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    Reviews posted by AndySmith
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    Avatar AndySmith
    Total reviews: 3
    Total Likes: 4
    Reviews Rubbers(1)
    Blades(2)
        Posted 02-15-2019
        5.00 Ice Creamy
        • Hybrid design
        • POWERRRRRRRRR
        • SPEEEEEEED

        • Demanding
        Had the pleasure of testing out the Xiom Ice Cream AZX over the last few weeks! After extraction from the trapezoidal prism box, here are the basic stats:

        Thickness - 5.7mm
        Weight - 87g
        Headsize - 157x150
        Structure - Koto-ALC-Limba-Kiri-Limba-ZLC-Koto



        Visuals

        The build quality is super-high - nice finishing on the fiber layer, no blemishes anywhere I can see. The handle is wide, but fairly flat - it feels very comfortable to me, but it isn't as beefy as some bigly yuge euro handles. I'm happy to say that the wings are different to recent Xiom blades (e.g. Vega Pro) and the overall feel in the hand is excellent. Everyone's grip is different of course, so this is a very personal thing, but I'm glad Xiom have made this change.

        Testing

        I've put 9 sessions in with the AZX before finishing this review, 3 sessions each with 3 different setups. Initially I went with my current rubbers (QiJi, Moon Speed Special) to give a direct comparison to what I've been using recently. Then I switched to Rasanter R47 Ultramax on both sides in an effort to bring out the hybrid nature of the blade with a rubber I'm familiar with, and finally to Omega VII Pro on both sides.

        Basic Speed and Drives

        From initial reviews, I was concerned about the speed and if it would be too much to handle. Well, it's fast, but not insane. I'd put it slightly above a Viscaria, but noticeably below a MJ-ZLC.

        The feel on basic drives is pretty sharp, but I've used harder Boll ALCs so it's not excessive. The ALC side feels a bit more "distant" than the ZLC - not hollow, but more of a "dry" feel for want of a better word. I didn't really notice a big difference in speed between the two wings here.

        It's also pretty linear and easy to use, if you accept that the speed is generally high all the time.

        Looping

        When using more expansive strokes, you notice the big potential for power from the blade. Although there isn't excessive flex, it's simply fast. I found slow loops to be a little awkward because the blade just wants to go faster, deeper, more more and so on. It's very good from distance - you can play some massive strokes from 2m back, and the pace and spin result in some incredible bombs.

        Looping is the time when the difference between the ALC and ZLC becomes really noticeable. The ALC side produces a meaningfully high arc in comparison with the ZLC. I was skeptical about this, but I have to admit that it appears to be a real feature of the blade. When looping hard, I can really load up the spin on the ALC side, but the ZLC goes much flatter and gives the impression of being faster (simply because it's a more direct path to the table).

        Blocking, Flicks, Short Game

        I found the blade to be medium stiff overall, which helps a lot when blocking. Add this to the sharpness of the initial feel and it works very well when blocking, if you can cope with the pace.

        BH flicks are good - fast enough (obviously), direct, and the ZLC's lower-arc nature helps to keep the ball low when putting some zip on a short service return.

        Short game was hard for me. It's a bouncy blade, and with hard eurojap rubber it's a handful for my level. I popped a lot of pushes and service returns up, especially with the R47. I'm used to more forgiving blades and would need to make adjustments.

        Overall

        This is a well-made blade, with a premium feel. It's fast and capable of very destructive play, without being uncontrollably quick. I feel that it suits a highly-mobile, dynamic player who attacks from mid distance and has great footwork and mobility. This doesn't describe me of course - but I can picture it being a real weapon for lots of younger/faster/better players.

        The "hybrid" construction is interesting, and while I was initially skeptical it does have a noticeable effect on play. And it's also a bit different to other combination blades I've used in the past, and worthy of a bit of time to describe here I think. Previously, I've used Sanwei Two-Face, Valiant Terminator, and custom builds by Levi, tt-manufaktur and Ross Leidy but all of these used different outer plies to create the combination effect (the Valiant stands alone here in having ALC/ZLC as well as an outer ply difference). This approach does the trick, but introduces a marked difference in feel/speed between the two wings. This may be what you're looking for of course, but adapting to this imbalance takes time - the contrast between the FH and BH isn't intuitive by definition. The AZX is different here, because the basic properties of the blade feel very similar - feel, speed and so on. You just get a higher arc with the ALC side. It seems to have a singular aim - support the common need of the standard, modern two-winged loop player by having a dynamic, high arc on the FH side and a more direct, lower arc on BH - while introducing a minimum of disruption to the overall balance of the blade. I presume this is what Xiom are hinting at with their notes on blade balance and being the first hybrid of this type. If so, I think it's a success! I haven't used anything quite like it before, and it's a fascinating approach.




        0 people liked this review
        Posted 11-09-2018
        4.00 Bargain power looping blade!
        • Mid-range power
        • Good sweet spot
        • Cheap!

        • Bit fast for me
        I picked up one of these from http://www.ttequipment.co.uk. I've seen these kicking around on some Chinese sites previously and was interested, so having a local supplier seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. It's part of Yinhe's Mars range of blades, and they all look interesting if I'm honest. The key material is PLC, which looks to be a type of polyethylene woven with carbon, producing a cheaper alternative to ZLC. I think we’ll be seeing more of this kind of material from other brands, if we aren't already.

        Physicals

        My M202 is 5.9mm in total thickness, 86g weight, FL handle. My guess as to the composition would be:

        Dyed Limba - Ayous - PLC - Ayous - PLC - Ayous - Dyed Limba

















        The quality of the construction is very good, although I had to sand the edges of wings down a bit because they were a little sharp. The handle is a bit on the small side - it's wide enough but a bit thin. Not as thin as some Nittaku blades, but thinner than the chunky handles you get with european blades.


        In Play

        During a basic topspin drive warm-up, the speed felt solidly in the middle of OFF-. It's a tick faster than a Waldner Senso Carbon, slightly slower than a Viscaria/Boll ALC/Vega Pro, similar to an Innerforce ALC or LSW.

        When you start to loop and you apply more force, the speed increases quite a lot and there is a fair amount of flex available. In this sense, it reminds me of the non-linear looping experience you get with something like a BTY Mizutani Jun ZLC, but with a lower average speed across the board. A mini-MJ perhaps. Because of this, it allows a great range of variable looping strokes from slightly further away from the table without getting too hot to handle. It's not as deadly as the MJ, and it doesn't have the overall power needed if you attack from absolutely miles away.

        Short game is very good. The low-gear speed is useful when considering service and receive.

        The feel is pretty typical for limba - certainly not as sharp or direct as a typical Viscaria for example. It didn't feel as solid either (although not horribly hollow at all - just a little distant), and I wasn't as confident with blocking initially. The sweet spot is pretty wide, and although the feedback is somewhat vague there's still enough to let you know what's going on.

        Overall

        This is a great inner composite looping blade for the money. It's well made (from a sample of one, obviously), has enough speed to get the job done without being overwhelming for an average standard player like myself. It's definitely aimed at players who focus on loop attack though - I tend to play close-in these days so it feels initially a touch too flexy/non-linear for my style. Although I have had some excellent wins with it at the end of my league season, so I'm giving it some serious thought (and I’ve put in a special order with Dean at http://www.ttequipment.co.uk for an M201 – I really like the potential of this range). There's a lot to like about it (especially considering the price) - if you are looking for a cheaper, slightly tamer alternative to a BTY MJ/IF-ZLC then this should be on your list IMO.


        2 people liked this review
        Posted 04-09-2015
        5.00 Super grip, easy to use.
        • Incredible grip
        • Easy to use
        • Non-bouncy

        • Not the fastest
        • Medium arc
        • Heavy
        Just had my sheet arrive - Black, Max, 73g uncut, 179x168mm (same vital stats as MX-P really) . Cut to 151x156 the weight is 48.88g, which is around the standard for max thickness, hard ESN rubbers these days. Many thanks to Matthias Landfried over at tt-shop.net for the help in getting a sheet sorted!

        This is a different beast to the rest of the Evo range. The sponge is different - smaller-pored, and without the booster smell which was so obvious on the original Evolutions and Bluefire Ms. It's obviously still a hard sponge though. The topsheet is monstrously grippy when you run a finger down it, and reasonably stiff. It feels like the grippiest ESN topsheet I've ever experienced. For comparison, I have a sheet of Omega V Asia here which has a far softer topsheet, less grip to the finger, and feels softer than MX-S overall despite having a harder sponge. I guess it's going to be very stable.


        Once on the blade, MX-S has a hard, definite feel when bouncing a ball, with a dull "thock" sound. It feels fairly fast without feeling overly bouncy. The spin test is the headline news though - massive. Small wrist movement = big reaction on the following bounce.


















        Full-size pics are available here.


        I gave it the full 3 hour treatment last night with Stiga's 40+ seamed ball. It wasn't long enough for a full review because it was more of a coaching session and I didn't play a wide enough range of strokes in the depth I want. I'll be back with a more formal review next week, so I'll just give some rambling comments for now.


        MX-S was on the FH side of my regular Samsonov Pure Wood blade, and on my backup Pure Woods I had Big Dipper and Tenzone Ultra (BH rubbers on all 3 are Airoc M).


        Warm-Up


        I was slightly disappointed for the first 10 minutes. During the initial loop-counterhit warm-up MX-S didn't feel particularly "special" at all (meaning that no overriding quality jumped out at me). It was incredibly stable and easy to use, the arc was medium and nothing dramatic happened. At this point the only thing that jumped out at me was how easy the counterhit was, even against heavy loop. For comparison, I had a higher arc with both BD and TZU on the backup blades, but counterhits and blocks were more difficult.


        Serve, Loop Against Backspin, Loop against Block Exercise


        I then switched to a serve, push long, loop against backspin, block, loop/drive against block, free exercise. This is where MX-S made a lot more sense.


        On the serve, you notice a real lack of bounce. This helps to keep serves short and tight, and also encourages you to add a lot more wrist action, which in turn results in big spin. This is an excellent rubber for serving, and all the associated other short game bits.


        Then the long push comes in, and you loop against backspin. I'm not overstating things here when I say that this is the easiest rubber for lifting backspin that I've ever tried. It absolutely eats pushes and chops alive. I usually have to warm up my backspin-lifting strokes for a few minutes to get my bat angles adjusted after a counterhit warm-up, but not this time. I genuinely didn't miss a single one during the exercise.


        And then the loop/drive against block, which revealed another interesting point. Driving the ball is very easy with MX-S, but it is noticeably slower than hard ESN rubbers from previous generations (MX-P and M1 are the obvious touchstones). You have to generate some power yourself on basic drives or you can offer up an easy ball. There were times when I stepped around to use FH from the BH wing and I ran out of room to get a full stroke in. The drive produced was a bit weak, and the court was obviously totally opened up. You need to be fully committed to get the rewards in this scenario. However, looping the ball against block is easy and very effective. In fact, taking a more Chinese approach and loop-driving more often than not was the most efficient and consistent approach for me in general during the session.


        I stuck with this exercise (and slight variations in placement) for a full hour. I felt that it was giving me a good insight into how MX-S was working. After that we did some matchplay...


        Matchplay


        The qualities I'd seen during the exercises stayed true during the match. Short game was truly great, counter hits and blocks excellent. The FH flick isn't my best shot (needs work), but MX-S seemed good here too, although the lack of extreme arc did mean that I needed to get to the peak of the bounce - there wasn't a lot of leeway if the ball dropped. The main points worth talking about were during open play. Basic topspin drives had a medium arc, and the arc then doesn't change much when you start to load the ball up with topspin. With this comes the ability to disguise the level of topspin to some degree - the arc doesn't give the game away. Adding wrist to a loop brings heavy spin with ease.


        Summary so far


        Positives? Solidity and control - it's very easy to use, predictable, low catapult and linear. Good (but not wild) pace. High spin potential. Zero feeling of slippage with 40+. Super easy to vary spin, depth and placement during loop-loop play. Autopilot when lifting backspin.


        Downsides? The medium arc isn't forgiving of positional problems, so recovery strokes on the run aren't as easy as some rubbers. And it isn't the fastest rubber around, which makes drives a little weaker (although that will be related to my blade choice to some degree - a faster blade will make this less obvious). I'm nitpicking here though.

        2 people liked this review
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