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Sometimes simple is too simple. That’s the dilemma you face when considering this model. It might be too basic for any player looking to develop without outgrowing their investment. A quick review of the features will show why.
The Lobster Elite Freedom certainly looks a lot like its siblings. The red base is more or less a rounded rectangle and the ball bin/scoop doubles nicely as a cover for easy storage and transport. Just flip it over and it slides securely onto the base.
It measures roughly 24″ x 16″ x 31″ and weighs a mere 35 lbs. It also has a tubular 3-foot handle that easily attaches with pins. Also very nice, it rolls on 8″ wheels. All but the youngest players will find this machine truly easy to set up, move, and put away.
Speed – Up to 65 mph
The most basic attribute of any ball machine is speed. This model offers a maximum – 65 mph – that will satisfy only those with modest goals. That’s plenty fast enough for novices, and even medium-level players can get a lot of use out of that. But anyone who has, or plans, to become an expert will outgrow this machine pretty quickly.
Keep in mind, too, that the maximum is only achievable under ideal conditions. Balls have to be in good shape, the chute can’t contain any fuzz. The wind can’t be against the direction of the shot.
Oscillation & Elevation
Even more, limiting is the number and style of its oscillation options. There is random horizontal play, which is helpful and a little surprising for such a low-end machine. You can get some good workout time practicing forehand and backhand. It can be turned off if you want to practice the same shot over and over again.
Possibly more important, lacking any spin capability the challenge is just not there for anyone but the beginner to low-intermediate player. That said, even those who are far from an expert can enjoy plenty of variation in practicing overhead shots. The Elite Freedom has a nice variation in elevation: from 0-50 degrees.
The larger downside here is that the adjustment is strictly manual. There’s no electronic setting and it can’t vary automatically or via remote control. More critical, it can’t be set to randomize the lob. You’ll get ample practice in honing the same shot but it will also quickly become predictable, limiting the value of your workout.
Capacity, Feed Rate & Battery Life
Capacity – 150 balls
For such a modest design, this Lobster model offers the same capacity as much more expensive units. At 150 balls you can get a good long session before having to refill.
Feed Rate – 2 to 10 sec
Likewise, the feed rate variation is equal to some higher-end machines, too. It will go as fast as two seconds, which is fully short enough. Why any maker bothers with 1/2 second intervals is something of a mystery. Even a pro can’t fire a ball back much quicker than two seconds consistently, particularly if you aren’t returning the ball just as fast as the pro.
The lowest speed is 10 seconds, the same as so many other tennis ball machines on the market. That certainly gives the novice plenty of time to move across the court – perhaps too much time. Unless you are a true beginner, you won’t be using this draggy pace often. On the upside, it makes 150 balls last a long time and it does conserve battery power.
Battery Life – 2 to 4 hrs
Like the other attributes, battery life for your workout is modest. The Freedom can deliver a workout of as long as four hours, but the lower end – two hours – is more realistic. The variation depends on speed, ball type, and other factors. There’s no spin set to complicate matters on this unit.
Still, two hours is longer than most casual or beginner players will need. Unless you plan to use it with multiple players of that low level on the same day, the battery life is adequate.
The Lobster Elite Freedom is a decent, entry-level tennis ball machine. It is limited and limiting, though. It’s intended for relatively unskilled players who want a modest cost machine. However, at $800, modest does not mean cheap. Anyone who plans to continue improving may outgrow this model long before it’s worn out.
Most Lobster users are quite happy with this machine and overall the reliability is good. Individual experience can vary, of course, but chances are very good you’ll be more than satisfied, provided your expectations are reasonable.