Author: Kevin James, 05/06/2019
Hello folks, today we'll be taking an in-depth look at a relatively new table tennis robot that has hit the market - Its called the TenniRobo. For the past couple of months, I have been receiving a number of emails asking me about the feedback of this robot. And I thought it's best to come out with a public review about the product.
As I personally own a Butterfly Amicus Expert and have tried most of the Newgy robots, I would say I have a decent understanding how these robots work and perform. While I have not personally tried the Tennirobo, I reached out to the product owner - Sergey Vasyliev for a detailed overview of the robot. And this review is based on my understanding and inputs from the owner.
Disclaimer: I or anyone from PingPongBros team have not received any compensation for this review.
TenniRobo is an excellent table tennis robot which can help you practice almost all types of strokes and comes at a fraction of the price of its competitors - recommended for all types of players from beginners to advance.
Tennirobo 180 ball version comes at a very competitive price of $690 + plus shipping + customs duty (if any). Typically shipping costs anywhere from $30 to $70.
Custom duty varies from country to country. However, for US/Australia, no custom duty is applicable as the product costs less than the minimal custom duty threshold.
Tennirobo is a well-designed machine with outstanding features. The robot lets you practice wide array of strokes which none of the other robot offers. While at the same time, the performance of the robot is top notch.
It comes with fully programmable digital controls and you can operate it wirelessly using a smartphone or an IR remote.
I feel very confident in recommending this product.
How to Order
As the product ships from Ukraine and customers may choose different types of shipping, there is no option of direct checkout as of now.
To place an order, you need to contact the owner over email, FB or the official website.
Accepted payment mode: Paypal
Table Tennis Robots - Overview
If you have been playing table tennis for quite some time, you would definitely be aware of the table tennis robots. You might have seen them at your local club or at your table tennis enthusiast friends home.
While there is no doubt that these robots can help you improve various aspects of your game but what puzzles me is there are only a handful manufacturers who make them. Some of the prominent ones are Butterfly, Newgy, Oukeie, iPong, and Huipang.
The companies lack innovation and most of the technology they use is quite old. And the worst part is they are priced at quite a premium compared to the features they offer.
When Butterfly Amicus was first launched in 2012, it felt like the product was light years ahead of its time. Such a well-built machine, state of the art ball feeding mechanism but over the years I think the development has plateaued while none of the competition has tried to catch up.
As a buyer, you only have a couple of choices, but that's about to change.
TenniRobo - A game-changer Table Tennis Robot?
"Necessity is the mother of invention" - Well this quote definitely holds true here.
Sergey Vasyliev, the inventor of TenniRobo came up with the idea back in 2013. Back then, he was looking to buy a table tennis robot as he could not find a training partner to play along. But most of the robots available in the market were either too limited in functionality or were too expensive. Sergey sensed an opportunity here and developed a commercial table tennis robot which addresses these limitations.
The pain points he was trying to solve were:
As per Sergey, the main goal of was to build an affordable, portable yet a professional level table tennis robot which can even simulate human-like shots. Only a few of the top of the line robots can do that but they are either too expensive or too cumbersome to set up.
While it makes sense for professional and advance level players to go for the high-end robots but recreational, intermediate level and garage players don’t have a choice other than buying an expensive top-level robot. The cheap robots lack enough functionality and one cannot seriously train on them.
The ultimate goal was to build a compact lightweight and portable professional robot which players could put in a backpack and bring in for training.
TenniRobo - Right in the middle
While most of the professional robots in the market costs around $1500 to $2000 and the sub $300 beginner/recreational robots are too weak for any serious play. For a garage player owning a professional robot can be a distant dream while for clubs, owning multiple robots would be a costly exercise.
And this is where TenniRobo comes in.
Priced strategically at $690, the robot is designed to cater the needs of both recreational and advance players. With its ALL digitally programmable control (Speed/Spin/Placement), the robot can be programmed to meet the training needs of all types of players.
Features & Key Differentiators
Let’s take an in-depth look at the various features offered by the robot:
The main features:
- 3-wheel head powered by powerful perpetual brushless motors
- Bluetooth control from a mobile app (IOS and Android)
- Can store up to 5 drills (80 shots each) in its memory.
- Run programmed drills even without a smartphone – Any IR remote like TV or AC remote works
- Digital control over every ball parameter – speed, spin, angle
- Can imitate a wide range of serves including the corkscrew serves
- Ball spin from 0 to >20000 rpm
- Can generate any spin (top/back/ any side) and no-spin
- Can quickly spin direction
- Can throw balls at speed up to 90 km/hr (55 mph)
- Time interval between shots from 0.5sec to 25 sec – you can change the time with 0.1 sec step (0.5sec; 0.6sec, 0.7sec, … 25.0sec)
- Independent settings for each shot in the drill (spin, spin angle, speed, trajectory, delay before the shot)
- Head rotation angle ranges from + 42° / -20° in the vertical plane, and + 23° / -23° in the horizontal plane
- Can be placed anywhere - on the table or away from the table
- Weight 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) — For 180 balls version including power supply unit
Now, let’s analyze the positive and negative aspect of the robot.
Simplicity of Design
The first thing you notice when you look at Tennirobo – Damn it looks so simple. Basically, there are three motors, a couple of servos, an electric control unit, basket and a power unit - no complex linkages or coverings.
For DIY users, you can very much service the robot on your own if required.
The three-wheel head adds the capability to add side spin on the ball.
The 3-wheel is system is better than the 2-wheel. The 2-wheel robots can generate only top and backspin and to achieve side-spin, you need to rotate the robot head manually. This limits the capability of the 2-wheel robot to just one type of spin at a time.
Low time gap between consecutive shots
At its fastest setting, the robot can throw up to 100 to 110 balls at you per minute. That’s about 0.5 sec for each ball release. In real-world scenarios, a typical ball return takes about 0.9 to 1.2 secs.
Change in Spin Direction
The change of spin direction is a feature which only two robots other than Tennirobo offers – Butterfly Amicus and Newgy 3050 XL.
To change the spin direction, the motors need to be quickly reversed. But reversing the motors is not an easy task as it requires quite a bit of electrical adjustments and results in a time delay.
Considering the motors in Tennirobo rotates at 9300rpm at max speed, there can be three cases:
- Reversing motor from max speed to min speed or vice versa - maximum time delay of 2.5 sec
- Reversing motor from mid-speed to counter mid speed or vice versa - minimum time delay interval is about 1.5 sec (it’s a typical interval between balls in table tennis)
- Without reversing any motor - minimum time interval is about 0.5 sec
Currently, all the professional table tennis robots available in the market are mounted at the center edge of the table. In a few robots, the option to adjust the height is provided. This limits the type of shots you can practice on these robots.
But Tennirobo was built in portability in mind. It mounts on any standard tripod and can be placed literally at any location – on the table, side of the table, away from the table, etc. This helps you practice all forms of gameplay – long distance, close to the table, lobs, side of the table, etc.
This is one area where Tennirobo clearly outscores. You can program the robot to do a wide variety of serves – corkscrew, long serve with side spin, short serve with heavy spin etc are all possible.
Programming & Customization
Tennirobo allows you to program all ball parameters for each stroke in a drill – speed, spin, angle, time, trajectory, and location. You can store up to 5 drills in the memory. Each drill can have up to 80 different strokes.
The robot can be controlled and programmed using any Android / iOS phone. You can also use the app to design and store the drill.
True Digital Controls
You can set the speed and spin precisely to exact number you want. You can choose the speed up to 90km/hr and spin upto 20,000 rpm.
No pre-loaded drills
So by default, the robot does not come with any pre-loaded drills. But there is a reason for this. Being a portable robot, there is no fixed location where the robot is mounted. Hence coming up with a standard drill is not possible, at least for now.
As per Sergey, soon he would be introducing drills for standard locations.
No Auto Feed
I think this is one of the biggest demerits of the product. Due to its portable nature, it does not come with an auto ball feed mechanism. This makes it quite cumbersome to collect the balls after every drill. However, you can use any standard catch net to collect the balls.
Here is an example of someone doing it:
Here is another innovative product that can help you pick the ball with ease:
Built by a one-person army, it’s quite an obvious question - how would the warranty and support be handled. I asked Sergey the same question.
As per him, the product comes with a one-year standard warranty against manufacturing defects. Beyond the warranty period, individual parts can be ordered.
TenniRobo vs the others
So now the real question, how does Tennirobo performs compared to other robots. I think, feature-wise there are only two major competitors – Butterfly Amicus Prime (1700$) and Newgy 3050 XL ($2000). Both have them almost similar features compared to Tennirobo.
Let’s discuss each of the robots individually:
Butterfly Amicus Expert – I have two of these robots in my club. It’s a beast machine, quite reliable and helps you practice various aspects of the game.
Both of the robots – Tennirobo and Amicus are 3-wheeled, programmable, accurate and facilitate competitive practice.
However, there are a few limitations of Butterfly Amicus:
- It uses a deflector plate system for ball placement. While it’s an innovative feature but it makes it difficult to guess where the ball is going to come next and at higher speed, it's even more difficult to make out the direction. Secondly, due to the deflector place, the wide balls come with some side spin.
- Amicus expert does not come with wireless Bluetooth control while Tennirobo does.
- It's costly
On the positive side, Amicus is faster, more accurate and offers quite a bit of extra features. It also comes with an auto recycling system and is preloaded with a good number of drills.
No doubt, Butterfly Amicus is a better machine in comparison to Tennirobo. If you've a budget you should definitely get an Amicus.
But considering Tennirobo costs less than half of the price of the Amicus, I feel Tennirobo offers better value.
Newgy Robo-Pong 3050 XL – This newly introduced robot from Newgy features a two-wheel rotatable head. As the head physically rotates, it offers more variety of spin.
However, there are few limitations of Robo Pong 3050 XL:
- As the head physically rotates, the accuracy is on the lower end
- Time delay between spin change is quite high
- The app is still buggy and needs improvements
On this positive side, the robot comes with a good number of drills and auto recycling system. And the customer support is quite friendly and warranty support is excellent.
Tennirobo is priced about 1/3rd the price of Newgy and offers a better overall value.
Who is it for?
Whether you're a casual player or an advance player, Tennirobo can adapt to suit your needs. The robot is highly versatile and can be programmed to emulate most of the strokes.
However, if you plan to get this robot for your home, make sure you buy a catch net otherwise you will have a tough time picking up the balls.
The main advantage of the product is human-like shots, simple intuitive control from the mobile app via Bluetooth, and independent regulation of ball's speed/spin/angle/time/trajectory parameters for each shot (only a few robots have this ability). It can simulate any ball's behaviour, that exists in modern table tennis.
Moreover, the user can design various drills with custom shot selection. TenniRobo digitally controls these parameters (for example spin is measured in real rotations-per-minute, speed in km/hr), so owners of the robot can also share their personally made shots via the application.
Built by a small startup, TenniRobo is evolving and getting better with each version. Also being a small company, they can rapidly implement new features based on customers feedback.
Currently, Tennirobo retails for about $690 plus shipping. I think you will be hard pressed to find any better table tennis robot at this price range. I highly recommend this product.