Butterfly Amicus Review & Comparison
Expert: Kevin James, Last Updated: 09/07/2019
Butterfly is the undisputed leader in the professional table tennis robot category. With its innovative features and advanced tech, the Amicus robots have set a new benchmark, which other manufacturers struggle to match.
First launched way back in 2011, the robot has undergone a series of improvements over the years, getting better with each iteration.
The Latest Update:
The Butterfly recently updated the whole Amicus robot lineup.
The older models - Basic, Advance and Professional have been phased out and are replaced with Start, Expert and Prime respectively.
The update includes the complete revamp of the electrical unit and improvement in the ball feed mechanism. In the earlier versions, the electrical and the controller unit were fused in a single box and placed on the player's end. This increased the overall latency and response of the robot.
In the latest version, the electrical power unit is placed at the base of the ball feeder unit. Besides the hardware update, the software has also been updated and additional features are added for better ball handling.
So, which model should you choose?
Currently, the lineup includes: Prime - $2,179, Expert - $1,829.99, and Start - $1,279.99.
But which model should you go for? We get this question quite often.
In this post we'll compare each of the model head to head, discussing in details about the features/improvements offered and finally help you decide which model to go for.
First, let's start by reviewing the common features of all three robots.
Avoid - Basic features, limited programming, not suitable for serious training
Value Pick - Fine balance of price and features, programmable with storage, suitable for serious training
Pro Pick - Digitally controllable, programmable with unlimited storage.
Besides the wireless control, Prime is technically similar to Expert in the rest of the aspects.
Mechanically all the three variants are similar, which includes the head, deflector plate, catch net and the ball feeder.
- Head design: The same 3-wheel head powers all the three variants. The wheels can rotate independently in both forward and backward direction, thus producing virtually all types of spins - No-spin, topspin, backspin, left sidespin and right sidespin.
The 3-wheel head is better than the 2-wheel head as the system can produce all types of spin without needing to rotate the head manually.
- Deflector plate – The robot uses a small, lightweight deflector plate system to quickly and accurately place the ball. This system is better than the full head rotating mechanism which puts undue pressure on the mechanical parts over the long run.
However, there is a slight downside to this mechanism. Due to the ball colliding with the plate, the corner balls carry noticeable sidespin.
- Mounting mechanism: All the models, mount at the center of the table using a U-clamp.
- Ball feeder/recycling mechanism: All three-variants use same trademark ball feeding mechanism.
- Catch Net
- 4-step height adjustment
- Wireless IR remote to start/pause a drill or increase of decrease the frequency
- Carrying bag
Recommended products to buy along:
- Balls: Butterfly Training 40+ (120 qty)
The primary difference in the robots lies in the control unit and the programming options. Now, let's compare each robot with one another and highlight the differences between them.
Amicus Start (Avoid but why?)
The Amicus Start is the basic model in the line-up. It comes with an easy to use and operate - wired analogue controller. However, on the functionality aspect, the robot is quite limited.
The biggest downside is the lack of an option to save custom drills and limited programming capability.
By default, the robot does not come with any pre-programmed drills and neither you can store drills in the robot memory.
All you can do is program a maximum 6-ball drill with no option to change the speed, spin and trajectory of the individual balls in the drill. Only the ball placement is adjustable for the individual shots. However, you can use random mode for scattering and random ball placement.
Limited customization and no option to save the drills are quite a deal breaker. We don't think going for Amicus Start would be the right choice at all.
Amicus Expert Vs Prime
So ultimately the selection boils down to either the Expert or the Prime.
The Amicus Expert is right in the middle, offering a great balance between price and performance. It covers all the shortcomings of the predecessor - Amicus Start, providing the ability custom program and store drills.
The Expert comes pre-loaded with 20 professionally designed drills of varying difficulty level. You can program a maximum of 7 shots per drill with the ability to adjust speed, spin, height and position of each shot. Up to 99 drills can be designed and stored in the robot memory.
The scatter and random-ball placement feature adds the randomness and unpredictability in the drills. Lastly, the Automatic frequency control (ACF) feature adjusts the ball release timing based on the previous ball type.
Programming the robot is also straightforward and can be done using the wired controller.
Coming to Amicus Prime:
The major difference is that the Amicus Prime is all digital and wireless. It comes with an Android tablet which lets you control all the ball parameters digitally using the app. It also offers more programming and customization options like the ability to adjust the timing between shots. You can program up to 10 shots per drill while you can do only 7 shorts/drill in the Expert. Prime features unlimited storage for saving the drills while in the Expert, you can only save up to 99 drills. Also, considering it is digitally controlled using the Android tablet, the overall interface is user-friendly.
To summarize: The Amicus Prime is all-digital and controllable via the Android tablet while the Expert uses an analogue controller. The additional features offered in the Prime are a marginal improvement which you may actually never use, and I personally don't consider them a colossal value addition.
Finally, Which Model Should You Choose?
The Amicus Expert packs in all the essential features which you'd actually use. For this very reason, I feel Amicus Expert offers the best overall value, and I highly recommend going for it.
Go for Amicus Prime, if all digital and wireless control is crucial to you and you don't mind spending extra $350.
Amicus Start does not offer enough features for serious training and should be avoided.
Where to Buy?
The Amicus robots are available online across major e-commerce sites. You can order the robot on Megaspin, Amazon or on the official Butterfly website.
Tip: Confused which robot to buy? Check our table tennis robot buyer's guide.