Tennis Ball Machine Advice

Discussion in 'Other Equipment' started by nicoleterp, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. nicoleterp

    nicoleterp New User

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    My husband and I are looking to purchase a machine.....

    Lobster Elite 2 or a Playmate Portable Volley??????? It seems the Lobster is the better machine, with more functionality however I want to be sure we are getting a machine that does not break often and is durable & reliable....

    I hear lobsters break alot, we want a reliable machine that won't cost a ton to maintain......or have to drive a million miles to a certain place to get it repaired.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!:)
     
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  2. nicoleterp

    nicoleterp New User

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    add the Sports Tutor Tennis Tutor Plus Player Tennis Ball Machine to the list!!!1
     
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  3. MonkeyMuggs

    MonkeyMuggs Rookie

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    All of the machines your considering are reliable and each company offers exceptional customer service. Do not get hung up on "break downs". Lobster has the best warranty (2 years as opposed to 1 for the others). Each company offers very reasonable extended warranties as well.

    After tons of research, I decided that the Lobster Elite V L.E. was the best machine and company for me. I have had no problems and am exceptionally happy with my machine. The Elite V is an even greater machine than I expected, and I expected and demanded alot. It is very user friendly. I wanted a challenge and I got one. Lobster customer service has been outstanding as well.

    Get a machine! You'll be glad you did.
     
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  4. tpotter

    tpotter New User

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    tutor, lobster, playmate are all great manufacturers...playmate will be a workhorse, less features, great durability, but heavy. Tutor is pretty durable with a simple hopper design, but much lighter than playmate. Lobster has cutting edge features compared to others.

    Repairs - no one really has a local repair men, although many things can be handled by the customer.
     
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  5. HawaiiTennis2010

    HawaiiTennis2010 New User

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    Lobster= great performance, MAJOR charging hazard/longterm durability issue

    Hi, I have been a long time lurker here at TT but i never posted before because I always find others have already asked my questions but i thought it would be good to inform fellow players of my lobster experience especially ones in the market for a ball machine. First let me say that my elite (cheapest one, 1?) was unbelievable for the first 3 years and I had ZERO qualms with the performance of the unit. However, last month my unit had some sort of electrical short when i was charging it possibly because i left it plugged in too long and it appeared to have caught fire/shorted out in my garage. Thankfully it happened on concrete with nothing around, as I only saw the aftermath of it. The plastic was slightly melted and the floor was a bit marked up but thankfully nothing else was affected. I would definetly encourage others who use the machine to follow the directions on there website which states not to overcharge it as this may have been what happened as I charge it after every use even though i only used it for 45-60 min. Also, if at all possible, I would charge it away from other stuff so if this happens to you your also as lucky as me. Also, make sure you have a smoke detector in your garage that has batteries as mine had dead batteries so i had no idea until it had already happened. Lastly, I would strongly encourage you to purchase an extended warranty from them if you do go with them as they are reasonably priced, as I am shooting myself in the foot right now for not as I will likely have to pay full price for a replacement as I never heard back from lobster when I followed up with them about getting a discount because of what happened. FWIW, lobster did say this was the first time in 40 years they had heard of this happening but I have to wonder, I seriously question whether they didn't just say this as really doubt I somehow managed to get so unlucky. Good luck with picking one, just be careful when charging it.
     
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  6. tpotter

    tpotter New User

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    HawaiiTennis2010,

    I can assure you we have never heard of ANY machine shorting out and melting....and if anyone would know, it would be me.

    Of course, Lobster needs to see this machine - we will pay to get it back to the factory.

    Please contact me on Monday and we will arrange to get the machine back and try to figure this out!

    Thanks,

    Tony Potter
     
    #6
  7. HawaiiTennis2010

    HawaiiTennis2010 New User

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    Well its too late to see the machine as the first thing i did after the incident was haul it out to the curb. I was not going to risk burning my house down by keeping it as the unit was clearly toast. When I initially saw what happened, I briefly thought about getting it fixed but shipping from Hawaii to LA for a 45 pound box of that size was estimated at almost 200 dollars and that would not have even included the price of the repair or return shipping so i thought it was pretty much pointless and decided I would be better off buying a new machine as I had previously thought about upgrading to the elite3 or some other model with greater variability. I will say that in my initial email I sent to lobster, I asked if someone wanted to contact me about getting info about what I saw so it would help them pinpoint what went wrong but no one ever inquired and it has been almost a month which i was rather shocked about but oh well. I initially had some pictures of the melting but since the individual (Curtis) I spoke with through email didn't seem interested in getting more info about the machine I deleted them from my camera. As for you reiterating that this is the first case, I am certainly sure that it doesn't happen everyday as I could not find anything else about it online which is why I am still considering another lobster for the replacement as I definently prefered my machine over the isam I demoed and my friends tennis tutor. However, the fact that this thing did burn up on me certainly makes me wonder whether it could happen again and whether the wiring may have been poorly constructed as it seems obvious that it was some kind of grounding issue. If you have further questions feel free to contact me, I believe your company has my contact information but if not I will check back here sometime next week. -Craig
     
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  8. MonkeyMuggs

    MonkeyMuggs Rookie

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    Sorry that incident occurred to you HawaiiTennis. Fortunately no other people or property were injured. I'm curious though as to what "type of charger" you were using. You mentioned that you "possibly left it plugged in too long". The standard chargers, which I believe came with your entry level Elite machine, are not made or meant to be plugged in and forgotten. The manufacturers report that with that type of charger damage will occurr. There are upgraded "safe" chargers which do not require monitoring, but I think it is still recommended that you never leave them totally unattended. My machine came with the upgraded charger. However, if it had not, that would have been one of the first items I would have upgraded.

    There is alot of safety information that manufacturers include regarding the use of Batteries, and especially when using Battery Chargers. They can be both be very dangerous. Once again, fortunately no one was injured.
     
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  9. tball

    tball Semi-Pro

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    I've only had experience with two: SAM and Playmate Volley. From the functionality perspective, they are all the same: each shoots the balls just fine. The differences come in handling/usability. How much it weighs? How do you lift it? Will it fit in the trunk? How do you charge it overnight? Consider these very carefully! Find all the dimensions.
    Personally, I am pretty happy with Playmate. I did miscalculate a bit on the size. It is about 1 each too tall for my trunk. It rides on the back seat. It is quite heavy. My wife cannot lift it. It has handles in the right places, and wheels. The only tense monent is lifting it from the back seat.
    The advertised 3-4 hour batteries in reality only last 1 hour. It is the same with SAM and Playmate. So, accout for that.
    I never use any fancy features, but my kids love the two line alternator. It allows them both to hit at the same time. No "waiting your turn" for them.
    For practicing, I never use the alternator. I drill one shot at a time.
    Adjusting height on Playmate Volley is pretty bad: it is a long procedure, you have no visual ques, you waste ~10 balls before you can get it where you want it. All other controls have 1...10 dials. You can see clearly where you are. But not height. Height is adjusted by trial and error.
     
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  10. HawaiiTennis2010

    HawaiiTennis2010 New User

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    It was whatever charger came with the machine (Elite 1) 3 year ago. The battery was original as well. As far as leaving it plugged in too long goes, who knows if that is what caused it catch on fire. My neighbor who is an electrical engineer suggested that it was probably poor grounding that caused it. I normally played in the morning and then plugged it in before work and unplugged it later in the evening. Occasionally I would leave it plugged in overnight but not often because i normally played in the morning. Clearly this should not have happened regardless of whether i left it plugged in for a month (which i did not). Even my 20 dollar camera charger turns off when the battery is done charging so no damage is done by leaving it plugged in (which probably occurs for this lobster ball machines as well). I was thinking of filing a complaint with the consumer product safety commission over it but i don't know if its worth my time. Also, if my incident honestly is the first of its kind it as i can not find any other complaints online than I do not want to cause lobster a hassel as they do make solidly performing machines albiet maybe not as durable as they should be. Even with this safety aspect aside, I am really dissapointed that a 1100 dollar machine only lasted around 150 hours of use although up until last month i had no issues.

    If what you say about the plugs is correct, than that is insane that they charge extra for the "safe" plug. I would expect them to just sell it with the safe plug and add the extra cost to the cost of the machine. I will research this further and see what i can find out.
     
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  11. tpotter

    tpotter New User

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    I think everyone would agree that your experience should not have happened, Hawaii2010. It is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances. I really do look forward to discussing it in person.
     
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  12. High Roller

    High Roller Banned

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    For my money, the Playmate Full Volley represents the best bang-for-the-buck and top shelf quality equation for portable machines. While I am very happy with my budget-priced SP Star, had I known how much use I would get of a ball machine I would have no problems in doubling my outlay for the Full Volley. Just my 2 cents...
     
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  13. GZim

    GZim Rookie

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    I've had a Lobster Ball machine for the past 5 years, and it has always worked great. Last year some tube went, but it was easily diagnosed and install the replacement part. It was the detent tube (sp?) which has a rubber gasket to keep the pressure and shoot the ball, the website said this part does routinely need to be replaced. It has worked great ever since. Also the remote is a great feature (but only does on and off). Adjusting the height is a bit of a trial and error and the spin adapter is great.
    I dont think they make this model anymore, though I thought it was their most popular, it does side to side and up and down (though that has never been used, as it either shoots them long or into the net). I think its a 301 or 401. I hope they will continue to offer replacement parts for years to come, as I am very happy and would recommend their machines to anyone.

    Gary
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2010
    #13
  14. HawaiiTennis2010

    HawaiiTennis2010 New User

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    Problem resolved

    Just thought I would post an update of my situation. The problem was resolved to my satisfaction. After talking to the Lobster's CEO over the phone for 30 min., I am satisfied with how the situation has turned out and quite surprised at his sincere interest in the situation. I honestly think my incident was a fluke and that it honestly hasnt happened in the past. I would just like to let everyone else know that because of the way this was handled will likely stay with lobster in the future.
     
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  15. COPEY

    COPEY Hall of Fame

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    Just to correct a bit of misinformation, Playmates come with a 2-year warranty.

    Other than that, if you haven't already selected a machine, make sure you're decided on what you're getting a machine for; an electronic partner or to hone specific shots. I'm not here to plug a specific manufacturer. I'm sure you'll do enough research to come to a decision that meets your needs. Goodluck!
     
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  16. Big Dave

    Big Dave New User

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    I just purchased a Lobster Elite 2 last month. This is my first ball machine and I did lots of research. Most of them see mpretty even at this level...the biggest factor in my decision for Lobster was their customer service. I always read about how they treat people so well, and are always willing to help fix any issues.

    That being said, the machine is fantastic. It's easy to get to the courts, does exactly what i want it to, and hasn't given me any issues at all.

    I am extremly happy with the purchase and would definitley buy from lobster again in the future.
     
    #16

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