I am looking to purchase a TT robot. Any suggestion between Butterfly Amicus pro and Robo Pong 2050? Pros and Cons.
I'll take a shot at this. Please keep in mind that I work for Newgy, so of course I am biased. Also I have not used the Amicus Pro yet, but have used the Amicus Basic.
# of wheels--Newgy uses 1 rubber wheel. 1-wheeled robots apply spin similar to a human (1 contact point with ball)--easy to identify what spin is being applied to the ball and motor speed directly translates into amount of spin. This permits the user to determine spin type and amount by looking at robot head and listening to the pitch of the motor. This is visually like watching a player to see what surface of the ball is contacted with the paddle and listening for the contact sound to determine spin amount. The Amicus has 3 foam wheels, and there are no indicators for the user to determine which wheel is spinning, and if more than one wheel is spinning (and there has to be more than one wheel spinning for any spin other than pure underspin), there's also no way to use motor pitch as a gauge to amount of spin.
The 1-wheel design is more limited in its spin/speed range as any increase in motor speed results in a corresponding increase in spin. Therefore it cannot deliver a no-spin shot or high spin/slow speed shots like a slow loop or a short, heavy sidespin/topspin serve that bounces twice on the player's side.
The 3-wheel design does allow for it to deliver no-spin shots. And depending upon whether or not it allows any of its wheels to spin backwards, it may also allow for a much larger spectrum in speed/spin. I've seen posts here that say at least some of the motors do indeed spin backwards and others that say none of them do. If the controls allow for backward spinning, then the full speed/spin spectrum should be available, including slow loops and short topspin/sidespin serves. But if all motors only spin forward then it too will not be able to able to deliver slow loops or short, heavy topspin/sidespin serves.
It will still have an advantage of offering no-spin and probably lighter spin shots, but also at the expense of adding more speed to the ball, so a slow no-spin shot (like a soft anti block) is probably not possible because all 3 wheels would have to be spinning at the exact same rate, and those 3 wheels are all putting speed on the ball, representing more speed than would typically be considered slow
. Perhaps a Amicus Pro user can speak up about this so we can all get clarity on this point.
I've never found the 1-wheel design to be all that limiting as I can practice against a wide range of underspin and topspin shots and I'm skillful enough to be able to adjust my racket angle/stroke angle accordingly. A find it easy to adjust to no-spin balls in actual matches as it is simply a matter of adjusting the angle in between what I would for topspin or underspin. And at least for most of my real matches, I don't encounter dead balls all that often except on serves, so it's not something I would practice against all that often anyways. I can understand that if dead balls are a problem area for a player, they would be attracted to a robot capable of producing no-spin shots, but that personally is not the case for me.
It would be nice to start a drill with an underspin serve and then switch to several topspin rallying shots, but again, I don't find that particularly hard to do in a real match as I can normally read the spin and adjust my angles accordingly. Where I usually go wrong in a match is in reading the spin on the ball and therefore I select the wrong stroke to handle that spin. And all robots, regardless of their design, are not well suited for helping the user read disguised spins--that's something you really need to learn by playing a lot of different players, not on a robot.
The 3-wheel design presents 3 times the number of motors and spinning wheels to maintain and troubleshoot if something goes wrong. With previous iterations of the Amicus, the foam wheels weren't very durable. I do think they've made some improvements to them, and I guess the jury is still out as to their durability simply because there are so few units out there so far and there hasn't been enough time to properly judge their durability. The 2050 has now been available for almost 5 years, is widely distributed, and has a very good durability reputation. Parts are readily obtainable and service centers are knowledgable and well-stocked.
I personally don't care for the way the Amicus determines side-to-side location and up/down trajectory. A metal deflector
plate with thin edges that moves up and down and side to side sits directly in front of the ball ejection tube. Balls come out of the tube, are grabbed by the 3 wheels, and then thrown into the deflector plate, which determines where the ball is thrown on the table and how high. Furthermore, the plate edges are hard to see and therefore I find it difficult to pick up where the ball will go and how high it's going to be.
By contrast, the entire head of Robo-Pong moves side to side and up and down, so that movement is easy to see. It can still change directions faster than I can react to it, so it's not like I can easily get into position if I have the frequency set at a match like pace. It would be nice to be able to change the up/down trajectory during a drill like the Amicus can, but I don't find that to be a deal-breaker.
I think the Newgy digital interface is far easier to use than the multiple buttons, dials, lights, and sliders that the Amicus uses.
The Robo-Pong control box (CB) is similar to the typical pre-smartphone cell phone interface with buttons for up & down, left & right, select/main menu, on/off, start/stop, and special function. Functions are labeled in plain English (or you can switch to one of 5 other languages) in a relatively large, easy to see font.
Amicus pro has 30 buttons, 1 dial, 6 indicator bars, 20 indicator lights, and a 2-digit LED display on a control panel that is roughly 3 times the size of the Newgy CB. It's a lot of information being presented all at once to the user and many of the labels are pretty small and use somewhat esoteric 2 or 3 letter abbreviations (RDM, rdm, Pr). Newgy also uses some abbreviations but we have a bit more space to explain what the abbreviation means (like OSC CALIB) and they're used mainly for calibration functions that are typically set and then not used again for a long time, not functions that are used often during play.
For Drills, Newgy has these separated from our manual controls into a separate menu. Once you select DRILLS, then you merely have to select a drill number, verify that the head angle and Spin are set as described on the CB, then press the Start button. If the drill is too fast or too slow, you can use the WAIT ADJUST function to speed up or slow down the pace to suit your tastes. Same for the ball speed, you can use SPEED ADJUST to increase/decrease ball speed for the drill on an individual basis. You can also preview the ball locations during the drill by pressing the Special Function button and being presented with a table diagram and a series of dots representing the landing spots in that drill. Or simply consult the Drill Diagram pages in the Owner's Manual for the same information.
The CB comes pre-programmed with 64 drills and covers a wide range of drills for all levels of players (beginner, intermediate, advanced, expert) and many different skills to practice (FH/BH transition, front/back footwork, side-to-side footwork, serve return, random placements, etc.). And I think our random controls are better than the Amicus. There are drills where a random number of shots are delivered to one location before switching to another location and throwing a single ball, or throwing one ball to a set location and throwing the next randomly to one of two locations. I don't think Amicus can do either one of these types of drills.
And when it comes to customizing drills, hook your CB up to a PC and Newgy supplies you with free software to write your drills as an easily understandable sequence of steps like SPEED 15>POSITION 10-18 (robot randomly selects position from 10 to 18)>THROW>WAIT 1 (second)>SPEED 12,15 (robot randomly selects speed 12 or speed 15) >POSITION 3>THROW>WAIT 1. And the number of drills you have access to is limited only by the memory on your computer (drill files are tiny). You can send drill files to friends and they can store them on their PC and run them directly from that PC hooked up to their own CB or transfer the drill to their own Robo-Pong CB so the PC isn't needed to run that drill. You can also give that drill file a unique name to help you remember exactly what that drill does (especially handy when you have dozens of drill files). Newgy also makes available a blank Drill Diagram page for you to diagram your custom drills to reference when you trying to figure out which drill to choose when you're ready to play.
With Amicus you have to program each step by manipulating the array of buttons, sliders, and knobs for each ball, then save that sequence of balls as a number. You can save up to 99 such drills, but you only have a number to identify the drill--no descriptive name, no way of transferring those settings to another Amicus other than writing down each step and then manually programming the other Amicus with the exact same settings. And as far as I know, Butterfly does not supply any pre-programmed drills (what do you do if you've never done drills before and have no idea where to start?). They also don't supply a blank drill diagram for you to fill out to help you remember what drill each number is associated with and what happens in that drill.
And of course there is the price. Here in the states, the 2050 is $699 and the Amicus is $2000. You have to decide on the value proposition each offers, but IMO the 2050 is far and away the better value (more bang for the buck). And I just think you'll find it a much easier robot to use and adjust to your liking. The Amicus does seem like a pretty good robot, and it does a few things the Newgy can't, but I don't see those things as being essential for the vast majority of the things that I want to practice.
There's other things, but I need to stop this missive and go practice some on my Robo-Pong 2050!