Review: FlightScope mevo

January 9, 2020

Launched in March 2017, the FlightScope mevo isn’t exactly a new piece of technology — so why are we doing a review on a two-year-old gadget? Relatively inexpensive portable launch monitors are becoming a more and more common thing, but the mevo is still one of the top contenders out there as far as marketing and buzz. That right there means there are still plenty of people considering buying one. In addition, we eventually want to have a review of all the portable launch monitors for comparison, so we have to start somewhere!

Before we get into the details, let’s take a look at the mevo’s roots.

FlightScope’s CEO Henri Johnson originally started EDH in 1989, a company that focused on developing radar to measure projectiles for the defense industry. According to EDH’s site, the technology was and is used for “operational defense force units, test ranges and facilities, weapon manufacturers, ammunition manufacturers, forensic test organizations, and weapon system integrators.” In the 90s, they started using their radar technology to develop applications for cricket to measure bowling speeds, which was their first foray into the sports world. Following that, they moved into the realm of tennis and finally in 2000, started developing the FlightScope technology to be used in golf.

Their first venture was working with an indoor golf simulator company, but in 2002 they started developing an outdoor range application. At the 2004 PGA Merchandise Show, the first FlightScope made its debut. A decade later, FlightScope continued to push the envelope and started the development of a small, portable launch monitor — the FlightScope mevo. On March 1st, 2017, the mevo was released for sale for a relatively modest1 price of $499.

Online hype started to grow that a fully functional launch monitor about the size of a deck of playing cards was available. At the time, the closest competitor for a portable launch monitor was the Voice Caddie SC200. A follow up to the SC100, it sported a few new features, though it still fell short of providing all the data that a full-blown, expensive launch monitor system could provide.

The FlightScope mevo promised to do just that.

Product Reviewed: FlightScope mevo

  • MSRP: $499
  • Launch Date: March 1st, 2017

I knew the mevo was small, but I was not prepared for how little the box was once it arrived. My initial thought was somewhere along the lines of I paid $500 for this tiny thing? — though that was quickly replaced with I can’t believe something that does all it claims to do is so compact!

Inside the box is the mevo, a (very short) mini-USB charging cable, two sheets of 54 metallic dot stickers (108 total), a carrying pouch, a quick start guide and a full manual.

For what seems to be a complicated, feature-rich device there are blissfully few things you actually have to touch the device for. A single on/off button and five indicator lights is all the interaction that you have, the rest is handled in the FlightScope app. There is of course a mini-USB charging port, a kickstand that opens and closes for more compact storage and inexplicably, a tripod mount on the bottom. I’m not exactly sure why this is there, as the manual very specifically states the mevo needs to be level with your launch position. My only guess at what it could be used for is if you’re hitting somewhere there is a slope immediately behind the ball. Then I guess if you don’t have flat ground at least four feet behind you, a tripod could be used to get it level with your golf ball.

There are five indicator lights on the upper left that tell you (from left to right) the radar status, charging status, and the final three lights act as both a battery charge indicator along with a Bluetooth connection status. Having used many Bluetooth devices over the years, it was somewhat surprising that I didn’t have to fiddle around with the power button — pushing and holding it to put it in pairing mode and then selecting it from the list of devices on my phone — it just automatically connected once I turned it on.

The manual tells you to set up the device four to seven feet directly behind and level with your launch position. Another feature the mevo has to help with that — and another thing not mentioned in the manual — is the pistol-style iron sights2 for you to be able to quickly and easily aim the mevo at your ball. All of this is very important, but more on that later.

One thing to note, to get accurate ball spin statistics, there are little aluminum dot stickers that you need to place on your ball. These are only suggested for indoor use if you want to gather the ball spin stats, but is said to not be needed for outdoor use. Later on, I will compare outdoor range statistics both with and without the stickers to see how they affect accuracy. There are 108 stickers that come in the box, but you can order 1000 stickers from FlightScope for $30. If these are really necessary to get accurate range settings, that can quickly add up, not to mention I doubt the course would appreciate you putting a bunch of little stickers all over their range balls.

Use With a Practice Net

The first time I set this up, I went to my backyard just to get in some initial use. I measured out the suggested six feet behind my practice mat, and placed the net the suggested eight feet in front of me.3 With the app open and the mevo connected, I set the Radar Settings to Indoor mode, which is suggested for ball flights of 40 yards or less. Some of the many user-controlled settings include distance to the tee (if you have limited indoor space behind the tee); data capture only; video and data capture; and the display settings.

Clicking on display settings, I chose the six-block layout, which irked me a bit considering the mevo captures eight data points. The positive side of this is you can choose anywhere between one and six blocks, and then move the data blocks into whatever order you prefer. I did check the app on an iPad as well to make sure that it wasn’t a screen size constraint, but it only allows you to choose up to six data blocks as well.

Once I had all the settings like I wanted, I put my phone on a tripod in front of my practice mat where I had a nice clear view of what would turn out to be some very humbling statistics. Please note: I have never claimed to be a great golfer. I have never had my swing professionally analyzed, but I am all too aware of the fact that I do not swing a club fast enough for stiff shafts. My first few swings with the mevo verified that fact with cold hard data. After a few warm-up swings I was hitting balls and getting data spit back at me instantly. Starting with my driver, I hit a dozen shots and had a low swing speed of 81.8 mph, a surprising high of 99.3 mph, while my average settled right where I expected it to be at 89.5 mph. Five of these shots didn’t register Club Speed or Smash, so overall it wasn’t a ton of data to work with yet. The most fun piece of data I gathered were the two shots I got completely under, with a NASA worthy launch angle of 37 degrees. These mishits very understandably shot up past my net and into space itself, or perhaps just into the woods behind my house, I couldn’t tell.

Indoor Hitting Bay

Not happy with the uneven ground I was standing on in my backyard and wanting to compare the mevo’s data to a high-end launch monitor, I headed to the closest place with an indoor hitting bay, the PGA Superstore. I actually called around to see if I could find a place that used one of the full-size FlightScope monitors, but everybody used Foresight Sports GC2 monitors. Perhaps this will be more of an apples to oranges comparison since Foresight uses camera technology and not radar. I still figured the data would be accurate enough with a $10,000 device that we could see how something 1/20th of the price compared.

So I could get a range of data, I used a driver, 4-iron, 6-iron and a 9-iron and hit 20 shots with each. This might have been a little ambitious, as by the 50th or so shot I was getting pretty tired, but I soldiered on. While my personal numbers weren’t stellar — not that I was expecting them to be — the mevo’s numbers were pretty impressive, as most of them were quite close to what I was seeing from the Foresight readout.

Once I was done with all 80 shots I emailed myself an export of the Foresight data, downloaded my mevo data from myflightscope.com, then combined it all into a spreadsheet. It took me a little while to figure out how to do an accurate and informative comparison, mostly because it’s been nearly 15 years since I took Probability and Statistics and math is not my day job. In the end, I decided I would keep it fairly simple by taking the difference between the Foresight reading and the FlightScope reading for each shot, then averaging it for each data point and club.

What I ended up with was this (Google Docs link), which you can view if you would like to see the full spreadsheet with all my mediocre swing ability laid out in bare data form. If you would like a summary because raw data doesn’t excite you, read on. A few quick notes: there were 11 swings that the mevo didn’t register. Since I’m not savvy enough with Excel to figure out how to ignore #NULL cells in an average formula, I just moved those to the bottom. There were also a handful of swings where Foresight registered the data point as 0, and since you can’t divide by 0, I just deleted those data points out of the averaging.

Overall it seemed the shots from my 9-iron were the closest in readings, and having started out with that, it could potentially be explained by me being fresh and hitting cleaner shots. That might not be the case however since the closest readings for Backspin and Club Speed were from my driver, which I hit last. A low backspin from the driver and the low Carry from the 9-iron could be explained by the fact that overall, the average numbers were lower from those clubs, which would give us less of a difference. Again, this might be better suited to a mathematician, which again, I am not.

Outdoor Use

After testing it with a net and an indoor hitting bay, the final test was to see how it did outdoors. The first stop was my local driving range and I brought with me the same clubs I used indoors to keep it consistent. Also, to see how accurate the ball spin was without the metallic stickers, I hit 10 shots with them affixed to the golf balls and 10 shots without.

Remember how I said the mevo is very particular about how and where it’s placed behind your ball? If you’re at a range with real grass and using an iron,4 you will probably be shifting back a few inches every shot. This seemed to cause the mevo to miss a number of shots. I didn’t get an exact count, but I hit between 40-50 balls with my 9 and 6-iron, and only 23 of those hits registered. Since I wanted to make sure I had enough left to test the spin rate, I skipped the 4-iron and moved on to my driver. With a teed-up ball, I was able to keep it in a much more static position and didn’t have nearly the same amount of trouble with the mevo reading my shots.

Getting back home and analyzing the data from my range session, the iron shots it did capture seemed to match up with my indoor session. The distances themselves also matched up fairly close to where I was seeing my ball land on the range. Taking a look specifically at the driver and the backspin rate, I was very pleased to see that the metallic dots appeared to not be necessary at all for an accurate reading, just as the manual suggested. The average for all my driver shots was 2740 RPM, with the ones using a metallic dot averaging 2723 and no dot averaging 2750. With only 22 shots to go off of, it appears the shot readings with a metallic dot trend a little lower, while the no dot shots read slightly higher. Overall though it’s less than a 1% difference either way off the average, which is quite impressive.

Random Notes

  • Literally, as I was editing this review to go up, I saw FlightScope had posted a teaser for what looks like an updated mevo on their Instagram and Twitter accounts. You can see our news story here.
  • The mevo does not like really bad hits. If you’re swinging tired and just chunk the shot 10 feet in front of you, it’s a 50/50 chance that the mevo will read that. Overall though, this isn’t a big deal since you don’t need a $500 device to tell you that your terrible shot was terrible.
  • There is also an option in the app to capture video alongside your data. I wanted to focus more on the accuracy and data aspect of the mevo, but I would be remiss if I did not mention this functionality.
  • On their website, the manual and the device itself mevo is spelled using a lowercase m. On the mobile app, it’s spelled with an uppercase M. Not that this matters, but it was just a curiosity I noticed.
  • There are many different types of launch monitors used in indoor simulators. FlightScope uses radar, though simulator mats, sonic systems, optical sensors and camera systems all exist with varying levels of accuracy. Outdoor launch monitors typically used for range training and PGA Tour events to track ball flights are radar-based systems.
  • On Wikipedia’s page for South African inventions and discoveries, FlightScope is mentioned as one of the notable inventions of 1980-2000.
  • TrackMan, who also make launch monitors, is another company that got its start in ballistics tracking, though it was much later than FlightScope with its founding in 2003.
  • I could see the portability of this being easy to bring with you on a round, though I would probably end up tying a six-foot length of string to the device for quick and easy placement behind my ball. Pacing off six feet every shot seems like it would take up a lot of time and slow down the pace of play.
  • There are a couple of options for portable launch monitors within this price range. Direct competitors include the Voice Caddie SC300 ($549.99), the more recently released Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor ($499.99) and the Garmin Approach G80 ($499.99).
  • Mobile device used for testing: iPhone 11 Max, iOS 13
  • App version: FlightScope mevo 1.5.1
  • The FlightScope mevo for this review was purchased by The Golden Ferret.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a portable launch monitor, chances are the FlightScope mevo is going to be on your radar.5 Numbers-wise, it is comparable to a much more expensive launch monitor, with the added benefit of being able to fit in your pocket. That data can be very helpful for identifying flaws or weak points with your swing, allowing you to focus on specific improvements. While some numbers like Backspin and Club Speed did seem to vary more, without additional6 data I can’t say if the error was on Foresight or FlightScope’s side. More important numbers like ball speed and carry were quite close to each other, and in a range setting with distance markers, visually it appeared to be quite accurate. The fact that the placement of the device can cause issues with reading a shot is slightly annoying if you’re hitting off real grass, but hitting off a mat, using a teed-up ball, or single-shot situations like on the course would be less of an issue. Price is a bit of an entry barrier too, even if it is 1/20th of full-sized launch monitors. At $500, it’s certainly not something everybody is going to rush out and buy. For that much money you can get a really nice set of used clubs or for a $20 green fee, play 25 rounds of golf. However, if you have the money (or a group of trustworthy friends to split the bill with) and you’re looking for a device to get a bunch of data about your swing and ball hitting abilities, the mevo is certainly a solid choice.


Scoring

Appearance: 100
Build Quality: 100
Value: 85
Ease of Use: 85
Performance: 90

Overall: 90