Recently, Voice Caddie released their SL1 Rangefinder. Interestingly, it offers a combination of features that no other product has on the market right now (not even Bushnell).
The SL1 integrates GPS, laser, and green undulation technology, allowing it to offer golfers multiple data points when they consider their target and club selection.
After testing it on the course, I was thoroughly impressed by its performance. Also, I was a bit surprised. Voice Caddie is traditionally known for its launch monitors, but now they have a product worth considering for golfers who want a distance measuring device that has it all for under $500.
They Nailed the GPS Integration
My usual recommendation is that most golfers should use GPS data over a rangefinder. However, rangefinders are the overwhelming product purchase of choice in the distance-measurement category. Well, now, you can have your cake and eat it too!
Voice Caddie has done an excellent job of using GPS yardages in its SL1 rangefinder. There is a small OLED screen below the lens that displays your front, center, and back yardages to the green for starters. So if you're in a situation where you can't see the pin, you can quickly take a look at the screen to see your distances.
Additionally, Voice Caddie has added GPS data into the viewing area of the lens. When you lock onto the target, you can see your yardage to the pin, the front and back yardages, and the actual change in the slope's elevation.
Overall, if you're looking for a rangefinder that also has GPS yardages, I think the Voice Caddie SL1 has succeeded at combining the two.
Incredibly Fast - Like Light Speed Fast
One of the main distinguishing features of any rangefinder is its ability to lock on to the pin and how fast it does it. Many of the cheaper lasers in the market struggle to identify a pin. Often, it requires several attempts before locking on to the correct yardage (sometimes they can pick up a tree behind the green instead). Also, in poor lighting conditions such as fog, they won't even pick up the pin at all.
Another frustration can be time. Cheaper models can take as long as 3-6 seconds to display the pin yardage because of inferior components. When we reviewed the TecTecTec Ult-X, our tester found slowness issues and its ability to lock on to the pin. When people wonder if they should purchase a less expensive laser, this can be one of the tradeoffs with certain brands. From what I've learned, it has a lot to do with the quality of manufacturer these companies have access to overseas. Components matter when it comes to functionality, and inferior factories will cut corners.
When I first tested the Voice Caddie SL1, I was shocked at how fast it displayed the pin yardage. It wasn't a matter of seconds. It felt as though it was instantaneous. As soon as I was done pressing the button, the light vibration had already registered along with all of the screen's yardage information.
The reason why the SL1 is so fast is that it's using its GPS data to filter out the background and hone in on the pin. Because it already knows the green's confines, it can quickly determine the pin's location even in poor lighting conditions. If you don't want to waste time before your shot, this is perhaps the SL1's strongest feature. It's lightning-fast.
On top of that, the viewing lens is extremely sharp and offers plenty of magnification. Voice Caddie states that their margin of error is only 1 yard and touts to accurately measure up to 1,000 yards.
Green Undulation Data
A feature that sets the Voice Caddie SL1 apart from any other product on the market is its green undulation data. On the small LED screen below the lens, you have the option of displaying a thermal image of the green, which shows its undulations. Using satellite imagery, they have been able to map out the slopes of greens. They debuted this functionality on their G1 GPS watch as well, and it's something that no one else has at the moment.
The more red shading represents the highest points of the green, and as you transition to orange, yellow, and blue, you start to see the lowest parts.
My course has tons of false fronts and big changes in slope on the greens. It was interesting to see how the maps represented each green. I found the heat maps to be pretty spot on. You can clearly see the overall slopes of any green and any unexpected trouble awaiting you. For golfers who have trouble identifying the overall slope of a green, particularly when they putt, this can help.
I should note that this feature is not available on every golf course. They are mostly finished adding courses in the USA, and you can search their database to find out what features your course currently has here.
Other Key Considerations
As you would expect, the Voice Caddie SL1 automatically displays yardages based on changes in height (slope adjustment). So whether you are facing an uphill target, or a downhill one, it will calculate how far it will play. You can disable this function for tournaments by changing the settings.
One thing you should know that makes it a little different than most rangefinders is the battery. Usually, you only need to change the batteries on a laser once or twice a year. But since the SL1 uses GPS data, it has an internal battery that needs to be recharged.
If you are only using the laser feature, one charge should last you about 30 days. However, if you want to play with the GPS enabled (most of you will) - the battery should last about 3-4 rounds or about 20 hours.
One of the Best Premium Rangefinders
Voice Caddie has not been traditionally known for its prowess in the premium distance-measurement category. If anything, their line of launch monitors under the Swing Caddie brand (the Sc200+ and SC300) have been their biggest successes to date.
The combination of speed, accuracy, GPS integration, and green mapping data make the Voice Caddie SL1 a very worthy choice in the premium rangefinder category. If you want the latest technology and are willing to pay for it, this product should be strongly considered even though its name has not traditionally carried much weight amongst lasers.
Practical Golf readers can get the lowest price available on the Voice Caddie SL1 Rangefinder using this link.