As you know, my good ‘ol Yonex Cab 9 racket broke a few months back and i was then looking for a replacement racket. For normal avid badminton players, it’s only natural for most of us to have at least 2 rackets with one to be used as a spare. Having said that, i wanted my replacement racket to be as closed as possible to my Cab 9 which is overall heavy as well as balance shifted to head heavy. I am a power player, relying a lot on hard attacking smashes as my forte to win points, so that explains my preference towards head heavy rackets. So i took a look on models available from current lineup of Yonext rackets and gosh, i bet you will be having a hard time deciding on which model to choose from. So to cut the story short, my AT700 purchase was decided based on two factors: (1) Recommendation by a fellow badminton kaki and based on his feedback that AT700 will be good for me, and (2) I found a Yonex racket selection chart and as you can see below, AT700 was at the 2nd top most position under the ‘Smash Player’ quadrant. (And it’s the top pick if you’re playing doubles)
So having use the racket for about more than a month now, i think i’m ready to provide some review on the racket. All opinions are strictly based on personal experience only.
Cost: First of all, i am very sure that when it comes to buying something, we will definitely look at the price first and since AT700 is considered as one of the high end models from Yonex, it’s not really cheap. I’ve searched and surveyed from a few shops around Penang and the cheapest price quoted to me was around RM550. Eventually, my friend offered his help to buy from a shop at Perak and the cost is RM490, although it comes with Yonex BG-68 Titanum strings. As you can see, it’s not really cheap (at least to me la) and with great price tag, comes greater expectation, heh! I was a bit reluctant initially to purchase a racket this expensive but taking cue from my past experience, i’ve decided to just go ahead and try it out. My previous purchase of Pro Ace racket, costing me RM270 but did not really meet my expectation, so with this, i’m prepared to splash the moo-lah just for this time. By the way, there’s also another option to buy entry level Armortec, which is AT250 @ RM180 price tag but with very limited review/feedbacks available, i decided not to buy this one.
Looks/Build quality: When i first got hold of this racket, my initial impression was like ‘Ok, not bad at all’. I really like the feel of the weight and as expected, it’s head heavy but it’s definitely not the heaviest racket around. In terms of build quality, it looks solid as well but actually most of the rackets above RM200 are pretty solid nowadays. If you buy some RM1xx rackets, you might notice that the racket looks fragile and can break easily. This current AT700 is suppose to be upgraded version and it’s painted in red color for the current model (pic shown above). As for the stiffness of the racket, i think it’s a bit flexible but definitely not Stiff and not very flexible as well.
More close up pics below:
Yonex AT700: Shaft Area
Yonex AT700: Frame Head
Yonex AT700: Grip
As you can see above, the original grip was a bit too small for me, so i wrap another layer of grip on top of the original one. It’s my personal preference to have thick grips as I think it enables me to deliver my power for smashes more efficiently. And i love to use a cloth version for the grip although it tends to smell after prolong usage with lots of sweats (Yucks!)
Performance: Well, i’m sure this is the most important part of the review. Will the performance of the racket justify it’s price tag? Ok, lets put it this way. This racket is by all means geared for attacking players, as pointed rightly at the Yonex chart above. Hitting clears as well as smashes is a lot more fun and powerful compare to my Pro Ace racket. As you swing the racket, you can feel that the racket efficiently transfer your power to hit the shuttle and ‘wham’! As one of my badminton kaki calls it, you’ll see a bazooka smash going down. :) This is the most noticeable difference the moment i use this racket. Compare to my Pro Ace racket, i feel like i have to swing harder and hit harder when executing my clears and smashes using my Pro Ace. But on the downside, if you want to lift the shuttle when returning smashes, this AT700 can be quite a pain in the ass. Probably it could be due to my weak wrist work but then, if compare to my PA (Pro Ace shall be shorten to PA from now on), i am having a hard time trying to return smashes and lift it back to the baseline. This was not the case when i was using my PA racket. And also, my control for net play was not as good as before but for this, i think i might need more time for adjustment.
Yonex AT700 vs Pro Ace NS70 (racket used as benchmark for this review)
Conclusion: So in summary, what’s my verdict? Errm, i think if you have the extra moo-lah (money is not a problem) and if you’re an attacking player who loves executing countless bazooka smashes or Jericho missles smashes, then this racket is definitely the one to go for. But personally, i think this racket does not justify a good price vs performance ratio. Don’t get me wrong, i really love this racket and it suits me but i just think that it’s way too expensive for a racket. Imagine if you decide to get a same copy as backup racket, you will end up paying nearly RM1k for 2 rackets alone! I might be tempted to try the low end series of Armortec (AT250) and it will be very interesting as well to check out the difference between these two racket models from the same Armortec series. Eventually, as the saying goes, it’s the person who holds the racket which is more important than the racket itself. :)
Pros: Solid build quality, good for clears and smashes
Cons: Not that good for defence and very pricey!