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  1. Manto76 is offline
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    Review: Vodak M. Horejsi EnTech ALC OFF

    Review: VODAK M. Hořejši ALC OFF EnTech

    Review: VODAK M. Hořejši ALC OFF EnTech

    Available (The website is in Czech but if you open it using Google Chrome it will automatically translate the site for you.)

    Blade composition: Limba – Ayous – ALC – Ayous – ALC – Ayous – Limba

    Blade construction: Outstanding quality! Perfect edges, beautifully finished and sealed, super-comfortable handle – it just feels in every way like the work of a master craftsman. Vodak blades must be up there among the best in terms of construction quality. Those of you who have used blades made by custom craftsmen - of which there are several on this site - will know what I mean.

    Blade dimensions: 157mm x 152mm x 6.1mm. Note that Vodak make their blades to order and will make any of the following sizes for no additional charge:

    • 157mm x 150mm
    • 157mm x 152mm
    • 157mm x 156mm
    • 162mm x 156mm

    Blade weight: 89.5g

    Handle: ‘Anatomical’ style at 105mm by request (Standard length is 100mm).

    Tested with: Nittaku Fastarc G-1 (max.) FH & Tibhar Evolution ELS (max.) BH

    First impressions: Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy! The precision of shot placement with this blade surpasses any other I’ve tested. Obviously this is a subjective thing, but to me this blade feels as close to an extension of my hand (which is what Coach EmRatThich says a blade should be) as I think a blade can.

    Speed: A good range of speed. At the low end (ie. when playing very gentle shots like some serves, or short pushes for example) it plays like an ALL+ but when you want speed it’ll go all the way up to OFF+. By comparison, I’d say that it plays at a similar speed to the (excellent) Gewo Aruna Hinoki Carbon OFF for gentle-to-mid power shots, but it has a higher top-end speed when you apply full power. It’s not as fast as the Vodak Rebel Carbon OFF at the top end, but certainly fast enough that lack of speed won’t be the reason you lose any points.

    Feel: It has a soft, woody feel with a muted but pleasant ‘fizz’ through the hand most of the time. But when you connect well on high power shots it suddenly delivers a very satisfying ‘cracking’ feeling – and the sound to go with it!

    Arc / trajectory: This took me a couple of sessions to get used to as it produces a different arc depending on how you contact the ball. For low-to-medium power loops it produces a medium arc that I was able to vary the length of very easily. But when you apply more power the arc flattens to a low, direct line. Once I got used to it I was able to vary the arc/trajectory quite predictably – which I noted (with some satisfaction 😊) made it a bit more difficult for my training partner to respond to.

    Loops: I think this might be the most fun blade to loop with that I’ve ever used! It feels like it holds the ball for just the right length of time to enable me to place it very accurately and with high consistency at any power level from low to high. The accuracy of this blade is an aspect I particularly enjoy. For reference: I was able to hit an A6 postcard (that's about 10cm x 15cm) on the other side of the table 4 times out of 10 attempts - and the other 6 weren't far off. I know that's not a very high percentage but, bearing in mind that I stopped playing/training competitively in the mid-1990s, it's not too bad.

    It has a little bit of flex which makes it forgiving when you’re slightly out of position or don’t execute exactly correctly – a significant benefit for those who, like me, don’t have the time to train as much as they’d like to and can’t move as fast as they could when they were younger! Another advantage of the flex is that, when you learn to control it, it produces a little bit of a catapult effect which means you can vary your shot speed without telegraphing the power shot with a big body motion.

    It doesn’t have the same level of outright ‘dynamite’ power as the Vodak Rebel Carbon OFF that I reviewed a little while ago, but it has a much greater range of controllable power which enables me to win more points – and it’s certainly not slow at the top end.

    Flicks: Fantastic. The blade is so well balanced (bear in mind that I had a slightly larger than average handle made, and also chose the 157mm x 152mm head) it’s super-quick to manoeuvre and make those micro-adjustments needed for sharp, punchy flicks. And the ‘cracking’ sound when you connect a backhand flick just right is so satisfying!

    Block: Stable, accurate, and easy to control/adjust the pace of. If you want to take the pace out of a block to unsettle your opponent’s rhythm, it’s easy to do so with this blade. Likewise, very easy to stiffen your wrist a little and produce a punch-block to change direction.

    Chop: Easy. Those of you who read my review of the Vodak Rebel Carbon OFF may remember that I struggled to master chops with it. No such challenges with the M. Hořejši ALC OFF EnTech. I found it easy to chop from near and far, and to switch from chops to loops and back again with no problems at all.

    Serve: The soft, ‘dwelly’ feel of this blade (on low impact shots) makes it easy to impart lots of spin on serves and to vary placement, angle and speed of delivery.

    Control: I don’t recall playing with any composite blade that I’ve found easier to control than this one. I think the Gewo Aruna Hinoki Carbon OFF comes closest, but I find the Vodak M. Hořejši ALC OFF EnTech even better. I suspect that has to do with the Limba outer ply (versus the Hinoki of the Aruna) which just has a more ‘definite’, precise feel. Also, the Vodak feels better balanced in my (fairly big) hand. Being able to order a larger-than-standard handle is a real upside of going with a custom blade maker.

    Overall: Overall, I think this might be the best blade (at least, the best suited to my play) I’ve ever played with. The only downside I can think of is that I don’t know how to pronounce the name of it!

    Other: I’m busy reviewing another Vodak blade – look out for that in a month or so from now.

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  2. latej is offline
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    Great review, thank you. I'm looking forward the coming one.

    Can you compare the blade with Viscaria and/or HL5?

  3. Manto76 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by latej
    Great review, thank you. I'm looking forward the coming one.

    Can you compare the blade with Viscaria and/or HL5?

    Thanks - glad to hear it's helpful!

    I haven't played with HL5 so can't comment on that beyond saying that (I think) the ply construction is the same. As we all know, though, two blades with the same ply construction can feel quite different.

    Compared to Viscaria, these are the main differences that stand out to me:

    1. The Vodak Horejsi ALC has a better short/soft game. In other words, better touch on gentle and low impact shots like short pushes and serves.
    2. I personally find the Vodak gives me better control and accuracy over a greater range of power. The Viscaria is very accurate (I find) in the upper range of power, say from 65% power upwards, but a little less accurate in the mid-range. I find the Vodak gives me better control/accuracy across the full range from very gentle all the way up. A valid response to this observation would be: "You just need more training and you'll be able to control the Viscaria just as well." That's 100% true. But, as I only play recreationally these days and not competitively, I don't have the time to practice any more than I do. Thus, for a player like me with limited time, I find the Vodak allows me the most fun of any blade I've tested; I can go to the hall after not playing for a couple of weeks and, from shot number 1, put the ball almost exactly where I want it.
    3. The Viscaria delivers its power a little differently. What do I mean by that? Well, the Viscaria is harder (being an outer-fibre construction) so the feeling of imparting power to the ball is more 'immediate' - especially on the backhand. There's a more immediate 'crack' when you connect correctly. The Vodak will also give you a 'crack' if you hit it right, but the power seems to come more from a sort of 'whip/catapult' effect. I'm not talking about massive differences on this point though, as the Viscaria also has some flex to it. But the 'whip' effect feels better on the Vodak - at least to me.
    4. I think overall I'd say that the biggest difference is the comfort across a greater range of play. The Viscaria feels like a sports car that 'wants' to be driven fast all the time. The Vodak, in my hand, feels like a car that's just as comfortable on the race track as it as on a gentle Sunday afternoon drive.
    5. Oh yes, one last thing, I can't get Butterfly to make a handle size that fits my (large) hands perfectly. Vodak will. I know that sounds like a small thing - and I suppose it is - but having such a comfortable grip is really nice.

    Hope that helps!

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