We’re in a world of “smart” things, so it’s not really a big surprise that someone made a “smart basketball.” Among that “someone” is the famous sporting goods company Wilson as they followed up on an exciting idea and made the Wilson X basketball (or more completely known as the Wilson X Connected Basketball).
Now, we all know “interesting” does not always work, and it may even be a flop. Sometimes, being too ambitious on your concepts can backfire miserably. In this review, we will try to be as objective as possible and shoot you ideas and information about the Wilson X basketball and its features, who benefits the most in buying them, and why you should or should not consider purchasing.
What are the Features of the Wilson X Basketball?
The primary selling point of the Wilson X basketball is that it enables you to keep track of your shots. It monitors all of your made and missed shots through a Bluetooth sensor device in the ball. Like all “smart” products, you have to download the phone app on the App Store and Google Play so you can use this product.
That means, for you to track your shots, you don’t need to wear any weird wrist straps and whatnot. Your phone doesn’t even have to be in your pocket for it to work. Sounds sweet, right? Not only that, thanks to Dave Evans and his team, we know that inside the Wilson X Connected basketball is a C2541 TI accelerometer chip that contains Bluetooth Low Energy, an Intel MCS-51 processor, a programmable flash memory, and a pretty stout 8 KB RAM.
Aside from the technology, what else should you expect out of the Wilson X basketball?
A basketball’s feel is tricky since every player knows that some basketball needs to be broken in to achieve that perfect touch. Despite knowing that, most basketball players use the basketball that gives them that touch now and not for how it will feel in the future.
To be fair to the Wilson X basketball, it does shoot like a regular 29.5” basketball. All of that technology inside accounts for only 0.7 ounces, so unless you’re Scarlett Johansson’s character in the movie Lucy, you won’t feel a thing.
Nevertheless, if you are accustomed to using other Wilson basketballs such as the Evolution, you can feel that the Wilson X Connected basketball is not cushioned (that’s because it really isn’t); it is firmer and made with wider channels. Wilson may have used a harder rubber on the X Connected, which is understandable because they have to protect the chip inside. But that only means you have to dribble it harder to get the desired bounce.
As you might know by now, you don’t purchase the Wilson X for ball handling purposes; you’re in it for its technology. We mentioned an App a while earlier that makes everything function. It has four game modes that you can work with and let’s examine each below:
- Free Range. At first, we were thinking of chickens when we heard free range, but this is the mode that allows you to shoot from different spots and gives you your shooting percentage. The app will provide you with the elapsed time for your session and the option of sharing your stats to social media. Modern, ei?
- Buzzer Beater. This mode helps practice clutch shots by counting down the seconds before you hoist a last-second shot. We enjoyed this so much because, seriously, every would-be baller dreams of hitting a pressure-packed shot.
- Game Time. This mode is a one-on-one game against a simulated challenger. If you want to practice your isolation and one-on-one moves, this is the mode that you’d want.
- Free Throw. Keeps track of missed and made shots from the free throw line. This mode is very useful in training yourself not to keep tabs of your percentage and just concentrate on the task at hand.
How Does the Wilson X Connected Basketball Work?
You can use the Wilson X Connected basketball as a regular practice ball, but it defeats the whole purpose of having a “smart” basketball in the first place. To take advantage of the technology (which is pretty much all you are paying for here), you need to consider several things, such as:
- the height of the hoop, which should be a regulation 10-foot hoop.
- a net, a fixed hoop, and a rigid backboard
Practicing with the Wilson X basketball on shorter hoops and without a net may not work as well. If you’re playing on an outdoor without nets, like most cities, you may have to install one for this purpose.
Now, suppose you’re done with these prerequisites, connecting the Wilson X basketball to the app is easy with simple calibration. Fling the ball 10 feet into the air and let it hit the ground. The app will then inform you when it’s done successfully. It will not automatically connect if you’re switching to different modes, so that part is a little irritating, to be honest.
What are the Pros and Cons of Wilson X Connected Basketball?
We would not dare call Wilson X Connected Basketball a genius product, but it can work for certain players and teams who rely so much on their shooting. If you fall into that category, consider the pros and cons of this product in our Wilson X ball review:
Pros of the Wilson X:
- Made extra durable partly because the cover has to protect the technology inside.
- The battery could theoretically last two years with no need for recharging during that time.
- If you’re into sneakers, you would appreciate how it comes with an awesome box.
- The technology is reasonably accurate (approximately around 85%), so you can trust what its data says.
Cons of the Wilson X:
- Incredibly pricey even compared to an NBA game basketball made from genuine leather.
- Your hoops should be 10 feet before you can use the product, or at least, for it to function correctly.
- Not for casual and recreational hoopers because seriously, there is no point in knowing what your percentages are.
- You’ll have to wait for the Wilson team to update the app because the app’s license is not Open API.
- Because you naturally want to protect the technology inside, the Wilson X basketball is not recommended for regular games.
- It can only track shots from seven feet and out from the hoop. It won’t document any shot within seven feet.
Is the Wilson X the Best Smart Basketball?
The “smart” basketball is a small market, but in all honesty, we don’t think the Wilson X Connected basketball is the best of its kind. When it comes to value, we feel the 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball does it a couple of levels better by focusing more on ball-handling drills, shot arcs, and shot backspins more than just tracking makes and misses.
Price-wise, both products are somewhat similar. Maybe the technology will catch up soon with Wilson, but it seems like they plunged into the ocean without the necessary apparatus when they decided to be a player on the smart basketball market.
Now, if you want a cheaper alternative, the DribbleUp smart basketball with the Trainer app costs at least half the amount of the Wilson X basketball. With that considered, it’s technology is more like 94Fifty than the Wilson X because of its focus on ball handling drills instead of shooting.
Why Choose the Wilson X Basketball?
As mentioned earlier, we believe that smart basketballs are not for everybody. And nothing could be more accurate about the Wilson X basketball. We also feel it has not done its best yet with their technology and all, and they could just update everything and include more than just shooting drills. If that is to happen, you\ll have to be incredibly patient.
But you see, sometimes a weakness can become a strength, and for its part, the Wilson X Connected basketball is the only smart basketball that puts a premium on shooting. That aspect of the Wilson X technology can prove to be beneficial for teams and players that rely heavily on shooting. Considering how basketball is played today, that should be everybody.
Is the Wilson X Worth the Money?
Look, you don’t need to go to extra lengths to acquire money so you can buy the Wilson X basketball. It doesn’t work that way, and if that’s the case, it’s not worth it.
On the other hand, if you can afford this technology and think it can help your shooting and the team’s, this is not a bad investment to have. This ball, at this price, it’s not for everybody, which is why it’s more of a luxury than it is an actual need.
Wrapping Things Up: Wilson X Basketball Review
For us, there is nothing wrong with combining technology, sports, and exercise. Look at how smart apps changed the way we do fitness training! But having said these, we feel the Wilson X basketball is lacking in many essential areas.
For one, it’s not recommended as a game ball, so its use is limited only in practice. However, it needs specific conditions for it to work correctly, such as the height of the hoop and a sturdy rim and backboard. (Not to mention it doesn’t seem to work without a net!) In practice, it could theoretically and potentially help players and teams who live and die on their shooting. Otherwise, we see no need why casual and recreational ballers should purchase this one unless, of course, you have money to spare.
When it comes to the app, we think it’s cool and reasonably accurate, but we believe the technology used by other smart basketballs are more useful for a player’s improvement than what Wilson offers, at least for now.
Another drawback that we can point out is the fact that its license is not open to the public, which we think severely limits the potential of its growth. If Wilson allows it to go public, then you wouldn’t have to wait for them to update the app since other independent developers can do it for you. If anything, it could result in a friendly competition on who can come up with better ideas and who can turn those ideas into reality.
Overall, the cons compellingly outweigh the pros in this Wilson X ball review, in our opinion. If the company makes the necessary improvements, and I’m sure they will, the Wilson X basketball could steal the thunder and become a principal player in the smart basketball market. Because of the possibility of future advancement, it would be foolish to write them off completely.
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