. Take away weight, you have to add stiffness to retain power. What I find interesting is that even though the White has O3 on both mains and crosses, its been tagged as a less powerful racquet than the Shark Hybrid MP. Its been stated on these boards countless times that the mains provide the power and the crosses the stiffness on the string bed. So comparing the Hybrid Shark and White which are essentially identical except for the White's O3 tech on the crosses, it would seem the White would have the highest trampoline effect and therefore be more powerful than the Shark Hybrid. Yet the Shark Hybrid is listed as the more powerful frame. Or is it that the conventional crosses on the Shark actually add power because they are stiffer? Which seems counterintuitive since a stiffer string bed is supposed to add control, not power.

Can anybody help out this confused tester?
-k-

I think you might be overthinking it a little (and believe me, I know how to overthink my gear).

I think these three similar rackets are more about brand extension than any technological reasons - which is really quite a smart move on Prince's part. You've already got loyal shark users, and hornet users - both of whom would at least have some curiosity about new versions. Add in the Sharapova factor and there you go.

In this segment, there's a prince racket for almost every taste now, double bridge, longbody, o3, half o3, etc. You need to work pretty hard to NOT consider one of their products if you're looking for something in this space, nowadays.

Midlife crisis
03-03-2006, 12:40 PM
Every O-port racquet I've hit with feels like the tension is much looser than it actually is, and that the racquet is more flexible than it actually is. I just spent a week playing with a Hybrid Hornet and it is a rocket launcher. The ball trajectory is quite higher with it than a traditional racquet, and it is so light and swings so easily that if you get a bit early on your stroke, the ball is into the back fence on the fly. This is one of the few racquets I've used where I have this problem, because other than just a pure shank with my regular racquet, I can't remember the last time I hit the back fence on the fly with any stroke.

At least with the Hybrid Hornet, the racquet is so light that it feels really hard to put a lot of momentum into the ball if you're spinning it. Consequently, any of my spin shots had less ball speed, but because it is so easy to generate racquet head speed, they also had a lot of spin too. That combined with the higher ball trajectory this racquet gives me means that on kick serves, I had probably an extra foot of clearance over the net and a kick that was 6 inches to a foot higher. I actually got some balls to bounce over head-high against 6' tall opponents, which I've never been able to do. Of course, they weren't going that fast, but at least until they stepped in and started hitting those on the rise, it was really a killer shot. When I tried to hit extreme topspin groundstrokes, the balls would go high over the net, land deep because of that, and then bounce really high from the spin. Just this ability had me giving players a lot of trouble and I was probably more effective playing this way than my normal style, but I didn't and don't like playing this way.

I don't know that I helped any, but just wanted to add this information.

netman
03-07-2006, 09:46 AM
Thanks for the mini review on the Hornet, midlife crisis. I was wondering how the Hornet played. I played the TT Hornet MP for awhile and ended up building them up to 10.7 oz. and 6 pts HL. Found it interesting the Hornet Hybrid falls in that range, spec wise.

The Hybrid Shark plays very similiar to what you describe. It is a bit heavier, but you still need some spin to keep the ball in play. Can be a real rocket launcher with out the spin.

-k-

tarkowski
03-07-2006, 10:40 AM
Thanks for the mini review on the Hornet, midlife crisis. I was wondering how the Hornet played. I played the TT Hornet MP for awhile and ended up building them up to 10.7 oz. and 6 pts HL. Found it interesting the Hornet Hybrid falls in that range, spec wise.

The Hybrid Shark plays very similiar to what you describe. It is a bit heavier, but you still need some spin to keep the ball in play. Can be a real rocket launcher with out the spin.

-k-

Hey netman, thanks for the post! I've played with both the O3 White and Prince Shark MP. I haven't chosen either as my main stick, but I find both appealing for different aspects. The O3 White swings lighter and is easier to generate headspeed, and thus topspin with. The Shark, although playing a bit stiffer, still has a comfortable response and for me, more directional control over shots. My wife ended up with the White, and should I choose, I would pick the Shark. The Shark also swings heavier and since I play nSixOne 95, that is perhaps why I prefer it.

How does the Shark Hybrid compare to the Shark? I'm guessing right inbetween the O3 White and Shark? Power-wise, I thought the O3 White and Shark were very similar - too close to not chalk up any differences to just the string and tensions.

netman
03-07-2006, 01:47 PM
How does the Shark Hybrid compare to the Shark? I'm guessing right inbetween the O3 White and Shark? Power-wise, I thought the O3 White and Shark were very similar - too close to not chalk up any differences to just the string and tensions.

To be honest, they are about the same in terms of power. The Hybrid has a more muted feel which I attribute to the O3 holes on the mains. Comfortable racquet. But it really does need spin to keep shots in play. Of the 3 I am currently playtesting (Yonex RDS003, Wilson nOpen and the Hybrid Shark), I like the Yonex best., followed by the Wilson, then the Shark. Back out on the courts tonight and looking forward to seeing if that ranking changes.

-k-

Midlife crisis
03-07-2006, 04:10 PM
Thanks for the mini review on the Hornet, midlife crisis. I was wondering how the Hornet played. I played the TT Hornet MP for awhile and ended up building them up to 10.7 oz. and 6 pts HL. Found it interesting the Hornet Hybrid falls in that range, spec wise.

The Hybrid Shark plays very similiar to what you describe. It is a bit heavier, but you still need some spin to keep the ball in play. Can be a real rocket launcher with out the spin.

-k-

I played one competitive set with this racquet and I hit some shots on the dead run that hit the back fence. I never do that with any other racquet, but somehow the light weight combined with the higher trajectory and rocket launcher it is.

My son liked the Hybrid Hornet a lot. He started playing about ten months ago and is now about a 3.0 player. He's moving up from a 10 ounce racquet and this is in the right weight range for him, so I'll probably be picking one up. I like how soft it plays and hope that it will be an arm-healthy racquet for him.

netman
03-07-2006, 07:04 PM
Just finished 3 long sets of doubles. Gained some new respect for the Hybrid Shark. Our opponents were two hard serving players with strong volley skills. Faced a lot of 100+ mph serves and hard hit, rapid fire volleys. Had three demos. Yonex RDS 003, Wilson nOpen and the Hybrid Shark. The Yonex was too stiif and powerful. The Wilson was pretty good but felt light and did not hit a heavy ball. The Shark had that extra little heft that allowed it to stand up to hard hits shots. Plus it was very comfortable. Even on mishits against hard hit serves it did not punish the arm and the ball got back into play. You could rip a return of serve or groundie deep, then turn around and put a drop shot inches over the net. Volleys had a satisfying solid feel and good power.

Definitely plan to give it some more playing time.

-k-

BiGGieStuFF
03-07-2006, 08:17 PM
How does the Shark Hybrid compare to the Shark? I'm guessing right inbetween the O3 White and Shark? Power-wise, I thought the O3 White and Shark were very similar - too close to not chalk up any differences to just the string and tensions.

I wrote a mini review on it a while back

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=86844

shark vs o3 shark

netman
03-08-2006, 05:40 AM
Very nice review. Thanks.

I agree with you on how the Hybrid Shark plays. Particularly on how every ball gets back into play, even awful shanks. Very useful feature in doubles.

-k-

BiGGieStuFF
03-08-2006, 06:56 AM
Very nice review. Thanks.

I agree with you on how the Hybrid Shark plays. Particularly on how every ball gets back into play, even awful shanks. Very useful feature in doubles.

-k-

Definitely. A comparison between the regular shark and O3 shark really shows if the O port technology makes a difference.

tarkowski
03-09-2006, 08:09 AM
To be honest, they are about the same in terms of power. The Hybrid has a more muted feel which I attribute to the O3 holes on the mains. Comfortable racquet. But it really does need spin to keep shots in play. Of the 3 I am currently playtesting (Yonex RDS003, Wilson nOpen and the Hybrid Shark), I like the Yonex best., followed by the Wilson, then the Shark. Back out on the courts tonight and looking forward to seeing if that ranking changes.

-k-

Thanks netman!

netman
03-15-2006, 07:56 AM
At least with the Hybrid Hornet, the racquet is so light that it feels really hard to put a lot of momentum into the ball if you're spinning it. Consequently, any of my spin shots had less ball speed, but because it is so easy to generate racquet head speed, they also had a lot of spin too. That combined with the higher ball trajectory this racquet gives me means that on kick serves, I had probably an extra foot of clearance over the net and a kick that was 6 inches to a foot higher. I actually got some balls to bounce over head-high against 6' tall opponents, which I've never been able to do. Of course, they weren't going that fast, but at least until they stepped in and started hitting those on the rise, it was really a killer shot. When I tried to hit extreme topspin groundstrokes, the balls would go high over the net, land deep because of that, and then bounce really high from the spin. Just this ability had me giving players a lot of trouble and I was probably more effective playing this way than my normal style, but I didn't and don't like playing this way.
I don't know that I helped any, but just wanted to add this information.

Midlife crisis, so what did you think of the Tennis Magazine review of the Hornet? They seem to think its the best all court racquet they have tested in some time.

-k-

Midlife crisis
03-15-2006, 10:27 AM
Midlife crisis, so what did you think of the Tennis Magazine review of the Hornet? They seem to think its the best all court racquet they have tested in some time.

-k-

Yeah, I saw that. It's why it's best to get a wide range of opinions, and to try and find a reviewer who says their style is close to your style.

I think a lot of the problem is that this racquet, in this weight, is not designed for someone who plays like I play, so it just doesn't work well. It seems to be designed as a game improvement racquet for someone in the 2.5/3.0 to 4.0 level who would prefer a lighter racquet, hits flatter, and likes a cushier feel (whether by choice or due to necessity from injury). I prefer the TW review format, where they pretty much have the same reviewers over a length of time. That way, if you demo a racquet and find that you like what one reviewer likes and don't like what that reviewer doesn't like, you can be pretty confident when they review another racquet. I'm not sure if Tennis magazine says who reviews their racquets.

Another thought would be that strings make a lot of difference. When TW sent me the racquets to test, they were all freshly strung with Wilson Sensation.

It would be cool if you or someone else could get a hold of a Hybrid Hornet to test and see what your impressions are.

netman
03-15-2006, 05:54 PM
It would be cool if you or someone else could get a hold of a Hybrid Hornet to test and see what your impressions are.

I hope to do that. I currently have the O3 Shark Hybrid, Yonex RDS 003 and Wilson nOpen in house for a comparative review I'm doing for TW. I find the Hybrid Shark a good racquet for rapid fire doubles. You can shank the return of serve on a 100+ mph serve and the shot still goes into play with some depth and pace. Try that with a typical racquet and you or your partner is picking fuzz out of their teeth. Better yet, no elbow or shoulder pain. Yet I struggle with it in singles, since you need to add some decent spin to keep the ball in play.

I really like the O3 tech, but am not sure the Hybrid Shark is the one for me. I really want to pit the Hybrid Shark, the Hybrid Hornet and the O3 White head to head and see how they stack up. The O3 stuff is so comfortable I'm willing to try them all to find one that works. They are essentially (Southern terminology alert) kissing cousins so I assume one of them might just fit my game (flat strokes and power S&V). I'm guessing the Hybrid Hornet might be an even better tool for doubles than the Shark, but as you so well point out, it all depends on how it fits the player's game.

If you try the Hybrid Shark or O3 White, post your impressions.

Thanks,
-k-

Midlife crisis
03-15-2006, 08:20 PM
I'm guessing the Hybrid Hornet might be an even better tool for doubles than the Shark, but as you so well point out, it all depends on how it fits the player's game.

I had problems volleying with the Hybrid Hornet. It was just too light and again I had the trajectory problem, where the ball just came off the stringbed higher than I expected. The problem for me was exacerbated by the fact that I normally use a very high powered and heavy racquet, so for lower volleys I do little more than just block the ball back when it's coming fast. With the Hybrid Hornet, it didn't have enough mass so the volleys popped up high, giving my opponent a chest-high sitter at the service line.

When I put a bit of punch into the volleys, I would still occasionally (maybe one out of four) get these unexpectedly high trajectory, unexpectedly low velocity shots, even though it felt like I hit it sweet. I think these were caught just a little high on the stringbed, and the ballspeed seems to drop off pretty quickly moving up away from the middle of the stringbed.

If you try the Hybrid Shark or O3 White, post your impressions.

My son needs to move up from his TiS5CZ. One of his racquets is weighted to 10 ounces, the other to 10.5 ounces. The 10.7 ounce weight of the Hybrid Hornet is just about perfect and he's between a 3.0 and 3.5 so he's in the right skill range for that racquet too. Since he likes the feel of the Hybrid Hornet, I think we'll also try the other O-port racquets to make sure we're chosing the right racquet for his next year or so. I'll definitely let you know what I think of those racquets.

Mace
03-16-2006, 08:46 AM
I don't like the 03 rackets. From an engineering standpoint, it is bad news to drill holes in any beam. It DESTABILIZES the beam, leading to inaccuracy and inconsistency. A flexible beam is okay to a point, but one with big swiss cheese holes in it is less predictable.

String Movement:
I would imagine the string freedom is minimal compared to a standard grommet because the strings still have an anchor point. If the anchor point moved, that would be different, but the slot and the anchor point of the string are still stationary, therefore the claimed benefit of string freedom and larger sweetspot is minimal if at all to the O3.

Aerodynamics:
There is increased width to the beam to allow for the big holes in it. Increased width means increased air resistance. It is probably offset by the holes, leading to no net aerodynamic gain at all.

Midlife crisis
03-16-2006, 10:34 AM
I don't like the 03 rackets. From an engineering standpoint, it is bad news to drill holes in any beam. It DESTABILIZES the beam, leading to inaccuracy and inconsistency. A flexible beam is okay to a point, but one with big swiss cheese holes in it is less predictable.

That's not necessarily true. If Prince had compensated for the fact that the holes are going to be there by, for instance, reinforcing the sides of the beam, it can be every bit as strong and evenly flexing as a beam with no holes in it. "Stability" as used in tennis usually refers to the twistweight or polar moment of inertia around the long axis of the racquet. Holes won't affect this as long as the weight is redistributed near where the holes are. I don't think anyone knows whether Prince has done this or not, so it's not possible to say how the holes affect the structural integrity of the beam.

String Movement:
I would imagine the string freedom is minimal compared to a standard grommet because the strings still have an anchor point. If the anchor point moved, that would be different, but the slot and the anchor point of the string are still stationary, therefore the claimed benefit of string freedom and larger sweetspot is minimal if at all to the O3.

The string is now anchored at the outside edge of the beam instead of on the inside edge. Prince says this gives the effect of a racquet with a greater stringbed area than the inside measurement indicates. I don't have a way to verify the stiffness rating of their racquets but they are comparable to other racquets I have demo'ed and the O-port racquets all hit way softer than their stiffness and string tension indicates. Without seeing other factors that might make this so, I would guess this is due to the O-ports.

Aerodynamics:
There is increased width to the beam to allow for the big holes in it. Increased width means increased air resistance. It is probably offset by the holes, leading to no net aerodynamic gain at all.

I'm not sure the width is much greater but aerodynamic forces aren't that great to begin with, and not when compared to the forces required to overcome inertia in accelerating the racquet up to a high enough speed where aerodynamics might begin to have some effect.