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View Full Version : Lobster Elite 2 Review- not a good start


racquetfuel
08-13-2006, 11:21 AM
I've enjoyed the reviews on ball machines in this forum and thought I would share my experience with mine- things didn't turn out the way I hoped.
I received my Lobster Elite 2 last Monday. I chose it after considering the SAM SP4, TT Plus, and SP Pro. I spoke to Carmela at their sales staff that convinced me that problems reported on the forum here including remote control range and transport wheel had been solved. The longer battery life, what seemed easier portability and the attractive design were what swayed me to this unit, plus the RSI review and the one here by Kevo. Elite 2 with smart charger and remote shipped is about $1650.

First Impressions: The machine arrived with quite a few small white stains and other blemishes on the red case- I thought these would wipe off but they don't- no big deal but certainly not what you hope for. THe hopper has two holes to mate with projections on the main unit, one of these holes was obviously not mating with the case and appears to have been widened with a screwdriver or chisel- looked like the plastic around the hole might tear in use so I called their customer support right after opening the box to report this- they said they would get back to me about a new hopper but have not heard back from them. Overall, not exactly clean external workmanship for a $1600 unit.

I tried it out for a short time monday night using 2 buckets of fresh Gamma pressure-less balls. I didn't bother attaching the handle as it is reasonably light and fits into the car trunk easily and is easy enough to carry. It functions as it should with consistent placement and with oscilliation it does fairly well at distributing the ball. The speed range seems more than adequate for rally type speeds. The hopper does tend to stop feeding balls consistently when there are less than about 10-15 balls as they tend to get caught in the front of the hopper. Usually, 2-4 don't feed. THe remote, despite their claims of having 'fixed it' works only sporadically from the opposite court- also there is no feedback from the unit that a 'stop/start feed' command has been received so the machine would often keep firing when I thought the remote had stopped it. . That was disappointing given that it costed $200 for the option. Will need to contact support regarding the poor range and clarify what improvements Carmela in sales had claimed. Leaving aside these issues however, the machine really was fun to use- the whole family enjoyed the new toy.


I tried it again on Saturday and tried the vertical oscillation. My impression so far is that this feature is not really that necessary as the balls do vary a fair amount in depth anyway even without the vert osc on. Still I enjoyed the workout and the machine does show a long battery life as we were hitting consistently for a couple of hours and the machine showed no signs of slowing down.

Sunday morning I was all psyched to start grooving strokes and set up the machine- I started it up and the balls spit out to the side straight into the ground- I turned it off and looked into the front and could see the whole assembly for serving the ball was just hanging loose. Most likely some screw holding it together had not been attached securely.

This is very disappointing. The exterior workmanship was substandard but that I could tolerate- OTOH having the machine fail completely after 3 hours is unacceptable. Lobster insists they test their units prior to shipping but this early failure sure doesn't inspire confidence. I am not interested in wasting time tinkering with a ball machine. Hopefully they will provide good customer support regarding this matter.

At any rate, while it worked it seemed a nice ball machine and I am sure that some units must work quite well- I am debating whether to return the unit and get a SAM or Tennis Tutor - certainly don't want to waste more time/money. How reliable have the SAM units been? I was considering the SP4- perhaps that would be a good alternative-

Racquetfuel

TennisParent
08-13-2006, 01:19 PM
I have had one for about a year. Works pretty well, but have a couple of issues w/c the Lobster cust svc department helped resolve. The large plastic wheel came off and it is a b**** to get that back on and spinning correctly, lots of work to get to it-just undoing the cover can be a chore. Also, have had to open up the machine several times in order to reconnect wires that have just come off, seems like this happens easily, not too hard to figure out when this occurs, if you suddenly lose control of sweep, elevation or other controls this is what happened. Expect this to happen. Cust svc is very helpful, but you can count on having to wrench on things yourself as it's not the easiest thing to send back to the factory. The HS girls team my daughter plays on has had a Tennis Tutor however, and it has not been problem free either. These are not a problem free appliance no matter what you buy.

goober
08-13-2006, 01:20 PM
Thanks for the review. I was considering getting one but now I am not so sure. I mainly wanted to get it because it looked the most portable with the all the features of the other higher end models.

Hmmfrrrff...

TennisParent
08-13-2006, 03:10 PM
Thanks for the review. I was considering getting one but now I am not so sure. I mainly wanted to get it because it looked the most portable with the all the features of the other higher end models.

Hmmfrrrff...

Come down to it, if you are not a teaching pro, I'm not sure it's the best investment. We are using the machine less and less it seems. Just a hassle getting the thing in and out of the car and picking up all the balls is no fun either. Might sell it online at eaby.

varuscelli
08-13-2006, 06:55 PM
THe remote, despite their claims of having 'fixed it' works only sporadically from the opposite court- also there is no feedback from the unit that a 'stop/start feed' command has been received so the machine would often keep firing when I thought the remote had stopped it.

Just as a side note, I'm using the Silent Partner Pro right now, with remote, and it gives an audible "beep" when the machine has received a command from the remote (feed on/off, oscillate on/off).

So on the Lobster, there's no audible built in? Or is your unit in particular just not giving an audible response?

Kevo
08-13-2006, 07:12 PM
There is no audible on the remote. Mine works really well since I resoldered the antenna wire on the receiver. I have not had anything fall off either. I'm sorry to hear that someone is having a bad start with their lobster.

One thing though. I have tried the Gamma pressure-less balls. They are not very good at all. The felt tears away fairly quickly, and they tend to play quite differently over time. I am currently using the tretorn Micro X and they are quite good, but they do eventually pop and the polyurethane micro beads come flying out in a white puff when they do. It's kind of fun, but since they are pricey I am thinking about trying dunlop grand prixs in a pressurized container to see how they do.

varuscelli
08-13-2006, 07:22 PM
Just as a side note, I'm using the Silent Partner Pro right now, with remote, and it gives an audible "beep" when the machine has received a command from the remote (feed on/off, oscillate on/off).

So on the Lobster, there's no audible built in? Or is your unit in particular just not giving an audible response?

Oops, sorry. I should have said that the ball machine gives an audible "beep" when the remote is used. Not the remote itself giving a "beep."

pmata814
08-14-2006, 08:34 PM
I'm sorry to hear about your experience Racquetfuel. Just wanted to comment on sportstutor--since you mentioned it was one of the b-machines you were considering. I've owned a wilson portable, which is also made by sportstutor, for 2 years and I've never had a problem with it. You might want to look more closely into their machines if you decide to return your lobster.

racquetfuel
08-15-2006, 04:55 PM
Thanks all for the comments/tips. I spoke with Lobster- they insist the failure that I described with the wheel assembly is a one-off type of event and want to send me a new unit and will arrange for pick-up of the old. They seemed to genuinely want to rectify the situation and also evaluate the QC issues with the defective machine.

I talked to their tech support to get some idea if the failure my machine experienced was common, and also to get their thoughts on other issues raised on this forum such as server wheel set-screws loosening, wires coming off, remote-range issues and transport wheel problems. I must say they are very nice and all but the tech folks at SAM were more open about discussing all potential issues. THey are quite confident that the machine should be trouble free- hopefully this will be true. The machine does have nice form factor and features, performed well when working, and others have had good results so I'm going to give them a try again. If I returned the defective unit now I'd be out shipping and a 5% restocking fee for only 3 hours of use so I suppose it is worth a go, if it doesn't work the second time I'll take my losses and might be heading for Tennis Tutor or SAM

Will update when the new unit arrives.
thanks all
RF

sergioboni
08-18-2006, 12:49 PM
i bought an Elite 3 last month and it just arrived last week.
I live in Brasil and, therefore, i spend too many time reading, searching and comparing all the options i had. In the final round, i was in doubt between SAM SP4 and Lobster Elite 3. I decided to buy the lobster most of all because the triple oscilation feature and because it looks more portable. Sam can hold 300 balls and looks more robust than lobster, but, as someone wrote here, carrying a ball machine plus a bag of 150 balls is enough work. so, i will not need a 300 balls machine. Sam has that 10 function remote control, but, as a seller told me, i cant keep it inside my pocket. Its more suitable for coaches, they told... i agree.

Now, my concern is hot to feed this red monster.Right now, its in front of me, looking at my face and saying: i am hungry!! give me 150 balls!!!

unfortunaly, tennis balls here are too expensive. A regular Wilson Championship can cost something like 9 dollars. A case with 24 cans cost US130!! And we dont have presureless balls in a regular basis.
until now, i dont know what i'll do to give some balls to feed this machine. Maybe i have to bring some pressureless from **** vendors, but i afraid that this type of balls isn't good (i cant buy just one can to test)... and the shipping costs are so high (100-150 dolars)

Well, the machine is here and its working. I made some tests with a couple of balls. When i resolve the balls problem, i'll make some videos and write some reviews to put here.

Sorry for poor english

Regards,

Sergio.

varuscelli
08-18-2006, 01:22 PM
unfortunaly, tennis balls here are too expensive. A regular Wilson Championship can cost something like 9 dollars. A case with 24 cans cost US130!! And we dont have presureless balls in a regular basis.
until now, i dont know what i'll do to give some balls to feed this machine. Maybe i have to bring some pressureless from **** vendors, but i afraid that this type of balls isn't good (i cant buy just one can to test)... and the shipping costs are so high (100-150 dolars)

Sergio,

If you can find them for a decent price, go with pressureless tennis balls. They'll last a lot longer than regular pressurized tennis balls and they won't cost as much as regular tennis balls. You might even want to start with half of what the machine will hold just to keep costs lower. Maybe buy only 75 balls to start with. Try them in the machine, and if they work well, you can buy more later.

Another thought might be to find a bunch of older tennis balls that still have some life in them. That won't be as good as using pressureless balls, but might work for you as a temporary way to use the machine.

mikenpat
08-18-2006, 06:16 PM
Thanks Racquetfuel for starting this thread. I almost pulled the trigger on a SAM SP4 but paused to consider the Lobster E3. I am leaning toward the SAM now after hearing of your experience. At close to $2k, this is a big step. I think I will get an extended warranty if I can. Can anyone share their experience with the SAM (aka Prince) SP line of machines? Thanks everyone - Mike

sergioboni
08-18-2006, 07:43 PM
Sergio,

If you can find them for a decent price, go with pressureless tennis balls. They'll last a lot longer than regular pressurized tennis balls and they won't cost as much as regular tennis balls. You might even want to start with half of what the machine will hold just to keep costs lower. Maybe buy only 75 balls to start with. Try them in the machine, and if they work well, you can buy more later.

Another thought might be to find a bunch of older tennis balls that still have some life in them. That won't be as good as using pressureless balls, but might work for you as a temporary way to use the machine.

thanks for your comments varuscelli, i'll try to bring some pressureless balls.

Are you an italian descendent?

sergioboni
08-18-2006, 07:48 PM
Thanks all for the comments/tips. I spoke with Lobster- they insist the failure that I described with the wheel assembly is a one-off type of event and want to send me a new unit and will arrange for pick-up of the old. They seemed to genuinely want to rectify the situation and also evaluate the QC issues with the defective machine.

I talked to their tech support to get some idea if the failure my machine experienced was common, and also to get their thoughts on other issues raised on this forum such as server wheel set-screws loosening, wires coming off, remote-range issues and transport wheel problems. I must say they are very nice and all but the tech folks at SAM were more open about discussing all potential issues. THey are quite confident that the machine should be trouble free- hopefully this will be true. The machine does have nice form factor and features, performed well when working, and others have had good results so I'm going to give them a try again. If I returned the defective unit now I'd be out shipping and a 5% restocking fee for only 3 hours of use so I suppose it is worth a go, if it doesn't work the second time I'll take my losses and might be heading for Tennis Tutor or SAM

Will update when the new unit arrives.
thanks all
RF


Hi RF,

let me ask you something. Does your Elite make a loud noise when you plug the charger in? i was trying to give first charge to my new Elite 3 and, when i plug the charger, it made noise like i was turn it on and the low battery LED turns on whith a red light. Is this normal? I mean, is this noise normal?

thanks.

varuscelli
08-18-2006, 08:02 PM
thanks for your comments varuscelli, i'll try to bring some pressureless balls.

Are you an italian descendent?

Yes, my father's parents were from Italy and immigrated to the US back in the 1920's. Last name is Ruscelli.

racquetfuel
08-19-2006, 02:34 AM
Hi Sergio,
I bought the smart charger upgrade- it is silent during charging and the lights on the control panel don't work for this optional charger and are both off, the charger has its own light on it. Make sure your power is turned off while charging-
good luck with your Elite 3
RF

sergioboni
08-19-2006, 07:47 AM
Hi Sergio,
I bought the smart charger upgrade- it is silent during charging and the lights on the control panel don't work for this optional charger and are both off, the charger has its own light on it. Make sure your power is turned off while charging-
good luck with your Elite 3
RF

Ok, RF

Thanks for yout attention.

Sergio.

sergioboni
08-20-2006, 05:18 PM
Hi Sergio,
I bought the smart charger upgrade- it is silent during charging and the lights on the control panel don't work for this optional charger and are both off, the charger has its own light on it. Make sure your power is turned off while charging-
good luck with your Elite 3
RF

I found the source of the noise. Despite the main power switch is turned off, if the vertical switch is turned on, tha machine make a noise during charging.
I am glad its not a malfunction.

rasajadad
08-26-2006, 02:27 AM
I have had the wheel fall off problem as well. The bottom wheel can be put back on without removing the cover, but not the top. The problem as I see it is the set screw loosens with use and eventually the whole wheel falls off.

The last time it happened, I applied Loctite to the screw. Haven't had any issues since. And I use the machine 3X/week.

As far as the 10-15 balls left in the hopper; I can't help you. Mine throws all the balls unless one gets balanced on the middle of that rotating carousel.