I recently got a YinHe N-8, and the more I mess around with it the more I believe that this blade is a hidden gem. It's not perfect, but it's very fun to play with.
The YinHe N-8 is part of YinHe's budget/beginner line of blades, AKA the N-series. Other popular blades from the N-series are the N-9, N-10 and N-11. I'm currently in possession of both an N-9 and an N-10 and have owned an N-7 and an N-3, and they have been very good blades in terms of quality versus their crazy cheap price.
I also got the N-8 because blue is my favourite colour.
The handles are one of my favourite things about the N-series. They are smooth and hard to the touch, lacking the rough/soggy feeling of some STIGA blades I've owned. They are slightly on the skinnier side of the spectrum, but they more than make up for it by having comfortable overall dimensions (and also being thick, which is mostly due to the blades themselves being thick.)
The dimensions of the N-series are around, say, Korbel size. Think like 158mm tall by 151mm wide. But whereas the Korbel suffers from having a handle that's way too small for big sized hands and too thin for normal sized hands, the N-series have round, beefy handles that you can slip your fingers around and just play. (To note, I've only played with the N-7 and the N-10 in straight handles, the rest being flared.)
In terms of construction, the N-series are all pretty thick- usually around 6.0-8.0mm. This has been my main issue with the N-series, as many times I've tried playing with an N-series blade they just feel too thick. Thick wood blades can feel good, but you need the right woods in the right thicknesses to balance out the characteristics of the wood versus the thickness of the blade.
I thought the N-3 was a terrible blade because it was too soft to feel stable when hitting at lower speeds, despite being as thick as a Gergely. Very soggy ball feel, yet no acceptable amount of dwell that usually accompanies soft feeling blades.
The N-10 was better than the N-3 in most aspects, but I still felt as though it had periods where it felt like it didn't know how to handle the incoming ball- should the surface cave first or should the blade bend first? It was a fine blade for allround stuff, but it didn't feel like a blade that wanted to do anything- too stiff and thick to loop well, too soft and not stiff enough to drive. Although now that I think about it, this might be a blade that pairs well with antispin.
The N-7 has koto outer plies but it just felt like an N-3, just hard. In fact, I felt even more uncomfortable trying to play with the N-7 because it was hard and thick but still with no real backbone. It felt too hard and uncomfortable no matter how I tried playing with it.
The N-9 was way too fast and too hard for me to use, but I can see why people appreciate it. It takes the hardness of the N-7 and combines it with a high level of stiffness. If you want an A. Mazunov but don't wanna drop all that much money on a blade (and also don't mind cheap feeling blades) than the N-9 is your blade.
Now, the N-8 is the real standout to me. It's got a classic/tried and true construction of koto over spruce, built on some cheap soft wood. The koto is thin (like it should be), the spruce is still kinda thin but it gives it the softer and sweeter ball impact you want, but the core is thicker than conventional koto/spruce blades which gives it the bending resistance that blades such as XIOM's Fuga and DHS' Hurricane King lack when hitting hard. Of course the thickness of the blade makes it more difficult to loop with than the Fuga and HK, but that's not what you would want to buy an N-8 for.
What you want the N-8 for is it's ability to hit, hit, hit. Man, this thing feels like it was made for short pips and raw smacking. It's got a sharper ball impact than a Clipper due to it's koto outers, it's thick but not terribly stiff because it's 5-ply, and it's also got a bit of spring effect due to the elasticity of the spruce. I've got a red 802 Mystery III in 2.0 on the backhand and I feel like I can slap the ball hard with minimal effort while still maintaining control over placement. Countering is excellent because this blade has a good amount of low impact bending resistance while maintaining some soft elasticity, so you can comfortably add your own speed to the ball as well as use the speed of the opponent's shot. Short game, touch play and thin ball contact is not this blade's strong point, but it's passable.
The thing about the N-8 is that it's a fast blade, but it's slow enough to remain enjoyable to use. I didn't have fun with the overly hard N-9 because it felt like I was playing with a cast-iron skillet.
I think this blade might be a bit similar to the H-WL, but I've never used it so I can't tell. I have used the H-WN, though, and I think the N-8 is a much better blade than the H-WN.
That's what the N-8 is, a fun version of the H-WN. The H-WN gives off an impression of a strict mom who punishes you if you don't do everything just the way she pleases, and even when you do follow her instructions to a T she still tells you you're not doing it right.
The N-8 is fast and stiff yes, and it's most definitely too fast for me to fully control, but it wants you to have fun. It urges you to just smack the ball whenever and wherever, winning or losing doesn't really matter as long as you can hit the ball fast and flat.
In terms of rubber, short pips are amazing. Haven't tried medium or long pips, but it might be good for LP blocking and hitting. Dunno about anti, I've never been able to do anything with anti so I couldn't say. Inverted rubbers; be careful of soft sponges because they bottom out very easily on this blade, but I suppose a soft high-tension rubber might work better. Hard, sticky Chinese rubbers are okay, but I'm much preferring a medium-medium hard non-tacky rubber like Sriver. You don't need a very fast rubber because the blade is fast enough as it is.
Sweden Extra ST
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."