When I first saw the Tobu Kickstarter campaign, I was pretty excited. I love the potential that GPS discs have. For me, the most frustrating part of disc golf is spending time trying to find your discs. If a “lost disc” can be more easily found, I’m all about that.
This disc arrived at the perfect time as I was able to test and use it while we were exploring potential layouts for a new disc golf course in a heavily overgrown area. While there were many discs lost in the thick brush and weeds of this potential new course, the Charge was not one of them thanks to the GPS technology.
While I am a big fan of the Tobu Charge in theory, the actual performance of the Kickstarter version of the Charge leaves something to be desired.
My first issue with the Charge is with the actual flight of the disc itself. This is a moderately overstable fairway driver that I really struggled to get any distance out of when throwing backhand. A disc with the Charge’s stability could have a place in my bag, as a utility disc, but it is too overstable to use as an every throw type disc — which is exactly what I used it for on my extremely overgrown course. For forehand throws, the Charge actually performed pretty well for me. I’m not sure if the bulky GPS and battery pack attached to the underside of the disc has a negative effect on disc glide, but the Charge didn’t ever get quite as much distance as I though I should be able to get from it.
Tobu has a mobile app completely dedicated for use of the Tobu discs. The app is still in it’s infancy and right now it has a lot to be desired before I’d consider using it as my score keeping app. The biggest initial downfall of the app is that it does not include any of my local courses. It does have some nice features like the ability to measure shots and map out courses. After playing around with the app for a little while and finding nothing about it that would be more beneficial to me than UDisc, my only real use for it is activating the Radar screen to find lost discs.
Not only is there a Radar screen on the app that gives you an approximate distance too your disc, but there is also a button where you can activate a beeping sound. This is a great feature, but the actual beeping noise emitted is pretty pathetic. When outside of about 20 feet it is almost inaduible. Even once you are within hearing range of the beep, it is hard to pinpoint the actual location of the disc. If you’re looking to find discs based soley off of the beeping sound, the Disc Beeper is a much better finding solution.
Another issue I had with the charge is its battery life. When I went to use it for the second time, the battery was already dead. I replaced it with another battery which lasted a little longer, but still probably only worked for five rounds of use over a one month period. While 3V batteries can be relatively cheap, the last thing you want when you pull out your “easy to find” disc is for the very feature that makes it “easy to find” to not work on those risky blind shots in thick vegetation.
Through conversation with Tobu, it sounds like they are working to remedy the issues with the initial release. They have also released a new, more understable disc, the Kyng Roller which will likely provide a much better option for newer disc golfers looking for an all purpose GPS disc.